(Editor’s note: This week is the Ohio FFA state convention. We reached out to two Knox County FFA’ers who have stretched their potential through FFA, serving as state officers, to hear their FFA reflections. Here’s the first exclusive post, by 2014-15 state officer Abby Pozderac, of Fredericktown, Ohio, and you can read 2016-17 state officer Ryan Matthews’ piece, too.)
By Abby Pozderac
Six years ago, I entered my high school ag room as a freshman who was unsure of who she was and where she wanted to go in life. Little did I know that the organization that I had joined was going to bless me beyond compare and transform my life.
Now, as a student at Oklahoma State University looking back at my experiences with Ohio FFA, I am grateful for the opportunities that allowed me to develop leadership skills, personal growth and career success. The skills gained through this organization have prepared me for life outside of the blue jacket and for that I am eternally grateful.
Statistics show that 74 percent of Americans possess glossophobia, otherwise known as a fear of public speaking. Not me. In fact, if you ask my grandfather, he will tell you that I was blessed with the gift of gab. Both my mother and my FFA adviser saw that this was true as well, and encouraged me to participate in the public speaking career development events (CDEs).
Public speaking events showed me that my ability to speak was a skill that I could use to inform, persuade and influence the agricultural industry as well as the general public.
Debra Burden, my FFA adviser, encourages students to jump outside of their comfort zone by participating in a variety of CDEs. For me, those contests were soils judging and food science. They were challenging, but they helped me grow and provided me with a glimpse of some of the different career opportunities within agriculture.
Each CDE helped me become more knowledgeable about agriculture and encouraged professional development among me, my fellow teammates and competitors.
My passion for agriculture sparked at a young age when my grandpa gave me a Southdown ewe lamb. So at the beginning of my FFA career, I wanted to focus on market lambs and breeding sheep as my Supervised Agricultural Experience (SAE). During my SAE project, I kept accurate records, which helped me make informed decisions on the expansion and marketing of my flock.
Additionally, after talking with my adviser and family I made the decision to branch out from sheep production and take on the new challenge of raising market hogs for my county fair.
Through my SAE projects, I was able to put purpose into action by implementing goals for what I wanted to accomplish with my livestock, and then working hard every day to ensure I achieved those goals.
Thanks to the guidance of my adviser, parents and grandparents, through my SAE, I was able to earn my State FFA Degree in 2014 and my American FFA Degree in 2016.
It was not until zipping up a blue corduroy jacket and becoming involved with FFA that I realized what greatness could be accomplished.
Record keeping, responsibility and hard work are some of the many skills that my SAEs taught me. These skills are ones that I have been able to implement outside of the barn and ones that play a huge role in my pursuit for my bachelor’s degree in agricultural education.
Too often, people don’t realize what they are truly capable of until they learn it for themselves. I was one of those individuals. It was not until zipping up a blue corduroy jacket and becoming involved with FFA that I realized what greatness could be accomplished.
My time spent serving as Fredericktown’s chapter president helped me realize my potential for leadership. Working with my chapter showed me that my desire to impact this organization went beyond the chapter level. Thanks to the love and support of my chapter, I was inspired to run to serve the Ohio FFA for the 2014-15 year.
Elected as the 2014-15 District 7 President, I was ecstatic to serve the over 23,000 Ohio FFA members. My purpose for the year was to serve the Ohio FFA to the best of my ability and to impact the lives of FFA members, but ironically they transformed mine.
If I could use one phrase to describe my year serving Ohio FFA, it would be “blessed beyond compare.” As I traveled across Ohio visiting FFA chapters, my heart overflowed with happiness and hope for the future of our organization.
One of my favorite visits was with the Talawanda FFA chapter. After speaking at their Greenhand Degree Ceremony, some of the freshmen shared with me how their involvement in FFA has inspired them to pursue a leadership position within their chapter and helped them discover their passion for a future career in the agricultural industry.
The connections made throughout my FFA journey are ones I cherish dearly. I feel truly blessed to have been in a position where I had the opportunity to work with wonderful individuals and was given the chance to inspire young people who brought me laughter, good conversation, and a new outlook on life.
Currently I am a sophomore at Oklahoma State University in Stillwater, Oklahoma, studying agricultural education. Prior to FFA, my career goal was to become a dental hygienist. Thanks to my experiences in the FFA, I discovered my passion advocating for agriculture as well as my desire to educate young people on the many aspects and career opportunities in the agriculture industry.
After earning my bachelor’s degree, I plan on returning to Ohio to impact agriculture by educating the future leaders of our industry by becoming a high school agricultural educator and FFA adviser.
I hope to transform the lives of my future students by introducing them to the great opportunities that FFA offers and provide them with real life experiences that allows them to unleash their potential for premier leadership, personal growth and career success.
(Abby Pozderac is a graduate of Fredericktown High School in Knox County, Ohio, currently studying at Oklahoma State University. She was elected as the 2014-15 state FFA District 7 FFA President.)