Monday, October 13, 2014

Red Acres is the Place For Me

The worn leather under my hands…high above the world I was perched overlooking the vast hay field. The trees where brilliant reds, yellows and oranges. The air was fresh, it smelled like burning leaves and diesel fuel. Fall was upon us. As I took a trip around my Papole Kent’s farm (Red Acres) I remember searching the field that butted up to my papole’s property. In the distance, a combine was shelling beans and dust was flying everywhere. As the combine collected the beans I thought of numerous by-products that might come from the crop. As the Farmall BN and I rounded the other side of the field I couldn't help but feel the responsibility of farmers. Harvest season is my favorite time of the year. 

Back home in Northern Indiana! 

From a young age I learned how to operate my papole’s tractors, in fact I could drive tractors before I could ride my bike without training wheels. I could not get enough of the rush I felt high above the earth, hearing the sound the tractor made and smelling the ever so prominent diesel fuel. My papole has restored tractors ever since I can remember and only the red ones. His work ethic was a hard one and it showed in all of his tractors. The tractors bonded papole and I. The heritage that existed was intertwined in the frame work of each tractor. The Farmall BN that I was driving previously was my Great Grandpa’s. My papole would tell me of stories about the BN. He told about when my great grandpa first purchased it, how the dents got certain places and how diligently the tractor worked. A staple part of the farm and a piece of history to share with his 4th generation great granddaughter. 

This is my Papole Kent and I going on the many tractors ride I would take when I was little! 

Now that farmers are out harvesting, memories stir up from those long tractors rides. Taking walks down the road and admiring the changing crops. Spending time with family, friends and enjoying the beautiful fall season. No matter what part you reside in this fly over state we all know the importance of farmers and admire their tireless work to feed the world. As we drive past the farmers taking the combines another round remember how blessed we are to have such committed producers. I would like to give a shout out to those producers making the food on my table possible. I love farmers, they feed my soul.

Taken in Southern Indiana near the FFA Leadership Center. 

You Ag Lovin' and Farmall Driving Indiana FFA NRVP,

Love Lindsey O'Hara

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

SOARing into Fall

Is it possible for it to be October already? That does not seem possible! Like Dakota previously said, the team and I just completed three weeks of chapter visits and district kickoffs! We met so many members from across the state and getting to experience all of the different agriculture education programs was amazing!
On Saturday, October 4th, Kathleen and I adventured down to Scottsburg, Indiana to watch the Scottsburg FFA Fall Prospect Beef Show! Congratulations to the Scottsburg FFA Chapter for working so hard and diligently to make this show successful! Kathleen and I not only got to watch the show and talk with a few FFA members, we also ran into the 2013-2014 Southern Region Vice President- Ethan McNeely! It’s always good to see Ethan!
 This week at the Leadership Center, the team and I are preparing for SOAR, or Seeking Opportunities Achieving Results. This conference is directed toward 7th-10th grade students. IT IS A BLAST! If you signed up to come, you will not regret it! This is a great time for members to get to know people from all over our state. Everyone is split up into different groups so that they have the opportunity to take a step outside of their comfort zone to make some new friends! The great thing about making friends at this conference is that, more than likely, you will see these new friends at FFA events in the future!

As we are finishing up our last minute preparations so that we know this weekend will be the best it can possibly be. Just know that I cannot wait to see everyone! The team and I will be revealing the theme shortly, so be looking for that on all forms of social media! Come prepared and ready to have the time of your life at SOAR 2014! 

Serving with a grateful heart,

Brittany Young
Indiana FFA
State President

The Differences that Matter Most

           It was 6 a.m. on a Tuesday morning. I was driving; my passengers were all asleep.  It was dark, and I was tired. We were somewhere in the seemingly endless Northern half of the state. It was another day of chapter visits, fast food, and district kickoffs. As I drove, I turned the radio off as to not wake up my teammates. The silence combined with the dark created an eerie emptiness all around me. My thoughts were as loud as voices, with no actual voices to dampen them. The hum of the engine kept time as I stared ceaselessly at the horizon my headlights created. The drive wore on. I wore on. Pushing a swath through the undisturbed darkness with my high beams, like any plow-fitted truck pushing through a freshly fallen snow. For miles I illuminated a canyon with walls of corn stalks rising up on each side. Eventually, my course led me onto the main street of one of Indiana’s innumerable tiny towns. A hardware store, a rundown gas station, and one solitary flashing light, these are what they all seemed to share. I had noted these characteristics as I had been through countless other nameless little towns in my travels. I pressed on through the town, my headlights providing brief glimpses of the houses on either side of the street, brief glimpses of the people’s lives who occupied this little town. Again, the hum of the engine kept a rhythm as my thoughts swirled about me, and I began to contemplate the people of those tiny nameless towns.
            I had gone my entire life never knowing this town –which I was now driving through—even existed. I was willing to wager that most of the world would live and die having never known that this little one-flashing-light town in Northern Indiana existed. With that, most people on Earth would never know that any of the people in this little town even existed. I was startled by the thought. I was even a bit scared by it. These tiny people in this tiny town could disappear, and the world would be none the wiser. And what’s more, I too was a tiny person, having come from a similar tiny town. I too could disappear along with all the other occupants of my tiny little town, and the world would know no differently. That was a terrible thought. The idea that most people on Earth would never know I existed terrified me.
            As I continued to drive, I soon left the little town in the darkness in which I’d found it. And although it was now behind me, it was still very much in the forefront of my mind. The longer I drove, the longer I thought. Light eventually broke over the horizon, painting the sky every hue of red and pink and orange. At the same time a new perspective broke within me. Why should I worry about whether the majority of people on Earth know I existed? There are a few people who will know, and if I am able to impact those few people positively then for what else can I ask? So many of us—tiny people from tiny towns all across the world—will not be remembered or even known by most of the population. But, some will have known us. Perhaps it would be in vain to try and change the lives of every person on Earth, but we can change the lives of some. We may not make a difference to everyone, but we can make a difference to some. We can make a positive difference in the lives of those around us, those who will have known us, and those are the differences that matter most.  

Jacob Mueller
2014-2015 Southern Region Vice President 

Monday, September 29, 2014

Do What You Love

In only the past couple weeks, it has been incomparably some of the best in my life! Not only have I gotten to travel all across the state, but I have also had the opportunity to meet so many members with the same passion for agriculture that I have! No matter the area of the state or the size of the school, I have been amazed at the amount of potential in students and how much they enjoy getting to spread their wings and meet so many new friends. Not only did all of this traveling let me form new memories with FFA members, but the team got to work with so many students who are not yet in FFA.

By visiting different schools every day, my teammates and I saw so many different school sizes, agriculture programs, and agricultural students. Some schools created a feeling of anxiety as we approached a school culture we may not have known; however, some of those schools had the best students! I can recall a story of a time that made me know why I do what I do.

            At a small high school, my partner Skylar and I were presenting to a young Intro. to Agriculture class. One student in particular was very active with our presentation and always volunteered to help with our activities. I was very impressed by their attitude and energy and kept asking myself why they were not in FFA. After class, I spoke to the student and they explained that before our presentation they did not know what FFA was and thought it was going to be a boring activity to get involved in. After the student and their friend walked Skylar and I to the office, they turned away and the student’s friend asked if he would join FFA now that he had seen our presentation. As thought there was a switch that turned on, the student replied with a confident yes.

It is not the glory, the popularity, or the amount of people who know you that make a difference. It is your attitude to make a difference in one person’s life. This student I spoke of instilled a love for one certain quote:
“Do what you love, Love what you do.”
 ~ Jeff Mallett
Do what you love, have a passion to leave a difference, and never stop believing in yourself. Chapter visits have given me the remarkable opportunity to meet so many amazing students that have taught me to always have a positive attitude, because you never know who you will impact. Who will you impact today by doing what you love?

Loving every moment,
Dakota Westphal
2014-2015 Indiana FFA State Reporter

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