Adam Torres and Chris Britton discuss civic engagement and the Texas FFA.
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Creating civic engagement opportunities for its members is an important part of the Texas FFA mission. In this episode, Adam Torres and Chris Britton, Founder & CEO of GovExperts, explore how the Texas FFA helped Chris develop skills and vision early in life that would later translate into a successful career as a civic leader.
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About Chris Britton
With over 20 years of experience in public policy and business, Chris Britton is the founder and CEO of GovExperts, a professional community of individuals working in, supporting, or interested in the public sector at the local, state, and federal levels. His mission is to help individuals and businesses to work with the legislative and executive branches of government to change and implement public policy.
Full Unedited Transcript
Hey, I’d like to welcome you to another episode of Mission Matters. My name is Adam Torres, and I’m so happy and proud to say I’m at the 95th Annual Texas F F A State Convention. So this is awesome. And today I have a couple things here. So we have Chris Britton on the line, who is a number one, I, I have to say this, Chris author in our recently released book, Texas Leaders Volume One.
So thrilled about this. Chris is also the founder of Gov Experts and he’s a past. State, Texas. F F A Officer. Chris, welcome to the show. Thank you. Glad to be here. Alright, so we got a lot to talk about. So we’re gonna talk about, of course, your experience in F F A. We’re gonna talk about the book. So this is, I mean, we did a big book signing yesterday with so much fun.
There’s a lot, lot of pictures out there and more content coming out on our TikTok and otherwise, but I think, just to get us kicked off here, Mike, how did you originally get introduced to and find the Texas F F A? Well, my, my journey started in Cleburne, Texas at the when I started in high school there, you know, it was always, it was something that my parent, my dad was an f f A member mm-hmm.
And encouraged me to family, family connections, things, obviously. And my mom was an f f A sweetheart. Oh, come on. In fact, they actually one of their first dates was at the state fair of Texas. Things. And so you could say it was kind of preordained for me to to always be part of, part of f f a.
And so that started there, my, my freshman year in Cleburne and you know, had a, a tremendous experience both with the supervised agricultural experience, raising animals, being responsible for, for, for their care maintenance, and then really getting involved in the leadership development programs and and, and public speaking and, and other activities and things that kind of contributed to that.
I don’t know that I could say I, I can’t under. Underestimate or, you know, the, the role that the organization has had in my life and, and the journey that I, that I’ve had. Wow. So I had a, a, another past state officer on the show, so Kathy Beck. Mm-hmm. And I heard about her kind of journey at, you know, to state officer, like maybe tell us a little bit about your, your journey and how you got there.
’cause that’s a big deal. Well, and it’s it’s, it wasn’t without struggle of things too. You know, it’s one of those things where it, the, the thing I think that’s good about the organization is it gives you challenges as well. Mm-hmm. And you’re not always gonna be successful in the things that you did.
So I, you know, after my freshman year, I wanted to run for office the chapter level and the district level. Yeah. Went to the district level, had my speech all made up, and It was going through that, and it was a little bit off and you know, they progressively kind of just kept voting and voting and voting.
I kept rolling down and down and down until, you know, there was only one person left and no office, you know, an office and everything. So I was the last person to get a, a spot there at that district level, but that just kind of made me more determined. Yeah. And so it came back there after having a wonderful year with a great group of district officers.
Mm-hmm. Then ran for the next level, which is area. Mm-hmm. And was successful there. And then the next year we were able to move on to, to be state officer and State vice president. And, you know, and the folks that I served with there are, are some of the lifelong friends that I have today. Wow. So I’ve heard about like, the different types of programs, whether it’s leadership or speaking or otherwise.
Now I know, and we’ll get into more mm-hmm. About what you do at, at gov experts, but like, tell us a little bit more, like give us some insight into like what goes into that speaking program. Well, the speaking programs and, and they’ve changed some since I, I, I was involved. They’re, they’re more topic specific.
Mm-hmm. You know, they have more, you know, policy oriented, more debate things. When I was there and this is interesting, kind of playing into my, my long-term career, I did both extemporaneous and prepared public speaking. Mm-hmm. And so extemporaneous, you’re commenting on the times of the, you know, the topics of the time and you’re given a short amount of time in order to prepare speech to be able to talk, you know, yeah.
At a certain level to be able to introduce a topic and have, and have a conversation about that. Prepared you have a little bit more time to, to, to work on you’re, you’re more kind of polished in regards to it. It was funny, I was talking to a client and we do lobbying at public relations and the particular client was Interested in in genetics and genetic research.
Mm-hmm. And we were talking about, you know, animals and the, and the role that genetic played with. I said, I was given speeches about this in high school, come on. And so it was an interesting thing 30 years later that some of that’s coming to fruition. Yeah. And I see. See, like, and, and for me, when I see the, the progression of what, like some of the individuals that I’ve had the opportunity to either interview mm-hmm.
Or even some of the, the kids that I’ve talked to are the members. I can see the progression in how these life skills will carry over and can carry over into their adult life and into their careers or chosen paths. And there’s a lot of different, like, routes to go. So, for example, we’ve had some individuals that they were inspired to.
Continue to go into agriculture. Mm-hmm. Yourself, you went into, you went into government mm-hmm. And public policy and your lobbyists. Maybe tell us a little bit more about Gov experts and, and kind of how you feel it influence and it helps you today. Sure. Well, gov Experts is our political consulting firm, and it’s also a community.
So we try to provide a forum and a platform for individuals to talk about public policy issues in a serious manner. And, and to help work towards the solutions in regards to that. Yeah. And part of that just comes from that background that I had in f fpa talking about policy issues. I like it has to, like, how could you not bridge that connection?
It has to Absolutely. Yeah. And things, and so the, you know, those public policy issues, you know, we, we talked about ’em, we, you know, and, and they mean something. Mm-hmm. And so one of the things I’ve been drawn to, and one of the things that we’ve, we’ve, we’ve worked in the book, my chapter’s focused on civic leadership and participation and the importance of it.
And so that the, the genesis of that was my time in F F A. Wow. And, you know, f f A has prepared me to be a good citizen. Mm. It’s prepared me to participate in our political process. It’s prepared me to to, to advise clients in the legislature you know, that have business in front of the legislature in regards to how to, how to achieve their objectives.
And so, you know, I, I view f f A and Ag science. Yeah. As really kind of that, that impetus and that empowerment. And so one of the things that I, I tell people, so we all, you know, when we talk mass media sometimes maybe we hear that, oh, you know, the future of our country and, you know, we’re, nobody wants to work.
Or, or where, what’s the, what’s the next generation is gonna, what’s that gonna look like? And so when you talk about things like being a good citizen mm-hmm. Maybe elaborate on that a little bit more and how this whole environment and ecosystem helps that. You bet. I think working through difficult issues mm-hmm.
You’ve got challenges that you have at the chapter level. At the district level. Area level, and our national level with within the f FFA that you’ve got to work through. Like there’s resistance. It’s not given to you. You have to, and I don’t mean resistance. I mean, it’s challenging. There’s other, it’s cha it’s, it’s challenging.
Whenever you have two people that have difference of opinions and things, they’ve got to work through it. You gotta work through it in a way too, that you can work with that person the next day. Yeah. Mm-hmm. And so that’s, Done of the challenge of our democracy. And I think one of the things that’s most important too about where we are today as a society, we’re polarized along the extremes.
Mm-hmm. You need organizations that train people how to, how to, how to work within our civic system. Mm-hmm. And be engaged. And and to be effective. Yeah. Because there’s been different periods and times where, and you know, in different, let’s say governments where you’re, you know, you can disagree and afterwards you’re still, you know, colleagues.
That’s, that’s right. You move on. And I feel like when I think about Texas f f A and f f a in general is that having that experience at a young age of knowing that somebody can have a differing opinion mm-hmm. And still be your, you know, community member and still, you know, have a good relationship with like that.
That’s key. Yes. That’s key to growing. Absolutely. Absolutely. And it’s so important, thanks to, to be able to be able to function in society that way. Mm-hmm. And you know, you think about it too you know, and you ask about the ways in which the organization parliamentary procedure Mm. You know, the ability to run a meeting Yeah.
And to run a meeting on time to get out things. That’s, that’s something your colleagues will appreciate many years for things have the ability to run a meeting and get done by a deadline mm-hmm. And things. And so those are kind of important traits that, that are out there. So what keeps you, you know, coming back?
What keeps you involved? A lot of different things you could be doing with your time. You’re, you’re a busy guy. You’re here this year. Mm-hmm. Like, that’s not, you know, there’s no, there’s no lack of, of things pulling you in different directions. What keeps you coming back? I think a couple of things. One is the, the, the you’ve, I can remember a tremendous sense of loyalty and debt to this organization and it, it has given me so much and to be here to be inspired by these kids that are of kindness.
Yeah. You know, to, to be able to see them working together, to be able to see them having fun together and all around the common purpose of agriculture, agricultural education and the F f A is it’s inspiring and uplifting. So if you wanna feel good about our state and our nation, this is the place to be.
Mm-hmm. All right. So you, you know, we gotta talk about the book. I’m, I’m, I’m excited about this. This is our very first edition, Texas Leaders Volume One. If you haven’t picked up a copy yet, pick it up. What do you hope that your readers will get out of reading your message in this year, today? So my portion of the book, we talked about the importance of civic leadership and participation mm-hmm.
And engagement. Mm-hmm. And, you know, I think the overall point that I’m, I’m trying to make and encourage, first of all, you can be a participant in our democracy at any level. Yeah. Whether it’s, and the most important thing you could do, vote. Yep. I don’t care who you vote for, but vote I’d, you know, I think you, you can also know your elected office holders.
You can articulate your viewpoints. You can let them know how, what you feel about a particular issue and you know, and to help them to, to be your representative, whether it’s at the local level, at the state level, or at the national level. Our democracy doesn’t work if everybody just sits back and watches whatever news channel is of their choice.
Yeah. You, you gotta get out there engaged. You gotta get out there engaged with people of diverse viewpoints. Yeah. And you gotta realize that they just have as much of, of a right to be able to, to articulate that viewpoint and have it as, as what you do and figure out what the common good is and how you move forward.
Yeah. And so one of the things that we talk a lot about on this show is echo chambers. That idea that you know, if you’re only around your individuals or you’re only getting your viewpoint, then you don’t ever get to see. See anything else that’s going on, especially when you think about social media or something else.
Mm-hmm. Just the way the algorithms work. If you hit a like on something, that’s all you’re gonna get is that type of content. So when do you ever see the other side? When that’s right. You see any other viewpoint? So kind of breaking out of that echo chamber. I mean, I feel it’s necessary to be a good citizen.
Well, and that’s the one things I love about my job, which is in lobbying and public affairs in Austin, you know, on a particular issue. We’ve got to understand not only. What our side’s coming from, but we’ve gotta understand what the other side’s coming from. So you see a very diverse things you’re challenged to, to come up with all sorts of different understandings of issues that, that are out there.
And so it’s, it keeps, it, it, it works very nicely to satisfy my a d d too, so. Yeah. No, no. I, I, I’m a big fan of that. So you’re, you’re almost, in this case, forced to break out. You are on a daily basis mm-hmm. Because you have to, you have to get to the issues. Yeah. Yep. Absolutely. Hmm. Well, I want you to talk maybe to the, to the corporate sponsors.
So there’s a lot of individuals out there that they, they, they watch this show. They’re business owners, entrepreneurs, executives, and they, you know, they go to events, they sponsor events. Maybe they’re not here today. Mm-hmm. But why should big business think about supporting these kids and supporting the organization?
Well, I think from a From a standpoint of a future recruiting for employees, things, there’s no better recruiting pool than, than the kids that are, they’re behind us. You know, they have a grit and a determination that I, I think, you know, will yield any. Corporation, anybody that’s, that’s, that’s focused on results, other things would, would, would do to consider them.
I think too, you know, when you’re investing in them, you’re investing in, in an organization that’s training people to be good citizens, training people to be good workers, and you know, you know the skills that they’re learning. They’re gonna be applicable in agriculture, but they’re applicable all out thanks to some of our corporate sponsors that I just walked through the convention hall to, to visit Exxon.
Yeah. Wyndham Hotels, McCoy’s, you know, the, those are our, our top flight employers in our state and they recognize, you know, what’s going on here with the Texas F F A. Yeah, that’s great. Well, Chris, I’m thrilled to continue to promote this book with you and I’m so happy that you came on the show today.
And I just wanna say, hey, I can’t wait till the next time we get to meet and thank you again for coming on the show. Looking forward to it. Thank you very much, Adam.