Ron Pulse and Wyoming FFA Three decades of success
April 8, 2013
After 28 years of serving as the Wyoming State FFA Advisor, Ron Pulse recently retired from the position. He leaves in his wake an impressive list of FFA accomplishments, success stories that mention his name and contributions to generations of youth in agriculture.
"As far as developing state officers and leaders in Wyoming, he's definitely done a lot to bring new opportunities to kids who join FFA. They have every chance to succeed, and he works to give them the tools they need to take that FFA educational experience to the next level. Over the years I've known him, he's never shied away from a possible new opportunity or new idea to get skills to students all over the state," said former Wyoming FFA Executive Secretary Scott McDonald of Pulse.
McDonald continued, explaining that Wyoming is among the smallest FFA chapters in the nation, just breaking 2,000 members this year. However, despite its small size, the state has also been consistently ranked one of the top five FFA Associations in the nation at the national convention for the last 10 consecutive years, a feat he attributes Pulse's leadership at the state level working in combination with FFA teachers at the local level.
"Ron also had at least five national officers elected during his tenure, and at one time had three national officers in a row, which is pretty unheard-of, especially for a western state. Every year our teams do very well at the national convention, with several always placing in the top 10. I think it is a testament to his leadership and the commitment of ag teachers in this state that Wyoming can compete on the national stage," added former Wyoming FFA Executive Secretary and Former Wyoming FFA state officer Teresa Milner.
Known for his gruff, brutal honesty, and wicked sense of humor, Mr. Pulse was perfectly capable of handling a large group of teenagers in the present, while steering them in the direction of future success. Many say they were scared stiff the first time they met him, but eventually changed their opinion of him as his genuine interest in them and their future became apparent.
"Mr. Pulse is the business end of FFA in Wyoming. When you're elected a state officer, you're all just skyrocketing with excitement and enthusiasm, and FFA needs that. But, there is also a lot of work to get done, and Mr. Pulse was always the grounding force telling us to grow up and be professional, and the organization also needs that,"explained former Wyoming FFA state officer Laura Nelson.
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Milner agreed, adding that Pulse was a consistent component of Wyoming FFA, making sure the organization was always conducting itself it an appropriate manner, and ensuring it remained something past members were proud of for a lifetime.
"He really worked on responsibility, and living up to your commitments. He would drive home that being a state officer was a position of privilege, and that there were lots of other students that would be willing to be in that position. He would remind those elected that if they weren't willing to do their work, they essentially took that position from a kid who would," stated Milner.
Nelson added that Pulse's impact reached beyond the borders of Wyoming, recalling a recent conversation with a former Montana State FFA officer.
"Somehow Mr. Pulse came up in our conversation, and she recalled his impact on their team too," Nelson said, referring to the tri-state leadership training that state officers from Wyoming, Montana and North Dakota attend at the start of their tenure.
"She told me that he really helped her state officer team that week – they were intimidated by how direct he was, at first. But he made them focus on how they were conducting themselves, and told them they needed to step it up. She said that was just the 'talking to' they needed, and it molded the remainder of their performance as a team that year in a huge way," Nelson explained.
McDonald echoed Nelson and Milner's statements, highlighting the fact that Pulse's interest included every individual.
"I got to know Ron through high school FFA, and he offered me a scholarship to LCCC (Laramie County Community College), so I went there for two years. I got involved in FFA as an intern at that point, and served in that capacity part time from 2002 until 2008, until I took my current position. If he hadn't taken a personal interest in me, and worked to get me involved in FFA beyond the high school level, I wouldn't be where I am today," said McDonald.
"I remember working on the FFA creed as a freshman in high school," recalled Nelson. "My FFA teacher, Mr. Randall, took me to LCCC and had me practice giving the creed in front of one of Mr. Pulse's college classes."
It was an intimidating practice to say the least, she remembered.
"Speaking in front of Mr. Pulse and his class of college kids was terrifying for a freshman in high school. But it made speaking at state convention and regional competitions easy after that," Nelson joked.
"I remember when I was done giving the creed, Mr. Pulse gave me a full page of critiques, all handwritten in red. There was good, positive feedback that made me feel really confident, and on the other hand there were also some really solid critiques. He was hard on me, but that was good. I needed it. I carried that critique around in the pocket of my FFA jacket for years after that, reflecting on his advice before a lot of other speech contests and FFA competitions," she said.
Nelson also noted that it was fun to grow in the organization from a freshman practicing the creed in Pulse's classroom to being an LCCC student in those classes, then onto working with Pulse as a state officer. Milner and McDonald agreed that fun times were frequent, especially when, in retrospect, they realized how much they were learning at the same time.
"I believed in the kids and in FFA – I'm passionate about FFA," said Pulse in a recent interview with the Wyoming FFA Times. "If you weren't, you couldn't do it. I wish I could continue, but it's time for some new blood. I'm going to continue to be an advocate for ag teachers and FFA forever."
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