Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Having a Foundation

In-person state convention, gone. State Officer Summit in Washington D.C. gone. FFA Pavilion at the Indiana State Fair, gone. These are the events I’ve missed out on so far as a State Officer and I sometimes ponder what my experiences would’ve been like in a normal year. While I’ve missed my only opportunity to attend Summit, I’m still thankful to have attended multiple in-person conventions already. Despite missing these events, it was my Indiana State Fair experience I remained optimistic for. When the state fair was cancelled, I tried to stay happy by reminiscing on my time spent at the State Fair in the FFA Pavilion in years past. The FFA Foundation gave me the opportunity to spend over 20 days at The Great Indiana State Fair and experience the FFA Pavilion. The Foundation has given members from across the state the opportunity to volunteer at the Country Market. I even had the opportunity to promote Indiana Agriculture when I worked in the Country Market. On top of that, I helped raise money for scholarships. It’s because of groups like the Indiana FFA Foundation that remind me of the awesome experiences before Covid-19. It’s important that the Foundation is able to continue making these experiences even in a new world. Let’s step up and help The Foundation continue to provide meaningful experiences like mine. We can do this by supporting their events like the Blue and Gold Gala. Be sure to check it out on all of Indiana FFA social media platforms! I’m extremely thankful for the opportunities the FFA Foundation has given me, so let’s make sure to show attention to those who’ve helped us get where we are today.

Yours Truly, Loren Matlock

Wednesday, September 9, 2020

Modern Day Good Samaritan

Many of us know the parable, or story, of the Good Samaritan from our time spent in Sunday school at church. However, for those of us who may never have heard it before, the story is simply about how there was an injured man lying on a road. A priest and another man passed by the injured man, ignoring his critical situation. Finally, one man who was from Samaria took mercy and cared for the man. The lesson from the story is to love your neighbor as yourself, with neighbor meaning fellow human being. 

SO… why does this story matter? In life it can be hard to find a good Samaritan, much less be one, when we get wrapped up in the hustle and bustle of life, our schedule, and our relationships. We all struggle with it, and I am certainly no exception.

To answer that earlier question, it matters because of this text I received a few weeks ago…

My dad is a great man, but he isn’t perfect. Yet what he did in that moment made him perfect to me, and my heart overflows with pride at being lucky enough to call him MY dad. His ability to push off his own needs for the sake of someone else’s, his kindness, and his humanity, those are traits I admire about him. More importantly, those are the traits of a good Samaritan. He serves as a reminder, as do countless other individuals, that we can freely do good in our lives for others if we just stop, look around, and listen. 

Be kind, be selfless, be human. Be a good Samaritan. It is your turn to pass it on.

Learning to do better,

Blayne Vandeveer


Wednesday, September 2, 2020

8 Tips for Virtual Learning

We can all agree that this year has been crazy and we are finding ourselves shifting to a new world of virtual interaction, including our organization. I’ll be the first to admit that at times it can be dreadful to sit at a screen all day long, so I wanted to share with y'all tips and tricks that have worked for me. I hope that through this blog post you can find ways to not dread virtual learning. 

It’s What You Make It - Be Positive 

While situations in our lives may not be ideal, they’ll only be as good as we make them. If we aspire to gain knowledge through a meeting, conference, or whatever it may be: we must have a positive mindset to set us up for success. Being a “Negative Nancy” will make us dread every moment. Then, we won’t take anything away from the experience. 

Engage Yourself

I’ve found that the best way to gain the most out of an experience is to engage with the speakers, activities, and content. This allows us to think about the information being presented and enjoy our time. 

Read Emails 

If I could give you one piece of advice that would make virtual experiences run more smoothly on your end this would be it. Oftentimes, email or social media platforms are filled with crucial information about online events. This is so important to recognize and apply when communicating virtually. 

Take Breaks

It’s okay to take breaks. Occasionally, virtual learning can be long and when we push ourselves too far that’s when we miss out on opportunities because we aren’t focused. When we find ourselves overwhelmed, we should do an activity that will allow us to decompress. This may include taking a walk, watching an episode of netflix, listening to music, etc. This looks different for each of us, but plays a vital role in ensuring we get the most out of our experiences. 

Find a Space to Work That Best Suits You

Our workplace plays a large role in our mood. I recommend being in a clutter free area that is comfortable and try to minimize distractions, such as our phones, “to-do” lists, etc. When I see my “to-do” list I immediately want to work on it, so eliminating distractions like those allow us focus on what’s at hand. 

Dress for the Occasion

While pajamas are comfortable, I’ve found that getting dressed and ready for the day allows me to be more productive and focused. My friend Mackenzie and I say “look good, feel good, show good” when we go to sheep shows. This same mindset works for virtual learning. If we look good then we will feel good and eventually do good, so be sure to get dressed for the occasion (even if it’s virtual). 

Ask Questions

Virtual events and programs can be confusing at times. When we have questions it's helpful to reach out to those in charge through a simple email or phone call. Organizations want to make sure you have the best experience possible! Even in a normal world statements are misunderstood, so it's even more important to ask questions when we have them. These questions can be asked before, during, and even after the event!

Give Grace 

Recognize we’re all navigating through a virtual world together. Give grace to those who are doing their best because I promise they genuinely care for you. Plus, giving grace benefits both parties. 

I hope these tips help you succeed during virtual learning. It’s okay to have a bad day because above all we have to take care of ourselves first. At the same time, we must recognize that the same goes for those providing virtual opportunities. Instructors aren’t always going to have it together either, so let’s be thankful for the opportunities presented to us. Besides, where would we be if we were stuck in quarantine and didn't have all these virtual opportunities to carry on with our lives? Let's make it fun together! 

Kylie Schakel

2020-21 IN FFA State Secretary

Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Living to Serve

March 21, 2014 is a day I will never forget. At 3:30 A.M., while my family was fast asleep, our house had rigorously erupted into flames, engulfing our entire house with it. We barely escaped before the fire swallowed my entire bedroom and upstairs hallway. Had I been in my bedroom for just 30 seconds more, I would have been killed right there. For over an hour, my family and I sat on our back gazebo watching the house we grew up in burn second my second.

Once the firefighters put out the flames, we went inside to see if we could save anything, but everything had been destroyed either by the fire, water, or smoke. Walking inside was like walking into a haunted house: it was dark with black char marks all across the walls, the lights had melted and dropped from the ceiling, and the stairs were wobbling.  It was a nightmare to walk through. We had no clothes, no shoes, no food, no car, and no house. We had truly lost everything.


Just as all hope seemed lost, later that afternoon, news spread about the fire to our community. People from all over Shelby County were racing to our house with loads of boxes to donate items to us. We received food, clothes, toiletries, and some of my friends bought me new school supplies. At that very moment, I truly learned the value of the fourth line in the FFA Motto: Living to Serve.

Ever since the fire, I have made it my mission to serve as a leader by emphasizing the power of serving others. The Salvation Army was one of the first organizations to respond to my family after the fire.They guided us into their facility and allowed us to take what we needed. They truly lifted us from a dark gorge I felt we were trapped in. That winter, I learned that the Salvation Army gathers volunteers to ring those bells with the red kettle at stores during the Christmas season to financially aid with their organization. I signed myself up and have rang those bells for 5 years straight now, averaging approximately 15 hours of bell ringing each year. The Salvation Army helped me and my family when we were in times of despair, and it’s my mission to give back to them.

 I am lucky enough to have a roof over my head, a hot meal on my plate, and a warm bed to sleep in every day, but there was a point in my life where I didn't have those luxuries, and there are families out there who don't have them as well. My entire attitude on life changed when my community came together to serve my family. Stepping up as a leader to help someone in need can make anyone's day better. The power of Living to Serve is limitless. Indiana FFA, I challenge you to find ways you can serve others and recognize the potential that any act of kindness can create. 


Living to serve,  

Julia Hamblen

2020-2021 Indiana FFA State President

Wednesday, August 19, 2020

Lead Like You

District Presidency… wow, what a year. Last year was one of the greatest, yet hardest years ever. I started the year off wide-eyed and hopeful of all the things my team would accomplish. I would like to take this time to blame Cait Lewis for my optimism because she made it all look so easy and left some big shoes to fill. Going into the year I thought that I had to be the perfect FFA member and District President, but your slate doesn't determine your competence. I had said it a hundred times before, “To me, my slate doesn't matter because if I am on the team I know that I can make an impact.” But as soon as I saw “Luc Sproles District I President” on our newly announced slate, that all went out the window. I felt as if I had to put on this ‘armor’ to cover up my shortcomings. That makes sense right? If I cover up my weaknesses, no one will see that I’m not perfect. Guess what? I was wrong and perfect is overrated. 

Be brave enough to lead like you; you aren’t in this alone. 

I thought that I had to start leading like “Mr. President.” I thought that I had to be “The District President,” so that’s what I started doing. I tried to act perfect, to be perfect. I thought that was the perfect solution. I was putting on armor. I got to the point where I was exhausted, run-down, and felt defeated. I thought that no matter how hard I tried, I wasn’t doing good enough. That’s when I called my friend and told her everything that was happening. On that call, she gave me some advice that truly changed my mind about how I wanted my year to go. She said, “This year you are going to feel like the weight of the world is on your shoulders, but it’s not. You have six other teammates to carry that with you. So if you fail you won't do it alone.” That’s when I realized I had started my year all wrong because I was trying to do it all alone. I was blessed with six other amazing people this year that have become some of my best friends. I truly could not have done this without them. Without them, I wouldn’t have been able to take off the armor that was holding me back. 

“District I President”, yes, that was my title. It was not who I had to be. Leadership isn’t about titles, it’s about the impact you make on the lives of others. In order to truly make an impact, I had to take off my armor. I had to stop trying to lead like “Mr. President” and start leading like Luc. Let me tell you, that was terrifying. The idea that people would see my faults scared me. I thought people wouldn't respect me if I took off that armor, yet I was wrong again. When I took off that armor I saw the real Luc; my peers saw the real Luc. The honest, happy, coffee-fueled, creative, hotheaded, sarcastic, caring, messy, sometimes-stressed Luc and I wouldn’t want it any other way. 

If you are finding yourself in a similar position, let me give you some advice. I'm sorry if I burst your bubble, but you will not be perfect. You are going to mess up. You are going to come up short, and that is okay. We weren’t made to be perfect so be brave enough to take off that armor and lead like you. 

Still trying to lead like Luc,

Luc Sproles

Wednesday, August 12, 2020


What will you be remembered for? Ask people this question and you’ll get many different answers. A few hope to be remembered for fame and fortune. Others hope to be remembered for living life to its fullest or leaving a positive impact on others. When asking myself this question, it took me some time to decide on my answer. What do I want people to remember about me? What kind of legacy do I want to leave for those that come after me?

For big life questions like this one… I look to my grandfather for inspiration. My grandfather has always been someone who inspires and encourages me to be my best every day. He is someone who works with every ounce of effort he has and can always be found with a smile on his face. Even on the most difficult of days, my grandfather is happy because he is living out his own legacy. In the 1960s, my grandfather served in the United States Army during the Vietnam War. Despite conflicted emotions and a divided nation, my grandfather felt the need to serve his country and those around him. When he returned from Vietnam, my grandfather continued this theme of service. He went to work for businesses that manufactured American goods that would be used by his fellow citizens. He got involved with his local community and helped out his neighbors. To this very day, my grandfather is still working five days a week doing what he loves: giving back to those around him. My grandfather will always be remembered for his dedication to serving others.

Thinking about my grandfather’s legacy has made me appreciate what I am dedicated to in life. One of the passions that I hold near and dear to my heart is environmental stewardship. From an early age, I have carried with me a love and appreciation for the natural world. Through this appreciation, I have made a personal commitment to be more environmentally responsible in my actions. I drive an electric vehicle, I volunteer in river clean-out projects, I recycle religiously, and I plan to get involved with renewable energy for my future career. Every step of the way, I have made environmental stewardship a personal mission of mine. For the rest of my life, I will remain dedicated to this mission as I continue to protect our environment. Long after I leave this earth, people will look back at my life and recognize this level of dedication. Just like my grandfather before me, I will always be remembered for remaining dedicated to my personal mission.

When someone asks what you’ll be remembered for, think about your legacy and what you will leave behind for future generations. Whether it’s something you are passionate about or a personal mission you have, your legacy can be defined by whatever you choose. Find your passion… dedicate yourself to it… and live your life fulfilling that mission. It really does make a difference.

Warm Wishes,

Derick Williams

Indiana FFA State Reporter

Wednesday, August 5, 2020

The Lessons Learned Outside the Classroom

Through extracurricular activities and community service, I have learned to always have an open mind and an open heart. We are often so quick to judge or make decisions based upon preconceived notions that either society or we have created ourselves. Outside of FFA, I am highly involved in theater. It’s hard to get more opposite than that. It’s a challenge, at times, being in two separate worlds but trying to make them work together. I have had to adapt and be open to anything and everything. While the people in these extracurriculars are different, they are all equally important and bring something completely new to the table. Every person also has the opportunity to grow me in some way. I see the world as one big classroom, and every person that walks into my life is a teacher. Whether they teach me new skills, further develop pre-existing skills, or create challenges I have to solve, they are there to help me grow. 
I have also learned that an outstanding leader is someone who can take charge of a situation in order to benefit those it affects. They are humble and desire that everyone’s needs be met. Leadership is something I am passionate about. The world needs better leaders with a genuine desire to serve. Leadership is sacrifice. True, genuine leadership is a willingness to sacrifice your needs so that others around you may grow. Every decision should be made with the impact it will have on others in mind. Leadership isn’t always easy, because it sometimes means taking blame upon yourself. Leadership is not about the fame or awards, it’s about seeing people grow and develop into the people they were made to be. Having a positive impact on someone is one of the greatest things in the world. 
Knowing these qualities of leadership is one thing, but putting them into action is another. Throughout my extracurricular experiences, I have had plenty of outlets to put my leadership into effect. Obviously, I have a passion for FFA and have had incredible opportunities for leadership through FFA. I am equally passionate about the performing arts, leading to my involvement in theatre and our local Thespian Troupe. Having the privilege of leading in two organizations I hold near and dear to my heart is such a rewarding and fulfilling achievement. Sharing my passion and love for agriculture and theatre with others and watching them develop the same passions has been a highlight of my high school career. Without opening my mind to the opportunities both of these organizations presented, I never would have learned some of these lessons or discovered these passions. Another valuable take away from my time out of the classroom is that our talents and natural abilities make us unique individuals. I have learned the value of having a positive role model and the importance of being a positive role model for others. A good leader leads by example in both word and deed. 

Leading with an open heart,
Evan Coblentz