Joe Schartz recently submitted a 500 word essay for the Tractor Supply “No Limits” Essay Contest. The competition was held in conjunction with National FFA Week; February 20-26, 2011.
We are excited to share the text of Joe’s winning essay with you here:
“FedEx founder Frederick Smith once said, “Fear of failure must never be a reason not to try something.” In my case, overcoming that fear wasn’t easy. I, like 75 percent of the world’s population, was terrified of public speaking. Thanks to hours of practice, the efforts of my FFA instructor and the support of my FFA family, the fear was not only erased, it became a passion of mine that I wouldn’t give up for the world.
It all began my freshman year when I signed up for a Natural Resources class and paid my FFA dues. I joined our school’s Agricultural Communications team, a Career Development Event in which team members publicize an event and present their advertising plan to a panel of judges. The event we chose was a breast cancer fundraiser for a teacher at our school. What started as a half-hearted attempt turned into a committed pursuit to excel.
My team members and I learned many life lessons about leadership, delegation, dedication, responsibility, and accountability, as well as the practical applications of speaking, advertising, and management. Our young team of freshmen and sophomores continued to work hard, winning the state competition and advancing to the national level in Indianapolis.
It was an experience I will never forget. The competition allowed me to step outside of my comfort zone, and make some of my best friends. My involvement in FFA didn’t end with Agricultural Communications. I continued to pursue the excellence defined by the FFA mission of achieving premiere leadership, personal growth, and career success. With the help of my dad, I started my own Holstein calf operation on our farm. We continued to raise sheep as we have done for many years, and these experiences allowed me to apply for the Star Greenhand Award given to first year FFA members.
I also successfully ran for chapter and district office, which has provided additional opportunities to work as a team pursuing a common goal. As I have worked with my sheep and cattle, FFA has taught me the importance of record keeping. In my current FFA class, Agricultural Leadership, students compile and maintain a records system that includes the hours we put into our projects, our income, skills acquired, assets, and liabilities. This skill is one any person should make use of, but no other class gives us the opportunity to learn these real-life lessons.
These are just a few of the areas in which FFA has helped me grow. The first line of the FFA creed speaks of a “belief in the future of agriculture, with a faith born not of words but of deeds.” FFA is allowing us to do real-life things, not just read about them. My future undoubtedly holds a career that will require public speaking, and thanks to FFA, the “ear of failure” is no longer there. The fear has been replaced with a driving pursuit of excellence.”
Joe’s prize will be his choice of a new Carhart Jacket or a $100 gift card from Tractor Supply Company. Congratulations Joe!