Supporting Youth in our Communities


I made a delivery to a friend’s neighborhood out near our farm recently. I could not help but notice her neighbor’s beautiful pink tulips in the front flower bed. I was in a hurry to get to an appointment. It took a lot of will power not to park and go over to breathe in their spring essence. 

I love flowers and enjoy gardening. I have not had the opportunity to work in my flower beds yet this spring. As I was pulling away from the lovely tulip display, there were snow flurries in the air. Earlier that morning we had a short round of sleet hammer down from the sky. Arkansas spring has been very temperamental this year.

As my day progressed, I had to run over to our local club store to pick up some bulk items that I cannot purchase at our local grocery store. On my way over, I passed the University of Arkansas teaching farm. There was a sea of blue and gold FFA jackets covering that part of campus. I knew immediately, these students were in town for contest season (now known as career and/or leadership development events). 

As I made my way through the club store, I stopped by the café for a snack and drink before I went to my car. I was seated behind a group of young ladies donning their official dress. I asked them which contests (old habits die hard) they were participating in that day. They had just completed the Food Science CDE. They were not sure how they had done but told me they would be participating in LDEs later in the month. 

One of the students was an FFA Creed Speaking competitor. I was so encouraged by their enthusiasm and shared with them that I had been a Missouri State FFA officer in 1995-96. By this point in the conversation, their FFA advisor stepped in to relay how competitions were split between career and leadership development. The leadership development events would be held later in the month at the Arkansas State FFA convention in Hot Springs. I told them to keep up the good work and continue to pursue opportunities provided by the FFA. It was one of the best leadership and agriculture organizations I have ever had the privilege of being a member of.

There are opportunities to learn, appreciate and grow around every corner in life. Whether we are at work, with our families or out in our local community. Recently a friend’s business sponsored a dunk tank for his hometown’s local high school fundraiser. Not considering the schizophrenic Arkansas spring weather we are having, I agreed to be one of the dunk tank victims. Tomorrow I will head down to Alma and hope for sunshine. The dunk tank will help raise money for a great cause – Alma High School Project Graduation. I cannot believe the things I let myself get talked into.

It may be cold, but I am always thankful for an opportunity to help young people and lend a hand when a friend asks for help. My schedule is more hectic than it has ever been, but there should always be time to stop and enjoy conversations with young people – and of course, time for smelling the tulips, neighbor.

Jody Harris is a freelance communications specialist, gardener, ranch wife and mother of four. She and her family raise Angus beef cattle and other critters on their northwest Arkansas ranch. She is a graduate of Missouri State University. To contact Jody, go to and click on ‘Contact Us.’


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