Tuesday, February 5, 2019

"Get to Chasing" by Sara Toal, State Vice-President

February Blog

Ever since I was a child, I’ve always been chasing after something. Of course, when I was younger, that something was most likely a wild, escaped lamb or one of my even wilder, little siblings. In elementary school, I was chasing after the title of “Biggest Taylor Swift Fan” amongst my friends and that first place ribbon in the Spelling Bee.. or is it “Be”... I don’t know, it’s safe to say I didn’t win either. Junior High was filled with me chasing the school’s record for most books read in a year… which I did achieve at the expense of my social life. In high school, I was chasing after summer breaks and that beloved diploma… only to find myself months later in college chasing after the same thing all over again. I think it’s safe to say that everyone has something to chase after, a goal that we see at the end of the race, waiting for us to reach it. Now, as FFA members, that something doesn’t have to be big banners and shiny trophies, but something more self-fulfilling. I’m talking about degrees.

Now, now, hold up a minute. I’m not talking about those degrees that keep you up all night worrying about essays, math homework, and chemistry exams. I’m talking about a much more fun take on it: FFA degrees. Whether you’re a freshman, sophomore, junior, senior, or even already a high school graduate, you can add an FFA degree to your list of accomplishments. Sara, what are these things you’re talking about? Great question, you read my mind.

FFA degrees are opportunities that show everything you’ve worked so hard to achieve throughout your time in the blue jacket. They even have a tier system so that you don’t have to wait four long years to receive this honor. As a freshman or a first-year FFA member, you can qualify for the Greenhand FFA Degree. All you have to do is learn about the FFA Creed, what our motto, salute, and colors are, and know a few FFA history facts. If you think you’ve got that down, grab the closest FFA manual and go the “Greenhand FFA Degree Requirements” and make sure you can check off everything on the list, and you are good to go! Next time you see your ag teacher, ask them how you can apply to receive your Greenhand Degree because every chapter is different! You might even walk home with a fancy certificate and new pin for your jacket from your end of the year banquet too. Holy cow, look at you go!

Okay, now I’m talking to my Sophomores or second-year members who have already received their Greenhand Degrees. You, my friends, are now eligible for your Chapter FFA Degree. Since you already have received your Greenhand Degree, there are only a few more requirements you have to meet in order to advance to this next level of achievement. Make sure you have a well functioning SAE (if you don’t know what this is, go check out Kerington’s blog last month!), have 10 hours of community service, and have effectively led 15 minutes in a group discussion in your chapter. Again, take a look in one of your chapter’s manuals to make sure you have everything you need, then hit up your advisor to see what steps you need to take to apply for Chapter FFA Degree.

Alright, my Juniors and Seniors, I need your attention on this one. You of all can apply for your.. drum roll please.. State FFA Degree! Now, this is entering into the “big leagues” of degrees. Have you ever been to State Convention and thought to yourself, “Wouldn’t it be cool if I was up there?” Well, good news, you can be! Since you have already earned your Greenhand and Chapter FFA Degrees, you can apply and be awarded your State FFA Degree on stage at Convention with some very easy steps. If you have 25 hours of community service, can demonstrate 10 parliamentary law procedures, have participated in five FFA activities/events above the chapter level, and have only a handful of other requirements down, you are on the right track to getting that gold pin and certificate. Just go onto the Louisiana FFA website page, scroll down to “Awards and Degrees”, click on “State FFA Degree”, and start applying! After you’re done, ask your advisor to look over your application, and once they give you the thumbs up, submit it! Your application will be reviewed, and if accepted, you’ll be walking that stage at Convention in no time. Only 10% of members ever get their state degree, so remember that this is an extreme honor, so give it your all!

Now for my high school graduates and college students, you might not have known that there was anything after the state degree, but do I have news for you. After you are awarded your state degree, you can start working on your application for the highest honor in the National FFA Organization... your American Degree. This award is given to the best of the best in the country, and that can easily be you. Make sure to keep hold of your SAE records and get in contact with your advisor to help you fill out your application. This will give you a chance to be one of the elite 1% of members that are awarded this honor and give you the opportunity to travel to Indianapolis and walk across the stage at the NATIONAL FFA CONVENTION! Way to represent Louisiana! So if you have hung up your FFA jacket and are thinking of one great way to wrap up your FFA career and also make Louisiana shine, make sure to look into applying for your American degree, and make your chapter and state proud!

Everyone chases after something, and I can say from experience that the feeling of catching that dream or goal you’ve been after is one you’ll hold onto for the rest of your life. Don’t just go through the motions, step up and stand out. Rise above in everything you do. And when you slip on that blue jacket, remember that you are apart of something extraordinary, and therefore, YOU are extraordinary. So give yourself the recognition your extraordinary self deserves and apply for that degree, and chase that gold standard.

Stay awesome my friends,
Sara Toal

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