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Kids These Days

This week – and last – I’ve had the pleasure to see a little bit of what youth are doing across the country, and it’s provided me a lot to think about. 

Last week, I was in Washington, D.C. with the Wyoming LEAD program touring a variety of agencies and visiting with our congressional delegation on the hill.  

At the same time, we had the unique opportunity to participate in the Provider Pals program. Within that program, the 15 LEAD Class XIII members visited a pre-kindergarten class, elementary school and a middle school to teach the students a little bit about our world. I spent four hours teaching 120 three- and four-year-olds about wheat. That afternoon, I visited with 60 sixth grade students. My fellow class members looked at different aspects of agriculture – from irrigation to beef by-products to wildlife and agriculture. 

What was really enlightening was the difference between those children and the ones I interact with through Wyoming’s 4-H and FFA programs every day. 

When I came into the classrooms, both pre-kindergarten and middle school students were inattentive and in general disrespectful. They talked over their teacher, didn’t sit in their seats and did things as outrageous as sitting on their desks and laying their heads down. If I would have done any of those things when I was in school, I would have been sent to the principal. Then, when I began my presentation, students talked over me, carried on side conversations in the back and some flat out ignored me. I’m not sure about you, but I was raised differently. 

Folks, these are the youth of today. These are just a segment of the students who will help to lead our future generation. Frankly, it scares me to think that these youth are going to provide the example for the future.

On returning to Wyoming, I’ve had the opportunity to spend this past week at the Wyoming FFA State Convention. Talk about a difference of night and day. 

During my four days at convention, I’m not sure I have seen a more bright and respectful group of students. If I was carrying a full armload of things, students would either offer to help or take something without being asked. Often, they were students I’d never met before. They opened doors, said, “Please,” “Thank you,” “Sir” and “Ma’am” and even went above and beyond what was necessary in helping their fellow students. 

It’s a pretty spectacular thing to meet a group of students so polite and respectful and so dedicated to an organization and a cause. 

I am eternally impressed with the level of professionalism that Wyoming FFA members show. And I’m optimistic that these are the students who will do great things for the world. 

It’s not every day you meet a young woman or young man who has grown a herd of breeding sheep or cattle or who runs their own farming operation. It’s impressive that, even before they reach 16 and 17 years old, these students are building successful businesses. That’s no easy feat, and it’s something that most Americans can’t say they’ve done. 

We’ve got a lot to be proud of here in Wyoming, and our kids these days are just one of those things.