Monday, September 8, 2014

What is your something bigger?

Life here at the house is definitely in full swing. Together we are planning LDW, developing curriculum, and scheduling chapter visits; all while doing our day to day chores such as running to Wal-Mart for nothing of severe importance or picking up popcorn off the floor from the movie night the night before. Life as a state officer so far has been one of memories, friendships, and a family that will last a lifetime.

If you didn’t already know, PLT was this last weekend. Be sure to ask your district officers about how our National Officer Candidate Cameron Mann facilitated an amazing conference. My team and I had only two tasks at PLT: Hold an Executive Committee meeting, and prepare flags ceremonies.

Flags have always been one of my favorite parts of conferences. As a student, the way that they are able to make you think deeply, honor our soldiers, respect the flag, and take pride in our freedom in America is what shoots them to the top of my list.  This time it was a little different, and here is the story why.

It was the night after the dance, bed checks had been completed and the team had gathered in the house to wait for Mr. Martin so that we could practice our flag ceremony for a final time. As we hashed out the details on where we were going to stand, how we were to walk in, and who was to put up the flag, it all got a little muddy. So naturally—at 1 am—we all threw on some shoes and headed to the flag deck. As I knelt there on the deck, wind blowing, not a cloud in the sky, and a big full moon overhead, a wave of emotion hit me. Now, it wasn’t like a sad crying emotion, but rather that emotion saying that I was here, I have reached my dream, now what? In that single moment I felt brave, confident, and part of something bigger.  I then realized that we all are part of something bigger.

But what is this bigger thing of which you are a part? Maybe it is a sports team, or a church group, or an organization that nationally has nearly 600,000 members. What is your something bigger, but more importantly why is it there?

For me my something bigger is FFA—Indiana FFA. But, why?

This brings me to another moment from this year. During our blast off training we participated in a “chalk talk” activity where we all supplied questions and answers on a large sheet of paper that enabled us to dig deeper. A question came up and its answer left me speechless. “When will we stop serving? NEVER.”

FFA is my something bigger and serving is my why.

Through the rush that has been these last 11 weeks, time has escaped me, and I have been so caught up in the next item on the list or the next event on the schedule that I seem to have been overlooking what is truly important in life.

It not the routine, or the schedules, or even the fashion fads that dictate our life. It is our why.

Take a moment to just listen and observe. Are you missing the glowing sunset as it fades over the open field of corn? Are you passing by that smell of a fresh cut alfalfa field? Are the stars in the sky just a distant memory? Are you forgetting what your something bigger is? I challenge you. Take a moment, for it…could change your life.  
Refreshed with a why,

Skylar Clingan
2014-2015 Indiana FFA State Secretary



Tuesday, September 2, 2014

So Much More Than Blood

It is finally September. I can practically smell the pumpkin spice lattes and see the beautiful color change in the landscape. With the month of September comes a busy schedule for the seven of us residing in the state officer house. The next 30 days hold a whirlwind of conferences such as PLT (Premier Leadership Training), LDW (Leadership Development Workshop), chapter visits, district kickoffs, and more. Before that whirlwind has a chance to sweep us off our feet, however, we had the pleasure of spending a couple days at the Hickey’s lake house.
 The weather was a perfect 75 degrees and sunny for the entirety of our visit. Between enjoying watching the boys be beaten to a pulp by the water as they went tubing and soaking up the sun with the girls (and not getting burnt I might add), the getaway was much needed and much appreciated.  So many memories were created on this trip and there are so many stories I could share, but there is one that is a standout in my memory.

 On our second day we started the day off right by being on the water. The boys not only conquered tubing, but also expanded their horizons to skiing as well. After completing both feats, the next item on their checklist was to get us girls to join them. Now, you’re probably wondering why we would be hesitant to join them.  In answer to that question,  all I can say is that—as much as I love them— the boys act exactly as brothers would, and would not flinch at flipping a tube on purpose to see what would happen to us. Lindsey was the first one that caved and went with them (I learned my lesson on the first day when I went with Skylar). I was a little surprised that she went because she was on the fence about it. It took a lot of convincing, but what finally drew her in was when Skylar said “Come on Lindsey, I promise I won’t flip the tube on you. If you go with me I won’t let anything bad happen.”  Later that evening after dinner we were all clustered on the couch (because we seem to like trying to fit seven people on one piece of furniture) eating Oreo ice cream and watching TV. It was a completely ordinary situation, nothing lavish or lustrous to it at all. It hit me as I laughed at the story Derek was telling and joked with Lindsey about her upcoming birthday, these six people are my family.

I found a quote by an anonymous author that states “The bond that links family is not one of blood, but one of respect and joy in each other’s life. Some of the closest family members do not grow up under the same roof.”  This couldn’t describe our team any better. When I was inducted into office on June 19 I was so excited not only for the year, but for moving in with 6 other amazing individuals and the potential of gaining 6 new best friends. I so underestimated what was to come. Not only did I gain 6 best friends, I gained 3 sisters and 3 brothers. None of us grew up under the same roof, and a couple of us didn’t know each other all that well when we were elected, but now it seems weird when we’re not all together.  Our family may seem a little quirky to some, but for us it’s just the right blend of sassy and loving.


Roughly 74 days ago I was elected to serve Indiana FFA with 6 outstanding individuals. Along the way our team became a family. We may not be related by blood, but we all bleed blue and gold and for us that’s enough to claim ourselves as brothers and sisters. As I return from this Labor Day weekend I realize just how blessed I am to have my actual and adopted family. I’m looking forward to returning and continuing on this crazy and breathtaking journey of state office with my team! Wishing you all a great week and hoping you enjoyed your long weekend!

Forever Humbled
Kathleen Jacobs
2014-2015 State Treasurer 

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Back to School Challenges

            State Fair has officially come to an end. The state officers are finally home to our own marginally more comfortable beds. Football has returned to television. And, we are undoubtedly on the downhill side of August. As we returned to Trafalgar from the State Fair I had an hour long car ride to reflect on the escapade that was concluding. The State Fair was an incredible experience that afforded me the opportunity to speak to a large number of members. During my car ride I recalled some of the conversations that I had with those members. I started to realize that many of those conversations were centered around school, and specifically returning to school at the conclusion of summer break. This train of thought eventually led me to reflecting on my own high school career, and as I did so the idea to challenge all of you returning students struck me. So, for all those returning to school this fall, allow me to challenge you to genuinely find yourself, to be your best self, and to make this year count.
            “Genuinely find yourself” sounds dramatically cliché and well overused. However, as I sit here reflecting on my personal high school experience I find that I really didn’t mind high school all that much. I might even go so far as to say I enjoyed my time there. I credit my leisure to the fact that I knew what I enjoyed and who I was. Through middle school I was always running about in graphic t-shirts and basketball shorts—not that there is anything wrong with that; it just wasn’t me. Not far into my high school career, I realized it wasn’t me. By my sophomore year I realized that I was really more of a collared shirts, nice jeans, and loafers kind of person. My shirt was always tucked in, and my hair was always sculpted. I was less about sports, and more about academics. Once I realized that, I was immeasurably happier and more comfortable in my own skin. Finding yourself can be a vital part of enjoying your high school career. It may not be easy. It may require some real digging. Find what you really enjoy, what you really stand for, and who you really are, and enjoy the comfort and peace of mind that comes with it.
            My second challenge may initially be interpreted as mildly ambiguous. What does “be your best self” even mean? Well, once you’ve completed the afore mentioned challenge and found yourself, you might as well be your best self. My freshman and sophomore year I was that student who never did more work than was absolutely necessary. A’s and B’s would keep me out of trouble with my parents, so I was a straight B student. To my younger self, it was ludicrous to do more work for that extra letter grade when a B was perfectly acceptable. At the beginning of my junior year however, I had some sort of epiphany. It dawned on me that I was completely capable of achieving better grades. There was a better version of myself that I was just too lazy to be. I made the conscience decision to remedy that. I started working harder, listening more intently, and—non-coincidentally—understanding more. It’s easy to be some lesser version of ourselves. I’m challenging you, right now, to be your best self this year. Make the most of your intelligence and your skillset. Don’t just be yourself. Be your best self.
            The last challenge I am making to you is to make this year count. As a student and an FFA member, make this year matter. I know that while in high school it feels like you will be there forever, it feels like you will be in FFA forever. Looking back, however, your time in both of these is rather brief. You get four years in high school and maybe a couple more in FFA. Regardless, you don’t have many. Don’t waste one of those years by letting it be just okay. Make it extraordinary.
            If you feel up to it, accept these challenges. Write them on a sticky note and put them in your locker, on your desk, or in your car. Try to keep them in the forefront of your mind as you go about each day at school. As for us here in the state officer house, we will be busily preparing for LDW, chapter visits, and district kickoffs. There is much excitement to come this fall for Indiana FFA!

Jacob Mueller
2014-2015 Southern Region Vice President

Saturday, July 26, 2014

"Individually we can achieve little. Unitied we can accomplish all."

2014-2015 National FFA Theme
Hello from Washington D.C! As mentioned in the last blog post, this week Brittany and I flew out to Washington D.C. while the rest of our team began diligently preparing for the great Indiana State Fair. Since being elected as a State Officer, our schedules have been packed and this week has yet to show any signs of slowing down. These past five weeks have felt like five minutes. All bringing, great people, great food, and great friendships. This week has continued to follow the trend.
Brittany's family and I piled in the car and were ready for the trip to Louisville.
Early Monday morning, I meet up with Brittany at her house so that her mom, aunt, brother, and friend could drive us down to the Louisville Airport. Now if you have never met Brittany's family you definitely should. Hope, Faith, and Love radiates from each of them. After arriving at the airport, my list of "Firsts" began to grow. First time going through airport security, first time flying, first time checking my luggage, and first time meeting the Director of the Secret Service for the Department of Homeland Security.

Yea that's right Brittany and I met the Director of the Secret Service. While on the plane, we had the pleasure of meeting a lady who showed an interest in the FFA and helped me enjoy my first flight. It wasn't until seconds before she exited the plane that she gave Brittany and I her business card. This was when we realized who we had just spent the last two hours getting to know. This just proves that you meet the most unexpected people in the most unexpected places. Lets just say that this is a memory that we will never forget.

Brittany and I met with Congressman Luke Messer and Indiana FFA member Hallie Wright.
After finally arriving at State Presidents' Conference, we wasted no time getting down to business. Throughout the conference, leadership delegates from 49 states (all but Hawaii) and Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, were challenged to Rise Up. Whether that meant rising up for personal improvement or improvement for FFA and agriculture, each delegate took this challenge with pride.

State officers that we met at NLCSO, joined us for a free day in D.C.

Our team decided at NLCSO that we were determined to submit a proposal for the National FFA Organization to establish a National Agricultural Education CDE. After countless hours perfecting this written plan, we were honored that our proposal was chosen as committee business for the National FFA Delegate Committee Process. There are six committees that the state officers will be serving on this year at National Convention, and an Ag. Ed. CDE is included in one of those committees. How cool is that?!

Spending the last week in our nation's capital has been surreal. Standing in the same spot that President Lincoln began his campaign against slavery, being amongst our nation's greatest leaders, and basking in the rich history of Washington D.C. has left a lasting impression on my life. If you have never been to D.C. I encourage you to go. Whether it be for family vacation, Washington Leadership Conference, or even lobbying for agriculture on the National level, D.C. has more to offer than stuffy old men and worn pieces of paper. D.C. is the place where it all began, where we began, and where our future lies.

As leadership delegates, it was Brittany and I's duty to represent the over 10,000 members of Indiana FFA and the over 600,000 members of the National FFA Organization. As an individual state, we can do little to change other minds on agriculture, our future, or even our youth, but united we can accomplish all. The National FFA Organization, formed during the Great Depression, has faced its trial and tribulations, yet united we have been able to Rise Up these last 87 years and I am confident that the work done by the 101 leadership delegates these past seven days will ensure that FFA will stay relevant and Rise Up for the next 87 years and even after.

Individually we can achieve little. United we can accomplish all.

Skylar Clingan
2014-2015 Indiana FFA State Secretary

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Enjoying Every Moment and Making Every Day Count

Good morning Indiana FFA! Today is a beautiful day! As I sit here in the office, I cannot help but feel blessed to have woken up this morning with the opportunity to make today a great day! Each day is a gift and that is why it is called the present! Let's make every single day count!

Like the State Northern Region Vice President, Miss Lindsey O'Hara stated previously on a blog she submitted, the National Leadership Conference for State Officers in Springfield, Illinois was two weeks ago. It was a blast! We attended the conference with state officers from Illinois, Wisconsin, and Missouri! We all had a great time and we cannot wait to see our friends that we met at NLCSO throughout the year!

Here lately around the state officer house, we have been very busy! Last week was Summer Challenge! I am pretty sure I can speak for everyone when I say that we all had a blast! Whether we were swimming in the lake and sliding down the slide, or maybe we were shooting some hoops on the basketball court or even serving it up on the volleyball court, there was never a dull moment during camp. Members had the opportunity to utilize the new ropes course that were just installed not too long ago as well! The National Western Region Vice President, all the way from the state of Oregon, Mr. Jason Wetzler joined us during camp and he shared some of his memorable childhood experiences and some lessons that his grandma taught him growing up. Thank you to Mr. Wetzler for joining us last week! I would also like to send a huge shout out to Dow AgroSciences for sponsoring Summer Challenge and also to Tobacco Free Johnson County for also sponsoring the camp and canoe trip that the campers thoroughly enjoyed on Wednesday. Sponsors, thank you for making Summer Challenge possible for the members of Indiana FFA. 

On July 13, the state officer team went to the Johnson County Fair to serve ice cream at the Farm Bureau booth! Also, our very own, former 2013-2014 Indiana FFA State President, Miss Allie Abney was crowned as the 2014 Miss Johnson County Queen! We are so proud of you Allie and I know that you will be a great representative for your county! Have fun with the rest of your week at your county fair and good luck at the State Fair Queen Pageant in January! 

This week has had a great start! Tuesday morning, the 2014-2015 Indiana FFA Executive Committee had the awesome opportunity to visit Elanco in Greenfield, Indiana. The Executive Committee is made up of District Presidents, Section Directors, Band and Chorus Presidents, and State Officers. While at Elanco, the committee members had the opportunity to tour Elanco's facilities and learn about the background of the company. While at Elanco, we all also had Insights training which was a cool program that helped distinguish what style of leadership everyone uses. We all learned that whether we are calm, cool, and collected or even if we are loud and like to take charge of most situations, we are all leaders and we all possess similar leadership traits! Thank you to the staff at Elanco for helping us out on Tuesday and to those who facilitated training! We appreciate your support to our association! Executive Committee training was rapped up yesterday at the Leadership Center with a session lead by Mr. Martin, the Indiana FFA Program Specialist. The committee set goals that they hope to strive for as individuals, as a team, and goals that they hope the state of Indiana will achieve by the end of the year. I cannot wait to get to work with the members of the Executive Committee throughout this year! 

Tomorrow the state officer team will travel to the Indiana State Department of Agriculture to meet with the Director, Mr. Ted McKinney. We are excited to share some of the goals that we have set as a team and some of the goals that the Executive Committee has also set for our state association. 

This weekend is our first official weekend home! It will be nice to spend some time with our families! On Monday, State Secretary, Mr. Skylar Clingan and myself will be headed to Washington D.C. for the State President's Conference! We will have the opportunity to meet other state officers from around the U.S. and we will also be voting on proposals that have been made by other states. I personally cannot wait to be a voice for the state of Indiana and to meet other state officers from across our great country! 

I still cannot believe that we have officially been in office for four weeks! I feel like we were just voted into office a few days ago! As a team we are so incredibly pumped to see what ways God will use us this year! I cannot wait to meet all of you! Like I said earlier, every day really is a gift so we might as well make the best of it! I know that I will enjoy every single day that I am blessed with this year as I serve our state! I am going to leave you all with a quote. I actually posted this on my Instagram just yesterday. "Once we make the decision to give of ourselves, God will provide the opportunity." I am ready to make every day count and I am pumped up and ready to give of myself and serve Indiana FFA! Make today a great day! 

Serving with a grateful heart,

Brittany Young
Indiana FFA
State President 

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Living the Dream

The 2014-2015 Indiana FFA Officers has taken over Trafalgar, Indiana! Since we arrived on June 22nd it has been action packed with Blast Off and fun team bonding activities in our free time! 

Tuesday Miss. Sam Paschal from the National FFA Organization arrived. She was excited to teach our hungry minds with skills to use as state officers. Each session was directed with a themes. Some of those include but are not limited too  how to communicate, understanding our strengths and find how they benefit the team, executing short statements to advocate FFA and five positive influence actions. 

After we finished up the evening at Blast Off we worked diligently on the Fall Impact and, utilized our time to relax to bond with each other. From swimming in the 5 1/2 acre pond, to exploring the outdoors and finishing up the evening with a good movie we never had a dull moment. 

Finishing up this week we will be heading to NLCSO conference in Springfield, Illinois to further our talents and skills! The officer team is much excited to host West Region Vice President Jason Wetzler to come facilitate Summer Challenge here at the center!  

 Session during the Blast Off training in the Fellowship Center.
 Team after working in the office on the Fall Impact.
 Playing "King of the Mountain" on the super awesome slide!
Derek and Dakota before we headed out on the open road for a team bike ride!!

Hope to see you all very soon at Summer Challenge,
Lindsey O'Hara
Northern Region Vice President 

Friday, May 23, 2014

The Story behind the Indiana FFA Fellowship Center

     Over five months ago when I packed up to spend two weeks at home for Christmas break, I threw a few books I hoped to read in my book bag. Many of these books had been sitting on my desk all of the first semester of state office. When I was faced with some free time, I picked up the first of a couple great books that I read over break! The first book I read is one that bears an incredible story near and dear to the heart of the Indiana FFA Leadership Center, The Journey is more than the Destination by Cathy and Frank James. A book about how a Christian family dealt with the grief of losing their teenage daughter. As I read the book I was hooked after reading the families precious moments with Valerie James. I quickly learned that Valerie was always bearing a smile, optimistic, radiant, and faithful. Her story is incredible - she was actively involved in many activities throughout her ever too short life but held a spot close to her heart at the Indiana FFA Leadership Center.

     In the early evening hours of June 20, 1997, the life of Valerie Victoria James ended as the result of a car accident. Valerie was a vibrant, enthusiastic, beautiful Christian teenager. She was an integral part of her community and school, her favorite organizational activities, and her close knit family. But Valerie's death started her family on a journey to overcome their overpowering grief. One way the family coped with the lose of their daughter was by giving back to a place Valerie loved, her family lead the efforts to build a chapel in the woods at the Indiana FFA Center. Although the family is quoted saying that "God thought and acted on a much grander scale than we could have imagined" and now that chapel in the woods is now known as the Indiana FFA Fellowship Center.

The family is quoted saying that "God thought and acted on a much grander scale
than we could have imagines" and now that chapel in the woods is
now known as the Indiana FFA Fellowship Center.  
      This center can be rented out from the Indiana FFA Leadership Center which will accommodate over 100 people for theatre style seating. It conveniently was built with a full kitchen, two fireplaces, an outdoor deck facing the center's lake, and five hotel-style rooms which will house 20 quests overnight.

      Valerie's story in The Journey is more than the Destination can purchased

     I would love to have known Valerie, but after reading The Journey is more than the Destination and having had the opportunity to spend many hours in the beautiful Fellowship Center her family built "to honor all those who have touched the lives and hearts of the FFA" studying, spending time with FFA members, and reflecting, it has made me feel as if I personally am connected with Valerie and her family.

     I hope you consider reading The Journey is more than the Destination and after finishing it I encourage you to plan a trip to stay at the Indiana FFA Fellowship Center with your family, FFA chapter, church and/or work group - you will not be disappointed! Renting the beautiful Fellowship Center opens the doors to explore all 170 acres of the Indiana FFA Leadership Center, swim or fish in the 5 1/2 acre lake, participate in team training through our newly renovated ropes course, and most importantly make memories that will last a lifetime. More information can be found on,, or by calling the Center's office at (317) 878-4570.  

Smiling for Valerie,

Allie Abney
Indiana FFA State President