TROY — Blue corduroy jackets filled Victory Church in Troy on Thursday, a signature indication of a meeting of the FFA.
All four local FFA chapters gathered for the annual Bradford County FFA Leadership Conference where new members of the co-curricular national organization met with seasoned upperclassmen for a day of learning and introduction.
Students from Athens, Canton, Northeast Bradford and Troy spent the morning rotating through stations gaining knowledge about FFA and were also visited by state FFA officers Timber Thebes and Killian George.
The group included a particularly large amount of eighth and ninth grade members, according to Troy FFA Advisor Hannah Harris.
After lunch, FFA members heard from keynote speaker State Representative Clint Owlett (R-68) before participating in FFA trivia.
Owlett welcomed students, noting that they are part of a “much bigger family” of 13,000 FFA members in Pennsylvania alone.
Owlett deemed the organization an “incubator for leadership” before answering students’ questions and discussing topics that ranged from the dairy industry and milk marketing to an upcoming agritourism bill and other legislation.
The representative offered advice beyond the borders of government as well, telling students about his own youth growing up on a farm in a “non-political household” and taking to politics as a way to “serve and help others” and encouraging them to seek mentorship, take opportunities offered to them and expounding on the art of public speaking.
“Never underestimate the power of a mentor in your life,” Owlett stated, telling students that they “don’t need to know everything” but should instead find others to help them in areas that they aren’t as strong in.
Owlett urged students to be proactive in achieving their dreams and taking full advantage of the privileges they have been granted in America.
“Don’t wait for opportunities to come to you, they’re there. You can be and you can do anything you want to do in the United States,” Owlett stated. “Find somebody that can help you along the way.”
Owlett also encouraged students to continue to develop their public speaking skills, informing them that even he still gets nervous when presenting to groups but that each individual has a different style of speaking.
“If you have something to say you have to be comfortable saying it and owning it,” he said.
Owlett suggested to grow in public speaking the students should watch other speakers and dedicate time to practicing.
Owlett elaborated on the importance of FFA members becoming involved in the governmental arena of agriculture, telling them that though lobbyists often make their opinions known at the capitol building it’s a special and worthwhile occurrence for students to do so as well.
“Your legislators will listen,” he stated, noting that they can make phone calls or write letters to their representatives or visit the capitol in person. “You need to get active in this process, the decisions that are being made in Harrisburg, they affect your life.”
Owlett stated that the students’ “new, exciting fresh ideas” are needed as politicians can sometimes get in “ruts” and create problems instead of solutions.
“Don’t ever underestimate what the blue and gold jacket can do for you and the results that can come from it,” Owlett said, encouraging FFA members to take risks and reach out with creative ideas.
“The future of agriculture is looking bright because of you guys,” he concluded.
He added that the opportunity to build friendships and network are two of the largest assets of FFA.
“The relationships that you will build in a group like this will last you your whole life...everything we do in life is about relationships,” he stated. “If you try to go it alone in life you’re not going to get very far.”