Dear FFA Senior,

I come to you with a heavy heart knowing that your Spring semester was not what you expected or even anything you would have planned… the same goes for us, your teachers, as well. I remember watching your face fall and then grimace and alter as you tried to decide if you wanted to scream words of anger or have tears of sorrow fall as, one by one, major stock shows were cancelled. You grabbed ahold of hope as judging season had yet been altered and maybe, just maybe, you would get to step into that arena, room, barn, or lab with that clipboard in hand, ready to make some important placings. Once again, as I read your emails, your texts, that you knew all of that was done…there would be no more judging seasons for you under that FFA Chapter name that you so proudly represented on that National Blue and Corn Gold corduroy jacket. I know that prom was taken and graduation is still lingering on the balance of staying or going but your heart lies within this organization.

You see, we understand the power that the FFA has placed on so many of you. We have watched you grow and mature from a shy, quiet, lacking confidence member into the bright and shining, very mature, and confident member that will graduate and step into this world. We have watched you pour hours into an animal project, so you could step into a ring to prove to yourself and others around you that you do have the heart and dedication to make it through anything in life. We have watched you get tongue tied as you practiced the Creed, Issues, or Radio script over and over to find the perfection that you were seeking after. We watched you come out of that contest room, beaming, knowing you did it! It was your best yet, only to see that your best wasn’t the best that day. Instead of giving up, you powered through, wanting to make your best THE best. We have seen you judge everything under the sun from cotton to the vegetables in the produce aisle while grocery shopping with mom. You would eat, sleep, and breath competition because you wanted to succeed…no, you craved it.

We saw it all. We saw your tired eyes and messy hair as we loaded the bus or suburban to head to a CDE contest. We saw your excitement and nervousness as your class was being called to the show ring. We saw the many selfies taken in official dress. We saw the miles. We saw the memories. We saw the joys and the discomforts. So know this when we say:

We will miss you, with our hearts full and tears wanting to fall. We will miss celebrating your last banquet and ultimately watching you walk that stage to be given your diploma. Also know, we have seen you prep for adversity. We have watched you face challenges and disappointments, every day, and we have seen you joyous through all of it. These memories do not fade when you hang up that jacket, they stay with you, for a lifetime. You will be able to reach back and pull out every emotion, memory, maybe even animal you showed. This spring semester does not define your FFA career and it certainly won’t stop you from achieving your dreams.

Always remember, you are greater than any adversity, you are stronger than any boundary, and you are wiser than many. Keep these memories close and know, that your chapter will step up for you. They know that you didn’t get your spring semester, and they will not let that fall in vain. I can guarantee, next year, the competition will be steeper, the practices harder, because your fellow members want you to know that your spring semester wasn’t lost.

Be ready for the new chapters in your life, embrace the memories of the past, and know that you are ready for these next steps. We believe in you. You should too.