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TWIN FALLS, Idaho — It’s been a whirlwind year for Idaho’s state FFA officers, who will retire on Saturday at the conclusion of the annual State Leadership Conference at the College of Southern Idaho.
They put on career development events for members, went on business and industry tours, attended leadership training conferences with other state leaders, visited chapters across the state, attended the National FFA Convention and a leadership seminar in South Africa and planned the state conference.
They learned a lot — about the organization, agriculture, fellow members and themselves.
Lindsey Stowell, state president, said she learned the importance of a positive attitude.
“The fact that I knew I only had 365 days to serve in this position really pushed me to think positively and relish each moment, whether it was stressful or not, and just get the job done,” she said.
Austen Thomason, state treasurer, learned the value of face-to-face interactions with members, advisors and supporters.
“I could sit behind a desk for days and send emails and make phone calls constantly, and I would never be able to mimic the impact of being on the road and talking face-to-face,” he said.
Sydney Anderson, state secretary, said she’s been able to build her understanding of true service, and interacting with members has been the most fulfilling experience of her life.
Randy Clements, state vice president, said he learned a lot about himself and others and the experience broadened his perspective on the impact of American agriculture.
The officers said their goals were to serve members, visit with as many members as possible to fuel their passion and advocate for agriculture.
“I am so proud to say that each and every chapter I visited voiced their passions with enthusiasm and showed me exactly what it means to be advocates for every side of agriculture,” Stowell said.
“Agriculture is the backbone of our nation, and this generation is the future — one I am proud to be a part of,” she said.
“Members continually surprised me with their new ideas for the future of agriculture,” she said.
Clements said he was surprised by the impact FFA has had across the nation, judging from the positive recognition he received when wearing his blue jacket.
Most surprising to Anderson was being looked up to by FFA members.
“Having members express their inspirations to us was the most surprising realization … and it really made me realize what service really means,” she said.
The officers said their year at the helm was extraordinary and unforgettable, and they have some advice for those who will soon assume their roles.
“This is a once in a lifetime opportunity that you have, so make the most of it … keep a positive attitude, a heart of service, and remember it’s all about the members,” Stowell said.
“Give it all your heart,” Clements said.
“Don’t wait a single second; get to know the members,” Thomason said.
He also advises new officers to be themselves, be personable and remember they have a lot to learn.
“You got elected because you are you, not because you’re the perfect state officer,” he said.
Anderson said there will be challenges and advises new officers to lead with a positive attitude.
“This is going to be the best year of your life, and I encourage you to take in every single moment with confidence and gratitude because it will fly by,” she said.