“A Corduroy Conclusion: My Thank You to FFA”



A couple weeks ago, I traveled from the National FFA Convention in Louisville, KY to my hometown of Oilton, OK. When I got home I began to unpack my luggage when at last I arrived to the final item I needed to put away.The final item was my FFA Jacket. As soon as I saw it, it hit me hard, for the past 7 years I had always dreaded the day when I would have to hang up my jacket for the last time. With a deep breath and tears a flowing, I hung up my jacket for its final time, I sat down and just looked at it hanging in my closet, remembering all the memories spent while wearing it. So many things came to my mind. In my FFA Jacket, I remember feeling the excitement of singing in the State FFA Chorus. I remember the rush of adrenaline I got while showing my market wether goats in the show-ring. I remember competing in countless speech contests because my Ag Teacher constantly believed in me, win or lose. I remember the jolt of joy I felt while hearing that I had been selected to serve as a state officer. I remember attending Alumni Camp as a Freshman and hearing the message of YOGOWYPI and it positively changed my life. I remember attending my first National Convention with my chapter and while traveling there, we went through the cornfields of Illinois, I couldn’t help but point and laugh at the corn, saying, “If you want to see a corny joke, just look out the window.” I remember eating lunch in Krebs, Oklahoma when a fellow FFA member came up to me and began to pray for God’s leading in my life. I remember debating in D.C. at State President’s Conference and presenting our 1st delegate proposal. I remember going out to the Panhandle of Oklahoma with 7 amazing individuals and presented the Way Out West Leadership Conference. I remember speaking to an Elementary School and seeing the smile on their faces when I told them two words: “You Matter”. I remember watching a boy who had been diagnosed with terminal cancer show a goat, struggling to find the strength to lead it, another exhibitor came by, grabbed his hand and helped him show with pride. I remember speaking to a group of heart-giving philanthropists about how the future of our young people is bright, as the Oklahoma FFA Foundation was recognized as the top non-profit in the state. I remember visiting with state officials and legislative leaders and witnessed the passion they possessed for Ag-Ed when they told me their FFA stories. I remember meeting an 8th grader at a leadership conference who told me his heart-breaking background, our conversation would soon later lead Him to Christ. I remember shaking hands with a former New Farmers of America advisor, who, even at the age of 87 in a wheel chair, with tears in his eyes tell me, that he still believed in that old corduroy. If only I could tell you every blessed memory I’ve had in a blue & gold jacket. Indeed, the jacket may fade, but the memories will forever remain. Words can’t express enough my gratitude to everyone involved in this journey. From the 1st day in Ag Class to the final tap of the gavel this past Saturday, it has been a TRUE HONOR to have been part of this organization. My mission has always been to impact one life for the better and to make a heartfelt connection with everyone I may come into contact with. If One life has been impacted, if One life has been touched, if One life has been influenced than I consider my time in the jacket a success. I pray that someone’s life was positively changed and that one more person’s heart would be impacted. THANK YOU to each and every person who has supported, assisted, and contributed to my personal growth in this organization, from my pursuits in chapter office, state office, and national office. If there was one thing I could leave you with is that: Everyone has a Voice, Everyone has a Message, Everyone has SOMETHING TO SAY. Never stop believing in the impact you can make on someone’s life. You are more than a member. You are more than an individual. YOU A ARE POSITIVE DIFFERENCE IN THE MAKING. Ask now what your FFA Jacket can do for you, but instead, ask yourself what kind of impact will you make while wearing it? Please know that I may not have a jacket, but I’m still ready to serve. That even though I retired my jacket, I will never retire the message. And so it is with tear-filled eyes, empty hands, and a heavy heart that I say Thank You and Farewell to the 14 State Officer Teammates, 42 National Officer Candidates, 400 plus Ag Teachers, countless role models, Awesome Small Groups #1, #2, & #20 members, generous State Staff, caring sponsors, a community & school called Oilton, and to the nearly 25,000 Oklahoma FFA members, all of whom I’ve been blessed to associate with. To God be the glory and may each and everyone you feel His blessings. Thank you from the depths of my heart for giving me Something to believe in, something to hope for, and above all, Something to Say.


Published by

Brandon Baumgarten

Brandon Baumgarten grew up in the small town of Oilton, Oklahoma and was elected to serve the Oklahoma FFA Association as State Secretary, State President, and as a National Officer Candidate representing nearly 25,000 students on the local, state, and national levels from 2011-2013. Afterwards, Brandon launched his speaking career and authored the highly sought after leadership book, Caught Up & Called Out, hoping to help others see the impact they can make on this world. He is a professional speaker, speaking at over 100 different events each year, and a graduate from Oklahoma State University in Agricultural Leadership, and was even named a top 10 student. He is a Zig Ziglar Legacy & Youth Certified Presenter and his message is always to engage, encourage, and empower you to do something big in your life! No matter if you are a student, teacher, parent, or business executive, Brandon's presentations are certain to make you laugh, think, and realize your impact is about to begin!

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