(For a little background on the Summer Synergy Youth Livestock Showcase, check out summersynergy.com)
I had the privilege of evaluating the Summer Synergy scholarship interviews on Saturday, which was a treasured experience. The passion for ag those young leaders possess is truly inspiring.
The night before, I spent some time planning questions that would help the kids share who they really are as people, and what drives them. What I wanted to learn was: would they strive to represent Synergy and the Calgary Stampede well, do they work to truly understand the big picture of agriculture in order to positively impact it, and no matter their career path, will they live a life of service to ensure a world left better than they found it?
A query that had been posed to me many years ago came to mind, but I wasn’t certain it was appropriate for the 12, 13 and 14 year olds I would be talking with. “What is one of your greatest strengths, and how can it be detrimental in your life? What is a weakness you are challenged with, and how can you use it to your advantage?”
It’s a very difficult question for most adults, and so I had decided against it. But as our first interview progressed, it became clear that the young lady preparing to start grade 9 this fall was very mature, and deserved a chance to answer this personal challenge. By the end of the morning, we had felt comfortable to pose “the hardest question” to three-quarters of our young interviewees and many of their answers were amazingly insightful. As with every opportunity I have to work with ag youth, I left feeling in awe of the quality of their character, and certain that our industry is in good hands.
The day following, I ran into the family of a two-time scholarship recipient, and his mom mentioned he hadn’t felt as confident about his interview performance this year, and that he was especially unsure about his strength/weakness response. Hearing that, I began to doubt our bold decision to even ask it, as I would never intend to cause them self-doubt. But his mom stopped me, and went on to say that she actually felt that it had made her evaluate what she perceived as a skill they had overlooked in their parenting – self awareness of one’s deficiencies, as well as attributes – and that even in the 24 hours since the interview, she had noticed him make comments and changes related to this new-found consideration of his whole self.
My heart sang.
The past few years for me have been a journey of introspection toward self improvement, and I’ve been so blessed to have the guidance of insightful individuals who helped me along my path. To now have served that same role to a young man I believe will make a difference in his world, well, that was the ultimate gift I could have received.
Summer Synergy participants: thank you, and best wishes.