Jessie Lumpkins

All Members in Unison:

Blog Post created by Jessie Lumpkins on Oct 31, 2012

National FFA Convention is what turned the switch on for me. When the house lights in Freedom Hall came up in 2002 and I recited with thousands of other FFA members in the same blue jacket the words: "To practice brotherhood, honor agricultural opportunities and responsibilities, and develop those qualities of leadership, which an FFA member should possess," knew my four years wouldn't be enough. After being honored to speak at the 5th Session at the 85th National FFA Convention with McKenzie Becker and Mike Miron for NAAE, I hope you'll indulge me for this post as I persuade young people to join the profession; or at the very least, remind each of us why we do the job we do.

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To Practice Brotherhood ...

Just I do every year at National Convention, I noticed the bond between my students grow closer during our time in Indy last week. How could it not when we had to catch 5:30am buses and squeeze too many people to mention into a small Mercury SUV?  My students made new friends and cheered for old ones. This is the first year we didn't compete in a CDE at Nationals since I've been an advisor, but it didn't mean we weren't rooting for every Tennessee team there.  I love the flurry of excited texts when someone else advances to the final four or makes it past pre-lims- students whom they may not have shared a classroom with, but are no less friends and fellow FFA members. Not only were they supporting other FFA members, but they were courteous and helpful to everyone we met along the way in Indy.What other career allows you to create kind and compassionate young people in such a way?


Honor Agricultural Opportunities and Responsibilities ...

We of course saw our fair share of sessions and the career show and expo. We were lucky enough to also work the first shift in the Rally to Fight Hunger as well. During the shift, my chapter president was interviewed by the local Indy 6 News. Without any preparation at all, she delivered a flawless and wonderful interview, in part due to her placing 2nd in the Job Interview CDE at state this year. As we walked into our hotel room to change, we flipped on the TV and just happened to see her, on a TV 300 miles away from home. What other career creates opportunities for students long after they've left your classroom?



And Develop Those Qualities of Leadership...

Leadership can be navigating the group to Lucas Oil Stadium in downtown Indy. Leadership is taking charge of the group to determine dinner plans. Leadership is seeing the student feeling a little left out and saying, "What booths would you like to visit in the career show?" We'd all like to hope that one day the leaders we developed will be the face of Fortune 500 companies, but isn't it just as amazing to develop a leader who can simply make others around them feel comfortable, validated and welcomed? Let's face it - they won't all be CEOs, but they will all be in situations where someone needs validation and to be welcomed. Those small things are what add up the big things. What other career lets you teach the small things?



Which an FFA Member Should Possess ...

Even on those days ... the ones where we wonder if Wal-Mart greeter should be a career option ? it always gets better. On the last day of convention, one of my newer members had an... explosion. He said he didn't want his FFA jacket, that he hated FFA, and that he had an awful time on the trip. Of course my heart hurt for a little while and I spoke with him about why I wanted him to attend, and hoped in the future he could open himself up to growth. Then I let him cool off and hours later he pulled me aside. "My mom always taught me to count my blessings, and you're definitely one of them. I just had anger built up before the trip and I took it out here. I love FFA and I definitely don't want to quit. I've never had a teacher care about me so much. I'm sorry." I'm glad in a way that this student let out his anger so that he can release it and allow the experiences he'll have in FFA to help him "grow." What other career so directly influences positive growth of young people?

Yes we teach facts, statistics, methods, skills and those are important. I'm sure my students gained technical, tangible information while at convention as well, and I love that aspect of my job. But the part that keeps me coming back after my feet are blistered, I've had four hours of sleep in a strange bed, I've heard harsh words, I've endured the city bus for four days and I'm pretty sure I'm getting sick... is the knowledge that because of something I've done, there are young people with a positive outlook on their future, who know (in a time when there is so much hopelessness among teenagers) that they are valued, and who will be pillars of their communities and possibly of their entire generation.

Are you being called to do the same? When will you be tagged?