Saturday, February 25, 2012

FFA Week


High school parking lot.

     This week was National FFA week.  For those of you who don't live in a rural area, you probably have no clue what I am talking about.  FFA stands for "Future Farmers of America" and is a vital part of the education system in a farm community. From what I understand, FFA is like 4-H--on steroids.  It is an agriculturally geared program to keep young people involved and interested in agriculture.  Every February, they celebrate this program with a series of events to keep the young people interested in the program and to recruit others to join.
     I looked up some information about the FFA and was quite pleased to read their pledge that they are required to memorize.  It includes such phrases as: "I believe in the future of agriculture with a faith not born of words, but of deeds.." and "I believe that to live and work on a good pleasant as well as challenging.." or "I believe in less dependence on begging.....".  Wow, if only we could instill those values in others across the country.
     Basically, FFA week is a celebration of the agricultural way of life.  A time to reflect on the values and ethics that the hard working farmer knows.  And the school students have fun ways of doing this.  They started the week out with attending a church service together.  They then have different themes for each day of the week.  Tuesday was "camo" day where they all wore their camoflauge clothing.  They had a dress-up day where the FFA members wore their uniforms and took time to present the program to the elementary age students.  I heard many of the officers from the surrounding communities interviewed on the local radio station.
     I was never involved in FFA, though I was in small town schools all of my life.  I never had the privilege of competing on the national level in contests covering different agriculturally related themes. I heard one young lady interviewed telling about the Dairy Foods contest. She had to know, by taste, different cheeses, milks, etc. as well as their grade and quality.  I was impressed.  I don't think I could do that.
     One of my favorite parts of FFA week is always on Friday.  They call it "Drive your Tractor to school" day.  My kids wait at the front door in anticipation of all the kids driving into town with their family's machinery and parading them from the town square, down Main Street to the high school.  I apologize for the blurriness of these pictures, but these kids are really trucking, full throttle down the street!

        I think it turns out to be somewhat of a competition among the teen guys, (what among teen guys isn't a competition?).  See for yourself:

                                                          The dirtiest.

                                                                          The oldest.

                                            The coldest. (It was about 20 degrees out that morning!)

                                          Of course, the one with the most wheels wins!

                                           Or, would that be the one with no wheels?

                                     And, of course, the smallest, brought by the class clown, no doubt!

     I do have to mention that these we not just driven by young men, but several were driven by young ladies.  The FFA is not just for guys! The local chapter is headed by an equal amount of guys and girls.
      I got to thinking about this whole scenario the other night and envisioned teen sons asking their dads, "Hey, Dad, can I drive that $125,000 piece of vital farm equipment you have out in the shed to school tomorrow?  We're just going to tear up and down the streets of Kahoka for awhile before school starts." I then wondered about them having to calculate the mph and the miles to town and figure how early they would have to leave the house in order to get to school in time.  
      I asked my husband (who worked several years for a farmer) if he would let his son do that and he immediately replied "Yes!".  So, I have come to the conlusion that a tractor is so much more than just a piece of equipment. It represents years of hard work and the rewards of that work.  It is more than a hobby, it is a way of life and FFA week celebrates the glory of the farmer and his commitment to doing things right; to working harder than any other occupation; to giving ones all, even when the yield may not be all you expect it to be. 
     So, FFA members, we salute you this week.  We are grateful for your commitment to the American farmer and the way of life that started this country.  We love the work ethic that constitutes your being and the pleasure that comes from doing your best and reaping the benefits.  But most of all, we love your tractor parades and look forward to them every year...........but, you'll get that in a small town!