FFA Honors The Fallen And Faithful

Show-Me Life

FFA State convention brings out the best in Missouri youth

Published on: April 26, 2013

The youth in agriculture never cease to amaze and impress me. This year at the 85th Missouri FFA Convention in Columbia, members were honored for their work on contest teams, leadership experiences and Supervised Agricultural Experience or SAE. However, this year I was more impressed with what they did beyond individual and school accomplishments.

When Elsberry FFA members Jessie Knox and Bo Young took to the stage as part of the talent portion of the convention, I was ready for some great entertainment. What followed was an amazing tribute. Just one month earlier, Young lost his sister 17-year-old Jillian in a car accident. Jillian was active in the school including cheerleading and the FFA. Bo dedicated their performance of "Wagon Wheel," not only to his beloved sister, but also to all FFA members who passed away this year.

LEGENDARY: Raymond Hagan presented Benny McWilliams of the Carl Junction FFA Chapter with the Hagan Scholarship at the 85th Missouri State FFA Convention in Columbia, Mo. April 18-19. Pictured starting from the left are: Nathan Chitwood, Hagan, Benny McWilliams and Joyce Sayre.
LEGENDARY: Raymond Hagan presented Benny McWilliams of the Carl Junction FFA Chapter with the Hagan Scholarship at the 85th Missouri State FFA Convention in Columbia, Mo. April 18-19. Pictured starting from the left are: Nathan Chitwood, Hagan, Benny McWilliams and Joyce Sayre.

Then our Missouri ag youth did what they do best. They stood, raised their hands to the ceiling and with cell phones opened created a bright shining light. And I cried.

To see youth rise in support of a fellow FFA member was a humbling experience. To create a light to signify the fallen astounded me. In a time when we see so much wrong in the world, this was something so right. Here was a group of students from different towns, schools and backgrounds standing together in reverence. But our Missouri youth did not stop there.

TRIBUTE: Jessie Knox and Bo Young of the Elberry FFA perform a song dedicated to FFA members who died over the past year.
TRIBUTE: Jessie Knox and Bo Young of the Elberry FFA perform a song dedicated to FFA members who died over the past year.

Honoring the faithful
Sitting in the front row, just off to the side of the main stage, was legendary Raymond Hagan.  Missouri FFA Executive Secretary Keith Dietzschold summed it up this way, "Thank you Mr. Hagan for over 28,000 days of service to Agriculture and the FFA."

Missouri FFA Vice President Katie Gibson thanked the 98-year-old Hagan on behalf of her fellow members for his years of support and service to so many youth. He was there to present the Raymond Hagan FFA Alumni Scholarship. However, she noted that throughout his life he served as a mentor to many young FFA members from across the state.

As the clapping began to sound, seats began to creak and more than 9,000 FFA members and guests rose to their feet. Sitting behind Mr. Hagan, I saw the smile on his face during that impromptu standing ovation. It was one filled with pure joy.

Glimpse of greatness
As a parent, I know at times children can be rather challenging. Not one is perfect. However, all offer that one moment, that one time when they rise to greatness. As an FFA parent or advisor know this…during this 2013 Missouri FFA convention, your children rose to the occasion. It is something instilled in your home and encouraged in your classrooms.

And FFA members… well done. You displayed what sets youth in agriculture apart…respect for the fallen and for the faithful.