The digital thermometer in my car calculated that the temperature outside was 26 degrees Fahrenheit. As I drove north on Highway 65 near Marshall, out of the corner of my eye I caught a glimpse of Carhart jackets and wool caps hovering around a freshly dug soil pit. It was official; FFA contest practice season was well underway.
Students from across the Show-Me state are gearing up for the state's biggest showdown in the FFA arena, the Missouri FFA Convention, April 18-19 in Columbia. However, they first have to compete in area and district contest to be selected for the big dance.
I had to hand it to these young people. Their dedication to jumping in a soil pit at least 3-feet deep on a cold March morning was admirable. They were learning lessons in identifying the soil type, the amount of air and water movement and the capacity of the soil. They analyze four different pits and could stay up to 60 minutes at each pit. However, on this day, I am sure those students managed to work more quickly.
Still, it was impressive. In my FFA days, the coldest contest team I participated in was meats, which required time spent in the coolers. After that one experience, I gravitated toward the warmer, indoor events, like public speaking.
So, I give a lot of credit to those students who are willing to brave Missouri's fickle weather and compete in outdoor events like soils, forestry, livestock and dairy cattle. It is a testament to their hard work ethic. I think it is something passed down through the generations by both parents and FFA advisors.
FFA members who grow up on a farm see their parents work hard every day of the year. There is no break because it is too cold, too wet, or even too hot. These parents are exhibiting the portion of the FFA Creed that states, "I believe that to live and work on a good farm or to be engaged in other agricultural pursuits is pleasant as well as challenging." FFA parents are role models for students. They show that even during some of the most difficult times, farmers get up and work.
FFA advisors are no different. They are the one's digging the pits, running the events and practicing with the students. They give of their time so that today's students not only learn about the agriculture industry, but also develop a work ethic needed in their future career endeavors. Without advisors showing students the meaning of desire and dedication, there would be no students standing around that Saline County Fairgrounds soil pit.
I cannot wait until the blue and gold jackets of FFA members descend on the Mizzou campus for their championship events. It will truly be a great competition.
So, what was your favorite FFA contest event? I know my husband will be writing Dairy Foods with the legendary Mr. Barnes.
Leave a comment below about your experience. And best of luck to all of Missouri's finest youth in agriculture-FFA members.