Being a leader is nothing new to animal sciences and agricultural business sophomore Kristen Schmidt. She is one of the CSU College of Agricultural Sciences’ Ag Ambassadors and has served as a state officer for Colorado for the National FFA Organization, formerly known as the Future Farmers of America. Now Kristen will be taking on a new position – as FFA central region vice president.
Six years in the making
Although Schmidt spent about nine months preparing for her candidacy, she estimates that her election is really almost six years in the making. From her earliest days as a high school freshman, Schmidt knew that serving as a national FFA officer was one of her ultimate goals in life. “I feel that everything I did has guided me to where I am today,” said Schmidt. “There is no doubt that my experiences – from my supervised agricultural experience to participating in leadership development activities – contributed to my personal growth and will contribute to my success as I serve as a national officer.”
Serving as a national officer is a significant commitment and Schmidt will be taking a year off of school, just as she did when she served as a Colorado state FFA officer. “I don’t see it as leaving school for a year,” said Schmidt. “I see it as spending a year of my life investing in other people.” One can hear Schmidt’s passion for education and for FFA after speaking with her for only a few minutes.
National FFA officers are based in Indianapolis but really spend most of their time traveling the country on behalf of FFA. Their time on the road consists of being invited to speak at state FFA conventions; visiting with industry and corporate agricultural partners; and attending conferences with state officers such as the State President’s Conference. When you add up all of her pending travel, Schmidt says she only expects to spend about 60 days in Indianapolis over the next year.
Proud of her accomplishments
Schmidt’s family is proud of her accomplishment, although the prospect of another year away from school and only two days home a month, present their own challenges. “My family has been extremely supportive. My dad was a member in high school, so FFA is kind of a family affair,” said Schmidt.
For Schmidt, any personal sacrifice she might make in terms of seeing her family or extending her time as an undergraduate will be worth it. “As I travel around the country, my goal is encourage people and to help them feel like they matter,” said Schmidt. “I want to think of myself as a ‘bucket filler’ – I want to pour everything that I have learned into others.”
There is still one more example of Schmidt’s unbridled enthusiasm for her new position. When it was time for her to be announced as a national officer at the National FFA Convention of 64,000 people, she quite literally ran right out of her shoes as she raced up the stage. “I look so much shorter than everyone else in our photo – that’s because my shoes were somewhere offstage.”