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Tuesday, Oct. 13, 2015

FFA president's speech inspires

Thursday, February 23, 2012

National FFA President Ryan Best accepted a gift of thanks from Lynne Schad, Monett FFA Booster Club secretary, following his presentation to the Monett FFA Chapter during National FFA Week. Best challenged students not to let life's circumstances define who they are and their futures. [Times Photo by Melonie Roberts] [Order this photo]
Monett High School FFA students were treated to a special presentation on Tuesday from National FFA President Ryan Best. In his speech, Best, who hails from New Mexico, urged students to resist allowing bad situations to define their futures.

Best spoke of being a freshman at the District FFA convention and reciting the FFA creed.

"I had memorized it. I had practiced my movements. I had it down," Best said. "In the corner of my eye, I saw my ag teacher taking notes and then he just put the pencil down and stopped writing. There I was, still reciting the creed and in the back of my mind wondering why my teacher had stopped taking notes.

On Tuesday, the Monett FFA Chapter welcomed National FFA President Ryan Best and other special guests during his tour of area schools for National FFA Week. Pictured above, from left, are: Russ Moreland, director of the Southwest Area Career Center in Monett; Lynne Schad, Monett FFA Booster Club secretary; Best; Tina Paris, a member of the National FFA organization; Steven Rogers, Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education district supervisor; Craig Frederick, a member of the National FFA organization; and John Littlefield, Missouri State FFA vice president. [Times Photo by Melonie Roberts]
"It turns out I left out the entire third paragraph of the FFA creed," Best continued. "I felt like I let my ag teacher down."

Best went on to describe how his ag teacher continued to support and encourage him despite the error.

"That creed was everything to me," Best said. "I was completely deflated. The thing is, I learned from that. We have to remember our past experiences, because they help shape our future experiences. The things we overcome are what helps us to be successful."

As a sophomore, Best competed in prepared public speaking and walked away the state champion. On the heels of that success came tragedy.

"On Sunday, June 7, 2007, my family received some devastating news," Best said. "We got a call at 4 a.m. and were told we were needed at the hospital. My sister Heidi had been in a car wreck."

With his parents away from home, Best and his siblings, Halee and Reavis, traveled to the hospital where officials refused to provide information on their sister's condition.

"We weren't the parents," Best said. "They wouldn't tell us anything.

"My sister was airlifted to a hospital in Amarillo [Texas] and it was there that we received the worst news possible. Doctors told us that with the brain damage she had received in the crash, she wouldn't live past 5 p.m."

Best and his siblings had been joined by their parents at that point and he said the family fought and prayed that Heidi would survive.

"My sister had a fighting spirit," Best said. "For five days, we were not willing to give up."

A freak spike in brain pressure resulted in the swelling of his sister's brain, subsequently cutting off the oxygen supply to her brain. Best was devastated.

"I lost my best friend," he said.

"In every situation, how you react determines where you go in your future," Best said. "Because I am willing to share Heidi's story, other people can be helped. As an organ donor, she helped save 250 other lives.

"Don't shut your experiences out," Best said. "Lay them out there to help other people."

Best went on to tell the story of a young child in Indianapolis, Ind., who impressed him with her spirit of generosity.

"There was a man begging for money on the corner of a street," he said. "I watched as person after person walked by. Then this child, maybe a fifth grader, came by with her mother and she dropped two cents into the man's cup. It was incredible. She was doing everything that she could do to help out. She defined the situation."

Best then reviewed the points he hoped students would carry into their futures.

"Everything we have ever done defines who we are now and guides us in our future," he said. "You define your situation, don't let it define you. Move forward. Be willing to help others. Then, we truly will be able to make a difference in this world."

Best, a member of the Elida FFA Chapter in Portales, N.M., is attending the New Mexico State University and hopes to become an ag instructor. He will continue his tour of local schools throughout the remainder of the week, which is designated as National FFA Week.

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