The National FFA Organization works to strengthen science and agricultural educational opportunities for students across the country. The Texas FFA Association and Texas FFA Foundation are the largest state organizations in the country.
On this episode of Growing Our Future Podcast, Aaron Alejandro introduces Molly Christensen, Communications & Outreach Coordinator for the Texas State Soil and Water Conservation Board. Christensen's experience as an FFA member and Ford Leadership Scholar helped launch her current career.
Listen to the full episode with host Aaron Alejandro and Molly Christensen here.
Call it Fate
Sitting in the back of the Agriculture 101 classroom as a teenager, Molly Christensen, Communications & Outreach Coordinator for the Texas State Soil and Water Conservation Board and former Ford Leadership Scholar could not have predicted that her life was about to change.
'It all comes down to that one choice that kicks down the dominoes,' Christensen says. In many ways, Christensen embodies the mission of FFA, which, as host Alejandro tells listeners, gives high school students the chance to hone leadership skills.
According to Christensen, perhaps the most consequential choice she made as a high school student was to participate in FFA's Ford Leadership Scholarship program, a statewide community service program. 'From the application to the interview process, there was something you could take away from each component,' she says. Ultimately, Christensen chose to restore a local park. The experience she gained -including developing a budget, presenting publicly, and creating a project proposal-proved invaluable in college and beyond.
FFA Cultivates Leaders
Alejandro and Christensen's shared FFA history means they have many experiences and mentors in common, a gift that Christensen says gave her 'such a strong base to build off of.' In turn, Alejandro says, Christensen was able to capitalize on opportunities offered to her by engaging deeply and taking leaps. 'The fact that you put yourself in those positions gave you a competitive edge at a very young age,' he says.
Alejandro points out that leadership is hard-and not everyone is suited for it. 'Sometimes it's challenging to do the right thing,' he says. 'you've gotta be bold.' Christensen agrees that doing the right thing, regardless of what others may think or various pressures one may face, is crucial when it comes to effective leadership.
Over years of working with strong leaders, Christensen has learned to emphasize both empathy and communication. 'Putting yourself in someone else's shoes...develops such a strong connection between you and people,' she says. This ability to understand where someone is coming from makes for more productive communication, which is key for growth.
'I'm a straight shooter,' Christensen says.
'There's a Place for You'
While Christensen encourages young people interested in natural resources and agriculture to become producers themselves, she also highlights the diverse opportunities available. For instance, the Texas State Soil and water Conservation Board works on a wide variety of projects, including, according to Christensen, 'flood control, monarch butterfly habitats, and water quality', to name just a few.
'You just have to show up and act interested,' she says. 'When the time comes I promise there will be a place for you.' About
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 at mytexassffa.org.
Learn more about the Texas Soil & Water Conservation Board at: https://www.tsswcb.texas.gov/tsswcb-home-page
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