Colorado FFA president: Stick to your values |

Colorado FFA president: Stick to your values

Stick to your values and believe you can accomplish your dreams.

That was the message from Andy Bartlett, 2008-2009 president of the Colorado FFA Association, as the 81st annual Colorado FFA Convention came to a close Thursday afternoon at Island Grove Regional Park.

Bartlett, 19, gave his retiring address to a record 1,928 people who attended the final session of this year’s convention, which moves to Craig next year.

Kenton Ochsner of Kersey, Colorado FFA adviser, said this year’s convention “went very well” and he was pleased with this year’s attendance, which matched that of last year’s event in Sterling, despite the tough economic times. Convention sessions averaged about 1,700, he said, prior to the record crowd at Thursday’s final session.

A Merino High School graduate, Bartlett used personal experiences in explaining why values and beliefs are important to succeed in life. As a sixth-grader, he was asked to cut the ribbon on a new playground at Merino Elementary School that had been built by his father and others in the northeast Colorado farm community. And while he was there during the construction, he couldn’t do much as a sixth-grader.

He said he didn’t want to be in front of the crowd, but he cut the ribbon, only to be ridiculed by his classmates after returning to class.

“I lost all my self-confidence and the friends that I had. I became a loner who didn’t believe in myself,” Bartlett said.

That continued until his freshman year in high school, the year he joined FFA.

“I then took the attitude of ‘who cares?’ ” he said. FFA, he added, returned his self-confidence and the ability to make tough decisions based on values taught to him by his family.

“By doing so, I didn’t lose respect for myself,” he said.

He told his fellow FFA members that they have to live with the choices they make in life, and while everyone makes bad choices at times, to stick with the values they know that are right. By doing that, anyone can reach their goals in life.

“You are a constant reflection of your values,” he said.

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