Wyatt DeJong makes National FFA Oficer team: Exclusive interview
The lights danced across the stadium of the Conseco Field House in Indianapolis, IN, on Oct. 23, 2010, as the announcer stated it was time to reveal the 2010-2011 National FFA Officer Team. A hush filled the stadium as thousands of FFA members, dressed in their blue and gold corduroy jackets, waited in anticipation as the names were announced.
An FFA member named Wyatt DeJong from Kennebec, SD, held his breath as the first name was called. DeJong is an Agriculture Education student at South Dakota State University (SDSU) and the 2009 South Dakota FFA Association’s state secretary, who grew up on a cattle operation and dreamed of this moment on the big stage at the National FFA Convention.
The announcer paused as he said, “And, the 2010-2011 National FFA Central Region Vice-President is…Wyatt DeJong.”
DeJong is one of only four South Dakotans ever to be elected as a National FFA Officer, and the moment he was called onto the stage isn’t one he is likely to ever forget.
“When they called my name, it was absolutely overwhelming,” recalled DeJong, who was at a loss for words just retelling the story. “When I heard it, I couldn’t believe it was real. Standing on stage and hugging my teammates, I quickly realized that the next year of my life is going to be filled with so many great opportunities to meet people across the country and represent the agriculture industry that I love and the profession of agriculture education that I strive for.”
DeJong returned this week to South Dakota after a few intense days of training in Indianapolis. He will have a month to complete his coursework at SDSU before returning to Indiana to start his year as a national officer.
“As an agriculture education major, I do have a strong desire to teach,” said DeJong. “This opportunity is such a blessing, and there are so many people who have helped me get to where I’m at today. Receiving this honor was the first time in my life that I have been truly speechless. I’m so thankful for all the people who have supported me in this goal.”
One of the most formative experiences DeJong had while preparing for this leadership position was a trip to Africa this summer that he took as part of the FFA program.
“Being in Africa reminded me to never take things for granted,” explained DeJong. “While there, we taught producers how to grow food more efficiently so they could have a more abundant food supply and not go through times of food insecurity. It made me appreciate agriculture and showed me how importance agriculture education is to our society.”
His goals are high for the upcoming year. DeJong hopes to show young people how talented and gifted they are and encourage them to reach out and make a difference.
“I want to show the FFA students that there is a real value in chasing your dreams and striving to achieve what you hunger for and are passionate about,” said DeJong. “It’s amazing the power one person can have. I think it’s important to never put a cap on where the Lord can take you. I’m from a cattle ranch in small-town South Dakota. It’s not like I was primed since birth to do this kind of thing, but through hard work and help along the way, these kinds of things are possible. We can’t limit what God has in store for you.”
With a bright future ahead of him, DeJong is excited for what the next year will bring, but he also looks back on what he will be leaving behind in rural South Dakota.
“One of the biggest things I’m going to miss is riding horse and looking at calves,” admitted DeJong. “I’m also going to miss the involvement at college and the friends I have made. I will miss going to classes and being a real part of the local agriculture community. Of course, there will be great opportunities to experience agriculture in countless ways in the next year.”
Friends of DeJong note that he is an outgoing individual, always ready to offer up a smile, a few kind words of encouragement or a healthy debate on the latest agriculture issues. With these attributes, it’s easy to see why he was selected to serve in his role as the 2010-2011 National FFA Central Region Vice President. Tri-State Livestock News congratulates Wyatt on this achievement and wishes him the best of the luck in the future.
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