Monday, December 2, 2019

Fear the Forest

Most people identify this time of year as the holiday season - people run around purchasing gifts for families and friends, while others spend it doing acts of service for those in need. While this exemplifies most of the season, last year I had something else on my mind. It wasn’t choosing the best present for my friends or the next basketball game I had to play, it was instead a very simple question. What college was I going to attend?

For many people at my school the choice was simple as they were attending Purdue, IU, Ball State, the big schools that everyone always talked about. But for me, I wasn’t so certain. 

At the time, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to major in. While I was interested in the field of education, I didn’t know if it would be for Agriculture Education or Math Education. Because of this, I wanted to go to a school that offered both, so I could keep my options open. 

I didn’t realize that keeping my options open meant that I was limiting myself to three choices. I could:

  1. Attend Purdue University;
  2. Attend Huntington University; or
  3. Attend a school out of state.

Those were my options. The only two schools that offered Agriculture Education in Indiana were Purdue and Huntington. I knew very early on that I didn’t want to go to Purdue. It was too big and too close to home, not to mention I’d been there a thousand times. I mean, I basically grew up there. If there was one thing I knew for sure, it was that I couldn’t spend the next four years of my life there, but I also knew that I didn’t want to go out of state. The tuition to go somewhere other than a college in Indiana was way too high for my liking. 

While I knew I wanted to keep my options open, I still made an effort to tour other campuses. The first one I went on was to the University of Southern Indiana. It was beautiful. USI had a great education department, it was one of the cheapest schools in Indiana, and it wasn’t close to home. It also didn’t offer Agriculture Education, so I kept looking.

I toured Ball State and Indiana State, not really liking either of them. I felt as though I had to go to USI, even though it wasn’t going to allow me to study in the field of agriculture.

Before I made any final decisions, I decided to take one last tour to Huntington University. I remember telling my mom that it was a waste of time, and being as negative as I possibly could have been. I didn’t want to get my hopes up. 

As soon as I stepped foot onto the campus though, I fell in love with it. From the Agriculture Education student that gave us a tour, to the professors, everyone made me feel right at home. And it didn’t stop there. They have been so supportive in my journey through state office, and I couldn’t ask for a more welcoming school to attend. Each time I run into someone I know from Huntington, they always make an effort to say hello. I ran into some fellow Huntington students and professors a week ago, and they made sure to include me in a picture they took. 

Small gestures such as that are the reason that I’m so excited to go to Huntington. I was scared that I wouldn’t be able to find the right fit for me when it came to choosing a college, but that was before I had given Huntington a chance. 

    A year ago I didn’t know my plans for the future. But now I’m so thankful to be able to call myself a future Forester, and I can’t wait to start the next chapter of my life next fall at Huntington University. 

Fear the Forest,
Caitlyn Lewis

Monday, November 25, 2019

Thanksgiving Grace

When I was in Elementary school, my church would put on a small skit during mass. Twelve students would get up and hold letters that spelled out THANKSGIVING. On the back of the card was a small saying that we would read that pertained to that specific letter. 
    I remember being so excited to be picked to read the letters! When I was in 6th grade I had the letter G. The letter G stood for Grace. It said,
 “Grace is the divine influence which operates in humans to regenerate and sanctify, to inspire impulses, and to impart strength to endure trials and resist temptation.”
As a 6th grader, I did not quite understand what this meant. Not until years later did I truly understand what the letter G in THANKSGIVING really meant. 
    I started to understand what grace meant more when my Great Uncle Red passed away. At every family function, he would always come up to us and pull on our ears. As a little kid, I extremely disliked this and always tried to hide(which never worked). However, when he did pull our ears he would always ask how we were or how our day was going.  Once he passed away I realized there would be no more ear pulls much less those simple, meaningful questions. I realized that through grace, Uncle Red truly appreciated his family. I could still remember all of these things by living in his memory. No matter who came in at family parties, Uncle Red greeted everyone with a smile, a handshake, or an ear pull. I try to live with grace like Uncle Red every day. Not only the smile and handshakes but his graceful attitude. Uncle Red and Aunt Ruth did not have to host the family Thanksgiving every year but they did because of grace. They wanted to make sure everyone had a place for Thanksgiving. 
    Once I began to think deeper about having grace, I thought back to the word THANKSGIVING. I realized that giving thanks is the true point. Being able to give thanks for those things that are around you, including your family and friends. I have realized that not everyone believe it or not has 100+ cousins that they actually interact and know. I have realized that not everyone has the same luxury as growing up on a farm or learning the true meaning of friendship. Not only does being thankful come in for family and friends but objects as well. The greatest shoes, the newest phone, the fanciest car, or the best backpack does not mean you are a happy person. Over my many conversations thus far this year, I have become aware that some of the happiest people are the ones with so little, but have the biggest heart for family and friends. You do not have to have the latest gadgets and gizmos, in the end those have no significant impact on our lives. But, the people we surround ourselves with, people who share grace with us-those are the people that are going to make and impact on us. Those people with help fill us with grace. 

Be Graceful, 
Dillon Muhlenkamp

Monday, November 18, 2019

DQ or Bust

It was a brisk 35-degree Monday morning. I was thinking about everything I had to do that day and I realized I didn’t have much to do. I also realized I hadn’t been very active recently. I wasn’t up to going to the gym and it was almost lunch timeI thought about a story of a past team, they rode bikes into Trafalgar for lunch. There was a problem with this idea though, we didn’t have bikes. 
I walked into the living room and found my teammate Noah on the couch. I said, “Noah what do you think about us walking to Dairy Queen for lunch?” He then looked at me like I was insane and replied “Eion it’s like 30 degrees outside and it’s four miles to Dairy Queen!” However, after some thought he agreed to take on the adventure with me. 
Now I knew it was cold and believe me, I prepared for the cold, but I did not prepare for the freezing rain. I quickly found out that my hoodie and tennis shoes where not waterproof and that water makes the cold much worse. Once we had decided wemade some bad clothing decisions, a half hour into the trip, it was too late to turn around. Luckily, Dillon was on his way back and we called him for reinforcements, he met us at DQ and brought us dry clothes. After such a long, cold, and rainy walkthose chicken strips tasted better than they ever had before!
After a lot of persuasion to give up and ride back with Dillon we decided that we were going to finish our adventure! With renewed energy and warm toes, we ventured back out into the cold. Luckily the icy rain had turned into snow and the wind was at our backs. That was all we needed. As we passed the Johnson County library, we saw a tan car sitting on the side of the road, it pulled out and drove up next to us. In the driver’s seat was none other than Dillon. He had been waiting on us to make sure we were doing okay. We laughed and told him we were fine; We were going to finish this trip! On our way back Noah and I talked about everything from why mini vans are so cool, to the corn that was still in the fields. We even came up with our own verses to the song “White Christmas.”  
About the time we were walking down the lane of the FFA center, we had an idea. We decided to call Dillon and tell him we were giving up. As we got to our driveway, I called him to tell him we couldn’t make it. It wasn’t 10 seconds after we called that we saw him running out of the house to his car. Noah and I then hollered at him and laughed. But inside we were both really glad to know he cared so much about us. Not only was he so quick to come get us but he even had hot chocolate ready for us when we walked in. I realized a lot that dayI realized that I had so much fun talking to Noah for the three hours we spent on the road together. I realized how much my teammates cared for me when Dillon kept checking on us. I realized none of those awesome things would have happened if we would not have taken advantage of that spontaneous moment. I challenge you to be spontaneous and enjoy those moments.

Monday, November 11, 2019

Tis' the Season

“It’s the most wonderful time of the year.” That’s right, Christmas is upon us. I know there is a debate on when it’s time to start celebrating Christmas because of Thanksgiving. Let me elaborate:

I personally start in July, but I could see where that might be a little unreasonable. After looking at the calendar above, it’s just letting us be holly and jolly for a month or two longer than usual. Then taking a break for Thanksgiving, and then resuming all festivities. 

Here is my checklist to celebrating Christmas:

  • Christmas Music all the way up
  • Binge watching & quoting Home Alone
  • Watching Elf and eating spaghetti with syrup and M&M’s
  • Driving around and seeing the Christmas lights
  • Drinking hot chocolate for every meal 
  • Making Christmas cookies
  • Spending the season with those you love the most
  • Playing board games
  • Going to Church the night before Christmas

    I love the Christmas season for so many reasons. It brings so much joy and happiness all the time. It also brings those around us closer together with endless laughter (and of course food).

May you all enjoy the Christmas season, 


Monday, November 4, 2019

Find Your Support Team

Anyone who has shown livestock knows that there is no feeling quite like that first march into the show ring.  You need to be on your game.  Your eyes seldom leave the judge, because you know that even when you may not make eye contact, that judge is watching you the whole time.  You have your animal on peak performance.  You hit every set, make even turn, and do whatever you can to make sure that the judge sees just how great you are.  When you are in the ring, it’s your time.  You’ve got your eye on the prize and know that you are going to walk out with that ribbon or banner when it’s all said and done.  

And then the class is over.  

You make the same proud march out of that ring that you did on the way in.  Your hard work has paid off.  You brought home the hardware.  The question is, who helped you get to this point?  Was it your parents?  Your siblings?  For myself, that answer just so happens to revolve around some of those who were in the ring with me.  

Over the eight years that I was involved in showing livestock, I was surrounded by an amazing support system of some of my best friends, a group we called “Team Ternet.”  This team consisted of some of my best friends that I showed livestock with, and generally accounted for about 30 head of cattle every year at our county fair, as well as a handful of other species.  As we went through our years showing various species of livestock, we taught each other how to show, learned from each other’s tendencies, and grew not only as a “team,” but also as a family. 

We had our successes together, however, that was never the point.  We were there to learn together and to support each other no matter what the outcome in the ring.  Together we learned the importance of hard work, what it meant to wake up early and stay up late, how to learn from failures, and rejoice in successes.  No matter what we faced, we always had each other to lean on and learn from.  We were there for each other in everything we faced; no matter if that was in the show ring, in the classroom, or in the blue jacket.  We were—and still are—always there for each other.

Who is your support team?  

In our lives, it is crucial to find that group of people that we can rely on and that likewise rely on us.  We learn together and from each other.  We can lean on that support team when we need someone to be there for us.  We can likewise be there for them.  I hope that we all find that support team and—if we already know who that is—never forget to be thankful for everything they have done for us.


Noah Berning

Monday, October 28, 2019

National Convention Hype

My last blog discussed one of my favorite fall activities which was hunting. I failed to mention that my second favorite fall activity is the wonderful National FFA Convention! As a sophomore, I got to experience convention for the first time. The expo booths, sessions, and wonderful sea of blue had me amazed and mesmerized. I have met so many people from outside of the Hoosier state from the connections I made at National Convention. This year I get the chance to serve as a delegate which means more time in Indy and a chance to make big choices for this wonderful organization. With that in mind, here are some of my favorite memories from National Convention that I hope everyone gets the chance to experience this week!               

▪ Trying to get a signature from every state
▪ Watching the laser light show at session
▪ Seeing the Rodeo, concert, or hypnotist show
▪ Walking away with a bag of free items

▪ Going on tours across the state
▪ Retail therapy at Cowpokes or the FFA Megastore 
▪ Seeing the Blue Room for the first time
▪ Getting to catch up with my friends from across the state

No, I am not sponsored (only in my dreams) but I do remember all of these activities and loved each one as much as the next. As we begin this week of festivities let us all remember to have fun, be safe, and keep your tally whacker tucked!

With plenty of excitement, 

Monday, October 21, 2019

Built-in Best Friends

“Wyatt? Are you up?”
“It’s Saturday morning, I’m sleeping. What do you want?”
“I’m at your dorm, can you let me in?”
“Are you kidding me, Morgan?”
“Uhm. No.”
Standing at the door of Moffat Hall on Indiana University’s campus, my twin brother, Wyatt, was not thrilled to see me. It was nine o’clock in the morning and as his “wombmate”, I knew to never disrupt his sleep, but did it anyways. This was the first time we had seen each other since I moved to Trafalgar and he to Bloomington, and it had been way too long. He arrived at the door and grumbled over my presence. I smiled and he stayed quiet, proud of the crazy surprise, but we both knew that I wasn’t leaving. He got ready for the day and I explored his room and texted every detail to our mother from his reaction to his Pizza X cup collection.
Wyatt and I were twins and defied every stereotype that stood with being such. We were fraternal, didn’t necessarily “enjoy” being a twin, and were complete opposites in personality. Wyatt is shy around family but the ‘coolest’ with peers, while I preferred to be with those older than us. Wyatt is by far the funniest and most sarcastic person I know, while I struggle for a single laugh. Wyatt is calm, confident, sharp as a tack, where I can be nerdy, awkward, and slightly clumsy. When together, we were either ‘two peas in a pod’ or oil and water. There were many days where Wyatt and I wouldn’t acknowledge each other and few of being the built-in best friends that we were. We rarely saw eye to eye, but something felt different these past few months, at least for me.
Since we’ve both moved from our home, Wyatt and I have been living in a different world. Wyatt lives in a dorm room by himself, whereas I live with six individuals who were once strangers. We didn’t have someone who truly knew the way we tick or work the way we do. We didn’t have the other to challenge or fight with. Life has been pretty sad once I came to this realization: I miss Wyatt. And while he may deny it, I think that he misses me too.
After little bantering, I managed to bribe Wyatt into a free breakfast. I pestered him with questions about his new life and for the first time in a very long time, we were able to talk about things that made us resent each other a few months before. For the first time in what felt like forever, we saw eye to eye because we still cared and respected each other. For so long I refused to understand or respect my brother because he was different from me. I refused to see it from his side of the fence and used the excuse that he didn’t care to see from mine. I refused to believe that he cared or loved me until it hit me in the face these past few months that he really did care. And here we were, enjoying our pancakes and toast, as if we were still built-in best friends. 
When I watched Wyatt walk back into his dorm and I drove away, I had a bittersweet smile as I honked in his direction. I was sad to leave someone that I called my best friend, yet thankful for the moment together. At the end of the day, it’s not about being oil and water and always fighting to be right, it’s about taking down the fences and seeing from the other side. Even if it is with your built-in best friend.

A loving sister,
        Morgan Ann Hinz

P.S. Wyatt, if you’re reading this, we’re having breakfast together soon.