I have been through eight different agriculture teachers during my time at Nelson County High School and they have all impacted me in various ways. This was a quote from Nolan Miles, 201 120 1 2 State FFA Treasurer, during the advisor appreciation luncheon at the Kentucky State FFA Convention. My co-workers and I looked at each other. Had it really been eight different people? I never realized until that moment how much teacher turnover had transpired over the last four years. Through all of its changes the Nelson County agriculture program has remained successful. What was the constant factor that ensured that success? The answer resides not in people, because people come and go, or events because they too evolve over the years. The secret of success for the agriculture program was traditions that have prevailed through time. Traditions of leadership, service, diversity, and community involvement all culminated together to create a strong program and various events were utilized as vessels to exhibit these core traditions.
Tradition of Leadership
One of the key traditions of the Nelson County program, and other programs all across the nation, is a tradition of leadership. A student lead executive team is an essential part of this tradition. As advisors we are asked to advise from time to time as the need arises not overshadow the students. The committees are responsible for developing the ideas, planning the events, and carrying them out to completion. One event that truly achieves a tradition of leadership is the Freshmen Leadership Conference (FLC). In 2002 the executive team saw a need for freshmen in leadership roles. How could they get them more involved and instill in them the leadership qualities necessary to run a successful chapter? Through this brainstorming session, FLC was born. An overnight conference that included workshops put on by the executive team, vespers from the chapter officers, and fellowship with other freshmen was created. Over time state officers became involved and attended to serve as role models. Other chapters across the state developed their own FLC programs. This event has become a true means to accomplishing the tradition of leadership. Even before FLC began the Nelson County agriculture program was practicing the tradition of leadership. During the parent member banquet this spring the class of 1949, who founded the Nelson County chapter, was honored. A gentlemen from this class shared with the audience what he had gained from his high school agriculture experience. He said that because someone saw potential in him, gave him a task, and trusted him to follow it to completion he was able to use those skills to be successful for the remainder of his life. Letting go and handing the students the reins is a way to ensure you are practicing true leadership and will preserve the program long after the current teachers are gone.
Tradition of Service
Service is one of the most vital parts of any organization. Giving back to the school and community at large is a task that many chapters would consider a fundamental tradition. The National FFA supports this cause with the million hour challenge that logged chapter's community service hours (National FFA, 2012). The Kentucky State Association recently implemented a day of service at the State Convention to help cultivate the tradition of service. Over time the events to provide service have changed at Nelson County, but the one thing that remains is contributing something valuable to the school or community. This past year a new event for our chapter was instituted called extreme yard makeover. Families across the county are in need of assistance in taking care of their property due to disability or old age. Simple tasks such as stacking fire wood for the winter, trimming trees and bushes, and cleaning up yard debris are invaluable to a family in need. Instilling in students the desire to help others around them is priceless and will make them better citizens. …