Episode 053 - The Life Abundant

Join us on the Kick Your Boots Up Podcast for an exclusive episode featuring Jennifer Jackson, the Executive Director of Texas FFA, and Jaqueline Brand, the Area Six Vice-President. Hear about the 2024 Texas FFA Convention as they share insider tips, behind-the-scenes insights, and their personal experiences. Don’t miss this chance to get the inside scoop and prepare for the event of the year!

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Podcast Transcript

Taylor McAdams: Hey everybody and thanks for listening to the Kick Your Boots Up podcast. We are so excited this Wednesday to announce the Texas FFA Convention. Team Justin will actually be there. It's coming up so fast. It's crazy everything that's gonna happen within the next few days by the time this podcast airs. If you're gonna happen to be at Texas FFA Convention comm stop by get some free swag see what Justin's up to see what we have going on. I'm not going to give you too many surprises. But what I can tell you is it's going to be epic. It's going to be abundant. We Hint Hint, nudge nudge wink wink. We'll learn what that means a little bit later. But thanks for listening again, I'm your host, Taylor McAdams. If you like what you see, don't forget to like, subscribe, share this episode with your friends tell everyone about it. And especially if you're going to be at Texas up of a convention now's your time to listen in because you're about to learn all the insider tips on everything you need to know convention wise. And you'll get to learn a little bit more about Texas FFA and more specifically, the leaders in the organization. Hello, these two women are so incredible. And I'm so thankful that they're taking the time to talk with us today about it. So without further ado, I'm gonna introduce these guests. First of all, we have Jennifer Jackson, she's the Texas FFA Executive Director. There's a lot to learn from her. I'm excited to dive in. Jennifer, thank you for being here.

Jennifer Jackson: Thanks for having us, Taylor.

Taylor McAdams: Of course. And Jacqueline Rand the 2023- 2024 Texas FFA state officer. She's the area oh my goodness four, six area six I'm so sorry. Roman numerals, y'all. They they taught that in school. But that was a long time ago. The area six state Vice-President Jacqueline, I'm so happy that you're here and that you're getting to whenever we're recording, get to be in summer and start enjoying convention preparation. So thank you both for being here to share.

Jacqueline Rand: Thank you for having us.

Taylor McAdams: Of course, and to kind of get this episode kicked off and started of course I want to know a little bit more about you guys and how you got to where you are today with FFA. So how did you get started in the ag industry? How did you get started in Texas FFA? Jennifer, we'll start with you.

Jennifer Jackson: Yeah, absolutely. So I actually have been part of FFA since I was a young student. My brother actually kind of sparked my interest in FFA, he started showing pigs. And so I got to kind of tag along and be the little sister and I kind of fell in love with it. And so that's where my journey started. And so I started showing pigs and then that progressed into showing goats and showing cattle. And then I started taking AP classes as a freshman at Farmersville little bitty town, northeast of Dallas. And like within the first couple of weeks, I knew that I wanted to be an ag teacher. And so that's where my background is from I had a great experience in high school, and then quickly became an ag teacher outside of college went to Tarleton State University and Texas a&m University Commerce and I had a great experience in college and even better experience student teaching. And then taught for 12 years at Frisco Centennial High School, moved on to Wylie ISD and then taught and be in Austin ISD. before transitioning over to my role here at the State staff.

Taylor McAdams: Wow, what a resume you have. I have so many questions there. And my first question for you is, how were you able to know when to move on to the next job? How did you I'm sure you made so many impacts while you're an art teacher? And that is a hard job to how did you how did you do it? Because that's late nights, early mornings, lots of caffeine, you're basically the mom for the kids that need it. So what was that, like? Tell us about it.

Jennifer Jackson: So first of all, as much of an impact as I hope I made those students may just as great of an impact on me. And so I think that's kind of the driving force behind what allows you to spend those late nights and to experience those early mornings, there was so much to fill your cup, you know, they talk about if you love what you do, you never work a day in your life. And that's kind of what it feels like to be an ag teacher. I'm not saying there aren't long, tiring days. But the rewards are plentiful. And the students are always appreciative. So we're their families. And so that's kind of the driving force that makes it possible to be an ag teacher. To be a great ag teacher. It's basically three full time jobs. And so you really have to love it to be great at it. But in terms of knowing when it's time to move on, it's really kind of hard to to know. When I left first go centennial, it was heartbreaking. I remember I had to like, sorry, get up the courage to tell my student officers that summer and it was the day after area leadership camp. And I told him that I was leaving. And it just like tore my heart out. And so it wasn't really like I wasn't happy. It was just there was a good opportunity for me and my family. And so I had to make the hard decision to move on but still have great connections with those families and those cohort co workers and that community. And so it's it I think you just have to do what's best for your family but know that there's going to be somebody that feels Your shoes coming in behind you and trust that they're in good hands.

Taylor McAdams: That was so well said. And I can only imagine the emotional. That's why I wanted to ask you about that. Because the emotional side of it is if you do become like a mentor, figure mom figure to all these students and even their parents. I mean, if you're a family that isn't used to showing pigs, and you're the one Jennifer that helped them, buy the pigs set up the pig and learn about which shavings to use, which feed to defeat them, you know, they really looked up to you. So that's so cool. I love that perspective. That's so interesting. And it's so cool that you want to actually have a really similar story. And I didn't even know that before we got on the podcast. I also was the little sister that the older sibling showed pigs. Mine was a sister, not a brother. I always wish he was a brother. But that's another day a story for another day. But ya know, I remember that very well of like, well, okay, big sister is showing pigs. So I want to show pigs I want something to take care of. So and then I you know, I love that. So very, very cool. And thanks for sharing that with us. And Jacqueline, I want to move on to you. How did you get started in the ag industry or FFA in general? 

Jacqueline Rand: Yes, ma'am. So, I grew up on a fifth generation beef cattle operation. My mom was an ag teacher, my dad has his degreed ag education. So it was really a part of my life. For as long as I can remember, my earliest memory of FFA is riding in a stroller through the halls of state convention, with my mom visiting her old ag teacher friends, and just hanging out with high schoolers as a five year old. And just watching these leaders in funny Blue Jackets just have a great time mingle with people across the state. And so when I was old enough, I started speaking to your four h actually. But I would go to public speaking contests across the state and compete against FFA members. And through competing from the ages of six to 18. I developed lifelong friendships with those competitors, who were all leaders in FFA, and they were more than FFA members. To me. They were role models that helped me through every aspect of life, whether it was dance are showing or speaking, they just really shaped me into who the person I wanted to be. And so when it was finally time for me to get my own jacket, I was very excited. And I dove right into speaking, I had a great ag teacher who was actually my mom's student. So it was really fun to be mentored by her and grow up in the organization. And just really make it my own. In a way. As I got started, I really wanted to do leadership. So I was a district officer area officer. And then during my area officer year, senior year, I decided that I wanted to run for state office because I just wasn't ready to let it go. And I figured that I had so many people pour into me that it was my turn. And so I just pledged to use this year as a platform to just pour into kids and inspire members to make the most of their experience within the FFA.

Taylor McAdams: Well, good for you. I think you just answered the next question I have for you. But I'm gonna ask it anyway, because I want to hear your Outlook because it's so wise and so cool to hear. I love I really hold on to what you said about you saw the the weirdos and the blue jackets, and they made such an impact on you. And then you went full circle you you kind of didn't answer the question of like you decided to run for office because a you weren't done. And B you wanted to continue to impact them. So I'm gonna flip it a little bit and ask you what was it like? Or what does it feel like now knowing that there's oh my goodness, I don't even know how many 1000s of kids in Texas FFA that look up to you that know who you are. They can call you by name and especially at convention or even contests throughout the state. Like whenever they see you that they kind of get like starstruck or fangirl or giddy. What does that feel like to you?

Jacqueline Rand: I really have never pictured state office as kind of a celebrity status until I was one. And celebrity is even kind of a funny word to use. But it's really cool. Because these kids, these members that you meet, feel so comfortable around you. And they just want to tell you about their experiences, their passions, they want to ask you questions, and it's almost like, there's no other person besides their act teacher who would be so willing to listen and share that excitement. And so it's been really fun all year to just meet members and have that automatic connection and just be able to listen and encourage and be their cheerleader. And that's really been the best part of state office. So for me that dims the lights, the state convention, and you know, the laser show, it's really just going out into the crowd meeting those friends that we've interacted with all year and just kind of having a big family gathering. That's what a convention is for me. And I'm excited to experience from kind of behind the curtain this year.

Taylor McAdams: Oh, yeah, it'll be totally different. And I'm excited to talk about convention but I do want to kind of reiterate again what you said because I mean, that's huge that that you didn't even you're you're so humble that you didn't even notice that. Oh, yeah, that is a really big celebrity status job, but then even having the I can't even find the word for it. But being able to just fully allow kids met other members to be themselves around you, I remember those were the best days of my FFA career because I grew up on a farm, I had cattle and pigs and all the things but my friend and FFA did not she was really good at speeches, or she was really good at opening ceremonies or whatever it was, there was like such a diverse group of people that you're right, have that same common ground. And I think that's like, so, so cool that you were able to put it into perspective of Yeah, like, you get to listen to their stories. And you're right there with them, you're supporting them that you might be their only cheerleader from tight, not their only, you know, they're on teachers too. But you don't I mean, like, you might be the only one in their life, that's like, yeah, you can do this. And that's how success stories are made. That's how kids are made into adults, you know, going on to have that same charisma and motivation to want to lead a boardroom one day as an actual board member of an organization outside of youth organization. So very, very, very cool. I'm so impressed with your answer and so impressed with you both so far. So I'm gonna go back to you, Jennifer and ask this. Obviously FFA means so much to you, since you not only were a member went on to be an ag teacher, now you're actually serving on the board, which is I say serving seriously because you are you're putting so much time and effort into this outside of work hours, which is not the typical job. What does Texas FFA mean to you then, really.

Jennifer Jackson: So it's gonna sound cliche, but the best answer I can give you is that it means opportunity. So when you think about the programs, when you think about convention, when you think about what we do day to day, everything that we do is kind of centered around what opportunities can we offer our members? And what support can we offer our advisors so that they can support them in pursuing those opportunities. And when you think about the vast array of programs that we have in Texas FFA, there really is something for everyone. And something that we talk often about is the leadership opportunities. But we're also promoting agriculture, and we're promoting the industry that is going to feed the world with fewer resources than we've ever had before. And so when you think about it, in terms of the engineers, and the marketers, and the scientist and the biologists that are going to make all of that possible. It's kind of it's kind of humbling to think about the fact that we're promoting the opportunity to continue to sustain the planet. And so, and I know that makes it sound like we're doing this like huge thing, but we really are and the teachers are making that possible, and the members are going to be the future leaders that make all of that possible. And so whether it's a CTE or a speaking event, or an agriscience fair, an SAE, all of those opportunities are promoting the ability to be able to sustain the population. And so it is a big thing. And so to participate in those conversations every single day, and then to have the opportunity to work with young leaders like Jacqueline to pursue to talk about big picture visionary ideas, does that make that possible? It's pretty incredible. It's a fun job.

Taylor McAdams: It is. And I love that word opportunity. That's so good. Because you even I can see it in you you're choosing to to see you no one would see this as a bunch of work. And you've got to try really hard to educate the general public. But no for you, it is an opportunity to expand your I'm going to become cliche now and say expand your table, expand your your space. So I love that Jennifer and for you, Jacqueline, what does FFA mean to you.

Jacqueline Rand: For me, I'm also going to give a cliche needs family. Like I said, I've grown up in this organization, and we consider my family friends. I mean, the people that we found within this organization, we consider them family, they are invited to holidays, I spend time with my mom's ag teacher even I call her aunt Titi. And so these people have really just supported me in the way of getting to know me first, and then helping me find my place within this vast organization. So as a student officer, I have a unique opportunity to be a part of the conversations with the board and come up with these fantastical opportunities and ideas and just brainstorm to try to figure out the best opportunities we can offer our members, but then also go out into the schools and interact with members on social media and really get to know them and their personality and their interests, and then have the background knowledge to say you would really like this new opportunity that's coming out soon or that's been around but you may not know about and just really plug them in and then encourage them as they go through that journey to keep at it expand their wings and just really watch them flourish within the organization. So that's been really special and it really is a family and because you know these kids and then you get to watch them do things within the industry that won't just benefit them but will benefit your family in the future and to be able to say I met this person as a freshman in high school. Call during a chapter visit and then 20 years down the road know them as CEO of a huge company. I mean, what other opportunity or organization affords that kind of connection? So that's where I find value within the FFA.

Taylor McAdams: That's a good answer. Yes, that's so real I, I didn't even think to bring that up. But yes, all the opportunities that you'll the world is small industry small and feels like you start to make the connections even in your careers and beyond to but I want to kind of go back just a little bit, because anyone who's listened to the podcast for a while knows that we talk about the family in general. And I love that you said family because like rodeo family is so real, and the contestants will travel from one rodeo to the other and compete against each other, but still help each other out and pay for each other's things and just lift each other up. And so it's the same thing with FFA. And if you've been in FFA, you understand that bond that you have have, yeah, I'm gonna go into the speech room right after this person. And we're gonna compete against each other. But we're still gonna sit here and laugh and talk and get through life together too. So I want to ask you that a little bit more to dive just a little bit deeper in that and explain that feeling to someone that's listening that might not understand whether they haven't been in rodeo, or they haven't been in FFA or forage or really anything that has caused them to have this family feel with people that aren't blood. Explain that a little bit, Jacqueline, because that is so so real.

Jacqueline Rand: The best way I can think to explain it is to tell a story that I cherish. And it's one about Connor Mackenzie, who was the first vice president in 2014, I believe. And that was about the time that I started seriously competing and public speaking. And I would always see Connor as a senior competitor and just watch in awe as he competed in finals and won all across the state. And he was just kind of like the it factor for me. And so when I as I grew up, Connor became an ag teacher. And I saw him student teaching and he would be at contest as a mentor and a trainer. And when I was a student, he would be the one in the hallway to remind me to like straighten my shirt remind me to look at the judges just give me those last minute little pointers a pat on the back and send me into the room as a friend. And now I'm watching him train students. And now I am the co chair for a state leadership contest this year and he was the first person that come to mind as our keynote speaker as a first year ag teacher in Lubbock. So it's just kind of that full circle moment to with that we have with different people within the organization. That's just really cool to watch the sorry to watch it evolve and develop into just full circle moments and fun stories that we can tell. And just people that we love and admire. 

Taylor McAdams: That totally was full circle. I'm so glad you you said that told us that story. Because yeah, that's so big. We're gonna take a break but when we come back we have some very, very exciting news about convention so everyone stay tuned. Hi ladies Summer is here. And if you're anything like me, you're looking for the perfect summer dress something that will keep you cool and stylish and also look cute too. So whether you're gearing up for your backyard barbecue, your beach vacation, maybe even a few weddings you have the summer Justin boots has you covered with their stunning collection of dresses. And that's right, I said dresses that have a sheer sleeve that the wind blows right through and keeps you nice and breezy so you can look your best when you're going to these events where you're definitely going to sweat. And as a special offer for being a Kick Your Boots up listener we'd like to offer you 15% off your next purchase. Just use code KY bu 15 at checkout. That's code K YBU 15. Hey, everybody. Welcome back. We are so excited to talk about the 96th annual State FFA Convention for Texas FFA. The theme this year is life more abundant, which I would ask for a drumroll. But this has been announced for a while now by the time that the podcast is out. And so I'm gonna kind of kick this off to you, Jacqueline, what does life more abundant mean? How did you guys come up with this theme? Tell us about it from your perspective as a state officer?

Jacqueline Rand: Yes, ma'am. So the life abundant is actually a line pulled from the FFA Creed. And if you didn't know the process of planning and mentioned really starts in August, that was one of the first things we did as a team is just create a brain dump document. And every time you would think of a phrase or a word that we thought could maybe work as a theme, we wrote it down. And it actually took us until December right before we had to kind of come up with our final idea that we found the life abundant. And for all 12 of us it just clicked. And convention is tricky because it's more than just a theme. This logo of this phrase is going to appear on wristbands. It's going to be on the stage. It's going to be on T shirts, cups, you name it, it's going to be there. And so it has to be dynamic. And that was the trickiest part because we wanted it to tie back to agriculture. We want it to be A timeless, we wanted it to be something that we could incorporate into our session scripts. So it was really tricky. But the life abundant to me, encompasses all of that. And it takes on a different meaning depending on who you're talking to. For me, it's both the past and president of this organization. It's the leaders that came before us and inspired us and made us want to become leaders. And it's also what we can do for the future, how we can inspire them, how we can make them feel welcome and encourage them to be the future of agriculture. And so for me, it comes down to the people of the organization, but I know for some of my teammates and encompasses technology, but what they can do on their own family operations going and looking at a cornfield on the side of the road. So for each person, we hope during convention, they'll kind of adopt their own meaning and take it throughout the year. And they're a fake experience, just from our small week in Houston.

Taylor McAdams: I love that. And I know you didn't ask for my thought, but I'm going to tell it to you anyway. Because I'm I love stuff like this. When I think of abundant I think of like, full or good or enough. And I feel like that's a big thing too, like people struggle. Are they enough? Am I enough for this, this whatever. And so I love it, I love that you guys are not only allowing every member to come up with their own definition and get what they want out of it. Because we all know, no matter what if you enter a convention for the first time, wide eyed, bushy tailed, and hold on to every word or towards the end of your career. And you know, a lot of people do start to check out or whatever, whatever, whatever phase of life the numbers are in once they leave the convention for the final time, they're definitely going to take at least something. So I love, love, love. Love that. And that's so cool. That's so similar. I love what you guys are doing with them, Jennifer, because with the state officers because that is so such like a marketing campaign at a corporation. I mean, you do you sit down, you figure out what the name is going to be what the product is going to be how it's going to turn out. So Little do they know as state officers, they're also preparing for life and the careers and all of that. So from your perspective, Jennifer, what has it been like for you to see the team of state officers planning such a big thing year after year and, and making it different and making it grow? And because that's a challenge, you know, instead of just coming in and doing the same thing that they did last year, every year is different, they all have their own special touch. So, what's your perspective on that?

Jennifer Jackson: So the first thing that I will say is that what I love about this team is that their values are extremely traditional. They are visionary, but they want to make sure that agriculture is mentioned as part of every decision that we make. And so I love that there is an agricultural element to just about everything that we do. The other thing that I'll say is, our organization is rich in history. Em, Tiffany wrote the Create and that team 28 I think it was adopted is its it was adopted in 1930. And that paragraph is it still gives me goosebumps to hear it today. So it talks about believing in less power in believing less dependence on begging and more power and bargaining in the life abundant and enough honest wealth to help make it so and so when you think about the meaning behind those words, that almost gives you goosebumps, because that can be anybody, anybody who's pursuing an opportunity in FFA anybody who wants to go into a career in agriculture, but also kind of paying tribute to those who are out there in the fields making it possible to sustain the population. So again, I go back to how much respect and love we have for those farmers and ranchers that are really kind of the backbone of this industry. And they rely on on the rest of us too. But but that's the life abundant to me, right? I mean, like we all are just this huge circle that depends on each other to make sure that that we continue to be able to do this job. And so that's what it means to me. And I like I said, I'm just so proud to see that this team pays tribute to that, and and has a respect and a love for agriculture that sometimes we kind of move away from. I love the leadership component of FFA and I will always respect the opportunities that stem from that side. But But I think that they, they are so much more rewarding when FFA pays tribute to both leadership and agriculture at the same time.

Taylor McAdams: Wow. Well said and this is why you're at the top because you're you're I would say a visionary as well. I mean, getting to pour into the kids, but then also getting having the opportunity to step back and watch them grow. That is so so cool. And your guys's roles are going to be very different at state convention, but kind of similar to I'm sure you'll work together a lot on some things. So tell us what you'll be doing both of you at stake you mentioned but then also, what can the members expect as well. So Jacqueline, we'll start with you. What will you be doing at convention and what will the members what can they expect?

Jacqueline Rand: It's kind of tricky, honestly to answer that question because I've never been a state officer at state convention. But from months of preparation, I know that we will be well prepared during our sessions. I'm actually chairing the first general session on Tuesday, right after the business session with my best one of my best friends, Nicole. So we're super excited for that. And then, throughout the week, we have the Lone Star ceremony on Wednesday. So I'll be backstage and shaking hands can got congratulating members from my area on earning their seat degree. During the concert and fun night, I'm hoping to be out in the crowd partying, we have our costumes ready for fun night. So I'm super excited for that. But I'm really hoping just to really nail and make the most of the convention, but also take time to engage with members and connect with my family a little bit during convention and just soak it all up before my year service is over and then congratulate the new team as they take on this amazing opportunity.

Taylor McAdams: That's so good that you're that you're aware that it's gonna fly by and that you're wanting to take it all in because that's probably my best advice. I was never a state officer but just like having been an FFA member and an officer locally. That's one thing that if I could go back of course, I was just like you soaked it all in. But if I could go back I would definitely say take it all in you know enjoy every moment which I love that you're excited for the fun nights. You're excited for the costume that stuff right there is like what the the people will remember you for so I love that. And then for the students, the FFA members, what can they expect to because let's pretend let's pretend I haven't been to convention. It's my first time. What can I expect? Explain that to me.

Jacqueline Rand: Oh boy. All I can say is buckle up because you're in for a long but super exciting week. We have four days planned of just jam packed, FFA fun. We have the kickoff concert with Mr. Braxton key on. So we're super excited to welcome Braxton to H town and show them how FFA parties. And then we have sessions where we're going to be awarding members. So if you're a first time FFA Convention, get ready to clap because there are a lot of your peers to recognize and celebrate on their accomplishments throughout the year. And then we'll have fun night where you'll get to listen to 12 talent teams from across the state compete to go on to the national level, and to compete at the national convention in October. So you'll have the chance to vote if you're a voting delegate, but if not, you'll just get to jam out and listen to some really talented members. And then on Friday, or throughout the week, you'll get to listen to my teammates and I deliver our retiring addresses and we're super excited. We've been working hard on those since December. And we're hoping to have some really inspirational messages for you all to encourage you throughout your FFA experience. And then on Friday, you will elect your 2024 2025 Texas FFA State officer team. And there'll be confetti and lasers all week. So just come prepared with your best friends. Your official dress of course and just get ready to soak it all in it celebrate each other and just grow as an FFA member and make lifelong memories.

Taylor McAdams: Love it. That is so true. You're explaining it perfectly. I'm like yes, yes. And another thing too. Opening Ceremonies are wild you guys like I I've been to a lot of stadiums, concerts, things like that. And the energy the second you walk in the room, I'll just say like, last year, I had the opportunity to speak on behalf of Justin at the convention. And I thought it was ready. But the second I stepped into that room, like it's a giant room. There were noisemakers and could not confetti, but like, I had all kinds of things with feather boas, people go all out. And that is so cool to see that many people on fire, like they're just on fire. They're just excited. And to me, I looked at my husband and was like, Whoa, you would think that like Taylor Swift was about to walk out on stage or something they were so excited him. So that was really cool. So very, very well said Jacqueline. And for Jennifer, same thing, your role looks very different. I'm sure you have a lot of meetings, you've got to do a lot of sponsor visits, things like that. So talk through what your life will be. And then if there's anything you want to add on what members can expect to.

Jennifer Jackson: So as much as I would love to say that I know exactly what my week is gonna look like. I always kind of make a list and kind of anticipate what my days will look like. And then they never looked that way. But I do get to interact with lots of teachers and lots of members, I get to spend some time with the officer team prior to convention. And then we kind of like go our separate ways as soon as the gavel taps and so I'm kind of on the outside backstage and then they are on stage making it happen. And so as much as I would like to take credit, they're the ones that have to do the heavy lifting that week. And so we're just kind of behind the scenes. I'm just making sure that nothing comes crumbling down, you know. But on our operational side, you know, we're we're dealing with deliveries and we're making sure that catering gets delivered to all of the meeting spaces and that the exhibitors are satisfied. And so, so I'm more operational, and Jacqueline and her team, they are getting to, to use their time and talents and treasures on this day each, and they're the ones that really make the world go round. But one thing that I will tell you is that we are so blessed to have an incredible production team. So the we hots work with NP productions. And since three years ago, we have totally reinvented convention. So that atmosphere that you're talking about is just insane. When you walk in, the music is perfect, the lasers are great. And I think that kind of sets the tone for the week. And so when you talk about what the members can expect, I think the members can expect for that experience to be exactly what they make of it. Everything I know, your parents have told you this, your guardians have told you this, but everything is what you make of it. And so if you get on your feet, and you celebrate and you clap, and you think about how incredible these messages are delivered by our keynote speakers like Granger Smith, and John Gordon, then you are going to have an incredible week. But again, it is what you make of it. And so just take advantage of the opportunity to experience that excitement and be excited for the members that are going across stage getting 4000 to $20,000 scholarships and being recognized as qualifying for national competitions. I mean, what we celebrate is, is just insane. I mean, we have so much talent to recognize. The other thing I want to say is that it's kind of humbling when you think about the sponsors, and the volunteers that make our world go round. And so we spend a lot of time recognizing the members, but we also celebrate our sponsors and our volunteers too. And so that's the fun part of convention, because, you know, we work so hard year round to make sure that everything happens. And then this is almost like the end of the year banquet where we get to recognize everybody and celebrate the fact that they were there helping make all of those things possible. So we have eight staff members, we have 12 state officers. And a lot of times we get all the credit for everything that happens with FFA. But man, there's hundreds and hundreds of people that we just don't think about day to day that actually make these opportunities, a reality. So very grateful for that and excited for the members to experience what our production team is able to accomplish. Because we're a nonprofit. And while convention is big, we expect about 17,000 attendees this year, which is very exciting. But we're blessed to get to work with some pretty talented individuals who kind of pour into us out of the goodness of their hearts, because we know that they could be somewhere working for a corporation, and probably make a lot more money. But but they get to make our show really incredible for our members. And I will tell you that convention has always been exciting for me. I remember feeling like man, I already knew that I loved FFA. But sitting in the convention hall when I was a freshman in high school, I was like, Man, this is just incredible. And I remember having goosebumps when or crying when hearing RAS because I was just so inspired by the message. And so it's kind of cool to think about how much we've grown and changed and evolved. But but that we still resonate with with members like we did 24 years ago.

Taylor McAdams: Jennifer, I can feel your heart and this both of you, I love that we're having some girl talk girl power here because I can feel your heart and all of this and it just says so much about you I can tell that you're the type of leader that leads alongside you're not you're not the one that's like do this do that your trash needs to be picked up, you're picking it up. And that's what's so, so big. And that's why organizations like FFA are so successful because of people like you too. So even though you are on staff, you get to enjoy some of the things well, so well said you did not leave anyone out by saying there's so many volunteers, people that have come and maybe even taking PTO from their job just to be here this week, you know, to help whatever it is you know, whether that's driving the bus, I don't know all kinds of things. There's literally all kinds of things I remember college kids would go back and and do as well. So Wow. So awesome. I love that I love to hear everything that you guys have going on and you're out both of you your humble outlooks that makes me so excited about it to have like the future of FFA is in good hands but also currently FFA Texas FFA is thriving, you know, because of leaders like you guys and so that's really cool. You need to both of you need to pat yourselves on the back for that one too. Because like, for real you guys are the real deal. And I kind of want to go back for a second because you said this so casually. Granger Smith is a keynote speaker.

Jennifer Jackson: I'm gonna let Jacqueline talk about that because this is all her  

Jacqueline Rand:  It's honestly crazy to even think that we have this much to talk about there's just so much like isn't the image and you just forget like big things like Granger Smith are gonna be in so yeah, like I said we started planning to mention in December's So we've really taken it piece by piece, but Granger Smith was something that our team decided from the start. I think even before we got elected, we were talking about who we wanted as our keynote speaker. And he has recently come out with a book. And outside of his music career, he is just an incredible person. And his book is called like a river. And my mom had read it. And she gave it to me without any context, which if you've read the book, you know, that's crazy. And this book is just so heart wrenching, and to know his background, and how it plays into his faith and his mindset as a leader. This is really inspiring. And so I brought it to the team. And that was just kind of a consensus that that's who we wanted to try to get. And he was extremely willing and excited to be a part of convention. And so we're hoping that he'll share, you know a little bit about his music career a little bit about his life, his outlook on leadership and faith. He's just, he's an all around guy. So we're excited to hear him on Tuesday to kick off convention. And we're super excited to have both Mr. Smith and Mr. John Gordon, on Friday as a keynote speaker, who's written some incredible leadership philosophy, philosophy books, like the garden and the energy vests, which I've read the energy best, I read it in high school. And he's just so wise and so inspiring. And I'm excited for our members to get a little taste of his wisdom and encouragement as they head into their next year with a bay. Hi,

Taylor McAdams: Wow, wow, wow, that is so cool that you guys get to have the say you get to dream it up and make it happen. And I didn't realize that John Gordon was who he is, I've read the garden, but I did what I've never associated him with as the person. So I'm really excited now to I'm going to try to sneak away from our booth and see if I can get a you know, look at that. That's so so awesome. And that's just like another testament of how cool and how like much of a staple Texas FFA is because I could not tell you the amount of times as you mentioned, Jennifer crying, whether that'd be in the opening ceremonies are the retiring addresses or even the keynote speeches. The speakers that come and are selected are fully vetted by all you guys. And they're, they're awesome. And so that's going to be that's going to be a highlight like so I'm sure some people are looking forward to the concert and stuff like that. But wow, don't be sleeping on those keynote speakers. Because Holy cow, this is about to be so big and so good. And along those lines, I gotta keep moving or otherwise we're gonna run out of time. But my question for you guys is what we've already talked about what to expect and all of that. So what would you guys recommend our FFA members or anyone attending an event like that? What would you recommend them bringing because obviously, it's long day, it's your an official dress, you're not always the most comfortable? You really don't need to carry around a ton of stuff. So what's your like, go to like if you could so throw some things in like a side purse or a backpack. What would you bring with you to State FFA Convention.

Jacqueline Rand: As a female FA member, my number one thing would be P ENEOS.

Taylor McAdams: Right.

Jacqueline Rand: As I know, as a state officer, one lesson that I've learned is that you always carry too. And so I would bring one spray it with hairspray, that's a little trick. It just reinforces it and it may keep friends but if you get a run throughout the day, carry a small bottle of either hairspray or nail glue and just put it on that run. If that's your second pair, and it's already running, that's a helpful hint. But also your shoes can also play a part in your pantyhose running. So I would recommend flats. Honestly, solid black flats are still part of official dress. But if you're walking across the stage heels are a great option. But you don't have to wear them all day, you can bring a change of shoes and that usually helps your feet from hurting if you've been walking in flats or heels all day. So that's a helpful hint. But also just carry some cash some cards make sure you have some money, there are snacks in the convention center and in the tunnels from your hotel to the convention center. And the cool thing about it being in Houston is that it's pretty much all walkable from your hotel to the convention center so you can park and just have a day at convention you won't have to leave so have some cash, carry snacks with you. Treat it like a field trip just bring anything that's you. You see after a day hand sanitizer. I know last year a big thing at convention was friendship bracelets to trade with fellow members such as bring a camera I mean the list could go on but bring anything that you think would make your experience more fun. Keep yourself an official dress looking sharp and I can promise steak you mentioned will be great experience.

Taylor McAdams: That's so good. Jennifer, do you have anything to add to that?

Jennifer Jackson: So on top of the shoe advice that Jacqueline provided my advice is to bring more than one pair so if one pair starts to hurt your feet, you can wear a different pair and hopefully hurt a different part of your feet the next day you can spread it out, but bring more than one thing Official dress, we're going to be in Houston, it's going to be humid. And so you want to make sure that you've got lots of options so that you don't have to rewear that official dress. The other thing is that you absolutely have to bring a good attitude. And you have to explore all that convention has to offer. And so we have a huge exhibit hall. So you can meet vendors, you can meet incredible people like Taylor at Justin. But we also have lots of opportunity on the third floor of convention this year. So we have six different workshop rooms. And so there's some leadership, there's some business and industry. And then there's some life skill workshops that we're offering this year as well. The College and Career Fair will happen on the third floor. And then we've got our feedlot where we'll feed about 5000 kids every day, Tuesday through Thursday. And that's an opportunity for you to just sit in the air conditioning and take a break if you need it between sessions. And so yeah, that's my advice. I think Jacqueline covered the rest. But make sure you've got cash. There's lots of great shopping and souvenirs. And then obviously lots of snacks too. One thing that I'll tell you about Houston is that you can't sleep on it because they have been incredible host to us. They have offered us so much based in the in Georgia Brown. And so we got to change up a little bit of convention this year and offer some more opportunities. And like Jacqueline said, there's all kinds of parts of downtown to explore. And so so I'm looking forward to a little bit of a change of scenery. Dallas and Fort Worth have been wonderful to us. And I think you've seen is going to be just as great. 

Taylor McAdams: Yes, yes to all of that. Especially I liked what you said about bringing a good attitude that is key. And if you don't hear anything else in this podcast here that level three is where you want to go to the breakout sessions, because wow, that is such a cool opportunity for interpersonal growth, you know, the things that they get you thinking about but then also, there are so many opportunities. I mean, some of the topics that you mentioned, to get you further in your career. If you're a senior and you're ready to go to college. This is like your last thing, especially summer wise to just be yourself and get to know yourself and get to know yourself with others and the way you work and teamwork and all that so yeah, I love all of that. That was so such good advice, especially relating back to my time as a member going to state convention in Oklahoma. Doesn't matter where the location is. It's still those are such good things because official dresses official dress and while it can be uncomfortable, it's also I miss it because I don't ever get to wear official dress. I don't ever get to wear pantyhose. Maybe we should bring pantyhose back in the corporate America because those memories are just so much fun bonding with your fellow FFA member in the restroom trying to figure out hey, does anyone have an extra pair can we borrow from each other, you know, all of that. So, I love I love all of that. We're going to take another quick break but when we come back we have more to learn about Texas FFA. Stay tuned. Narrator: The best boots are built to go wherever you boots that are rugged and comfortable for all walks of life. From the saddle to the streets and everywhere in between. The frontier collection by Justin is right there with designed to perform their best during a night out. So clock out, hit the town and cover more ground in the new favorite pair of Justin booms. Enjoy out of the box comfort and 12 different styles to outsole options. Find your Frontier Justin boots.com.

Taylor McAdams: We're back we're talking all things Texas FFA. And while we're doing that, we've got to know about the future of Texas FFA. Everyone talks about it. Everyone that's an FFA member works towards and strives for just making it better for everyone else. So, Jacqueline, I'm gonna start with you, especially because you're about to, as I would say type the bow finish it off close this chapter. Where do you see the text of the future of Texas FFA going and maybe elaborate a little bit about all of the future things that you think of with FFA?

Jacqueline Rand: Well, in my experience, I haven't seen textbook Fe do anything but grow. And it's been really exciting to watch. Just more and more chapters join the organization, I actually got to be a part of some jumpstart conferences, which is training new chapters to join the FFA and become active. So that's been really exciting. But as I wrap up my experience as a member, I look forward to giving back as much as I can, as a facilitator, as I can a career potentially as a donor and just an alumni and a supporter of my local chapter and I attend Baylor University. So there's many schools around waco who are very active in FFA and this year I've had a great time becoming engaged with those members and encouraging them on a personal level outside of state office. So I look forward to continue to be a mentor to them. But as for the future of tech stuff as a as a state officer, I've had the gift of being a part of many come First nations that are just brainstorming so many opportunities for the future of the organization. And we are just looking forward to continuing to put ourselves in a place where those opportunities become reality. And so being able to hear conversations that I had 18 years old, and then maybe at 25, watching them become a reality, I'm really excited for it. And I'm excited to be an advocate for those opportunities as well. Just knowing the background information, knowing the benefits of the organization, and just as a good human being advocating for the organization outside of the spotlight, per se. But the future is bright is all I have to say. And I'm excited to leave this organization and good hands.

Taylor McAdams: Good for you. It is so bright. And I've got to ask you kind of a personal question. Are you going to cry during your retiring address? Or after? Are you going to cry whenever you have to hang up your jacket,

Jacqueline Rand: I think I'll cry more. During my teammates Ra. I mean, convention filming actually, and just watching them on the screen from outside the door. I was just sobbing like, I think he's so good on camera. I'm so excited for y'all to see him. But just thinking about how I've had the opportunity to grow alongside these 11 other individuals. I feel like I'll cry more for them than I'll cry for me. I'll be like, Yeah, I'm just here like I, I retired Isaac actually. So I feel like I'll, if I can get out that little like, you can always come home, we'll be doing great.

Taylor McAdams: That's awesome. And you might all sink in like maybe a week after something when you caught up on sleep and you don't have anywhere to be at you know, first thing in the morning or whatever you're going to be like, Okay, now I'm sad. Now I'm no, that's awesome. I can tell your passion is so there. And I wish you the best of luck and everything that you do in your future career and throughout your career at Baylor too, that's such a cool opportunity to get plugged in and all the areas and you're right, it's like a perfect area, you can be anywhere you need to be fairly quickly. I mean, Texas is a big state, but you're still accessible. And that's awesome. And Jennifer for you, you are not going anywhere. So what's the future like for you and your perspective, your eyes, the future of Texas FFA.

Jennifer Jackson: Sorry, um, so when I think about the future of FFA, I and I mentioned it a little bit before, but I think about the fact that the members that are in the classroom and the members that will be at convention in 10 years, 15 years will be the leaders, whether it be on city council or school boards, or even the state and national legislature. And so what I think is, is the coolest thing, you know, technology can be a blessing and a curse. But FFA members are out and about experiencing this, right? These real world opportunities that teach them to be communicators that teach them to be public speakers, and they have all of these interpersonal skills that will surely make them successful in the future. And so I think what, what is so nice is number one they're in, they're informed, they know the value of agriculture, they know the value of hard work, they're going to be incredible employees. And so they're going to be contributors to the workforce. And we need we need workforce the workforce is is desperate for talent right now, whether it be students who are certified right outside of high school or going to vocational programs or going to four year eight year degrees. And we are contributing to that we are setting them up for success. And I would say that FFA and other CTSS like us are really preparing students to be more successful in those settings. And so that's the future to me, is making sure that we continue to offer opportunities that make our students the best the ones that are that employees think about me and they were an FFA member, we want them on our staff. So that's what kind of gives me goosebumps to think about and our teachers are out there doing the Lord's work because because they take these students and they mold them into these incredibly talented individuals and we get to play a small part of that. But the teachers are really the ones and the members obviously are doing the hard work. But we're just fortunate that we've got really great people around us that take advantage of the opportunities that we're offering. 

Taylor McAdams: Yes, and you mentioned hard work that is so true. You know, whenever kids go to apply for jobs and on the resumes and stuff. It's not often that you get to say that you are an FFA just based on you know you don't normally include all the high school things once you're out of college and stuff but if you do get the chance to have FFA or even if it comes up in an interview, you get to bring up FFA there are so many employers out there that immediately can fill can form an opinion about a member just because there are enough of a because they're already set above the rest the hard work is there. The work ethic is there. Just the overall being able to be a team player all the all the assets that employers look for definitely they find in FFA members and so Oh, that's so cool that you get to continue to live that and see it every day, year after year no matter insert FFA team here, you know that that they are just good good leaders overall. So this chat has been so good you guys, thank you for that. And before we go, I've got to ask I asked this question on every episode or hopefully every episode, but like, what's the best piece of advice? So for you guys, I'm going to do it a little bit different Jacqueline for you, what is the best piece of advice that you would like to give to anyone who is an FFA member, and they're wanting to either become a local officer or a state officer.

Jacqueline Rand: I think the greatest piece of advice I was ever given is that the greatest gift you can ever be given is a relationship. And in my experience that rings so true, I am where I am today, as a state officer as a freshman at my dream university, because of the people I took the time to get to know and allowed them to pour into me and be coachable. And so as a young student, looking for something bigger to be a part of something bigger than themselves, I would encourage you to reach out to the people, you know, can help you. The greatest gift this organization affords is the relationships that you leave, once you take off your jacket, those relationships are still there. So as a freshman, take advantage of your green hand camps, your summer camps, and just go out and meet your peers say hello to act teachers. Just be a good person and the rest will come your way. Just being able to shake hands, have a conversation and be casual and make a new friend is such a life skill that will take you so far in this organization. So if you get nothing else out of the blue jacket, I can guarantee that every single person can say that they made a friend in FFA that is still a friend today. 

Taylor McAdams: So well said amen to that. Yes, I so keep up with all the FFA people. And I'm about to have my 10 year reunion. So that's so true. And Jennifer for you, your Outlook is a little bit different. So what advice would you like to give to anyone out there that wants to get involved in FFA in general. And then also like kids our age that are going to school to be Ag teachers maybe what best advice do you have for them to like keep going and want to keep going? So sorry? Harder?

Jennifer Jackson: No, you're fine. I don't know that I can say it better than Jacqueline did. Those words were absolutely beautiful and gave me goosebumps to think about Isn't she so eloquent? Just simply spoken? Right? Yes, I think I think my best piece of advice is number one, you will never regret being involved in FFA. No matter what your future holds, you will benefit from the experiences that it has to offer. My next thing is you're never too old to get involved. And so if you're listening to this podcast, and you were an FFA member in high school, we don't care, we still want you, we want you to come judge, we want you to get involved at the local level, we want you to come to convention. And we want you to see what these incredible students are doing. Because they can add value to anything that you're doing as well. And so we need volunteers, we need supporters. And we need people that are here pouring into the students like we do every day. And so. So there's opportunities for everybody. It's it's not just for the members, there's there's lots of opportunities to get involved and to be engaged with these incredible young people. The other thing I'll say about teachers is kind of what I said before, I think that you have to think about the incredible rewards that you get as long as you're pouring into this. And so if your heart is in it, and you think about the impact that you can have on your members, if you go to work every day, and you think about what outcomes will result from your hard work, I think that you will never regret working as hard as you have to as an ag teacher. As much as you know, as humans, we tend to kind of talk about the negative things, I think when we're reminded of the really good things were like, those negative things really don't matter because the good outweighs the bad every single day. And I hope that's always the case. I hope that's always the feeling of our ag teachers. A lot of times banquets and conventions are the best possible reminder of the good that we're doing because they get to look around and see their members smiling and having a great time and really excited. As a teacher. One thing that I liked was we would get in the car on the way home from convention and they were talking about next year they were talking about ideas that they got from talking to other members, they were talking about the meetings that we were going to have. And I was just sitting in the front seat like tears streaming down my face being so proud of these individuals for taking advantage of the week and being excited for the year to come. And you could see them grow literally in front of your eyes. And so I think I think you just have to think about your job in terms of those moments and just be blessed.

Taylor McAdams: It's just so amazing that you said that Jennifer, because while you were talking about that I remembered a keynote speaker at Oklahoma State FFA Convention actually, they'll Cortez he talked about yoga with B and I just remember that acronym because it's you only get out what you put in. And so true. That's exactly what you just said and I want to retweet that If people still do that, if that's still cool, and I don't care if it's not cool anymore because, yes, yes, that's so true. And that's kind of like the theme of of FFA in general, whether it is ag teaching or the students are really just any involvement at all. So, thanks for joining me ladies. This has been so fun, so enlightening. I love getting to just share positivity and you guys are a part of that. So thank you. If anyone out there wants to follow along with what Justin's doing or what Texas FFA is doing during convention. You can follow them at Texas FFA, Facebook, Instagram. You guys have a tick tock too, right? I'm not a tick talker. Even tick tock Okay, cool. Tick tock. Just look them up. See it all because the amount of recaps and the amount of updates and stuff you'll never miss a second even if you're not there, you'll feel like you're there based on the stories and all of it. So it's so fun. Follow these ladies personally. See what they get to do is follow Jacqueline in her life as she is now moving transitioning on to college. I wish you both the best and your films and hopefully I get to meet you both of you face to face. I know it'd be crazy in Houston. But I just wish you both the best and everything that you do and we will see you the next time you kick your boots up girls.

Jacqueline Rand: Thank you so much for having us. Taylor. This was a great conversation. Yes,

Jennifer Jackson: I've enjoyed it greatly. Thank you so much.

Taylor McAdams: Thanks for joining us on Kick Your Boots Up. I'm your host Taylor McAdams and we can't wait to share the next story of the West. Until then, feel free to like subscribe and leave us a review. Follow us on social media at Justin boots to keep up with our next episode. And we'll see you the next time you kick your boots up.