I find it interesting to learn about how activities and groups people become involved in changes the path of their lives. That’s what happened to Mindy Bunselmeyer after joining the FFA chapter at Lincolnwood High School.

Bunselmeyer lived on a small grain and livestock farm and decided to take agricultural classes because she wanted to become a veterinarian.

“I probably knew about one-tenth of what FFA had to offer,” she said.

Being involved in an active FFA program gave Bunselmeyer a new perspective.

“My ag teacher impressed me because he could hook kids into FFA that had various talents and abilities,” she explained. “FFA was life-changing for me because this organization has something to offer every student that walks in the door.”

Bunselmeyer became quite active in the FFA organization, serving as a section president and the Illinois FFA reporter in 1989-1990. The following year, she was elected by the FFA members as the president of the state organization.

By the time she began her studies at the University of Illinois, Bunselmeyer said, the idea to become a veterinarian had left her mind. She decided to study agricultural education because she wanted to have the same impact on students that she saw her agriculture teacher, as well as many others across the state, have.

After completing both a bachelor’s of science degree and a master’s degree in agricultural education, Bunselmeyer taught agriculture and led the FFA chapter at Monticello High School. For the past 10 years, she was the District 4 program adviser for Facilitating Coordination in Agricultural Education.

On March 1, Bunselmeyer began her position as associate executive secretary of the Illinois Association FFA. Working at the Illinois FFA Center has been a longtime goal for Bunselmeyer.

“This has been a dream of mine since I was a section FFA president,” she said. “I was touched by the people there, and I thought it would be a wonderful way to give back to an organization that gave so much to me.”

Now Bunselmeyer’s goal is to be a booster shot for ag education.

“I want the events we offer to FFA members to be high quality and realistic to their future,” she stressed. “That means we have to constantly look at what’s going on in the industry to make sure our events reflect that and provide the best opportunity for the kids.”

The agriculture industry is “screaming” to hire young people that have an agricultural background, Bunselmeyer noted.

Another important aspect of her position, she said, is to empower ag teachers, celebrate their successes and give them the support they need to do their jobs.

“What makes or breaks a FFA program is the teacher,” she added. “Sometimes we are so busy doing what we do that we forget to recognize that teachers are doing great things.”

After recently attending the 85th Illinois FFA State Convention, with more than 4,000 FFA members, advisers and guests, I’m wondering how many of these students may have experienced life-changing moments by being involved in this outstanding organization.

Some of them may not even realize it yet. It might take a few years before it becomes apparent to them.