Six Ways to Learn Your Personal Leadership Style

FFA Convention

If you’ve been part of a team, group project or committee, you probably noticed that some people seem as if they were “born to lead.” Or maybe your friend can play the guitar or is an amazing artist. We all have our own unique talents, and these strengths can be used in many ways. When we identify our own natural abilities, we can focus on doing what we do best, but our team will also be able to accomplish more. The benefits of assessing your talents and strengths can help you succeed now, as well as launch a lifetime of achievement.

Dr. J. Scott Vernon is a professor in the Agricultural Education and Communications Department at Cal-Poly, San Luis Obispo. A former California FFA member, he is president of the Livestock Publications Council, serves on the advisory board of the AgChat Foundation, and is founder and executive director of “I Love Farmers … They Feed My Soul.”

“Because of my leadership development, I recognize that you cannot lead unless there is a team,” Vernon says. “You must recognize your role in a team in order to optimize your leadership. You cannot do it alone.”

The best way to be a successful team member starts with knowing what you can contribute. Here are a few ways to assess your talents and strengths.

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Concerts and Connecting: Where does common ground come into play?

georgia ffa

A few weeks ago, I headed down south to the land of the pines for the 85th Georgia FFA State Convention. As a music lover, one of my favorite parts is always the convention concert on Friday night. I knew the band was undoubtedly talented, but there was a question I was waiting to be answered: Will they connect with the crowd?

The Farm answered that question quickly with a hand-clappin’, beach ball-bouncin’, beautifully harmonious yes! They played covers. No, not building a fort in the living room with all the sheets in the house, but they played familiar songs. The Farm could have played their entire new album to get exposure for songs few would know; they didn’t. Sure, they threw in a few of their original pieces, but they were amidst popular tunes like “Ain’t No Sunshine” and “Ring of Fire.” They hit every style from Alabama to Michael Jackson. The night became less of a performance and more of a campfire sing along where everyone could be a part of the fun. The Farm knew that creating an enjoyable experience for their audience was more important than promoting their name, so they focused on the common ground.

Who will you connect with this summer? Find the common ground. It builds trust to explore and learn from the uncommon ground.

At camp…So what if she’s from the southern part of the state and you’re from the north? Maybe he grew up on a farm and you grew up in town. Focus on the experiences you can share over the next week. Does he play basketball? Start a game of 3-on-3 before supper. Is she already going to that leadership workshop? Tag along!

On the job…You didn’t choose them, but you’re punching the clock with them for at least a few months. Find a way to make it more fun for everyone. Is he competitive? Make a menial task a game. Does she love ice cream? Go celebrate with a scoop or two at the end of each week!

With the sibs…Even if you’re still finding his legos in your backpack or wake up to her rendition of the newest One Direction hit, you’re family. This is a special time we can pour into our brothers and sisters. Read a book together and talk about what you’re learning. Does he like to run? Hit the trail with him. Is she learning to play an instrument? Sit and listen to her latest piece.

As part of the team…The great part of teams is that we all bring something to the table. We all have different ideas of what our FFA chapters should do for the next year, but what do we have in common? Is everyone passionate about the agricultural awareness day you put together for elementary school students? Spend extra time take it to the next level. Looking for ways to increase attendance at FFA meetings? Focus on what FFA members enjoy. Consider adding fun recreation after business – maybe it’s a game of capture the flag or water games. Ask them!

In his book, Everyone Communicates, Few Connect,  John C. Maxwell says, “Connecting is the ability to identify with people and relate to them in a way that increases your influence with them.” The FFA Creed challenges us to “exert an influence in our home and community.” Let’s do it! Connect. Influence.

~Kalie Hall, National FFA

Waiting on a Train

Just a few weeks ago, Kalie and I had the opportunity to travel to the great State of Texas to visit with National FFA partners. After a day full of visits and driving around the Dallas/Ft. Worth area, we found ourselves in a spot that no tired driver/passenger wants to be found in………


That’s right, we got stuck waiting on a train. You know they say that everything is bigger in Texas and the length of this train only confirmed that. As we waited for what seemed like an eternity, car after car in the line in front of us turned around and decided to take another route. To be honest after a few minutes and few more cars leading the way, we considered doing the same. That seemed to be the easier thing to do …..

Does this sound familiar? We often find ourselves in this very dilemma. Maybe we aren’t deciding on whether or not to wait on a train that is blocking our path but rather if we should run for a chapter, regional or state office again after a previous loss. Or maybe we are deciding whether or not a start another Supervised Agriculture Experience after our last project wasn’t as successful as we hoped. As we face these dilemmas during our lives remember there are three P’s that can help us make the decision that is best for us.

Path– No matter what the road block or obstacle is that we face, we have to remember that we chose this path for a reason. Maybe it was to follow a passion. Maybe it was to explore a future career goal. No matter the reason, constantly reminding our self of why we are on this path in our life will go a long way in helping us stay the course or choosing to take a different one.

Persistence-Not too many people on this earth have made significant impact by trying something once and giving up. It often takes us passionately pursuing our dreams and goals constantly for us to eventually achieve them. Through persistence we may even find that the way we can achieve these goals may not be what we first imagined.

Patience– Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither are most of our big goals. All the of the work that we put in in school, FFA and our community will allow us to develop ourselves into the leaders and people that we need to be. For me it is often hard to see the value in losses or mishaps because I don’t receive instant gratification. However, I have found that achieving our desires is often a slow process and one that we may not always understand.In the end, if it is meant to be, through the highs and lows of our experiences we can reach our desired outcomes.

So the next time you are at a roadblock in your life and you have to make a decision, remember the 3 P’s of goal achievement and decide the route that is right for you!

Peace and Blessings,

Clay Sapp

National FFA President

B.R.O. Tips

Be a Bro

“Brotip #1544 – Whenever you think about giving up, think about why you’ve kept going this long”

“Brotip #100 – Being a bro has nothing to do with gender, if you’re rad and forever legit, you’ve got what it takes.”

“Brotip #1 – There’s a 99% chance that you’re awesome act like it.”


BroTips! In the five Session of the most recent National Convention, 2011-2012 Eastern Region Vice President Kenny Quick opened his session by sharing his favorite brotips with the audience. Brotips, found on, are all about advice to young people. It doesn’t matter your gender, age or appearance, if you want solid tips for self-improvements brotips are for you.

I love brotips and often cruise the website to check out the latest tips. I’ve decided that the FFA could also use its own brotips, but ours are ‘remixed’ slightly. Nationwide in the FFA we have over 300 State FFA Officers and over 40,000 chapter officers. Being an officer in the FFA, regardless of the position or level, is a great honor. It’s one of the best vehicles we have to develop leadership, and to personally grow. But being an officer in the FFA is also a big responsibility. We represent a lot of different people, are accountable for success of our organization, and have to be relied on to make tough decisions.

Because of the importance of officers in the FFA, our Brotips are remixed so that ‘Bro’ stands for:

Being a



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National FFA Secretary Kalie Hall reports from Arkansas

This month the National FFA Officer team traveled to Arkansas to kick off their year of service.

In this video, Kalie Hall reports on some of things they experiences and people they met, and poses a thought-provoking question:

Why knowledge do you have that can be turned into action?


The Legacy Lives

Cain Thurmond, National FFA Southern Region Vice President, recently spent time at the Wyoming FFA Leadership camp, where he worked alongside FFA members as they thought about their own personal legacies and their life’s purpose.


Life…are your tires inflated?

Maybe the last couple of weeks have gone a little like this for you:

  • Practice for spring sports for hours after school
  • Conference and State competitions and games
  • Banquets for clubs and organizations
  • Turning in the last weeks of homework
  • Finishing end of the year projects and taking final…after final…after final
  • Getting ready for graduation
  • Applying for scholarships
  • Preparing for summer jobs and internships
  • Spending the last bit of time with friends before summer break
  • Reconnecting with family and friends after school is out
  • Doing some spring cleaning
  • State FFA Conventions!
  • Budget meetings
  • Selling your home
  • Replying to tons of emails
  • Staying connected through YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, texting, calling, watching TV…
  • And the list could go on…and on…and on
      Life can get…well, crazy!  There is so much going on around us and the world gives us so many options.  I don’t know about you, but I like to stay busy and have a tough time saying “no”.  While everyone is more than happy to have you on their team, in their group, or listen to your thoughts, we can not forget to slow life down every once in a while and keep a balance.

Bright lights, big city.

The leadership committee of the Ponchatoula FFA in Louisiana wanted to help members develop skills to further increase their personal success, so Ponchatoula FFA set out on a journey to Chicago, Ill., where they visited the Chicago High School of Agricultural Sciences.

Twelve FFA members, three alumni members and one advisor worked on securing the funds for the weeklong trip to Chicago. The FFA members visited the high school, toured Chicago, walked along the Magnificent Mile and the Chicago Pier, and visited the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry.

Ponchatoula FFA members participated in a day of leadership-building activities with FFA members from the Chicago High School of Agricultural Sciences, and the students learned about cultural differences as they developed close relationships while working as teammates.

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We believe… in Integrity.

According to Wikipedia, integrity is…

…a concept of consistency of actions, values, methods, measures, principles, expectations, and outcomes. In ethics, integrity is regarded as the honesty and truthfulness or accuracy of one’s actions. Integrity can be regarded as the opposite of hypocrisy.

Here’s an even simpler definition:








Integrity might be the single most important trait in a good leader. If you want to make a difference in the lives of those around you,  base your decisions on honesty and compassion and earn their trust.

We Believe… in Innovation

Careers in agriculture sometimes get a bad rap in our society. Many people see farming and the pursuits related to it as “quaint” or “rustic.” They often say that farmers and ranchers live “the simple life.”

But the truth is that, every day, farmers and agriculturists are tackling and solving some of the world’s most complex problems;  and, these problems are often related to the very survival and well-being of all humankind.

Take Norman Borlaug, for example. Dr. Borlaug was born on a farm near Cresco, Iowa, where as a child he often pestered his parents and grandparents with questions. He’d often wonder aloud why the grass was greener in some areas of the farm than others.

This curiosity led him to become an expert in plant pathology. His expertise eventually helped him to prevent mass, worldwide famine in the 1960s.

Dr. Borlaug was tasked through the Rockefeller Foundation to take a job in Mexico trying to help farmers improve their crops. Upon seeing the desperate situation Mexican farmers were in at the time, he wrote in a letter to his wife:

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