Sunday, February 16, 2020

Enjoy the Moments

These past few weeks have been the start of a lot of new things. For example, we went down to Magnet, Indiana and learned how to develop our keynotes for banquet season. Following keynote training, we went to Indianapolis to begin planning for State Convention in June, received our third FFA jacket, and finalized our FFA week schedules. This all seemed so crazy to me that this year has flown by in the blink of an eye.

One thing that we have been told this year by many is to “enjoy the moments, because they go by so fast.” To say the least, I didn’t realize how true this was until a couple of weeks ago. At keynote training we had reflections in the evening. During our second evening, Derek Berkshire, our facilitator, reminded us that this year is what we decide to make it, and that we only get this opportunity once - so don't waste it. After hearing this, I realized I needed to enjoy the small moments that surround the big moments in my life. 

I really needed to the take the time to reminisce the moments of this past year. In between all of the exciting events that are happening or what we are planning, I’ve noticed a common theme. Even though we might be busy working, there has always been time to just enjoy ourselves and those around us.
I want to take a chance to share my some of my favorite moments so far this year. 

Getting the chance to work with members during sessions and helping them develop their action plans!

Reflections were always my favorite during high school. Something I will always cherish is having the chance to share my story and hearing member's stories after. 

Talking to the river:
Despite being super busy, we took time to walk and practice with the river during keynote training!

Face masks with the boys:
AH! One of my favorites! Saturday nights are not just for the boys. 
My support team:

Honestly, I wouldn't be standing here today, if it wasn't the endless support from my school, friends, and family. I want to take the chance to say thank you. No matter what, I know I can count on you all to be there. 

Now these are just a few moments from this year. If I were to list all of them, the list would be endless. No matter how busy we get, there's always time to spend with those around you. Take a moment and reminisce on what you've been doing this year. Are you checking off the list? Or are you taking time to enjoy the little things?

Always take the time,  


Monday, February 10, 2020

Do the Small Jobs

I absolutely loved my job in high school.  I worked at the local auto shop in my hometown, a small dealership called Meyer Auto.  On school days I could only get a few hours clocked, but I made sure that I made the most of every minute that I was on the clock.  I loved the people I worked with, and I loved what I did.  
    A close up of a brick building

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I never really had a specific title for my job, I just helped anywhere necessary.  I performed routine oil changes here, detailed a car there, or cleaned the bathroom in the shop.  Each day brought something new, something I may have never worked on before.  And no matter what the task—even cleaning the bathroom—I gave it all that I had.  Although it might be absurd to some, I enjoyed every job that presented itself.  Often times my classmates wondered how I could love my job so much, when some of the tasks I performed were not necessarily every high schoolers’ dream.
Aside from my job in high school, I was involved in a lot of things and debatably was living the high school dream.  I was almost always involved in making the “big things,” happen.  Whether that be an FFA event, a spirit week, or even just a club meeting, I was usually close to the core of planning that event.  I was “important.”  Yet through tackling these “big events,” I realized something.  When we are so involved in these events, we forget about the little things.  This was most evident to me the morning of my FFA Chapter’s Teacher Breakfast during FFA Week.  Things were getting wrapped up, and I grabbed a few dishes and began to wash them.  One of the younger members came up to me and told me they could not believe that I was doing such a small task.  Why would the person who is running the event worry about something as small as doing dishes?   

    The answer is simple: I loved doing the small things.  At Meyer Auto I had countless opportunities to encounter those “small jobs.”  In fact, that’s why I was there.  I was a high school kid hired to do those small jobs that needed done.  Each time I did one of these “small jobs” I gave them as much effort as I did in every event I helped planned in high school.  By doing this I was able to learn things I would have never known before.  I was mindful of the little details.  I took time to make sure the small things were done right.  I loved doing the small things because they taught me how to handle the “big jobs.”  
    Often times in life we come to a point when we may think we are “big stuff.”  We have those moments when we think we are too good to take out the trash.  Maybe we laugh at the request to do the dishes.  We might ignore the bathroom that needs cleaning, just because we think those jobs are “below us.”  That is not the case.  What we must come to realize is that no matter how important we may be—or think we might be—there is no task that is too small for us to do.  The next time a “small job” comes around, do not laugh at it, just do it.  Enjoy the process.  You might just learn something. Sincerely, Noah Berning

Monday, February 3, 2020

Even Playing Field

Coming off of last nights’ big Super Bowl game, I figured it was only proper to share a football story in this week’s blog. I played football from 5th grade all the way up to senior year. To say it was a huge factor in making me the young man I am today would be an understatement. Playing football was always more than just a game to me, it was an easy reflection of how life can be at sometimes. My fall weeks were filled with practice, film, and more practice. Football was a game of passion for me and that’s the main reason I stuck with it for so long. As much as I loved it, there were days at school that truly just sucked. I wanted nothing more than to skip practice and head straight out to the parking lot to pack up for the day, but I knew my team and myself were going to hold me accountable to attend practice. On days like that, the moment I tied my cleats my mind went into a meditation. Everything was clear, concise, and had a purpose; which is why I was always caught off guard during a halftime speech my senior year.

We were down by a number I don’t quite remember during one of my final games as a high schooler, when our coach stood up in the ag shop to begin our halftime speech. I remember him talking about shaking off the bad plays and getting out there to play like the score is 0-0. That made no sense. Why wouldn’t we match our performance to the score? If we were up, take it slow and steady. If we were down, put our nose to the grindstone and make up for what we’ve lost. It seemed simple, yet coach was contradicting that whole idea. Play like the score is 0-0. I thought on it when we got back on the field. I imagined the scoreboard broadcasting double goose eggs and it all made sense. I didn’t feel comfortable giving up if all I needed was one score to get ahead. The idea of putting the negative feeling of being down by so much to the side was empowering. It’s as if that mentality made the game seem easier. After a long-fought battle, we ended up victorious.  
It’s a lot easier to give up in our lives if we have a constant reminder of everything that goes wrong for us. We can make more excuses and have more reasons to quit as long as we have the score to back us up. We have to play life like the score is 0-0 in the game of Me vs. The Universe. The biggest encouragement in times of oppression is to play with a clean slate. Each score in our favor starts to mean a lot more when we’ve never been scored on. We got to see this last night at Super bowl LIV. When down by 10 points at halftime, the Kansas City Chiefs managed to play like the score was 0-0 and win by 11 points. When we find ourselves losing our game, zero the score. We have to wake up the next day with a mindset to win. It’s the quickest way to success in this game we call life. -Nate Fairchild

Monday, January 27, 2020


Vulnerability. When searching for a definition online, these examples can be found:
  1. Capable of being physically or emotionally wounded
  2. Open to moral attack, criticism, temptation, etc
  3. Susceptible to physical or emotional attack or harm
With such examples, “vulnerability” fed into even more fears than I thought I had.
You mean I have to willingly be open to emotional harm and willingly go back?
Vulnerability is open, it’s complicated, and it can be taken the wrong way. Or worse, it can be used against us. Being vulnerable, or even thinking about being vulnerable, was something that I never, ever wanted to do. I never wanted to talk about feelings or what kept me up at night, let alone have the responsibility of knowing someone else’s. Being vulnerable didn’t feel like an act of courage, but rather an act of fear. Being vulnerable was seen as a weakness, not a strength worth rumbling (having tough conversations with or about)  with. With all of this fear, I absolutely, positively, set myself up for failure.

For many, including myself, vulnerability is difficult to rumble with. As humans, we’re taught to put up defenses and protect our hearts at all costs. We refuse to let anyone find our Achilles heel and we prefer isolation over companionship. Yet in all of this isolation, it’s cold, lonely, and we often pin the blame on someone or something else. We refuse to see that walls are less human than actually being human with our own thoughts and feelings. It wasn’t until reading Brené Brown’s Dare to Lead that I recognized how high my walls stood, and just how difficult they are to climb.

As myself and so many others classified vulnerability as a weakness, we then classify feeling vulnerable to begin with as a weakness and insinuate feeling as a weakness. Is feeling happy a weakness? Is feeling sad or angry, or any other human emotion, a weakness? Then why do we consider feeling vulnerable a weakness? If we want to have courage and success, we have to be vulnerable with others to have the support needed for victory. If we want to find joy, we have to be vulnerable in our pursuits and willing to overcome adversity. If we want to love or be loved, we have to be vulnerable with chances of fulfillment or rejection. If we even want to be human, we need to rumble with our feelings and be content that they exist. Is being human a weakness?

The courage to be vulnerable is not about winning or losing, it’s about the courage to show up when you can’t predict or control the outcome.” - Brené Brown

So many times, we shield ourselves from the world and refuse to face our fears. Challenging vulnerability is a battle of its own, but when willing to rumble, it can show just how freeing Life is. We have the opportunity to lead with courage and willingly get back up when we stumble from adversity. Connections can prosper and support teams are developed, and walls begin to erode away with every honest conversation. Being vulnerable is absolutely, positively, difficult to do, but is easier with every stride. Dictionaries describe vulnerability as weakness, but I prefer the way Brené Brown describes it to Merriam-Webster’s definition:
Vulnerability: The emotion that we experience during times of uncertainty, risk, and emotional exposure.
It may not always be easy, but having the courage to show up and dare greatly just may change your life. You may even find yourself living.

Still Figuring it Out,
Morgan Ann Hinz

Monday, January 20, 2020

Finding A New Routine

When I was in high school, my favorite subject was math. At first I thought it was because I genuinely liked it, but once I realized I wasn’t actually good at it, I figured out that I loved the subject because of the way the class was conducted. Every day we would come in, grade our homework from the previous night, take notes of the lesson for the day, get our homework assigned, and leave. Each day I could count on this structure - no matter when it was. I loved to go to class because I knew that I could rely on the same schedule, with no surprises to worry about. 

    Looking into the past and present, these six months of serving as an Indiana FFA State Officer have been nothing short of amazing. I’ve enjoyed everything - visiting with business and industry leaders, spending time with FFA members, and appreciating the small moments with my teammates. Each day has been a new experience, and you never know what you might be asked to help out with. It’s been a blast living with my six teammates, going through the year together as a family.

    Right before Christmas break though, I hit a slump. For some reason I felt exhausted after each and every day. It came to a point when I was getting ready to go to bed that I reflected back on the past six months, trying to figure it out. I loved what I was doing, but I was mentally exhausted from day to day - no matter how much sleep I received. So I decided to compare the changes in my life between school and State Office, trying to figure it out.

In school, I had a set schedule that I followed to a T, especially when it came to attending math class. I loved the class because I knew exactly what was going to happen each day, but since I’ve been in office, that’s not the case. While we do have a schedule that we follow, it’s ever changing. No one day, activity, or experience is the same. 

That can make someone pretty tired when they’re used to the same routine each and every day. I knew that when I came back from break, I wanted to try something different. I was so exhausted all the time, and I didn’t want that to continue on when I came back for the second half of my year. 

If routine was what kept me energized, what was stopping me from setting a routine within the hectic moments of State Office? There’s nothing stopping me from waking up to start my mornings the same way each day. The timing might be a bit different, but I can still get ready for my day, fix a cup of coffee, and eat breakfast in the same order as I always have. 

When I came back from break, I tried to keep to this routine. Obviously it’s not always possible, but for the most part I’ve stuck to it. And it’s great! Routine is what energizes me and keeps me grounded, and it’s nice to be able to fit small amounts of stability into a very crazy and awesome experience. 

If you find yourself more exhausted than usual, take a step back to think about your way of doing things. What’s changed so drastically in the past couple of months to make you so tired? For me, it was having a routine. But for you, it might be totally opposite. And that’s okay! 

Find what’s best for you, and stick to it. Life is crazy, but spend time in the crazy with energy - instead of exhaustion. 

Find a routine,

Caitlyn Lewis

Monday, January 13, 2020

Finish the Job

Over Christmas Break I had the amazing opportunity that every high school/college aged student loves-making cold, hard cash. My neighbor, Carla,  was doing some major remodeling with some of the buildings her family owned. I asked if she needed any help with the remodel since I was home on break. She readily agreed for me to come over and get to work. I was pretty pumped to be making some of that green dough.

Day 1
The first day was not too hard. I helped Carla clean up what seemed like a million boxes of Christmas decorations. We stacked all of those onto the back of a pickup truck and then drove to a different building to unload all of the boxes yet again. Upon returning to the first building I had yet another list of work to do.  But before I dove into all of that work, I went and ate lunch with my mom. Since I'm not home that often it was nice to sit down and catch up on a variety of things. After lunch, I went back and dove into my list of things to get done. I first moved old window shutters, wagon wheels, as well as a few other assorted items that are used as decorations. I had to lug all of these items up a twisted flight of stairs and stack them neatly. After all of that was upstairs came the extraordinarily fun part- at least for this day. I was instructed to move around 300 old, wooden chairs. Now moving chairs is not that hard of a feat, however these did not fold or bend and I could only carry two chairs at a time.  I had to painstakingly walk back and forth for over 5 hours. I was ready to be done at chair 106, but I kept going to finish the job. 
P.S.  I got 23, 659 steps today!

Day 2 
Guess what?!?!? I moved more chairs today. I flipped places with chairs and benches so the room would be organized differently for an upcoming event. However, I could not figure out how the benches fit together to maximize the space. Carla had told me it was like a jigsaw puzzle and I now realized that it was very true.  Once I finally figured out the puzzle, I moved on to the next task at hand. I had to move an old filing cabinet, a desk chair, and a box of metal scraps. I moved the box of metal scraps to the back of the pickup with ease, the chair was really awkward but I prevailed. The filing cabinet was a slightly different story. It was four high and an old style one which meant that it was extremely heavy. I leaned it against the tailgate and used it as a lever to force it onto the truck. Once everything was on the truck I went to the metal dumpster to unload. I backed right up to the dumpster, threw off the box, chucked the chair, and flipped off the filing cabinet into the dumpster. 

Day 3 
Carla told me that she had a real job for me today! She took me to the main room that was going to be remodeled. She showed me that all of the carpet needed to be ripped up.  I shook my head in understandment and started working. I started pulling up my first piece of carpet and it was a little rough but I kept going. The second and third pieces got a little harder but I kept going. Eventually, I could barely pull the pieces of carpet up. I kept cutting the pieces smaller and smaller and was barely getting anything done. I was ready to quit. I was tired and I wasn’t  getting anywhere. I told myself to keep going for a few more tries. On this piece of carpet it had a niche in it that I was able to grip and pull on. It pulled surprisingly easily and I was able to get up a larger amount of carpet before. I kept going pulling and tugging on the carpet and even though it was painful and tiring, I finished the job.

After all of this work I learned a couple valuable lessons. 
  1. I never want to go into carpet laying. I could never do that for a living, it was horrible. 
  2. No matter how much you dislike your job, finish the job. I could have quit and told Carla that I just couldn't do it anymore. I could have told her that it wasn't for me and walked out. But I thought what kind of image would that leave Carla. What if I needed a favor from Carla in the future? No matter what, keep persevering and keep going. It may be rough and tough but it will always be worth it in the end. 
  3. P.S. Carla donated a basket of goodies to be auctioned off at the Fort Wayne Farm Show! 

Never Give Up, Dillon 

Monday, January 6, 2020

Recongizing Those Who Have Taught Me the Most

I’m sure we have all had someone ask us who our mentor was. If I had to tell you who mine was in sixth grade, I probably would have told you my Aunt Tracey. She was always there to support me and encourage me from a young age. Every time I saw her, she had a smile on her face and some cookies for me!

 Then, if you would have asked me in ninth grade, I probably would have said my dad. He always helped me work on my truck. He supported my many hobbies like camping, shooting guns, and demolition derbies.

Now, I would tell you it is my grandparents. My grandpa can fix just about everything, he knows everybody, and he handles situations with so much patience and passion. My grandma shows love to everyone and makes time to help everyone who needs it. How could I change my mentor so many times? It just did not make sense.

After the last time someone asked me that question, I thought about what the meaning of a role model or a mentor is. I came to the conclusion that a mentor or role model is someone who has knowledge that we don’t and who teaches us something. That person has gained their knowledge through past experiences or through their mentors. So that must mean that I have a lot of role models and mentors and not just one. I realized that almost everyone I am close to has taught me something about life.
With that being said the same applies to us. We are all mentors or role models to someone. Whether someone admires the things we do or learns from our mistakes. People are always watching us and trying to learn how to apply what we do to their own lives. Always strive to leave a good impact on everyone because someone is always watching.


Eion Stephens