I wish you had been there … 60,000 outstanding young men and women gathered in Louisville, Kentucky for the 87th Annual Future Farmers of America Convention. One day, these young people will take over this country. These students are leaders; they are innovative and savvy. They are thought leaders, excellent communicators and have a passion to make a difference in the world – no kidding! By request, here is the song I sang with FFA convention pics on YouTube, You Can Grow.
It was an honor to give away my book, Bare Feet to High Heels that is a continuation of my message. You can download it for free; my gift to these wonderful young people. www.janeherlong.com/ffa
When I walked into the coliseum on Wednesday afternoon for the opening session and saw thousands of youth dressed in the traditional dark blue FFA jackets dancing, singing and celebrating in unison their beloved FFA, tears flooded in my eyes. The experience was unforgettable.
In Louisville, Kentucky I saw the spirit of FFA. I knew I was in the presence of greatness; it is the largest convention in the country, the National Future Farmers of America.
I watched the inspiring address of Nick Vujicic and the challenge of feeding the world with Donnie Smith, Tyson Food’s CEO. Jeff Simmons the CEO of Elanco, shared the message of stopping world hunger.
It was three days of inspiration, motivation, and education.
Backstage on Friday night, the 2013-14 National FFA Officers: Brian Walsh, Mitch Baker, Wes Davis, Steven Brockshus, Jackson Harris and Jason Wetzler, greeted me with kindness and professionalism. I had gotten to know these young men for the past three days and they are amazing gentlemen.
It was my turn on Friday night. My message was simple: Don’t Throw Tomatoes at My Field of Dreams. It was filled with personal stories, Southern humor and singing.
The first tomato was the tomato of words. You can’t live a positive life with negative thoughts and words. I told the story of my personal life and the challenges of growing up on the family tomato farm.
The next tomato was the tomato of your future. Don’t allow others to poison your future. Eleanor Roosevelt said, “The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.”
Finally the last tomato was the tomato of authenticity. Be real. Be the best person you can be and then serve others.
I closed with the song I re-wrote with my buddy, Jeff Slutsky from the popular movie, Frozen, “Let it Go.” I watched thousands and thousands of cellphones light the coliseum as I sang to the youth of FFA. It was three minutes of my life that I will never forget. The rewritten words of the song, said it all.
You Can Grow
Don’t be in doubt, just let them see, the best person you can be. Be real with real, let it show. Well, hear me crow!
You can grow, you can grow. From the land we’ll make our pay. You can grow, you can grow. This is why we have FFA.
I’ll stand tall when the rains don’t fall. Let the farm live on. A challenge never bothered me anyway!
In mod-ern AG-GRI -culture, we strive to self-rely. Discomforts and enjoyment will take my spirits high.
We’re here to learn and understand, to give it fresh or in a can. No doubts, no fears, just deeds for me, our creed!
You can grow, you can grow. I am one with the land, I’ll shout! You can grow, you can grow. You’ll watch me go all out!
Here I Stand. With FFA I can. Let the farm live on!
You can grow, you can grow. It’s our life and our leg-a-cy. You can grow, you can grow. Go all out and you will see!
Here I’ll stand, with FFA I can! Let the farm live on! The challenge never bothered me anyway!