I had the honor of addressing the District X FFA Banquet last night and this is part of what I told them:

In addition to my work with CFB, I also write on a blog and teach other farmers and ranchers to do the same through the FarmWife Project. This usually results in great tales of the happenings throughout the year on Colorado and New Mexico’s farms and ranches and there is rarely a lack of great photos. Last week, I stopped and took a few iPhone photos of dirt drifts I passed south of Karval. I don’t have to tell you how dry it is but I went ahead and wrote a blog post about the drought and posted the photos.

The blog post and the photos hit home and hundreds of people read the post. They shared it on Facebook and emailed it to different news outlets. Tim Andersen sent it to 9 News and they rolled into Karval Sunday to film Marc Hollenbaugh and Nelson Taylor. The photos, blog, and video have been viewed, shared, tweeted, retweeted, and Facebooked all over the place. All of this came as a result from a few iPhone photos, a blog, and one individual.
If little old me can garner that much attention for one topic, just think what you can do in your chapters and in your district.

The FFA program at Douglas County, the school I attended and graduated from, was not established until after my days in the halls but I hold the students and teachers involved in FFA near and dear and I’m in awe of the great opportunities you have before you. Through the opportunities that have been made available to me through Farm Bureau, the YF&R Program and my blogging, I’ve seen many states, know my elected officials well, and have had the opportunity to network with individuals involved in agriculture all over the country. One of the things that I’m pleased to do is to be able to tell the stories of agriculture to groups like this, blog readers, and other groups I’ve been invited to speak before. It’s not everyone who has the opportunity to write about HSUS, ice storms, droughts, grassfires, the Colorado Department of Wildlife, selling cows, castrating pigs, influencing legislation, lipstick, working on a House District 64 campaign, the hard economic times and rebuilding of operations, making antelope sausage with intestine wrappers, and mountain lions.

You have the unique opportunity to write your own history as a District within the history and traditions of Colorado FFA. There is little history bounding you to do things as they’ve always been done. Many of you come from relatively young chapters and you have the same gift. I hope you will all move forward in your own way in FFA. Set your path and goals and work toward those goals every day. Once you graduate, I hope you take advantage of the opportunities available through Farm Bureau and other ag organizations. I attended the Lincoln Day Dinner Saturday, which is a fundraising dinner for the Republican party. Aside from a handful of elected officials, we and one other couple were the youngest in the room by a significant number of years.

Agriculture, politics, and the future of rural, conservative Colorado is not your grandpa’s game. The voices of young agriculturists are irreplaceable and necessary at the State Capitol, county Farm Bureau Board meetings, Lincoln Day Dinners, and around kitchen tables influencing policy recommendations. Your involvement is key to your being able to continue in agriculture, whether it is on a ranch in Karval or in Castle Rock in a beef verification office.

The options are broader now than in any other time in agriculture. The secret is to take the tradition of the blue jacket, respect it, and own your own story within FFA and agriculture.