Well the Leadership Center is 50……. Hmmm, just like a lot of things I am older than the Leadership Center. My memories and involvement start as a wise old Ag Teacher, Ron Ganzel of Pawnee City, said “Malone I want you to ride out with me to a meeting in Aurora at the Nebraska Youth Leadership Development Center. It will be good for you to see what the FFA Center has to offer and needs our involvement.” Being a young and naïve Ag Teacher who always listened to his elders, I thought what the heck lets go see what this place has to offer. This started my on again, off again participation with the NVAF Board and the Leadership Center development. Since I never did write too many things down, without checking NVAF Board minutes (where ever they are) I would guess it was about 1978-79.
So it was pretty slim for development: the cabins, the old white skating rink converted to meeting rooms, meeting hall and you ate in the meeting rooms; everything catered in for food. Whoa, it was a challenge but it was ours. We got Kiewit Foundation, some major sponsors and the Nebraska Bankers were always helping us carry the loans, to build the first original dining hall and a couple of meeting rooms half the size it is now. That was a big move but luckily we got it done because the next year was when the tornados hit the area and the old white dinosaur (as we called it) took a hit on part of the structure.
Well, during the next few years, we started beating the bushes and during my time periods we were able to add the gym, the pool (not covered yet) and improve the kitchen. The lake was a hole in the ground surrounded by trees. We were lucky we did not lose a few campers during the relay race because every once in a while someone would take a tumble down the sides.
After that we got the pool covered, and the hotel addition added on the backside. I took a break from the NVAF Board but came back on when asked to get through some tough times and decisions to carry on with the Leadership Center or not. Well I am proud to say our board stuck together, made some tough moves but jumped at a new one to hire Maile. She was crazy to join us on the next segment of changes for the Center but it has been a good fit and we made it from month to month on a few dollars. Had some frank discussions with Ag teachers, State leaders and business men but we worked it out, got things settled and started in the right direction for the future.
I dropped off the board again a couple years ago; how many years did I serve (did not count) 20 years?? Can’t say I said never counted, I just loved the Center and did my Job. What do I remember: Building projects to help at the Center, serving food in the chow line, running the cantina, cold showers in the cabins, meetings, doing the trainings for officers, late night volleyball games in the pool, the morning trips around the lake for vespers and oh my GOSH THE CAMP SONG! But most of all seeing FFA students becoming leaders.
THAT IS WHAT IT IS ALL ABOUT, SO YOU YOUNG TEACHERS AND MEMBERS SHOULD APPRECIATE WHAT THE LEADERSHIP CENTER IS, THERE IS NOT ANOTHER ONE LIKE IT FOR FFA IN THE MIDWEST OWNED AND OPERATED WITH AGRICULTURAL EDUCATORS ON THE BOARD. ROLL UP YOUR SLEEVES AND DONATE YOUR TIME, TALENT AND DONATIONS TO CREATE AGRICULTURAL LEADERS!!!
Past NVAF Board Member, Eager Volunteer, Santa Claus at Christmas, FFA Advisor for 42 years and the current Palmyra Ag Instructor & FFA Advisor