Q&A with the new 2013-14 National FFA officers.
Q: Tell us about yourself in two sentences.
Brian: I was never raised on a farm, but I grew up raising livestock to show at the county fair. I come from a family of seven kids and absolutely love hanging out with them, playing sports, traveling, meeting people and trying new things.
Mitch: I love to drink coffee, watch movies and go on adventures! When I’m not hanging out with my family, I’m probably on YouTube or finding really funny Internet memes. One day I want to help people in a foreign country through a relief-based organization.
Wes: In seventh grade, I bought a $1 chicken at the county fair (without my parents knowing!), which launched my egg production business. I enjoy spending time outdoors, running, kayaking and hanging out with my family. I hope one day to go into a career that allows me to serve others in the U.S. or abroad, addressing issues of hunger and education.
Steven: I grew up on a fifth-generation family dairy farm, so my family is close-knit. I am a fun, outgoing guy who loves hiking, running and being outdoors. Someday I aspire to live in a developing country helping people in need.
Jackson: I grew up in a small town in Southeast Alabama. Faith, family and country music are some of my greatest passions. I enjoy spending time with my friends and being outside. If I can do both at the same time, that’s even better!
Jason: I’m a farm kid who grew up in the city, and I have an extreme passion for Lord of the Rings and exercising. Growing up I was always a dreamer, and those childhood dreams blossomed into an extensive bucket list that includes items like being a rodeo clown for a month, doing stand-up comedy, and touching a shark on the nose while it’s alive.
Q: How did you first learn about FFA? What motivated you to join the organization?
Brian: I was first introduced to FFA in seventh grade and although I wasn’t a member, I was motivated by many of the blue jackets that my friends wore. I joined as a freshman in high school and was immediately hooked by the many opportunities I had right away.
Mitch: My dad and my grandpa were both in FFA, so you could say I grew up around the blue jacket. I knew I wanted to be an FFA member when my dad would pull out his old jacket and tell me stories of all the fun he had in it. Now I get to make my own stories to tell my kids one day!
Wes: Walking through the county fair as a young kid, I always admired the high school students with their blue corduroy jackets. But it wasn’t until taking an eighth-grade agriculture science class that I really began to learn about FFA and became a member.
Steven: My daddy brought me to his ag classroom when I was only 6 years old. I joined FFA because everyone in it knew how to have fun and make me feel like I was cool.
Jackson: I was invited to join our chapter’s antique tractor restoration team in the summer before my freshman year of high school by a few upperclassmen FFA members. They were willing to take time to work with us younger guys and make us feel like a part of the chapter. I loved that feeling of fitting in and knew I wanted to make others feel included in our organization as well.
Jason: I was actually fortunate enough to have my mom as an advisor from the time I was born and my stepdad as an advisor from the time he married my mom when I was 10 years old. I’m pretty sure my crib was lined with corduroy.
Q: What do you hope to “ignite” in FFA members this year?
Brian: I hope to ignite a passion within FFA members. FFA caters to so many interests and when we define what it is that we are passionate about and then act on it, we are unstoppable.
Mitch: I really hope to ignite FFA members to live every day like an adventure!
Wes: I hope to ignite our passion for others – to spark that fire of pure human ambition to live for other people.
Steven: Help others to feel like they belong. No one likes feeling left out, so find those outliers and include them into your everyday life!
Jackson: I believe that compassion will be ignited in FFA members across the country as our organization works toward fighting against hunger, starting at home. Local chapter members have tremendous opportunities to “live to serve” their communities, and I look forward to hearing the stories of compassion and success in the fight against hunger.
Jason: I hope to ignite a passion for small acts of service as I truly believe serving in small ways can have just as big of an impact as large acts of service. I also want people to ignite their work ethic in themselves so they can achieve the results they desire to achieve.
Q: Do you have any hidden talents?
Brian: I learned how to juggle in elementary school and secretly still work today to master the art of juggling.
Mitch: Does drinking a pot of coffee and dancing to electro music count as a hidden talent?
Wes: All through middle and part of high school, I played the steel drums in a quartet, the piano, and percussion section in concert band.
Steven: I can drink strawberry milk like a champ, do a back flip and blow your mind with a “magic” card trick.
Jackson: I love to do voice impressions of different musicians like Bob Dylan, Willie Nelson, Ray Charles and others.
Jason: No, but when I was little I could do a back flip off a coffee table, and I only landed on my neck half of the time.
Q: What have you already learned about yourself since being elected as a national officer?
Brian: I’ve learned that I love my afternoon naps!
Mitch: You will transform into an annoyed zombie if you don’t give yourself good sleep. Also, don’t bring your phone to bed – you’ll never put it down.
Wes: It’s the little things like smiling in the hallway, sending a thank-you note or letting someone know how much you appreciate them that really make a huge difference.
Steven: I’ve learned that if you simply ask your teammates for help, you can accomplish so much more than you could by yourself.
Jackson: I can sleep through an entire flight without waking up during the take-off or landing. The trick is to get an aisle seat so that the person next to you is forced to wake you up and you don’t get left behind!
Jason: I learned that in a choice between exercise or sleep, I will choose food every single time. I have also learned that in life we may not always have a schedule, but we will always have priorities.
Q: What is something unique from home that you’ll be carrying with you this year as you travel across the U.S.?
Brian: My favorite fortune cookie “fortune”
Mitch: My buddy J.A.’s lucky comb
Wes: A copy of The Dash poem from a close family friend
Steven: An FFA money clip that my grandpa gave me
Jackson: A University of Alabama ball cap
Jason: My decision-making coin
Q: What kinds of fundraisers did your FFA chapter do?
Brian: My chapter’s major fundraiser was fruit and meat sales. It was always a great experience unloading fruit during the cold winter weather and delivering it.
Mitch: Kick for Cash. People buy tickets for the chance to kick a field goal at halftime of every home football game.
Wes: Noticing local farmers needed a way to sell their old equipment, our chapter started an equipment auction. Tons of local farmers bring in their equipment and spend all day auctioning it in the hot sun; then the FFA chapter receives a portion of the sales. It was the perfect way to match a community need with a fundraiser.
Steven: Fruit sales for days! Also, we did a labor auction at the county fair, where all the chapter officers would work for local families or businesses for a couple of hours.
Jackson: My chapter does a barbecue fundraiser to help chapter members go to the national FFA convention and expo.
Jason: We always held an annual plant sale where students sold the plants we took care of while in class. We also do a dessert auction at our annual banquet that is amazing.
Q: It’s spring! What do you love the most about this season?
Brian: Baseball! I have always been a huge baseball fan, and this time of the year brings back the great memories of being on the field and visiting the ballpark with my family.
Mitch: Taking the top off my jeep and driving backroads.
Wes: I love seeing everything come back to life after winter. The blooming flowers, new chicks in the brooder house, and young livestock across the pastures make my day.
Steven: I absolutely love getting to spend more time outdoors in the warm, sunny weather with friends.
Jackson: Turkey-hunting season. I also love to drive through the country in the springtime and enjoy seeing the forest in full bloom. But definitely turkey season.
Jason: Farmers finally get their rain they’ve been praying for! Also, I’m a big fan of baseball and my brother is pretty good at it, so I get to watch him play.