Over the course of my FFA career, I actually wore 5 different jackets (not counting the ones I wore borrowed before I had my own). Yes, you read that right, I had five (three were worn during my year as an FFA State Officer). The final one still hangs in my closet to this day, even though it hasn’t been worn in years. Every once in a while as I’m hurriedly pulling clothes from my hangers, my fingers slip over the blue corduroy and I pause and remember. It’s amazing that a jacket, a simple article of clothing, could have such a sentimental meaning and impact on my life.
So in honor of National FFA Week, here is a list of the stories my FFA Jacket could tell if it (or they) could talk.
The adventures I took while wearing it
My FFA jackets traveled with me across my home state of Oregon, to our nation’s capital, to National FFA Convention and several other states for leadership conferences. I even got to wear it internationally when I participated in a leadership conference in China. From road trips in the short bus to my first and only experience “rat stomping,” to hours spent at Steak and Shake, fun at the county fair and climbing the great wall of china, I had some incredible adventures wearing blue and gold.
the food stains it endured
Have you ever tried to get mustard out of blue corduroy? It’s not easy. We all know that you can’t just throw that jacket in the wash and there were years of my life where my FFA jacket was worn more than any other clothing item I owned. The food stains would tell about my first visit to the famous Portland Voo Doo Doughnuts, my first experience with Runza and the several run-ins my jacket had with Panda Express spills.
The friendships I made through it
Friends that have turned into family, become colleagues in the industry and relationships that have endured both time and distance. Plus I’d bet that I met about 75% of my Facebook friends through FFA.
my love/hate relationship with pantyhose
My FFA Jackets could spin yarns about my woes with black nylons and the fortune I spent on them. When I was no longer required to wear my dreaded wardrobe foe, I swore I never would again. Never say never, because you grow up and learn they really do look professional and nice. I admit I wore them a few weeks ago for a business event.
The skills I learned while in it
It was in my FFA jacket that I learned how to have a good handshake, weld, evaluate livestock, what it means to be a servant leader, how to be a good teammate, how to sell a product, swing dance, speak in public and so much more. Some of the skills I learned I still use on a regular basis.
when i discovered my future career
My FFA Jacket would tell you how for years I said I wasn’t going to work in agriculture, I just “really like FFA.” Wrong. It was because of my extensive time in the jacket that I fell in love with this industry and telling its stories. It was those experiences which led me to choose agricultural communications and journalism as a major in college and now my career working for Ranch House Designs.
Tales of winning and losing
It was while wearing official dress that I finally won Grand Champion at the county fair, found success in competitions (AKA Career Development Events) and was elected to serve as a state officer. However, I also endured epic failures while wearing it too. It was in the jacket that I learned to lose and am embarrassed to admit I had it on when received my first (and only) speeding ticket.
When i learned to believe in the future of Agriculture
I remember sitting in freshman ag class when my teacher first presented the FFA creed. She had an intense passion in her voice that was contagious and made me sit up and listen. To this day, I can still recite every word.
the lessons my advisers taught me
It was so much more than the breeds of cattle or how to use a band saw (although they taught me those things too). They taught me what the blue jacket means and how to wear it properly. They also taught me what it really means to “live to serve,” gave words of encouragement at the most needed moments and weren’t afraid to have difficult conversations and provide the critique I needed grow to the best l could be.
The day i met my future husband
Not to get too sappy on you, but both my fiancé and I were wearing O.D. when we met. And I KNOW there are countless other couples who met in the blue corduroy too.
memories and relationships that i’ll cherish forever
Over the five plus years that I wore my FFA jackets and in my time volunteering since I’ve taken it off, I’ve met people and had experiences that I will treasure for the rest of my life. To some people, it may look like just a jacket, but I can’t imagine who or where I’d be if I had never worn it. As the saying goes, “You might outgrow the jacket, but you never outgrow the experience.”
What stories could your jacket tell and how are you celebrating FFA week? Tell us in the comments!
P.S. Unfortunately, some students never get to know the feeling of owning their own FFA jacket. If you’d like to give the gift of blue, then check out this program through National FFA.
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