National FFA President Andy Paul Shares Message to Never Give UpFri, 01 May 2015 17:31:32 CDT
To understand how someone gets to the top, you must go back to the beginning of the story to see how they got there. Andy Paul is President of the National FFA organization. He grew up in Georgia and began showing pigs by the time he was in the first grade. He got his start in agriculture through 4-H, then joined FFA when he got older. He felt that was simply something that was expected of him. He has an older sister that was a FFA chapter President and cousins that were chapter officers.
"I felt like I had to join, so I could fill their jackets," Paul said. "But I think the cool thing is that, these jackets have our names written on them for a reason because we become our own person in this organization."
Paul didn't think he would be elected National President, so when his name was called out at the National FFA Convention, he was in complete and total shock. Some of that probably stems from the fact getting to that big stage wasn't an easy battle and because of that he has found that the biggest things he has learned through FFA has been learning how to lose.
In his sophomore year, Paul ran for an area FFA office in his home state of Georgia. He gave a great speech, but when they announced the names of the six officers he wasn't one of them. Two weeks later he ran for chapter secretary and he wasn't elected. The following year he ran for state office and he wasn't one of the eight officers named. Those three separate incidents of defeat hurt, but he said that didn't keep him from running for state FFA office the next year.
"Next year, I said Lord's got a plan for me, I'm going to try this one more time," Paul said. "I ran for state office again and was fortunate and blessed to be elected state FFA President."
That year he represented the Georgia FFA organization with the rest of the officer team that have become lifelong friends. Paul said that year of service changed his life and it drove him to serve as a national FFA officer because he believes FFA changes lives.
Paul has found FFA makes a positive difference in the lives of students in developing their potential for premiere leadership, personal growth and career success. Through the three component model of agricultural education, Paul said FFA members get rigor, relevance, and relationships. Students learn rigor through classes, they learn relevance through their Supervised Agricultural Experience (SAE) programs and this prepares students for more than 300 different career opportunities. Through FFA, students also build relationships with other FFA members throughout the state and nation.
In November, Paul will step down as National FFA President and he will take off his blue and gold corduroy coat for the last time. Paul said FFA has taught him how to win and how to lose, it's taught him about the importance of agriculture and it has provided him with a family.
"For me the FFA is that family," Paul said. "That no matter where you go in this nation, no matter where you go in your own state, there will be somebody within walking distance, within calling distance that will always be there for you."
Radio Oklahoma Network Farm Director Ron Hays interviewed Andy Paul at the 2015 Oklahoma FFA Convention. CIick or tap on the LISTENBAR below to listen to the full interview.
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