Chanda Neal, Saltillo FFA President
Ambassador, Chanda Neal shared her views on the Texas FFA Foundation's Ambassador program. Easy to see this young lady is on the right path to an exceptional career of servant leadership.
“The true meaning of life is ...to plant trees under whose shade you do not expect to sit.”
To be a Foundation Ambassador
By Chanda Rae Neal
It’s amazing how much you can change in just one year. In the past year I have seen a tremendous change in myself and my chapter. Nelson Henderson once said “The true meaning of life is to plant trees under whose shade you do not expect to sit.” At our first day of Texas FFA Foundation Ambassador orientation, Mr. Aaron Alejandro shared with us this quote and it has stuck with me since. I now use this quote on a daily basis to help make a difference in the lives of others and to promote the most important thing I learned during my week as an ambassador; being a servant leader, will make you a premier leader.
As an Ambassador we learned not everybody knows what we as FFA members know. Not all people realize that the FFA is more than just showing an animal or memorizing opening ceremonies. At state convention it was our job to share with the sponsors that the FFA’s main focus is premier leadership, personal growth, and career success through agriculture education in the class room, a supervised agricultural experience and the FFA program. Additionally, we also pointed out that no matter what career you planned to enter (ag. related or not) the FFA would help you achieve it because every competition we do helps you grow useful skills for the future.
When I got back to school the following August I was super ready to make a difference. One thing that was made evident as I began my term as chapter president was how many younger kids had a lack of any agricultural knowledge or didn’t know what FFA was. So the officers and I decided to start a Jr. FFA chapter to get the kids more involved in agriculture and hopefully ensure more members for the future of the Saltillo FFA chapter. But more than anything, I wanted to teach them about servant leadership, because everything we do revolves around it.
When we help the kids, we’re serving others, when we have a school wide project we’re serving the community, and when we get the word out about agriculture, we’re serving a nation.
While being a member of the chapter skills team I was given the opportunity by my advisor, Mr. Teague, to mentor the Greenhand skills team, both of which advanced to state. This experience helped me realize that sharing my knowledge with others allows me to grow and also encourages them to gain confidence in their own abilities. The Ambassador program has taught me to empower others to exceed expectations – empower others to be their best.
This spring our chapter is going to host a Hopkins County wide “drive in movie” for the local FFA chapters. We are charging for admission and all the proceeds are going to the local food pantry in Hopkins County. We are also starting our own “Blue Jackets, Bright Futures” scholarship for two deserving senior FFA members attending Saltillo high school who have shown to be outstanding individuals with servant leadership qualities. I honestly believe that without the skills I learned as an Ambassador, the impact the officer team had this year would not have been as great as it was.
It’s sad to think that after this year I won’t be around but I know that my success as a chapter officer will not be judged or known until I leave, and I can only hope that I have helped leave a legacy – to leave that tree that someone else will enjoy the shade. My FFA and Ambassador experiences have helped me confirm my career decision in agricultural education and agricultural communications. This fall I will be attending Tarleton State University to make that dream a reality.