Last June, I watched Jordan Johns take the stage at the Illinois FFA Convention and deliver five speeches during the state officer elections. Elections are nerve-wracking to watch, let alone participate in, hoping to get another year in the blue jacket serving the state’s membership. But Jordan held steady, calmly sharing her FFA journey with fellow Illinois members. She was elected state FFA treasurer and has served with grace this year. It was a pleasure to meet her again at the Illinois Harvest Dinner last September. She was one of two FFA members who attended and helped connect farm to food for the non-farmer audience. Jordan even rang the dinner bell (see picture).
What FFA activities do you participate in and which is your favorite?
I participated in the Ag Sales, Creed Speaking, Prepared Public Speaking, and Agricultural Communications career development events. I was also involved with several school and community focused activities, my favorite of which was our Ag Peers program. The 19 special education students in Pontiac Township High School’s Special Education Department came to our ag shop twice a month to complete agriculture-themed lesson plans with their peers in agriculture education classes. We met 15 times throughout the 2013-2014 school year. I loved this program because both groups of students learned from one another, friendships were made, and agricultural education was at the heart of it all!
Why did you join?
I initially joined FFA because of my involvement in 4-H. I enjoyed the public speaking opportunities in 4-H, and I had been showing pigs since 2004. I guess you could say it was almost a natural progression for me.
Why do you stay?
I believe that when kids start a new chapter in their lives, specifically high school, they are in search of two things: a sense of belonging and to be successful. The definition of success varies from person to person. For some, it’s winning an award, for others it’s making a new friend, and still for others it’s having the motivation to be in attendance at school for five days in a row. FFA and agricultural education provide these “successes” and so many more for students. Students can explore and discover their interests while developing skills that will help them in the future, no matter what career path he/she may choose. FFA allows kids to be themselves and feel that they belong.