The local district Future Farmers of America chapters came to campus today for their forensic public speaking and parliamentary law competition to determine who will go on to the State competition. I have judged for this December event every year except one for the past 18 years.

IMG_1703The young lady in the picture with me is a darling story. In the very first of those FFA competitions we hosted 18 or 19 years ago, she was a high school sophomore and a competitor in the events. I’m pretty sure I judged her at least once in those years. She competed again her junior and senior years and then attended LSU Eunice after she graduated from high school. For the two years she was a student, she served as a student worker in my office, one of my staff’s absolutely favorite and most beloved student workers of all time. She finished her associate degree and continued at LSU where she earned her bachelor’s degree in Vocational Agriculture Education and became a high school agriculture teacher in a local school. She began bringing


FFA students to the competition every December. She also continued in graduate school, earning her Masters degree several years ago, and she’s continuing yet as in a Ph.D. program at LSU. We’re proud of this young lady!

I made the photo in my office this afternoon, careful to frame my FFA State Award plaque on the wall in the background. One of the local Ag sponsors nominated me for that prestigious honor in 2010. Personally, that’s the highest recognition I’ve received in nearly 28 years in public education, since the FFA meant much to me in my high school days.

In fact, today I showed off to the high school students the national blue and corn gold FFA jacket that I wore to the national FFA Convention in 1969. They seemed impressed that a 60+ year old dude still had his FFA jacket, and it looked in as good a condition as theirs.

And, how coincidental that one of the speech contestants I judged referenced in her speech the historic 1969 national convention (I was there!) when the contentious vote to make FFA coeducational passed and opened membership in the formerly all-male organization to girls. I had forgotten that such an historic issue was resolved in the assembly I attended. I can’t remember if I voted or not, but I’m glad it passed. My assistant and I would have missed out on Tiffany.