An open letter to my Wyoming FFA family about State Convention 2020

An open letter to my Wyoming FFA family,

Oh friends.  My heart is breaking right now. 

Of all the really hard things I’ve had to do in my tenure with the Wyoming FFA as staff, today was the absolute worst…telling our state officer team and the rest of the Wyoming FFA our 2020 convention has been cancelled.

You’ve been working for months, no YEARS, for this moment and now…nothing.  State FFA convention is cancelled, other events you’ve been looking forward to are cancelled and life as you know it changed in the blink of an eye.

It sucks.  It absolutely sucks.

I can’t imagine being a state officer with an amazing retiring address and no one to give it to.  A state officer candidate with a heart full of service and no committee to interview for.  A livestock judger with no cattle to evaluate.  A state degree recipient who never gets the chance to hear their name called and walk across that big ol’ beautiful stage.

And sadly, it’s not just our FFA kids paying this price.  It’s our athletes without a state championship to play for or even a season to play in.  Our livestock exhibitors with no show ring.

I know it probably feels like the adults in your life don’t care.  They are busy arguing politics and who is right and how it should have been handled and yelling at people on Facebook about hoarding toilet paper.  And here you are, with tears in your eyes and a heaviness in your heart and all anyone can talk about is the greater good or how it’s all a big hoax.

It’s not fair.

It’s not fair in any way, shape or form.  I know it.  And all the other adults in your life know it.  Some of us are just so caught up in our own lives we haven’t stopped to view it from your perspective. And some of us just don’t know what to say. Adults rarely have all the answers, despite what we like you to believe.

So let me be the first to say it.  I’m sorry.  I’m sorry that you are wrapping up your high school career in the worst global public crisis since World War II.  I’m sorry that your senior year will mean lost opportunities and a lot of “if onlys.”  I’m sorry that the world is tilted on its axis right now and nothing makes sense.  And I’m sorry that we had to make these decisions to cancel events you’ve been working toward for so long.

It’s not fair.  It’s not fair that you are paying the price for a problem that started half a world away by a virus that you hadn’t even heard of two months ago.

A lot of people will tell you to look on the bright side.  That can be hard to see when you are in the thick of it, especially while our nation remains relatively unaffected from an actual health perspective.  In fact, I can’t really think of a bright side right now. 

But I firmly believe in my heart that these cancellations and postponements will help save lives.  I believe that with all my heart.  I hope one day, you will come to believe that too. 

But for now, well, it’s okay to be sad.  And angry.  And frustrated.  And even a little scared.  I am too.

I wish I could snap my fingers and fast forward six months and things would make sense again.  All I can do right now is tell you that our hearts ache for you.  Please know this isn’t a decision we take lightly.  We’ll do everything in our power to find a way to provide you with as many opportunities as we still can in the coming weeks and months.  It won’t look like what you had envisioned.  It just won’t.  With so many things still unknown, our staff really can’t even begin to formulate a contingency plan.

But I do know this…if anyone can turn an absolute and total cow pie of a situation into something special, it’s our FFA family.  When the chips are down, our FFA family and our ag community come together and pull it off.

And that friends, is what you should hold onto.  Hope.  Belief.  Faith in your fellow chapter members and state officer team and ag teachers and supporters.

Our resilience, our spirit of togetherness, will be tested in the coming weeks ahead.  But this is when we need it the most.  Because it’s that spirit that will see us through to the other side of this thing.

So be sad and angry.  But also be kind and resourceful and look out for one another.  We believe in a faith born not of words, but of deeds.  So let’s demonstrate to this world our faith and fortitude with our deeds and acts of service now, wherever we can.

Take care of yourselves. And keep that faith in FFA and the future of agriculture and your fellow man.  The world is going to need all the joy and light you can give us.

Love and strength to you all.

Teresa Milner
Wyoming FFA Convention and Media Relations Manager

7 thoughts on “An open letter to my Wyoming FFA family about State Convention 2020”

  1. This is so right on. I too am sorry for all the young adults that have put their hearts and souls into all these events. I cannot blame them if they feel cheated. They would have all found out life was not fair but it would have been better not to happen this early in their lives. Believe me there are so many people that are heartbroken for all of you. You will rise above this and succeed, you have so many people cheering for each and every one of you. Thoughts and prayers.

  2. Thank you for expressing what so many of us are feeling.
    My son is a senior. His high school career has been centered around FFA. Though he participated in sports, his heart is in FFA. It is his ag classes that keep him going and convention is the highlight each year.
    He has wanted to get to walk on that stage as his sisters and brother have done, has looked forward to accepting his degree. Nothing is more motivating than that auditorium filled with our state’s finest young adults! He has been working on his State Officer’s application. I will encourage him to continue to do so. We will still need new officers. The process will be different. As Jason Groene tells the kids “Improvise, adapt, overcome. ” Surely, with all that can be accomplished over the internet, we can come up with something …. God bless all of you while you deal with this!

  3. Bonnie Christensen

    Thank you for your message. I am going to share it with our students. All of our hearts are broken. I am an Alumni member in Ontario Oregon and in the 40 years I have been involved this has never happened. Bless you

  4. I have never experienced FFA but my grandchildren have. My granddaughter, a senior this year was just posting her excitments of this years convention. I am sure there are so many that were looking forward. I am so sorry but pleased to hear the convention has been cancelled. I don’t want any one I love get sick. Thanks FFA officials for all you do and bless you in this decision.

  5. As a former State FFA Officer, an officer who had our state convention cancelled due to the 95 Oklahoma City Bombing, it sucks on multiple levels. That feeling when you know everything changed. On a bright side, a month later,Oklahoma held an abbreviated state convention, a time to hear those names called, a chance to celebrate achievements. No flash or flare, just a quick time to celebrate. Perhaps in a month, you all too will have that same similar opportunity. It’s doesn’t replace what you will lose, but it serves its purpose. Being an officer isn’t about yourself, it’s about service above self.
    My prayers to those kiddos who’ve worked so hard. You will have your day.

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