Stepping off the plane in Dallas, I was greeted by a wall of ninety degree heat…a change for this Minnesota boy in April. Wearing the blue corduroy in that heat, only gave me more pride toward our organization. I happily greeted Alicia and Mr. Will Fett at the airport to begin our week-long trip. We got in our rental vehicle and headed out to the countryside to Centerville, Texas. The landscape was not typical of what I think of when I hear Texas: brown, desert, low brush and lots of rock. This landscape instead was lush green with lots of grasses and trees dotting the horizon. We visited on the car ride, and arrived at Dick and Patsy Wallrath’s ranch in early evening.
Over the course of a ranch tour, bunk house introduction, and an amazing Mexican dinner we learned more about this great couple. They shared stories, insights and words of wisdom with us for life and for the future. After dinner we were invited into their home to watch the movie Deep in the Heart. To be able to watch a movie, with the people who the movie is about, is a pretty cool deal! The movie is the true Texas story of Richard Wallrath, whose personal demons caused him to hit rock bottom. With his sons, he went on to build a successful business and used his success to become the highest all-time individual donor to Texas 4-H and FFA providing educational scholarships. This is a story of finding lost faith, love of family, and ultimately redemption. Both Dick and Patsy have such an inspirational and powerful story to tell and all three of us were blessed to get this wonderful opportunity to visit with them.
We continued to travel Texas the entire week, meeting many individuals who contribute to FFA at all the different levels. Time and time again, each individual had a unique story and a unique reason for why they believe in and support FFA. Alicia, Mr. Fett and I were constantly humbled by these stories and we are so THANKFUL for all the continuing support!
As the week finished up, I couldn’t help but begin to think what is it in my own heart that causes me to love FFA or for that matter to love anything? What is that underlying reason? It took me a while to put part of it in works, but I believe we live in a broken world; we have a broken relationship with ourselves, we have broken relationship with others, and we have a broken relationship with our environment. FFA has the ability to help restore and build those relationships. Maybe it is through instilling confidence in a student through an individual competition. Perhaps attending a leadership conference and building a relationship with a new friend. Or possibly exposing someone to aspects of the world on a trip they never would have imagined. This is just one reason and my personal reason. Each of us has our own special reason for giving. So why is it, you believe in young people? Why is it, you believe in agriculture? So why is it, you support FFA? And what is it, that is deep in your heart?
Stationed by the ear of corn,
Jason Troendle – National Secretary