Taylor Burns: Leader of Today, College Student of Tomorrow

“Was I good enough today?”

This is the question Taylor Burns, 18, asks herself each night in her journal.

After graduating from Vanguard High School in Ocala, Fla., Burns chose to take a gap year before attending the University of Florida. While many students do this in attempt to find themselves before starting the next chapter of their lives, her goal is to inspire others to pursue their passions and to believe in themselves.

For Burns’ gap year, she is dedicating herself to a year of service with the Florida FFA Association as the reporter on the state officer team. FFA is a national organization for teaching students about leadership and personal growth through agricultural education.

Although Burns now holds one of the highest offices at the state level of the organization, she wasn’t always the leader of the pack.

Burns moved to Florida from Louisiana when she was in the eighth grade. It was then that she was introduced to agriculture and FFA. With encouragement from her advisor, she went on to win numerous competitions within the organization. From showing livestock to delivering speeches, Burns invested herself in FFA.

“I was the quiet kid. I didn’t talk at all, I truly doubted myself and was always stuck in my brain,” Burns said. “[FFA] taught me a lot of pride and to stand up for what I want. It truly taught me to be me.”

Burns began considering a state officer position during her junior year of high school. Although she was unsure whether she wanted to run for the position or not, she was convinced upon hearing another member share her doubts of not being good enough for the role. It was then that Burns dedicated herself to becoming an advocate for diversity.

“People believe we have to fit a mold of some sort, and I am so tired of the diversity not being acquired where it should be,” Burns said. “That day, I made a promise to myself. I want to be that person that people can look up to.”

Throughout the screening process, Burns dealt with anxiety — especially in preparation for tests and interviews. She had worked to stay true to herself and focus on keeping herself grounded. Because FFA officers are elected positions, Burns also dealt with the politics behind voting.

“Sitting there in the campaigning hall, next to someone who wants the dream as much as you do, maybe they want it more, maybe they want it less. It was a difficulty I will never forget,” said Burns.

Once elected to office, Burns became a significant figure for thousands of FFA members in the state. She now looks forward to working with those members on a personal level.

“I love just listening to people’s stories,” Burns said. “My favorite thing is other people.”

When Burns finishes her gap year with FFA, she plans on attending the University of Florida to  prepare for having a career in agricultural law. Burns was able to see first-hand how legislation happens on a trip to Washington, D.C. with her team. Eventually, Burns would like to work her way up to be the Secretary of Agriculture on the national level.

“I want to be the person, in the future, who creates change. I want to create a name and a way of life,” Burns said.

In her free time, Burns enjoys being outdoors. Whether she is riding horses or kayaking, the fresh air helps clear her mind. She also enjoys journaling because it allows her to track her feelings and accomplishments.

Through FFA, Burns has learned how to use her voice for speaking up about her passions and to pursue her goals, no matter what might stand in her way. “With the right mindset and the right heart that will drive you in the right place, anything is possible,” Burns said.

For the rest of the year, Burns will be visiting schools around the state to talk with other FFA members. She will also visit other states to experience agriculture around the country.

With a bubbly personality and a strong vocal presence, Burns continually strives to be the best version of herself. She serves as a role model for other young women chasing their goals and pursuing their passions, despite the obstacles they may encounter.  Her daily interactions throughout her year in state office will help her answer the same question many people find themselves asking: “Was I good enough today?”