Sunday, April 25, 2010

The legacy you leave

A legacy endures the hardships of one generation and remains steadfast for the next. It undergoes the transition from the weathered hands of the wise to those of unscathed youth. It is a component of history, a record of intricate detail and monumental worth. It is evidence of the past, service to the present and a promise for the future. There is untold value in its passage.

Over 4,000 members of the Future Farmers of America (FFA) gathered in my hometown last weekend, for their 82nd annual state conference. Student leaders, guest speakers and advisors addressed them, delivering a bold message: “Your Legacy Awaits.”

The very foundation of FFA exemplifies all that this slogan entails. During the conference, I observed its members display a dedication to family, ethics, education and responsibility and a diligence to preserve it. They take pride in leadership, show respect for their elders and possess a unique patriotism.

I can say with absolute sincerity, that it was my pleasure to take part in the conference for my second consecutive year. As a co-chair for the Web proceedings committee at Fresno State, I served as a photographer for the event. As such, I was asked to conduct a workshop to 14 FFA members who were selected as part of a press corps team.

These students participated in a number of workshops aside from the general sessions and completed assignments related to their designated area of the press. It was a joy watching them on assignment. Several times backstage, I crossed paths with student reporters as they chased down officers, award winners and other recognized individuals for interviews. I brushed shoulders with student photographers as they sought out the best spot to capture the on-stage action.

I received the most satisfaction, however, from the interaction I received during my presentation to the press corps team. They were attentive, inquisitive and respectful. And they helped me come to an understanding about my own legacy.

At the beginning of my workshop, I quoted Mark Sharenbroich, from his keynote address during the opening session. He said, “Find out what your gifts are and share them with the world.” I told the students that that is why I chose to accept the invitation to conduct my workshop that day. I know what my gifts are and I am determined to share them with the world—through my camera and my keyboard

I have had some of the most amazing leaders and mentors who have helped direct me along the journey to discovering those gifts, and I am indebted to their devotion. But because of my late start on my education and involvement in the things that I love to do, I am continuously inspired by young people who make a point to follow their dreams. I often feel compelled to encourage them in their pursuit.

The fulfillment I received from my workshop led me to the realization that it is part of my responsibility to pass on my legacy. Even though I still have my entire career ahead of me, it is not too soon to share the treasure I have found in writing and photography. It doesn’t belong to me; I simply get to make use of it. And I am honored to be able to share it with newcomers like those I had the privilege of speaking to that day.