State FFA Vice President Alyson McCall, from the Minneapolis FFA Chapter, presented her retiring address, "Making it Real" Friday morning, during the fifth session of the 82nd Kansas FFA Convention.
Snow days are without question the highlight of the winter season growing up. Like many of you, Addy and I would bundle up in our snow gear and head outside to play. We usually started with some sledding and a snowball fight, but our favorite snow-day activity was seeking out snow that no one else had walked in. We could usually find a solid white sheet of snow with no marks of footprints. Addy and I would stand and stare at the snow for a brief moment; seeing how perfectly smooth it was and all the potential it had. We had a choice. We could leave it as a perfect sheet of snow, or step out and create a masterpiece. We always chose option 2 and planned out designs like spelling out our names or creating some awesome shapes. Then we would choose a spot and take our first step. The only footprints in that patch of snow were our own. Our future is the solid white sheet of snow, waiting for us to step out into it. We must make it our own—chasing the dreams we’ve set for ourselves. We plan out our masterpiece and take a step. We all have big plans—things we want to accomplish, places we want to visit, impacts we want to make. Take the first step to pursue them. Myles Munroe said, “The poorest man in the world is a man without a dream. The most frustrated man in the world is the man with a dream that never becomes reality.” Live above that frustration. Take the chance. Step out and take advantage of opportunities that come your way then build more to follow. Make your first print in the snow. People may tell you your ideas are ridiculous and impossible. Do not let their opinions stop you. Taking the opportunity to make our first step can help us turn our biggest dreams into the greatest realities. If you believe enough in your dreams and the abilities you have, even the toughest of critics cannot stand in your way. Run for district office. Fill out the district proficiency application. Initiate a recycling program in your hometown. Set your mind to achieving whatever it is that you dream of. Create the path in your head and take the first step. Do not just stare at the white sheet of your future. Step out into it and pursue your dream.
While taking this path towards our dreams, we must truly go for it. Settling for anything less than our best effort is simply not acceptable. My friend Whitney’s dream is to be a photographer. She just finished her sophomore year, majoring in fine arts here at K-State. In order to be accepted for the photography program, Whitney had to go through several other classes like drawing, sculpting, and pottery. Whitney’s determination with her artwork is unmatched. Even when her professor tells her to start over on a project, she takes the criticism in stride and sits down with a fresh piece of paper. Whitney often brings her work around the house and asks all of us our opinions. We tell her what we see with our “untrained” eyes and she goes back to work. She can spend hours putting the final touches on a drawing or providing the perfect texture to a sculpture. Whitney refuses to settle for anything less than her very best work. This past semester, her hard work paid off. She was accepted into the photography program and is one step closer to her dreams. As the semester came to a close and we were all packing to go home, Whitney gave away some of her photos. I picked out a few pieces of her work and told her I thought the photographs were excellent. She said they weren’t her best work, but proof that she is constantly improving. Whitney has her eye on the prize and she won’t rest until she reaches her goal. It is imperative that we refuse to settle. Hold nothing back and chase your dreams. By refusing to settle, you will never have to ask yourself the awful question of what if. People say they wish they could go back and pursue the big dreams they had set for themselves. Why spend the rest of your life wondering? Chase your dreams and refuse to settle for anything less than 100 percent effort. If you dream of being the top fruit seller, put all your effort into selling that fruit. If being the Kansas Star Farmer is something you dream of, do not half-heartedly put your books together. Remind yourself of the goal, do the necessary paperwork, and refuse to settle for less than your best percent effort on any aspect of your work. You have already stepped out and committed to chasing this dream. Why give up now? Give your best effort and refuse to lower your standards. Do not doubt your ability to reach your dreams and do not settle for anything less.