On the Record: Michele Payn

Q: When did you become involved in FFA, and what are some of the highlights from your experience?

A: I started my FFA journey as a high school freshman when I joined the Litchfield FFA. I earned the American FFA Degree and served as the 1988-89 Michigan FFA state secretary. As an adult, I worked for the National FFA Foundation as a regional director across 15 states – so it’s safe to say I love FFA and all that it stands for.

Q: What led you to start Cause Matters Corp. in 2001, and what have you accomplished with the company?

A: My goal has always been to connect farm and food at causematters.com, and I’ve done that by writing three books: No More Food Fights!, Food Truths from Farm to Table and Food Bullying. I also share my message as a professional speaker and recently launched the Food Bullying Podcast.

Q: How did your FFA experience help prepare you for your career?

A: The blue and gold jacket gave me my voice. I went from being a young girl who couldn’t stand in front of her peers without crying when asked to speak to competing in the Greenhand Public Speaking Contest at the Michigan FFA state convention. When I competed in a Prepared Public Speaking Leadership Development Event later in my FFA career, I realized I wanted to be a professional speaker.

Q: What advice would you give students about pursuing their own career paths and finding success?

A: No matter which industry you’re in, it’s important to understand that leadership is more than a title, award or even being the loudest voice. At its core, leadership is about impact and influence; those who can influence others are typically the best leaders and can make the greatest impact.

Q: How do you recommend that FFA members maximize their time in the organization?

A: Don’t limit yourself. Take advantage of every opportunity available to you because that’s how you’ll grow as an individual and help make FFA even stronger. The harder it is for you to do, the greater the opportunity to grow.

“At its core, leadership is about impact and influence; those who can influence others are typically the best leaders and can make the greatest impact.” – Michele Payn