Agriculture covers almost every facet of our lives

By Kourtney Otte

Thick green stalks with leaves blowing in the breeze.

A combine groans in the distance, kicking up dust in its wake.

Tiny grains of corn or soybeans clink against the sides of a towering grain bin.

A father teaches his son the way of the land.

Even the fields that run alongside the road, cattle in the fields and the county fair.

When agriculture is the topic of conversation, many people think of those images. I think of the summers spent on my grandparents’ farm, chasing the sun in a beat-up golf cart. Through my youth, that is what I believed agriculture was — a farmer in their field.

This idea I had very quickly changed when FFA entered my life. The reality of what agriculture is and was has become very near and dear to my heart.

You see, agriculture covers almost every facet of our lives. In fact, every single one of us has a connection to it, even if we don’t realize it.

Now, I can spend all day talking about how I am truly amazed by the industry that fuels our world. But there’s another area that just so happens to be celebrated right now.

Feb. 19 to 26 is National FFA Week. Almost 12,000 members from across the state will join students across the nation to celebrate an organization that has shaped each person who wears the blue corduroy.

The true beauty of this is the diversity that each chapter has in its celebration. Some may go skiing. Others host teacher appreciation lunches. Whatever it may be, FFA is celebrated.

The Indiana FFA state officer team and I will travel thousands of miles, meet with hundreds of members, advocate and educate and create memories that will last a lifetime.

In all honesty, that’s what this year has been filled with — hours upon hours spent in cars watching as the geography changes from rolling hills to flat plains, conferences and conventions are filled with members decked out in national blue and corn gold, countless conversations about agriculture, education and the importance of career development, memories that continue to shape me into the person I am today.

Six years ago, I put on an FFA jacket for the first time in my life. At the time, I had no idea I would end up here. I was a bright-eyed middle school student wanting something to take up my free time. Oh my, did I get what I asked for.

Six years flew by in a whirlwind of contests, conferences and conventions, and in a blink of an eye, I’ll be sliding my jacket on for the last time at the 93rd Indiana FFA State Convention.

Every time I put on that jacket, I learned a new skill. I learned something about myself I never expected to find out. I learned leadership comes in a million different shapes and sizes. I learned you have to be quiet in volume and loud in value at times. I learned you are more than the mental barriers in your head. I learned advocating is what sets my heart on fire. I learned without FFA, I would not be the person I am today.

So as we venture into National FFA Week, I challenge you to put on that blue corduroy jacket. Say yes to that new event. Go to the chapter meeting. Do it. It may seem uncomfortable now, but it is so worth the time.

Kourtney Otte, a 2021 graduate of Seymour High School, is the Indiana FFA president. Send comments to [email protected].