Kansas FFA Blog

Lessons Learned from Western Farm Show

I got out of my car after just completing my 21st hour of time on the road since the beginning of FFA week.  It was Saturday the 24tb of February and the official week was finished, but I had volunteered to be at Western Farm Show in Kansas City, MO.  As I slipped on my exhibitor’s badge and got instructions from the person on the shift before me, I geared up for passing out lanyards, representing the Kansas FFA booth (which was right across from delicious smelling food), and talking with show-goers.  What I didn’t realize was that I’d learn so many life lessons this day.  Here they are.

Free items are like gold for young children.
Most people asking me for lanyards were small children.  Once I saw a little one running from his parents who were a little way behind him.  Wanting, to help, I knelled down to get to his level and offered him a lanyard.  The short amount of time he stopped allowed his parents to catch up.  These kids can’t get enough of an item if it’s free.  Even though they’ll likely never really use that object.  As we grow older free items start to lose their appeal because we learn that anything of value often requires some sort of sacrifice.

Smiles are free.
While at the show, I wanted to be ‘on.’  I stood in place and smiled my way throughout the afternoon for two reasons.  One, I wanted to appear approachable to anyone who wanted a lanyard or may have questions.  Two, I’m a generally happy person.  As I made eye contact with others, many smiled back.  This may seem like a simple courtesy, but you never know when it could spark a meaningful conversation.

“Better than I deserve.”
Another common courtesy I extended at the show was the typical Midwest “Hi, how are you?”  “Good, what about you?”  “Good.”  However, not everyone sticks to the script.  One gentleman responded to my “how are you?” with “better than I deserve.”  How much truth is there in that?  While we may think we deserve certain things in life because of hard work, nothing is guaranteed.  Everything we cherish are things which we should be constantly thankful for.

Grandparents love showing off their babies.
I’m human and like most humans, sometimes I have full conversations with myself in my head.  However, unlike most, I often will mouth these conversations complete with facial expressions.  Unfortunately, sometimes that’ll lead some to some people thinking I’m a little cuckoo.  Another exhibitor had walked by me laughing at one of said conversations.  The next time he walked by, he stopped to chat with me.  Do you know what we talked about?  He pulled out his phone to show me a picture of his grandson.  You may not be told every day, but your family is proud of you.

Food waste is a large factor when we talk about creating a sustainable food system.
A man wearing an exhibitors badge walked up to me.  He walked to discuss where the food collected during the show would be going.  He then went on to tell riveting tales of his experience of food waste, specifically in retail situations.  Obviously, I knew food waste was an issue, but he put it in a perspective that you don’t often think of.  Why are we pushing producers to create us more product when much of it will end up wasted? How will we maximize what’s currently produced?  This exhibitor walked away before I could get his name.

Coming to Western Farm Show I wasn’t expecting to experience any of these learning experiences.  Had I not had an open heart and open mind, I may not have learned some of these lessons.

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