It was a blessing to have the opportunity to serve as a national delegate for Florida at the 87th National FFA Convention almost two months ago. I have seen where this organization has come from and where it is today, but to be a part of the process that will help this organization continue to grow and thrive was absolutely amazing! While at convention I got to interact with many other state officers from across the nation, but the three that really stood out were; Jovon Townsend (Delaware), Hunter Morton (South Dakota), and DeShawn Blanding (South Dakota). Yes, all three of them are African-American, but what really stood out to me was how much they respected their culture and where they came from.
✔️ Don’t forget where you come from
When I was with those three other individuals I was reminded of struggles and efforts that were put forth for us to be in that blue corduroy jacket. There was a time when woman were not allowed in this organization. There was time when there was a separate organization for African-Americans in agriculture. It’s extremely important that we never forget where we came from so that we can continue moving forward. Think back to where you used to be before you zipped up the blue jacket… Think back to before you took that first Ag class… How can we move forward if don’t know where we have been?
✔️ Your past does not determine your success in the future
It’s important to reflect on where we used to be, but it’s also vital to remember that our past does not determine how successful we are. Learn from the mistakes that you made in the past and keep moving forward. You are not defined by how much money you make, where you live, what you drive, what you wear, or how you look… But what we are defined by is the content of our character. Don’t let someone tell you that you can’t do something simply because of where you come from. You can be successful, not only in this organization, but in the game of life.
✔️Everything comes full circle
We are vastly approaching the 50th anniversary of when The NFA and the FFA merged together. I think it’s funny how everything seems to comes full circle for me. It was the delegates in 1965 that decided that it was time for a change in this organization, those delegates decided that no matter the color of ones skin or where they come from we all share a common passion for agriculture. It was the delegates in 1969 that decided that woman should be allowed to join. Without these changes over half of my state officer team would not be in the blue corduroy jacket. I’m extremely grateful that everything came full circle, allowing me to participate in that same delegate process so that I can exert an influence in trying to make great changes in this organization and in the lives of others.
✔️ It’s not about making history
When I was elected I was constantly being asked how it felt to be one of two African-American state officers ever in Florida, and how it felt to be the first African-American state Vice President in Florida. It felt good, however I stressed to them that for me IT WAS NOT ABOUT MAKING HISTORY, IT’S ABOUT MAKING A DIFFERENCE. I don’t care about getting my name called and put on a big screen, I don’t care about the recognition, I don’t care about getting a fancy award. I care about the members, I want to make a difference in the lives of those members! I challenge you to not dwell on making history, but focus on making a difference in the lives of others.
We should never forget the last line of the first paragraph of the FFA creed that says,
“The better things we now enjoy have come to us from the struggles of former years.”
Jacobi Bedenfield, Area I State Vice President