Jennifer Jackson is the Executive Director of the Texas FFA Association. She grew up in a small farming community where agriculture was a way of life. With a family steeped in husbandry Jackson joined the District 5 Association as soon as the opportunity presented itself. She had the ability to show livestock from rabbits to heifers. Her involvement grew with FFA with Judging and chapter development, these experiences opened the doors to what has become a life committed agriculture advancement. Jackson always wanted to be a teacher, but her involvement with the FAA sparked an additional interest. "I knew instantly that I wanted to be an agriculture teacher once I got involved with the FAA. Advocating for agriculture and continuing to learn about the agriculture industry brought both passions together," said Jackson.
Jackson attributes her student teaching as the "best experience" that started her professional pathway to where she is now. One professor in particular held her accountable to the work that she was doing. He provided great advice and constructive criticism as she inquired about leadership roles, sitting on boards and other possibilities for growth within the industry. One piece of advice that she took to heart was to sit, listen and offer an opinion only when asked. Jackson volunteered and judged events when she could. When the time came, "I offered my opinion when someone actually wanted to hear it. That was some of the best advice that I ever got. It taught me that you shouldn't really have an opinion until you have that instrumental knowledge that it takes to gain that opinion. It's hard for people to want to listen to you unless they have seen you in action," she said with conviction.
Reflecting on her time as a student teacher, she used to tell her agriculture student, "Don't tell us how great you are, show us how great you are. Nobody can doubt you then. If they see how wonderful you are and how hard you work...you can't be questioned." Her teaching career spanned 14 years.
The Pathway to Agriculture Leadership
Jackson segued into working for Texas Future Farmers for America (FFA) as the Student Recognition and Scholarship Coordinator. In time, the organizational leader would leave for another opportunity. Who would lead the organization? This question burdened Jackson for at least a week resulting in sleepless nights. Ultimately, Jackson decided, "This is something that I really want to do." She recalled her father's words that if something is keeping you up at night, then you have to address it. "You have to give it to God or let it go," she said. With encouragement from her colleagues, Jackson applied and remembered her father's words. "I gave it to God and if it is meant to be it will be. It worked out in my favor and I am blessed to do this job," she said.
Jackson expressed that she is motivated and inspired to do this job well and attributes it to her supportive team, mentors and other leaders within her organization as well as the agricultural community. She is dedicated to finding out "What can we do for students? What can we do for teachers? And what can we do for this industry?" She added that "These are the conversations that we have every day and I wouldn't want it any other way."
Jackson also values positivity and the belief that the agricultural community can benefit from the 21st century megaphone of social networking. As advocates in the industry "If we share all of the good and we flood social media and young minds with the good. I think that we can overcome the negativity that we are faced with. We are the ones to change the conversation and know the truth and good about agriculture," she stated with conviction.
Jackson explains that the Association doesn't just manage the work in the office but offers support to students and teachers. The FFA's goal is offer student opportunities for them to get involved in a variety of aspects in agriculture like legislative experiences and conferences. The FFA also finds ways to empower teachers through conferences and education. However, they work with all stakeholders to bring awareness to the industry. She concluded that the "The more that we create and participate in collaborative relationships, the more impact that we can have in this industry. The coolest thing that we get to do is impact kids."
Listen to the full podcast interview by Aaron Alejandro with Jennifer Jackson on your favorite podcast channel
In this podcast, the host covers:
Jennifer What are you grateful for today?
What was your journey to becoming the Executive Director of the Texas FFA Association?
Through the FFA, our purpose is to create more opportunities for kids and show support for teachers. Isn't this how we grow a stronger FFA Association?
How do we combat negativity that may arise within our industry?
Can you speak to accountability and growth within the industry and how that leads to increased outcomes for students, teachers and the leadership continuum?
What is the best concert that you have ever been to?
About the Podcast Host
The Texas FFA Foundation's purpose is to strengthen agricultural education and the Texas FFA program, so each student can develop their potential for personal growth, career success and
leadership in a global marketplace.
Learn more about the Texas FFA Foundation
Mission Matters Podcast Agency distributes the Growing Our Future Podcast
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