The first day, the officers all enjoyed bonding through swimming activities. After a couple of hours of swimming, a downpour hit without warning. Even though it was raining cats and dogs, no one seemed to care and the fun continued. However, one true leadership lesson was learned the hard way. In the excitement of the swimming activities, no one remembered to bring their belongings inside when the weather turned south. Once the officers made it back to retrieve their items, everything was drenched and the lesson was learned.
After each day’s activities, the officers had sessions that all chapters attended and participated in by helping with different activities. Every session had different "icebreakers"; these are activities the county chapter officers chose to bring them together as a group. Officers learned all types of information about each other because of these activities, even the weird unusual ones that make us all the individuals we truly are.
One of the great parts of this retreat was being able to unwind and be yourself without trying to impress anyone. Most of the games allowed them to let loose and have fun while they relaxed and took advantage of a rare chance to just be a kid again.
One of all the officers’ favorite activities was the designing of a county FFA t-shirt. All four chapters brainstormed together to design a t-shirt uniting the counties’ officers and the theme of the retreat. This year everyone decided on sky blue for the color of the shirt with each one of the officers’ school mascots on the back. With each school mascot, the officers’ names were printed over the mascot. Geneva’s mascot is a panther with President Hayden Whittle, Vice-President Chelsea Walden, Secretary Savannah Fredrick, Treasurer Shayla Wallace, Reporters Shelby Smithart and Morgan Bowdoin, Sentinel Dusty Watkins, Historian Brianna Drummond, and Parliamentarians Breanna Jordan and Marc Jackson. Slocomb’s mascot is a Redtop with President Alana Aplin, Vice-President Julie Dobbs, Secretary Trinity Everett, Treasurer Cody Brent, Reporter Caleb Harris, Sentinel Laramie Bolin and Historian Brandon Hovey. Geneva County’s mascot is a bulldog with President Brandon Skinner, Vice President Robin Miller, Secretary Isaac Hatcher, Treasurer Elliott Weston, Reporter Marshall Carroll, Sentinel Sam Loftin, Historian Tiffany Greggs, Parliamentarian Myles Anderson and Photographer Natalie Dillard.
During each training session, guest speakers came from different areas in Alabama to teach on the values of life and how to be a close FFA Officer Team. The speakers last year were Jeremy Knox, Collegiate FFA President at Auburn University; Brandon Smith, former Alabama State Officer; Megan Saunders, former Alabama FFA State Reporter; and Hayden Whittle, South District Secretary. Also during the sessions three main topics were presented such as leadership, the importance of involvement in your local organizations, and a question and answer period in which officers were able to ask about Auburn University. These sessions covered the topics extremely well and trained the officers about various careers and life outside of high school.
They also set aside time for reflections at the end of one of the sessions. Reflection time was to focus and share information about each other. The officers also take time to talk about the hardships faced so far in life. The officers bonded more strongly as a result of the reflections.
The retreat was a great way to come together as a county and make long-lasting friendships with the other chapter officers while learning leadership and career knowledge. It was a great way to have fun before the start of school. Even though school has started now, they still manage to meet once every month to share and brainstorm chapter ideas and plan for future events. The Geneva County FFA Officer Retreat has proven to be a great worthwhile event for all those who participated.
All the officers in Geneva County would like to encourage the other counties in Alabama to plan their own event each year; it is a great way to bring the chapters together as a whole and enhance the leadership training offered to chapter officers. The FFA officers across Geneva County are sooo excited for next year and just cannot wait.