Selling toy tractors and learning parliamentary procedure may seem like unlikely sources of confidence. But recently earning the DeKalb Outstanding Senior Agricultural Award has given Alexi Wolf a level of self-assurance that’s inspired her to focus on a career in medicine. The recent Caledonia High School graduate received the award because she volunteered to help out at annual events sponsored by the Future Farmers of America’s Caledonia chapter.
At least that’s the reason Alexi says she won the award.
Her FFA co-advisor, high school agriscience teacher John Schut, said there’s moreto it than helping out at farm-related events, and that the award is based on leadership, service and scholarship.
“Alexi is very humble,” Schut said. “Not only is she a leader, she is a servant leader, setting the example for others to follow. She is willing to come early to help set up for an event or stay late to help with taking care of things afterwards.
“Alexi is the well-rounded, high-achieving student who leads by example and carries out the FFA mission of premier leadership, personal growth and career success.”
Alexi joined the FFA as a freshman, but immersed herself in the organization’s events starting when she was a sophomore.
She helped bring vendors’ toy tractors, trucks, farm animals and related merchandise into the high school and set up their display tables at the annual Caledonia FFA toy show held in October.
She sold tickets for the hog roast and auction in September at the high school. And for the Blue & Gold Show at the Barry County Fair, she helped to collate and mail registration information to the many exhibitors who make the fair possible.
Her most enriching experience, she said, was in July 2014, when she and her classmates hosted the National FFA Alumni Association annual meeting at Wildwood Family Farms in Alto.
Passion is Contagious
“It was cool to talk to alumni and meet the national officers,” Alexi said. “They have more experience than we do, and we implemented some of their experiences into our chapter. The national officers are kind of like the stars, and their passion for life has rubbed off of me.”
The FFA Skills Contest held at Michigan State University earlier this year gave Alexi the chance to compete in the environmental skills contest, which involved plant and wildlife identification and soil, water and land-use analysis.
The FFA Leadership Contest includes public speaking, parliamentary procedure, job interview and agricultural issues presentation, all geared to build confidence in students and improve their communication skills.
“I always need to learn how to run a useful meeting, so it’s a skill that’s good to have,” Alexi said.
Those skills will come in handy this fall when she launches her college education at Grand Valley State University with the goal of becoming a physician, perhaps in pediatrics.
“The skills I’ve learned have helped me to interact with adults,” Alexi said. “Before, I couldn’t speak well and meeting new people was a strain. Now I’ve become more comfortable meeting new people and (knowing) how to interact with them. The FFA has helped me to enjoy becoming more involved with community and to understand how so much of what’s around you operates.”
Future Farmers of America