This year marked the last state convention for Kentucky FFA’s retiring state adviser, Curt Lucas.
Mr. Lucas has been a part of Kentucky FFA for many years.
He began his career as an agriculture teacher and later became state executive secretary and then state adviser.
During his career, Mr. Lucas became known for starting his speeches with
“I’ll just make a few brief remarks.”
Fifteen minutes later, we all had a new definition of brief.
Though we laughed at the irony, we all knew that Mr. Lucas was being as brief as he could about FFA. He loved the organization so much and worked so hard for the members that 15 minutes truly was brief!
As he approaches retirement, he’s finding more and more “brief remarks” are being made about him.
Like many of Mr. Lucas’ speeches, its hard to sum up his career into something short and sweet when there’s so much to say.
It was his responsibility to share what Kentucky FFA and agriculture education was doing to build tomorrow’s leaders with state legislators and decision makers in state education.
He didn’t get to spend his year hanging out with the state officer team.
Instead, he was busy making sure that a freshman in some rural Kentucky county had the opportunity to join FFA.
He was protecting the greenhouses, ag shops and welding classes that help many FFA members develop a skill that they can turn into a career.
He was making sure that another generation of state officers would someday zip up their jackets.
Mr. Lucas is the most thorough and over prepared person I know. When you have 11 college kids trying to run a convention, that’s a necessity.
Though we hated it at the time, Mr. Lucas made us practice each session of state convention over and over and over again. We were bored, we were tired and we were annoyed.
Every time we complained, he would respond just like he had to years of state officer teams before us:
“At the last session when you’re too tired to think you won’t have to, you’ll just do it.”
As usual, he was right.
The last session of each state convention is always an emotional one.
The state officers honor their parents, retire their jackets and elect a new team to take their place.
At the end of it all, 11 college kids are left backstage, crying, jacket-less and heartbroken after saying goodbye to the organization that had been their life for the past year.
I will never forget coming off the stage after taking off my own state officer jacket and getting a hug from Mr. Lucas.
He whispered in my ear:
“This is not the end, its only the beginning of the great things you’re going to do.”
Those words might not have meant much to Mr. Lucas. For all I know, he might tell every state officer that exact same thing.
It meant a lot to me though, and I’ll never forget it.
At this year’s state convention, Mr. Lucas gave his final state adviser’s report. He was honored by the association with a presentation by one of his former state officers.
He was “stationed by the owl” for the final time.
Each of these moments, brought a heavy heart and a tear to the eye of those who had the privilege of working alongside Mr. Lucas over the years.
After the state officers retired their jackets, the stage lights came back up and in the middle of the stage was Mr. Lucas, wearing his old Casey County FFA jacket.
As he took off his jacket, he smiled through tears as the entire convention hall came to their feet to honor the man who had given so much to the organization.
There wasn’t a dry eye in Rupp Arena.
Next year we’ll have a new state adviser.
We don’t know who they’ll be, if they’ll be as organized or as patient as Mr. Lucas or if they’ll actually be able to give “brief remarks.”
One thing is certain, this is not the end for Mr. Lucas, he’s still got plenty of great things left to do.