Has it really been 7 years?

For most people, today is a normal Friday. For me it's the first time in seven years that I haven't done something. Something that I love, something that is wonderful and helped make me into the person I am today. For the first time in seven years I won't be at the Oregon FFA State Convention.

Wow, I can't believe I even just wrote those words.

It still isn't real and it won't be real until I'm watching opening session on my ipad tonight at home instead of in a buzzing session hall. (Rock your RA tonight Jake! I can't wait to watch it!)

I want so badly to spend the next few days not sleeping, hanging out with the greatest people on this planet and to be back in my home state. I'm not happy that I don't get to see friends I haven't seen in a year or more, my beloved teammates, one of them serving as a national officer, or a state officer team reach the pinnacle of their year. I won't get to see my sister as she recruits for her livestock judging team, my dad who once told me I should quit FFA at the FFA career show or my adviser wrangle another group of kids through a life changing event.

There are a lot of things I won't get to do.

However, there is a reason I'm where I am and not back in Oregon and it also has to do with this great organization. My time in FFA allowed me to discover my passion: communicating on behalf of agriculture. That's what I'm here in Kansas doing, earning a degree in agriculture communications and working for Kansas wheat farmers.

While I'm sad I can't be there, it means that today I get to go to work for farmers. It means I get to work towards my goal of becoming a leader in the industry that FFA introduced me to.

After convention is over, some will take off their jackets for the last time. Some will have attended their last state convention and move on to greater things in their life. To me, that is what FFA is all about. You see, I believe that FFA isn't really about the experience you get in the jacket, it is about what comes afterwards. The time you spend in the blue and gold helps build a foundation of leadership, passion for agriculture and a heart of service. The experience in the jacket is incredible but it wouldn't be worth it if we didn't go on to move this industry forward after we take it off.

So I would like to say thank you to everyone who made my time in the jacket (and after it) so wonderful. This weekend my heart will be in Oregon. Good luck to everyone competing and a special thank you for everyone volunteering to make this such an incredible event.

Ryan, Jason, Grace, Caleb and Adam, this one goes out to
you guys! Hope you have an amazing weekend and I expect
lots of snapchats!