By Lauren Schwab, National FFA Convention & Expo Newsroom Reporter
“’I believe in the future of agriculture with a faith born not of words, but of deeds,’” recited National FFA Alumni President Anita Schneider as she welcomed FFA Alumni to the 42nd National FFA Alumni Convention awards session. “I know you’re here with me to celebrate those people who believe in this statement, for their actions do speak louder than words.”
The celebration began with the presentation of Outstanding Awards for Achievement, newsletter, website and affiliate followed by the Blue Blazer Awards. Growth was celebrated when the Tractor Supply Company awarded $1,000 Local Program Support grants to 12 active local affiliates. Eastern Region Vice President Joenelle Futrell, commended FFA alumni for helping FFA members grow.
“A corn plant doesn’t just grow when you put a seed in the ground and wait. It takes water, it takes cultivating and it takes caring for that seed and farm ground to give it the best possible environment to grow. That’s what alumni chapters enable our members to do, to cultivate our students today,” said Futrell.
Growth began with legendary farm broadcaster, Orion Samuelson, who delivered the key note address. Samuelson reminisced on the cold winter day in Chicago when he sat in with a group of people and said, “We should carry onward beyond the FFA chapter in high school. We should continue the friendships and the bonds made during this time. We should then be able support and further the cause of FFA chapters. I still have my gold card that says I was in there in the beginning of the FFA Alumni.”
Samuelson praised FFA Alumni for starting, maintaining and growing their agricultural departments. He urged alumni to be strong communicators and to dream big as he spoke from his book, You Can’t Dream Big Enough.
“Sitting on a three legged milking stool in that cold dairy barn in the January morning in Wisconsin, I never dreamed I would be standing here in Louisville tonight talking to you,” said Samuelson. “I would have never of dreamed I would go to all 50 states and 44 countries to cover agriculture on television. I would have never of dreamed I would meet seven presidents and have dinner in the white house and would work with some of the greatest people in agriculture broadcasting sitting on that milking stool.”
Samuelson closed the ceremony with stating, “Dream big and when the dream comes true, dream bigger. If you want to do something bad enough in this country and you’re willing to sacrifice you can do it.” FFA Alumni members left with inspiration to grow and strengthen their local chapters.
Lauren Schwab is a former FFA member from Somerville, Ohio. She is a graduate of Miami University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in journalism and Master of Science in family studies. She currently works full-time on her family farm. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.