I hope all of you are doing well today. Like me, many of you have just returned from National Convention---and it was a very successful one. I hope all of you read the press release Mr. Lastly sent yesterday. As a state and as a region, we had much success. We are blessed to be in a state that values and places priority on agricultural education. Each night I had the opportunity to sit in while the delegates "debriefed" about their day. It was great to hear them share all of the exciting things that had happened during the day. After having a few days to think about my experience this past week, I wanted to "debrief" as well and share with you two things that I brought back this year.
First, National Convention is just as awe inspiring now as it was when I first attended as a student 22 years ago in Kansas City. As I sat through the sessions and listened to great speakers and retiring addresses, I sure wished that every school administrator could experience the convention. I often hear teachers remark that they have an administrator who "doesn't know anything about Ag Ed." That's certainly true in a lot of instances. As agriculture teachers, though, it is our responsibility to help those school officials understand what a well-balanced Ag Ed program should be and how it helps the entire school. I'll be honest, when I was in the classroom, I probably didn't want to have to worry about keeping up with an administrator while at convention along with all my students. And thankfully, most of my administrators appreciated our program. But looking back, that is probably one of the most important things I could have done. I would encourage you to consider inviting your principal, superintendent or CTAE director to National Convention next year. I'm sure it will bring good results.
Hopefully, your students experienced that awe as well. Whether they were competing in a CDE or other award area or just attending, I hope they had a great experience. I once had a student who remarked in Kansas City, "Mr. Barber, I've never ridden on an escalator before!" Sometimes it's the things we often overlook that can deepen a student's perspective and just giving kids the chance to see something outside of South Georgia is wonderful. All too often, school systems are cutting back and not allowing chapters to attend convention unless they have someone competing. I know that times are tough, but I will always believe that a week at the National FFA Convention is more valuable than a month at school.
The final session of the convention was awesome! As a teacher, I was always on the way home by Saturday morning, so we never got to see the national officers installed. This is well worth the wait. Even better this year as we watched Cain retire and Kalie Hall installed as National Secretary!
My second main thought during national convention was how much I miss my family. I think six days away from home is about my limit. We are blessed in Agricultural Education to be reaching the next generation while teaching them about the world's most important industry. Even though our mission is an important one, it should be third in our list of priorities---following our faithfulness to God and our responsibilities and love for our families. Unfortunately, the calendar did not stop just because we were at convention for a week. Looking ahead, there are many FFA events on the horizon--each demanding our attention. I encourage you, though, to take time for your spiritual, mental, and physical health and to spend time with your families in the coming weeks.
Grab any piece of typed paper off your desk and look at it. What do you see? Most people will say a bunch of words. But look closely. The words do not go all the way to the edge. Each piece of paper has a margin. They say that our minds read and comprehend better when that simple 1" of white space surrounds our paper. Likewise, we all need some "margin" in our life. I know that each teacher is always under pressure to do more and more. For ag teachers, this is especially true. Work at keeping a healthy amount of "margin" in your life because we want you in this profession for the long haul!
Thanks for allowing me to share my thoughts. Hope you all have a blessed week!
Lynn Barber, Ed.D.
South Region Agricultural Education Director
Georgia Young Farmers Executive Secretary
Georgia Department of Education
ABAC 34, 2802 Moore Hwy.
Tifton, GA 31794