When I was about seven years old, my great uncle provided me with something that I cherish to this day; a family tree. It’s not an extensive one, as it simply traces the history of a single predecessor, in most cases the father. The family tree doesn’t branch off and reveal that I’m a distant cousin of one of our nation’s presidents. No, this tree offers something much more valuable (who isn’t distantly related to someone famous), a narrative. I can see where my 8th great grandparents were born in Germany and where they passed on in the United States. I learn in which generation the Borger family moved from Pennsylvania to Northwest Kansas. My favorite part of the family tree is the listings of my 3rd great grandpa, Valentine “VP” Borger and my great grandpa, Oscar Valentine Borger. It’s from these two men who lived before me that I get my middle name, Valentina.
This past June Kansas concluded its 89th State Convention. Next year will be the 90th and before long, we will be celebrating our 100th State Convention. Eighty-nine years of recognizing FFA members and students enrolled in agriculture education. Without a doubt, the FFA you and I now enjoy is not quite the same as members past have. This is the exact reason our state association has launched the 2028 project. The project hopes to compile and preserve a collection of documents, including personal interviews with past members, that will help in telling the history of our association.
Thankfully our association has done an excellent job of compiling this data as we’ve gone. Over the past several months I’ve browsed the state website countless time. I’ve looked through the past National and State Officer and American and State Degree lists more times than I can count. Each time it seems I discover something new; for example the father of my best friend (who encouraged me to enroll in my first ag class) earned his American degree as a member.
As I explored the website further, I stumbled upon something that is as important to me as my family tree; Kansas FFA’s Golden Years 1929-1982. It lists things from what year each chapter was chartered, Kansas Sweethearts, and even who won State CDEs. While all of this is quite interesting, the publication recognizes “the real history can be found in the lives of present and past members.”
From these compilations, we can learn that Rick Malir and Gov. Sam Brownback served as both State and National Officers. What it doesn’t teach us is how this association and organization impacted their lives or why they continue to support the organization. It’s only from listening to these individuals that we can learn from them. Many of our Alumni lived through those “Golden Years” of the Kansas FFA. While many things were different during their time as a member, do we not gain some of the same experiences?
It may have been called the Golden Years because when something is new, it is shiny. However, to this day, FFA members continue to grow in their Blue Jackets, living out GOLD Standards. We’re told that highschool is the best time of our lives. How can we maximize our time as members so that our golden years are remembered for years to come?
Living to Serve,
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