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Youth News

FFA Teaches Monica Wilke She Has the 'Right Stuff' for Leadership

Fri, 12 Apr 2013 17:31:51 CDT

FFA Teaches Monica Wilke She Has the 'Right Stuff' for Leadership
The theme of the 2013 Oklahoma FFA Convention to be held April 30th through May 1, 2013 is "FFA, Grow Like That!" There are thousands of former FFA members that serve as role models for current and future FFA students- and the Radio Oklahoma Ag Network and OklahomaFarmReport.Com is pleased to be working with the Oklahoma FFA Association to spotlight some of the tremendously successful men and women who wore the Blue and Gold Jacket of the FFA during their high school days- and have used that experience as a springboard to success in later life.

During April and May, the Radio Oklahoma Ag Network is producing a series of radio announcements spotlighting a half dozen of these high achievers. These announcements, sponsored by SandRidge Energy, will be heard on radio stations statewide and will also be available to listen to on our Radio Oklahoma Ag Network YouTube channel. The content from each announcement comes from an in depth interview that Farm Director Ron Hays has conducted with each of the highlighted achievers. (You can hear the full interview by clicking on the LISTEN BAR at the bottom of this story.)

Another of those former FFA members who have distinguished themselves following their FFA experiences is Monica Wilke. Wilke is the Executive Director of the Oklahoma Farm Bureau. Wilke is an Oklahoma native and said she was first drawn to FFA for what many people can see from the outside-livestock judging. It was only then, she says, that a different and deeper world opened itself to her.

"Like most children in rural Oklahoma, I was very excited about turning nine years old so that I could purchase my first livestock project and go through the process of showing and grooming that animal for show. That was my initial interest into the FFA.

"Once I got engaged in that, it was kind of like the world opened up for me. I didn't even know about the leadership aspect of FFA or what was called the leadership track. And by that I mean public speaking, proficiency awards, the opportunity to travel to Washington, D.C. And, so, anything that there was available to do in the FFA once my eyes were opened beyond the livestock arena, I took advantage of."   

Wilke would go on to become a state FFA officer.

"I remember my ag instructor telling me I had what it took to be a state officer. I didn't really know what that meant. In fact, I kind of chuckled when he said that to me. But it planted a seed at a young age, at 15 years old, to achieve a goal which is one of the things that is so great about FFA. And I worked toward that goal throughout my high school career and I was privileged enough to be able to serve the FFA association as state secretary."

Wilke said those crucial FFA experiences became a foundation that stayed with her as she moved past her high school years and into college.

"I learned so much about competing. And through competition I learned a lot about myself. And what I mean by that is that I could prepare all day long every day, be the best that I could be and still come up in competition and meet someone who was more prepared and had a better skill set and me not come out ahead. I think that was a really important life lesson for a variety of reasons. Mainly it taught me that I always needed to be prepared, I always needed to be making myself better, looking for opportunities to enhance my skill set, I guess you could say, but also perseverance in that I needed to continue towards a goal."

Wilke said that her accomplishments in the business world as an executive of a major farm organization have never been framed in a gender-based manner. She said that the opportunities she experienced in FFA were wide open regardless of whether one was male or female.

"I didn't focus on that. It was just 'Here's a leadership opportunity for agriculture in rural Oklahoma.' I've lived this my whole entire life and I'm going to continue living it. I've just never seen it that way and I owe that to the FFA."

The Oklahoma Farm Bureau has been a tremendous supporter of 4-H and FFA over the years. Wilke says that commitment continues and she sees it as an investment not just in terms of economic impact, but, more importantly, in terms of personal development for all involved.

"We're not just investing, you know we talk about the impact the livestock show has, for instance, on Oklahoma City, it's significant, but the thing that I think is a bigger impact is the investment in human capital in the future leaders of tomorrow that as an executive when I look out and want to hire individuals to come to work for us, I'm looking at young people coming out of the FFA.

"Is it a monetary investment? You bet it is, but we really feel like we're investing in humans and the future of agriculture in the state of Oklahoma."



Ron Hays talks with Monica Wilke about her life-changing experiences in FFA.
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