Letter to High School FFA Members

Dear High School Students,

I would like to encourage you to get active in your local FFA   program. I am so thankful that I was in the FFA. I am convinced that being active in FFA is the most important part of my high school career. It inspired me to LEARN, LEAD, and SUCCEED. I learned that I didn’t have to like the same things as everyone else. I could follow a different path and still be successful.

It has formed me and who I am today. I graduated from New London High school in 2006. Today I am 26 years old, a husband, a father of two boys, a member of church council at St Paul Lutheran Church in Dale, WI. I serve on the board of directors of the Wisconsin Bird and Game Breeders Association. I am a lifetime member of the FFA Alumni. I am the owner of Purely Poultry where we provide online shoppers with chickens, ducks, geese, swans, turkeys, pheasants, quail, guineas, peafowl, partridge and grouse. Our company had sales of over $1,000,000 in 2015 and we are on track to grow our sales again this year. I lead a team of 8 including 5 customer service representatives, a writer, a web developer, an accountant (my wife) and myself. I get to work with poultry farmers to make their businesses more profitable and be able to do what they enjoy (raising poultry) so that we can do what we enjoy (serving customers and marketing.

In 2002 when I was a freshman in highschool I was sitting in a chair in a coliseum with over 51,000 students, teachers, and guests at the National FFA Convention. All of the students were wearing the same Blue and Gold jackets and that felt tremendously powerful. I have tears in my eyes just thinking about it. I sat in that coliseum watching person after person win awards and listened to motivational speakers and thought, “I want to be on that stage. I want to win the National Poultry Production Proficiency and I want to be a National FFA Officer.” At that time my “poultry business” was not very big and not very profitable. I went home and started working on what I would need to do to walk on that stage. Part of it was a lot of hard work in the chicken coops and online selling birds. In October 2005 as a senior in highschool I walked on that stage and won the National Poultry Production Proficiency.

In FFA I learned about leading. Probably one of the hardest lessons for me personally to learn was that sometimes leading means taking a back seat and letting someone else drive. The hardest but most rewarding thing is that if you want to go somewhere, you have to get in the driver’s seat and go somewhere new. For you I would like to suggest that you get in the driver’s seat and go to an FFA event, compete in a Career Development Event, participate in a speaking competition, or go to state or national FFA convention. Lead a new event.

Get active in FFA. It can change your life.

Tyler Danke