After hours of hard work, diligence and a deep understanding of leadership, a total of 142 California High School FFA students earned the honor of the Greenhand or Chapter Degree within the organization.
The Nov. 19 ceremony saw 86 Greenhand candidates, along with 56 chapter degree candidates, not only learn more about the rewards of their labor but get a quick yet efficient lesson on what leadership means.
The guest speaker to give the aforementioned lesson was Chris Massman, the vice president of member services for the Missouri Electric Cooperatives.
"What most people won't tell you about leadership is that a big thing you have to take away from it is failure," Massman said. "To be able to learn from your failures is the mark of a great leader."
Massman told his audience the history of Missouri Cooperatives and how farmers in the 1930s were overlooked by electric companies, leaving many rural families in the dark. This significant inconvenience led to a group of rural communities who stood up and made their own electric co-op, making sure that problem never happened again. Taking heed to this rise in leadership, Massman shared his own five leadership skills to encourage the newly titled Greenhands and Chapter Degree recipients.
"Firstly, you have to be willing to delay gratification," Massman said. "Sometimes, you'll work for years on something and not get praised for it for just as long. But that doesn't mean you stop doing it. You aren't working for the gratification but for the greater good."
Listening not only to others but ones' self was the second tier to great leadership Massman offered.
"Next is to be a positive influence to someone and to share your success," he said. "A lot of the time, a hard project is not done with just one person. There's a team building each other up to complete that task or get to that finish line. Understand that team effort and appreciate it wholly."
The following step was a concept that may be easier said than done.
"You have to stop comparing yourself to others," Massman said. "That is a huge killer of leadership and production. With that, you need to understand that you and only you can control the outlook in your life."
With this adage, Massman told the recipients about one of his favorite motivational speakers, a man who was paralyzed from the waist down following an automobile accident.
"He always said, 'If you can't stand up, stand out,'" Massman added.
Just after the ceremony, which included a spirited presentation of the FFA creed by Hayden Hern, the audience and recipients alike met for cookies and punch in the performing arts center lobby.
According to the Official FFA Manual, to be called a Greenhand, a candidate must be enrolled in agricultural education; learn and explain the FFA Creed, motto, salute and FFA mission statement; describe and explain the meaning of the FFA emblem and colors; demonstrate a knowledge of the FFA Code of Ethics and the proper use of the FFA jacket; demonstrate a knowledge of the history of the organization, chapter constitution and bylaws and the chapter Program of Activities; personally own or at least have access to the Official FFA Manual and the Official FFA Student Handbook; and submit a written application for the Greenhand FFA Degree.
To earn a Chapter FFA Degree, one must have received the Greenhand FFA Degree; completed at least 180 hours of agricultural education at or above the ninth grade level; participated in the planning and conducting of at least three official functions in the chapter's Program of Activities; earned and productively invested at least $150 by the member's own efforts or worked at least 45 hours in excess of scheduled class time; developed plans for continued growth and improvement in a supervised agricultural experience program; effectively led a group discussion for 15 minutes; have demonstrated five procedures of parliamentary law; show progress toward individual achievement in the FFA awards programs; have a satisfactory scholastic record; and participated in at least 10 hours of community service activities.