Southeast FFA Chapter hosts etiquette banquet

Jess Oaks
Posted 3/1/24

YODER – It was a bittersweet evening at the Yoder Community Center as the Southeast FFA Chapter hosted the last FFA banquet with the retiring agriculture education teacher and chapter FFA …

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Southeast FFA Chapter hosts etiquette banquet


YODER – It was a bittersweet evening at the Yoder Community Center as the Southeast FFA Chapter hosted the last FFA banquet with the retiring agriculture education teacher and chapter FFA advisor, Jay Clapper. 

The purpose of the event is best said by Clapper himself, to teach upcoming FFA members meal etiquette. The annual event provided local FFA supporters, members, and their families with a wonderful three-course meal, complete with table-side service provided by the chapter members themselves. 

The banquet is held with the National FFA Organization’s official dress and official meeting conduct.

Southeast FFA Chapter President, Kailey Porter called the meeting to order a little after 6:30 p.m. while the audience enjoyed their salad. 

“The meeting room will come to order,” Porter announced. “We are now holding a meeting of the Southeast FFA Chapter. Madam Vice President are all officers at their stations,” Porter asked Southeast FFA Chapter Vice President, Sydney Moeller. 

A roll call of officers present ensured. 

The banquet provides the freshmen FFA chapter members an opportunity to learn how official FFA meetings are conducted, and it gives the community and opportunity to understand the component of the FFA officers. 

As each officer rose for their attendance call and they gave a brief introduction of their officer post. 

“I shall call roll of officers determine if they are at their stations and report back to you Madam President,” Moeller said. “The reporter.” 

Taylar Hansen, Southeast FFA Chapter Reporter, quickly took to her feet and announced her station and duties.

“Stationed by the flag. As the flag covers the United States of America, so I strive to inform the people in order that every man, woman, and child may know that the FFA is a national organization that reaches from the state of Alaska to Puerto Rico and from the state of Maine to Hawaii,” Hansen stated. 

Each officer explained their position within the chapter including the advisor. 

“The advisor,” Moeller called on Clapper. 

“Here by the owl. The owl is a time-honored emblem of knowledge and wisdom. Being older than the rest of you, I am asked to advise you from time to time, as the need arises,” Chapter advisor, Clapper said. “I hope that my advice will always be based on true knowledge and ripened with wisdom.” 

Once the roll call of officers was complete, Porter then asked the remaining FFA members in the audience why they gathered.

“To practice brotherhood, honor agricultural opportunities and responsibilities, and develop those qualities of leadership which an FFA member should possess,” the chapter members recited in unison. 

After the official opening ceremonies, the community was led in prayer by Hansen. 

“I would like to welcome you guys to the etiquette banquet,” Porter greeted the audience. 

While the community continued to work through dinner, the officers preformed a short skit on dressing appropriately for FFA functions. Each officer demonstrated to the younger members a “what not to wear” outfit. 

Clapper took the podium to give a brief introduction on the history of the etiquette banquet while the audience moved on to their main course. He then gave his advisors comments to the chapter members and audience. 

“For me guys, I am speaking to students, it’s a little bittersweet and I will let you put that together,” Clapper began. “I’ve always said that in FFA you don’t see the value for a long, long time. Number one there is a culture and a climate. Those are two words love for you to someday understand. There is climate where we are enjoying ourselves or not enjoying ourselves for the day and then there is culture. One of the things that I love about the culture of our organization in FFA is the humor,” he added. “It’s okay to stop every once in a while and have a little humor.”

“I promise you with the deepest passion that your whole life you’re going to have challenges that are overwhelming,” Clapper said. “High school FFA, they give you little snippets of challenges and I want an environment where you chose to succeed. It is a choice.”

“I had an agenda but now I am just speaking from the heart,” Clapped told the chapter FFA members. “I want you to have grit. I don’t want trophies. I want grit. Sure, trophies are nice, but I want grit.” 

Clapper continued explaining to the room full of future agriculturists how important it was for them to push themselves with determination and grit before he introduced the next speaker. 

“I was so blessed that I got to be in this profession,” Clapper said. “I really am. But we’ve got to understand why. What it’s about.  It’s not about a trophy. It’s about character and grit,” he ended.

Special guest, Doug Chamberlain, a man of many honorable hats, spoke to the FFA chapter about his experience with the National FFA Organization and how it helped him carry on through his career as a teacher, coach, United States Marine, Wyoming State Representative, and published author. 

“I woke up this morning before the alarm went off and I was thinking again about wanting to say something meaningful tonight,” Chamberlain began. “One of the things I have thought about numerous times is that the FFA has a completely different look then when I was in high school. It’s a much better looks because girls are in it,” he joked. 

Chamberlain explained how FFA was divided by gender. Most of the girls in his school were in pep club or cheerleading and according to Chamberlain, the FFA organization has improved in the changing of the times. 

“If you want to feel dated, the president (Southeast FFA Chapter President, Kailey Porter) just told me that she is the granddaughter of one of my students when I taught in La Grange,” Chamberlain said. 

After a little bit of humor, Chamberlain began breaking down the National FFA Creed and explaining to the chapter members how a couple of the sentences helped him through trying times in his life. 

“The first phrase that I noticed, and had noticed through the years, I’ll give you the words of the phrase and just tell you briefly how that affected my life,” Chamberlain said. “’I believe in the future of agriculture with a faith born not of words, but of deeds.’ What does that mean? To me, it means talk is cheap. People don’t listen to what you say nearly as much as they watch what you do. Examples of how you treat other people, like classmates, your teachers, servers in restaurants, flight attendants and disabled people, just to name a few. FFA members need to realize that your interactions with the people around you are a display of your character,” Chamberlain explained.

Chamberlain continued to explain the sentimental pieces of the creed to the chapter members, siting his real-life experiences along the way.

“In FFA, we learned to love animals and we had the opportunity to work with animals,” Chamberlain explained. 

“I will close with these remarks, if you believe that American agriculture can and will hold to the traditions of our national life, as an FFA member, you can exsert and influence in your home and community which will stand solid for your part in that inspiring task,” Chamberlain said. “Always remember you are a member of approximately one million FFA members, which is one of the largest youth organizations in the world. Wear your blue and gold jacket with pride and honor. Never do anything to dishonor to what that jacket stands for and never forget the meaning of our FFA creed,” Chamberlain said. “Lastly, follow your dreams.” 

Porter presented Chamberlain with an award of appreciation. 

The senior officers then gave a short send off to the under classmen.

“You guys are the future, FFA. Future farmers of America, that’s you,” Porter said. “FFA is a very important organization that shows you not just who you are, but who you will be. It’s a very, very important thing and you have to take risks and you have to follow your dreams and sitting here being scared worrying about making mistakes isn’t going to show you how you are or who you will become, you have to take risks. You have to speak. You have to show people you are who you are, and no one should apologize,” Porter closed. 

“What I want all of you to take away from this is that FFA can be an amazing tool to prepare yourself for real life situations if you take advantage of it,” Moeller said in her closing statements. “You won’t die if you have to give a speech in front of a ton of people at a banquet.” 

At the conclusion of the official meeting, there was no further business for the Southeast FFA Chapter to discuss and Porter lead the chapter in the Pledge of Allegiance.