By Matthew Klopfenstein
Ohio FFA President
Thanks to FFA I have become a budding agriculturalist, a communicator, a leader, a young professional, and a young man with a bright future. There are so many things that I credit to the time that I have spent being involved in this organization. Every experience I have been blessed to have has helped develop me both personally and professionally.
CDEs and SAEs
When I look back over my FFA experiences, there are a few areas that stand out above the rest. Getting involved in career development events (CDEs) and building a supervised agricultural experience program (SAE) helped me grow in so many ways. Beginning my freshman year, I started challenging myself by participating in CDE contests like public speaking and job interview. These and many more increased my abilities to communicate and to learn new concepts. After my first year in public speaking, I wasn’t convinced that I would continue with the event. I was uncomfortable and lacked confidence when I spoke in front of others. With encouragement and support from my family and agri-science education instructor, I stuck with it. Now, public speaking isn’t something I avoid, thanks to that experience. Thanks to CDEs, I learned that in order to develop personally, you have to get outside of your comfort zone.
Supervised agricultural experiences challenged me to develop professionally. If it weren’t for my work experiences outside of the classroom, I definitely would still be unsure of what career I wanted to pursue. I worked on the family farm at home, showed livestock at the fair, and even started my own business. Today, I am pursuing a degree in agricultural engineering at The Ohio State University because of what I did in my SAEs. I found that I enjoy being involved in production agriculture through my family’s diversified crop and forage operations. In addition, I enjoyed working with the machinery, and I started looking toward engineering. My hopes are to some day own a business as an agricultural engineer. Most of all, thanks to my SAEs, I have developed skills and competencies that have given me a head start on my career success.
When I approached high school graduation, I was not prepared to end my FFA journey. I wanted to take my experience and commitment to the next level. I looked at applying to serve as a state officer. To make a long story short, I am in my second term as an officer and have been challenged in ways I could have never imagined. I learned how to apply everything that I have learned in and outside of FFA to real world situations. As an officer, I am asked to serve Ohio’s 25,000 FFA members. I facilitate workshops, conferences, and camps for Ohio FFA pertaining to leadership, goal development, and teamwork. I also speak at miscellaneous events, along with being an advocate for the organization and the agriculture industry. My time as an officer has been the best experience I’ve had in FFA. I have met so many amazing people and grown personally and professionally. Most of all, thanks to holding a state office, I realize that I am a part of something much greater than myself.
This organization has definitely changed my life.
My involvement in FFA extends far past my own school and community. This organization opened many doors that allowed me to travel around the world. Attending contests and events throughout Ohio, traveling to Indianapolis and Louisville for National FFA Convention, flying to Washington D.C. and even South Africa have all been possible due to my involvement in FFA. Traveling to new places has given me an appreciation and new perspective of where I grew up. It also allowed me to learn how to network with others and build my cultural intelligence. As a state officer, I had the opportunity to travel to South Africa with other officers from around the country through the International Leadership Seminar for State Officers. During the two-week trip, we traveled all over South Africa learning about their culture, agriculture, economy, and history. Thanks to FFA, I have friends all over the world and have a better understanding of agriculture in a global perspective.
The future is bright
Thanks to FFA, I have a mind full of memories from the past six years. I am more than ready to tackle my future with everything that I have learned. This organization has definitely changed my life. Even as I near the end of my career as an active FFA member, I will definitely continue to stay involved as an alumni. I want others to experience the power of FFA and experience everything I have and more. Thanks to FFA, the future of agriculture, the future of our communities, and my future is brighter.
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