Host Aaron Alejandro and Madeline Barber share an extraordinary story of generosity.
The National FFA Organization works to strengthen science and agricultural educational opportunities for students across the country. The Texas FFA Association and Texas FFA Foundation are the largest state organizations in the country.
On this episode of the Growing Our Future Podcast, Aaron Alejandro introduces Madeline Barber, an FFA officer from Boerne, Texas. A well-rounded student and successful member of her school’s chapter, Barber shares her story of donating money to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
High school student Madeline Barber has spent the last three years learning the ins and outs of agriculture. From basic principles to animal management, Barber has developed a strong foundation from which to grow–next year she’s excited to work in the field, assisting one of her teachers in a swine barn.
Barber is active in her school’s FFA chapter, competing in both Leadership Development Events (LDEs) and Community Development Events (CDE) focusing on public relations, community service, and milk quality. Overall, Barber is a balanced student who embodies the core values of FFA: she understands the importance of responsibility, a strong work ethic, and critical thinking.
Though Barber has many of the great characteristics of a typical FFA member, she is also anything but typical–a remarkable person whom Alejandro says he feels fortunate to get to talk with. “I’m just proud you’re wearing the FFA jacket,” he says.
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A Heart of Giving
It all started on the morning of the Kendall County Junior Livestock Show, when Barber asked her father if she could give away the profit she would make on her pig to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. “Sitting at the barn I wrote my note,” she says. Barber remembers that she was nervous to share her story with so many people. “It was kind of a blur,” she says. But as soon as she read the note she’d written, “all the cards went up.”
By the time she’d sold her hog, Barber had raised over $30,000 for St. Jude, money the organization can use in part to cover housing expenses for families like Barber’s. “My jaw literally dropped,” Barber says. She spent eight months at St. Jude when she was eleven, where she was treated for brain cancer. “I wouldn’t be sitting here today if it wasn’t for them,” she says.
Kindness Makes A Lasting Impression
Barber saw an opportunity to help others as they navigate a difficult experience –one made infinitely better, she says, by the kindness and care of the doctors, nurses, and specialists at St. Jude. “They became like family to me,” she says. Barber recalls a nurse who still remembers her face years later, and a doctor who became “best friends” with her grandpa.
“We can go through life taking a lot,” Alejandro says. “But, opportunities get bigger when you give.” Barber agrees that there are so many opportunities to give to others–for example, victims of Texas wildfires who have lost everything. Furthermore, Barber continues to recognize the folks who give to her, including her teachers. “At least they know there’s one person who appreciates all of them”, she says.
As Barber prepares for her senior year and hones that “competitive edge” shared by all FFA members, her story is an inspiration to listeners from all walks of life.
“No one fights alone,” she says.
The Texas FFA Foundation’s purpose is to strengthen agricultural education and the Texas FFA program, so each student can develop their potential for personal growth, career success and leadership in a global marketplace..
Learn more about the Texas FFA Foundation at mytexassffa.org.
Learn more about St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital at: stjude.org