Congratulations to the new Illinois FFA Officer Team - all women! While there have been seven women presidents at the state level, this is the first all-women team in the 90-year history of the organization.
So why do I title Colleen Comments “Almost 50 Years Later”? Let me answer by asking another question. Do you know when women were permitted to be members of the Illinois FFA? It was June 1969. I may forget a lot of events in my lifetime, but not that one. Why? Because I graduated from high school in May 1969. That means the month after I graduated, women received permission to join the then Future Farmers of America. I was permitted to take ag classes in high school, but I could not contend for any recognitions.
I don’t know any of the 2018-19 officer team, but I do know that each of them has a competitive spirit. And I know that none of them set out to be a member of the first all-female officer team. That was happenstance. The goal of each was to have an opportunity to learn more about agriculture and agribusiness and its relationships to everyday living. To have an opportunity to learn about themselves, determine their areas of particular interest, and hone their skills through competitive events. To have an opportunity to chart a career path in agriculture. To have an opportunity to perform and not be pre-judged on their abilities or capabilities or deemed unqualified because of their first name or gender.
I’ve had many firsts in my professional life. None of which were goals. It just turned out that way. But I want to believe each of those “firsts” was a consequence of my determination, my genuine desire to inform and educate through a communications platform, my stick-to-it attitude, and because I had the encouragement of my family! I’m confident the current members of the FFA officer team each sought the same opportunities I did. They, however, had a different path to travel. Despite dissimilar routes, my hope for each is that this leadership opportunity will propel them to the same work gratification that I’ve experienced. An experience that began...almost 50 years ago!