On Friday night, I was surprised by the Wyoming FFA Association with an award at the Wyoming State Fair. As I stood accepting Steamboard Award from the state officers, I had two thoughts running through my head.
First, don’t they just give these awards to old people? And second, I certainly don’t deserve this.
I won’t entertain comments on the former, but as to the latter, it is hard to believe I deserve an award just for doing something that I love. I’ve been working and volunteering for the Wyoming FFA for almost twenty years. I could wax poetic about my altruistic motives, but the truth is, I do it because it is fun. I do it because I love the people I get to work with. I do it because it energizes me to be surrounded by motivated high school students. And I do it because I love what the FFA is and what it stands for. Receiving an award for all of that is humbling and a little embarrassing.
They didn’t let me give an acceptance speech, which is probably a good thing. But if I had, I would have been quick to thank my high school ag teacher and FFA advisor, Ty Berry. Ty, you weren’t just a teacher and coach – you were one of my biggest supporters. My love of the organization starts with you. You believed in me even when I didn’t believe in myself much. You stood by me through a lot of self-induced girl drama, helped me find a college major and kicked me in the butt when I needed it. You and my dad have always been the yardstick I measure myself against when it comes to hard work, integrity, servant leadership and honesty. When you congratulated me after the award was probably one of the coolest moments of my adult life!
And I would have thanked Cody Wagner and Ron Pulse, the two men that hired me all those years ago to work as a media intern for the FFA. That part-time job kept me involved in an organization I loved dearly and gave me a start into the professional world of communications. Both of you gave me a gift – not just a job, but a sense of purpose at at time in college where I was adrift emotionally. Thank you for serving the dual role as friends and mentors for so many years.
I would have thanked all the state officers that shared their lives with me when I was coaching state officers. You trusted me to coach you and listened to most of the advice I gave you. You put your faith in me to lead them through the year. From my very first team that used to celebrate my birthday even when it wasn’t my birthday to the team that pranked me with toilet water, to the state officers that tried to set me up with a love match and gave me their own special nicknames like Mama T and TCo…thank you. Even the ones that tested my patience and resolve with every phone call or encounter (you know who you are!). You all became my kids and all hold a special place in my heart. I am blessed to have had you in my life, and I am honored now to count many among you as friends.
And I would have thanked Stacy Broda, my long-time friend turned boss. Stacy brought me back under the fold of the Wyoming FFA most recently as their PR coordinator and convention manager. You have given me a creative and social outlet and the opportunity to work with a new generation of state officers. You have also cultivated a new and different spirit in the Wyoming FFA, one of teamwork and support and a sense of family. It is that spirit that fuels me and the folks I bring on to help run convention. It is what keeps us going during the rough patches and keeps some of us working long past the days when we said we’d turn our jobs over to someone else.
I would have thanked my convention management team for making me look good when April rolls around. I get a lot of the credit, but it is really you that makes convention happen. Burt, Oaklee and Emily, along with the whole crew of interns, you make this job easier. And you make it a heck of a lot of fun.
And finally, I would have thanked my husband for being my partner and supporting me in my current roles with the Wyoming FFA. Outdoor Guy, I know you didn’t grow up doing the FFA thing. I know the organization and my love of it is a bit of a mystery to you. But you recognize how important it is to me. You understand my need to have some outlet for those professional skills I cultivated for more than a decade before choosing to stay home with our daughter. And you gamely tag along to events and happenings to be my oh so very handsome arm candy. I can’t believe the lengths you went to conspiring with Stacy for weeks to get me to the reception. It would have been a wonderful moment regardless, but it certainly meant a great deal more knowing that you were there to share it with me.
I am thankful for the people I’ve met and the opportunities I’ve been given through this fine organization. I am humbled by this wonderful recognition. I am blessed.