All good things must come to an end. As I reflect on the last two and a half years as a Nebraska FFA Foundation intern, many valuable experiences come to mind.
My first interaction with the foundation was when I served as a 2020-2021 Nebraska state FFA officer. Stacey and Victoria worked hard to make our business and industry visits feel as normal as possible. While we may not have been able to travel in person, we found ourselves with a unique opportunity to meet with more partners over Zoom, setting a record number of business and industry visits. Little did I know that my journey with the Nebraska FFA Foundation, as well as our sponsors, was only beginning.
Working with the Nebraska FFA Foundation as a state FFA officer, I also learned about the issues surrounding recruitment and retention for agriculture education teachers. Grateful to have had such a valuable agriculture education and FFA experience when I was in high school, this topic struck a cord for me. In a state where agriculture is so important, how could students not have the opportunity to learn about it?
State FFA Convention is always an exciting time of year, and as an intern, it was no different. My role included managing the career fair and expo along with the scavenger hunt for students. It was humbling to go from being a student to being the person who created an experience for students. I learned the value of hospitality and how a little goes a long way for people traveling hundreds of miles to see our students. I enjoyed getting to know our sponsors and seeing a familiar face when they returned the next year.
My favorite project as an intern was interviewing FFA advisors for the Golden Owl Award. It was inspiring to hear each teacher’s story and how they support their students. This, along with my concern for ag teacher recruitment and retention, brought me face-to-face with a decision to educate and inspire the next generation of agriculture leaders.
As I begin my next chapter in life, I can’t help but be excited for the opportunities that my students will have because of the work the Nebraska FFA Foundation does. The most valuable thing I have learned in this position is the importance of community support for agriculture education. Whether this is in the form of donations or time spent volunteering, it is essential. If students are to value the importance of agriculture and fulfill our future needs, we need to show that we value them. The Nebraska FFA Foundation serves as a vehicle to support agriculture education, but the rest is up to us.
Although my experience as a Nebraska FFA Foundation intern is coming to a close, I am grateful for the many doors it has opened. As a future agriculture educator, I know my relationship with the foundation is only beginning. The connections I made with coworkers, sponsors, teachers, and students will never be forgotten. My experience with the Nebraska FFA Foundation has truly been a blessing.