Have you ever had one of those moments that gives your memory a kick start? I had the opportunity to experience that tonight at the Young Leader’s Social as part of the California FFA Sacramento Leadership Experience (SLE) conference.

Exactly 5 years ago (how in the heck has it been that long?) I was in my blue corduroy jacket as “Senator Bankhead” for the week at the capstone leadership conference of the California FFA in Sacramento. We learned about how policy is shaped in Sacramento for California agriculture and were deemed temporary senators for the week. We met new people, we made new friends, we visited with our state representatives, and we even got to debate on the senate floor. This was actually the one of the last times I stepped foot in the state capitol, except for visiting with legislators as a CA Young Cattlemen’s Committee member.

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Circa March 2009- “Senator Bankhead”

This evening I had the chance to attend this same event as a young professional in the beginning of my new career. I was reminded tonight that this was included on the list of my life-long goals back in high school.

Life Goal #xyz:  attend the SLE industry social as an industry professional.

Thanks to a recent lunch visit with my regional FFA advisor, Mr. Mooney, I was extended an offer to attend the Young Leader’s Social at SLE and had the chance to meet several top notch FFA members in California this evening. When I walked from the office I work in now in downtown Sacramento, through the capitol security and entered the hallways, it all came flooding back to me.

At SLE each “senator” is given a political standpoint and a bill that they research, form an argument on whether they are for or against it (which they are assigned), and eventually debate on the topics on the Senate floor. Though I don’t remember exactly, I do remember that my bill had something to do with pest control, and I remember some confusion surrounding my position on the bill. While I designed my debate around what I originally thought that I was assigned, carefully using the complicated system we were taught during the day, my conference facilitator came over to check in with me after I had completed my argument and told me he was sure I was actually supposed to take the opposite stance than I had constructed. Holding back tears while he checked for sure, I was devastated that I might have to go through the complicated process again. Thankfully, I was right all along and was able to keep my argument stance. I was also chosen as one of the few to actually debate in front of my peers on the Senate floor. I remember that I likened my bill to a house of cards simile. Without a strong base, the top card would never stand.

This evening I got to visit with several FFA members who are passionate about agriculture. They wore their blue jackets proudly. They wanted to know where I went to college. They wanted advice about higher education, career opportunities, the real world, and what it was like to be a college graduate. And on the flip side of the memories that came flooding back to me about my experience at the conference when I was a senior in high school, I was able to answer their questions, because now I was on the “other side” of the table.

We talked about what regions they were in and what chapters they were from, what their Supervised Agricultural Experience projects were, whether they were on their chapter’s livestock judging team, what colleges they had already been accepted to, what they wanted to study, when the black versus nude nylon issue would finally be resolved in California at state conference, and what the bills they were debating on this week were. And I loved it. I felt whole being able to provide them with information I didn’t know I would have now when I was in their shoes then.

The feeling was awesome!

Have you ever experienced something like this before? It was wild. As the event concluded and my heels clicked down the halls, I thought to myself, “You can come here whenever you want.” I work here now. In the capitol city of California. How. Awesome. Is. That?! I’m a Californian, and I’m proud of it. I’m also proud of the moments I was afforded in FFA and the moments I’m afforded now. In my new career at the California Cattlemen’s Association representing California cattle ranchers and their livelihoods.

Walking in the capital

I also pointed out to some of the new friends I made tonight that I wore my official FFA skirt to the event. 🙂 #FFAProud

When was the last time you distinctly remember fulfilling a life goal you made a long time ago? Did it hit you with a flash when you fulfilled it? Mine did. Here’s to many more! When it’s all said and done, we control our futures. And they sure look bright!

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