When I started seeing National FFA Week posts pop up on my various newsfeeds today, the first thing that came to mind was fond memories of some of my dearest friends.
I recently wrote a post about the many things students gain from FFA and agriculture education.
Today though, I want to focus on another aspect of my FFA experience that has made a profound impact on my life – my FFA friends.
I don’t know why FFA friendships are so special.
Maybe it was bonding over pink lemonade and orange sherbet at FFA camp. Maybe it was the pantyhose runs, tie tying lessons and late night shirt ironing.
Maybe there’s something about giving speeches, showing livestock and interview contests that brings like minded kids together.
Whatever the reason, as I look back on the eight years since I hung up my FFA jacket, one thing has not changed – my FFA friends are there for me no matter what.
One of them became my husband (so I guess you could say my very best friend came from FFA!) Our FFA friends became our college friends, roommates and the members of our wedding party. One of them is even our daughter’s godfather.
They make up half of our Christmas card list. They’re the reason that any agriculture event feels more like a family reunion than a business function.
Nothing is off limits with FFA friends.
When I launched my business and we began the journey of trying to buy our farm, they were the ones we could call on for pep talks to keep us motivated and blunt reality checks to keep us grounded.
They’re the kind of friends who give you candid advice you never knew you needed, whether in the form of Dave Ramsey books or breastfeeding tips.
Sometimes they help you pick out car seats, paint colors and sushi rolls. Other times they’re helping you decide between job offers and life insurance plans.
No matter how big or little the decision, they’re your most trusted advisers and the people you want to springboard your ideas off of.
They’re the first people you turn to when you need prayers.
Farm folks are always there for each other in the hard times, ready to do whatever they can to help or ease the pain just a little.
FFA friends are no different. Since they’ve known you since you were a teenager, you’ve grown up with them and they understand you in a way that friendships forged in adulthood just can’t.
FFA friends show up at funerals for your family members they barely knew, because they know you need them there. When you get a call that your grandmother was airlifted for emergency surgery, they talk you down from your crying meltdown and keep you calm enough to drive home safely.
They send you a heartfelt text or a facebook message when there are too many miles between you for a hug.
When their sibling is battling cancer or their baby is in the NICU, an army of prayer warriors rallies around them, made up mostly of FFA friends.
In my toughest times, knowing that I could turn to them for prayers, support and someone to have a good cry with made all the difference.
Friendships like these are such a blessing.
They’re the kind that grow stronger through the years, even though it seems that you’re spending less and less time together.
They survive the changes that come with marriages, babies, moves and new jobs.
They never expect a thank you, but they deserve one.
When I think back on everything I gained during my time in FFA, my friends are the first thing that come to mind.
The plaques and banners were boxed up years ago. The jackets are hanging in the back corner of a closet. The photos are buried in some old facebook album.
The friends? They’re still on speed dial and I don’t foresee that changing any time soon.
So to each of you: thank you.
Thank you for the laughs, prayers, hugs and memories. And thank God for FFA for bringing us all together!