By Brittney Withnell
3rd Year Agricultural Science Major
Saturday, October 1st, myself and over 40 volunteers woke up bright and early to help host the Santa Barbara Sectional FFA Opening and Closing Ceremonies Contest at Cal Poly. This contest was organized by the AGED 303 class under Ms. Freeman’s leadership. Selected Cal Poly student volunteers judged the contest. Seven schools and 402 FFA members competed, totaling to about 450 in attendance. Special recognition goes to the four individual managers of the event including Molly Miller as the Event Chair, Bailey Riedel as Officer Team Chair, Brian Snyder as Open Division Chair, and Nicole Jorgenson as Novice Division Chair. To begin the event, Dr. Scott Vernon gave a warm welcome to the Santa Barbara Sectional FFA chapters.
As a former FFA member who used to compete in the Opening and Closing contests, I felt so much nostalgia during the event. I learned so much from the competition and know the many opportunities these high schoolers have in front of them. It was an unreal experience to be on the other side and judge the competition which I competed in just a couple years ago. I was just in their shoes. I remember the encouraging words of my advisors before the competition and feeling the excitement and nervousness of the day. During the event, I looked with astonishment at the young FFA members who hid their nervous emotions so well. You would never know how nervous they were feeling unless you had been in their shoes.
It has been a transition from being an FFA member to an Cal Poly Agricultural Science student and aspiring Ag teacher. I know what it’s like to be an FFA member competing in this contest and it gives me a sense of a comradery with those students. At the same time, I am able to look at them in new pair of shoes, from a facilitator and judge perspective.
Now, I understand what my teachers experienced when they coached me. It opened my eyes to the other side of the event. I saw the disappointed faces of students who didn’t win, but I smiled because I knew their potential and exciting future. Everyone did a great job putting the event on in an organized manner.
I have moved from the FFA member’s black pumps to a pair of multi-purpose teaching shoes. I am very thankful for those experiences which help guide me and many others as we prepare for our teaching careers.