Monday, January 16, 2017

The Untold Story

            Do you have those certain, absolutely amazing stories that you tell everyone? You know what I mean, those stories that are simply so crazy and awesome to tell. I certainly understand that feeling. I have several stories that I tell ALL the time. In fact, my mom makes fun of me because I will tell her the same story 3-4 times simply because of its pure awesomeness. I mean, we have things that happen in our lives that are just so amazing that all we want to do is to talk about them and to tell them to others. However, what about those stories that we have that maybe we remember, but we don’t really tell them to others. Not because they are embarrassing or even boring, but just because they are not quite as cool or exhilarating as others.
            Right after returning to the FFA Center from the holiday’s, the seven state officers went on a trip to southern Indiana in a place called Magnet, right on the Ohio River, for Keynote Training. One of the responsibilities that State Officers have, is to give keynote speeches at Chapter Banquets. So, this training was fundamental in helping us think of ideas for the speeches we are going to deliver. One of the most important things I did during this training was to think of as many stories as possible. These stories varied greatly, from flipping my go cart in 3rd grade to running track my senior year of high school. I had selected the three “best” stories from my list, so I had thought. I practiced telling the first story a few times and it clicked, then I practiced with the second story a few times and for some reason it just wasn’t connecting with the audience. I mean, I am sure that I felt a connection with the story, but I couldn’t deliver it in a way that made sense to myself, so I scrapped it. In case you were wondering, it was about my first time roller skating, which I happened to think was pretty hilarious. Anyways, after I chose a new story, I finally had three perfect examples to relate back to the main message of my keynote.
             I had composed a list of nearly 150 personal stories and I ended up choosing just three to share as a keynote. While it may appear that these stories are more important than the other stories, or that the others may not have even been important at all, that is not entirely the truth. Sure, I did choose those top three for a reason, but just because I chose them doesn’t mean that the other 140+ stories didn’t have a special meaning to me. I initially brainstormed and wrote out those stories for a reason. They had a significant impact on my life and what it was that I was thinking about. Even though I am not sharing those stories at chapter banquets, doesn’t mean that they aren’t important to me or that they don’t represent a significant experience in my life. They do represent something special and important to me and are a part of who I am. Just because I am not telling the roller skating story, doesn’t mean that the experience I had at sucking while roller skating doesn’t make me laugh.
            When we think about what it is we do in our everyday lives, the people we meet, the things we watch, and the experiences we encounter, all of it makes an impact on who we are. Maybe you have that story about making a half-court shot, or meeting an awesome person, whatever it is, just because you don’t tell it to others does not mean it’s not important to you. Just remember, every experience we have and every person we meet, helps shape us into the people we are today.  

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

A Weekend Away

New year new me?

The first weekend of our new year was spent at a cabin in Magnet, Indiana.  My teammates and members of association staff gathered on the Ohio river for Keynote Training, where we worked with Past Indiana FFA State officer, and Past National Officer, Father Tyler Tenbarge. 

Overlooking the beautiful river we spent time developing ourselves as speakers as well as developing the messages that we wanted to share as we travel to chapter banquets this spring.  The laughter, joy, and fellowship of this weekend were second to none, but there was one little issue that we noticed upon our arrival. The top left corner of our cell phones where one would typically find the strength of the signal, read “No Service.”  I am sure you can see the problem we all began to face.  Seven teenagers who are big users of email, text messaging, and social media would be living without for the next few days.


“How could I not share this beautiful view with Snapchat?” “I really wish I could read my email about FFA week,” were common phrases that were spouted out over the course of the weekend. We have a rule in the State Officer House that there are no phones at the dinner table, and considering most evenings we could barely make it through supper without bringing up a photo or email, you can imagine how empty we felt without the comfort of our Instagram and Facebook Apps.

However, looking back on the experiences that we shared this past weekend, empty would be the last word to describe it.  Silly dancing across the hardwood floors in our socks, challenging each other to intense games of pool, even though most of us had only played on our phones, and simply sitting down together with a card game is just the beginning of the laughter, joy, and memories that I will take from our weekend away.

I’m sure many students or teenagers reading this are shocked that we were able to step away from the digital world for those three days, and although I don’t want to admit it, I did call a friend to make sure I didn’t lose any Snapchat streaks.  Yet, the friendships and connections that I made with those around me will last longer than any snap streak.

So, I bring up the thought again, “new year new me?” and with confidence, I can say that my new year’s resolution is to spend more time focusing on those around me, than those on my phone.

With a full heart,
Logan Glassburn

Monday, December 19, 2016

Discovering "Why I'm In It"

The chalkboard that inspired volunteers in the Crothersville Agriculture Classroom

“Good morning! Today we will be delivering 8.13 TONS of food to 96 families in the Crothersville community, along with 150 cheer baskets. I hope we have a wonderful day! – Deven Lemen”

As my teammates and I walk into the warm, Crothersville agriculture classroom, we read this mindblowing statement written on the chalkboard. It’s a cold, icy, Saturday morning, but the energy and passion in Crothersville High School made it feel like the warmest place on the planet. We had been requested to go to a service project, and all we knew about the event is that we were delivering food and that there MAY be the opportunity to ride on a firetruck.

 
A photo with our team and Crothersville FFA Officer Team!
A few of the amazing chapter officers explain that this is the 28th annual FFA Food and Toy Drive and that we would be delivering boxes of nonperishable foods, hams, eggs, milk, and fruit to families in need in the Crothersville community.

As the day goes on, we make a few deliveries, and return back to school to warm up with some hot chocolate. I had no idea that the next delivery we would make will change my outlook on life forever.

We pull into the driveway of a house and we begin to load the boxes of food and toys into the back of a car, as directed by the woman on the porch and the man helping us load. The delivery seemed so normal, until I go to deliver the letter to the woman on the porch. I reach out to shake her hand and as I look into her face, I see tears welling up in her eyes. Immediately I join her on the porch and give her a hug. In this moment there was no one else in the world, just this woman and I. She sobs and thanks me, saying I’m a blessing, but as I pull away from the hug with tears welling in my eyes, I realize that she is the true blessing.

She is practically a stranger to me, but little does she know she has inspired me to serve selflessly each and every day of my life. As I walk away crying, the firefighter looks at me and says “this is why we’re in it.”

I later found out that this family had recently experienced a loss only a week before, and I honestly could not believe that I had the honor to play such a small part in making this family’s Christmas just a little brighter.

This feeling of realizing “why you’re in it” has made me realize that this year of service to Indiana FFA is nothing compared to what I can give in my entire life, the desire and passion to serve that I have left in me. Thank you Crothersville FFA chapter for giving me the opportunity to serve, and to impact someone’s life in such a small way.

Inspired to serve,

Jessica Mars
2016-2017 Indiana FFA State President

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

What I Learned From That Thing On My Wrist

One of my very first encounters with hundreds of Indiana FFA members was on our journey throughout the state during the month of September for District Kickoff season.  At each district, we promoted our newest program for the Indiana FFA Foundation called the “Pay-It-Forward Campaign”, which focuses on raising enough funds to pay off the mortgage of the Indiana FFA Leadership Center.

In an effort to promote the program, our team created a video of “101 Reasons to Love the Leadership Center”.  One specific reason that was given to us by FFA members was the bridge that links the Conference Center to the back of the property near the boys’ cabins.  The team and I decided that I would skip across the bridge in a very excited fashion for that section of our video – so I did just that.  I was excited and bubbly, until…..my FitBit got caught on my jeans and plopped into the lake.  As I watched the FitBit fly into the air and sink into the water, I yelped and ruined that whole section of the filming.  

Watch it for yourself - the FitBit flies off of my right arm...right into the lake: https://twitter.com/ChaelaMinor/status/771094431428665345

While I was deeply upset by what I thought was a huge loss, my team and I decided to include this portion in our overall video, but instead of dedicating it to ‘The Bridge’, we used it as a way to portray ‘Giving Up Technology for a Weekend’ while FFA members spend time growing as leaders.  As nearly 2,000 FFA members watched this video, that was one thing that stuck out to them.  To this day, members across the state recognize me as the State Officer who lost her FitBit in the lake. 
When I first lost my FitBit, I was disappointed that I would not be able to count the steps for the next few days, track my sleep hours, and, most importantly, would have to spend another $140 to replace it.  Luckily, the company replaced it for free, so I lucked out in that aspect.  But, looking back, I lucked out in many more areas.  That one event that I thought was a devastation really lead to a memory that my team and I will never forget.  It opened my eyes to the fact that materialistic items such as a smart watch will never replace the moments when FFA members can laugh with you about something silly that happened. 
I was a bit excited when my new FitBit came in the mail!
The most important lesson that my FitBit taught me, however, was that it wasn’t the daily steps that truly counted; it was the memories and irreplaceable moments that did.  Materialistic items control our daily lives these – we spend hours on our cell phones, we couldn’t live without our FitBits and Apple Watches, and we have to drive the best of the best car.  But, are we truly living the best lives? At times, I get so caught up in social media that I forget how to have an actual conversation with someone.  There are other times where I become so jealous of someone else, that I forget to be appreciative of what I have.

When I spend time with family and friends, my eyes are way too often locked on my phone screen, when the reality should be that my ears are locked on what words of advice they are sharing. In a world filled with technology, I want to encourage you to take a few moments each day to truly engage with those around you.  Make cherishable memories that will last a lifetime. Get rid of your “FitBits” of the world, and start truly living.

Soaking up the little moments,
Chaela Minor
2016-2017 Indiana FFA State Secretary

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Advice From An Owl


     Make a mental list of the things you’re involved in. Are you in a club? Are you an officer of an organization? Do you have a job? Are you a part of a community service project? Whatever it is that you’re involved with, do you truly enjoy what you’re doing? Think about it for a moment. When you’re in the middle of a meeting, waking up for work, helping others, or doing whatever it is that you do, are you truly loving the effort and dedication that you’re providing?
     This week we had the honor of hosting the Retired Agriculture Teacher’s Luncheon at the Indiana FFA Leadership Center. Let me tell you, I’ve never been in a room with so many elderly, energetic, and passionate people. These retired teachers reconnected with fellow teachers, shared memories that are worth tons, and truly felt at home. As they were sharing their wise words, one retired teacher from Jay County High School, Bob Lyons, said something along the lines of this- if you go to work and you feel like you’re working, you need to find a different job. You should be having fun with your profession and truly enjoy what you’re doing. I let these words soak in for a moment and took them to heart. I realized that what I’m doing right now in life, doesn’t feel like work at all. It feels more like happiness, passion, and dedication.
     As we all know, teachers are some of the wisest people to walk this earth. They truly transform their purpose into action when they take a shy and reserved student and make them the best speaker or communicator in the school. Or when they take a lost student and give them purpose and hope. They not only have seen the transformation that they initiated, but they are the transformation. Agriculture teachers are the type of people who can give advice in the most random times (like in the greenhouse or shop in the middle of a school day or by a random phone call that wakes you up on a Saturday morning) and it always prove to be true. Part of the advisors opening ceremony even says, “I hope that my advice will always be based off of true knowledge and ripen with wisdom.”
Two of my genuine owls, Mr. Younts and Mrs. Keffaber, who have given me advice since my first day as a FFA member.
     The advice that Mr. Lyons gave are some of the truest words I’ve heard. Not only should we never feel like we’re working in our profession, but we shouldn’t feel like we’re working with anything we do because that is the moment we know that we’re doing it for the right reason. When the long hours put into that club, organization, volunteer work, or anything humble you rather that make you bitter, that’s when you know you’re doing what you love.
     As we go about our days, let’s take a moment to reevaluate the things we do and ask ourselves if we truly do love what we’re doing. If so, that’s fantastic and I hope you continue to stay humble. If not, search for those things that you love and genuinely make you happy. Love what you do and never dismiss advice from an owl.
Happily Living Life,
2016-2017 Indiana FFA State NRVP
Sneha Jogi












Wednesday, November 30, 2016

{Traditions}



My family is HUGE on traditions – and it is no different during the Holiday Season. Every Thanksgiving my heart is filled with gratitude and thankfulness as I spend time with family and friends. Whether it is a competitive game of ‘Spoons’, decorating my Grandma’s house for Christmas on Thanksgiving Day or listening to stories of memories from long ago, every Thanksgiving reminds me of deep rooted traditions that my family shares.  Likewise, Christmas would not be the same without certain traditions – Christmas Eve Service, endless hours of baking and decorating Christmas goodies, wrapping presents for the ones I love or the iconic Christmas card picture that we always take and send to hundreds of friends and family. Even traditions such as watching 'Christmas Vacation' (Every family can relate to the stars of this movie - including Cousin Eddie!) and other Christmas classics make the season even more majestic. These traditions are something I value and appreciate about this most wonderful time of the year.
In Indiana, we have cows instead of reindeer! This is one of my most memorable Christmas Card picture! 

Similarly, I have found these same values of tradition and gratitude within the National FFA Organization. Truthfully, I joined in 7th grade because of the family tradition, I am the 3rd generation of FFA members within both sides of my family. This feeling of tradition encouraged me to grow in my leadership skills and become as involved as possible. From the blue corduroy jacket to opening and closing ceremonies to enjoying everything that the Indiana FFA Center has to offer – the traditions within FFA are awe inspiring and have something to offer every single person. These traditions are what the National FFA Organization was founded on and continues to strive as we continue to improve our organization. So the next time you see the emblem, hear the FFA Creed, receive a degree or award or put on official dress – realize the value of being involved with such meaningful traditions that FFA gives each and every member.
Being involved in FFA is a tradition that I will always be grateful for - and owe so much to! 

This year, it has been wonderful to start new traditions with my six new siblings and teammates. From making our very own Thanksgiving meal (accurately called 'Teamsgiving')  and sharing what we are thankful for to decorating our home for Christmas and buying special gifts for each one of them it has been the greatest blessing to start new traditions. These memories of laughter, fun and togetherness are ones that I will always cherish. I encourage you to take the opportunity to create new traditions with the ones that you love.
TEAMSGIVING 


Enjoy these times of tradition – not only with your family, but within the organizations you are involved with. Continue to make new traditions and embrace the old. I encourage you to appreciate the traditions that FFA has to share with YOU!

I hope that you had a wonderful Thanksgiving and a very Merry Christmas! 

God Bless, 

Emily Dougherty 
2016-2017 Indiana FFA State Southern Region Vice-President 

Monday, November 21, 2016

Thanksliving

Wash your hands. Pick up your toys.  Wear your jacket. Remember please and thank you. These words have been shared with myself as well as countless other kids throughout the years. When I was only eight months old, I had already learned how to use sign language to say the words “please” and “thank you.” That was before I even knew how to talk. I would sign the words “thank you” to my Mom for giving me my favorite toy, but who would know that two simple words would be so important throughout life.

It was November. I was a preschooler and I was excited. This month was full of adventures. Not only did I get to make beautiful hand turkeys, but I also could rock the pilgrim hat. This was only the beginning, on one special day it was time to go to my Grandma’s house. I arrived and enjoyed some scrumptious food and great times at the kids table. Then came the tradition of sharing what we were thankful for. After listening to my family share about items that I did not understand at the time, it was my turn. I listed off the following items: Mommy, Daddy, pigs, cows, stuffed animals and my Bitty Baby doll. Here I was a little bit older, still using the words “thank you,” even if I chose some unique things to share my thanks for.



It was November. I was 19 years old and I was excited. Yet again, it was November and a month full of adventures. This time, I traded out the creative hand turkeys for flipcharts and the pilgrim hat for official dress. I still love the month of November, but the reasons why are slightly different. I love the chance to serve such incredible FFA members. I love the food we celebrate with and have a deeper appreciation because of the farmers who toil to provide it. I love the time spent in fellowship with friends and family because I am lucky to have the moments I spend with them. I love that the kids table has transitioned into a big kid table as I make memories with great teammates.  

As I think about what I am thankful for, I realize how blessed I am. The words “thank you” are way more than words parents annoyingly reminded us to say. Saying thank you should be a way of life. What I appreciate should be appreciated in November, but also throughout the year. Let’s show an attitude of gratitude in all we do. It does not have to be a huge act. It can be as simple as sending a quick text telling friends they are appreciated or sending a thank you note to someone who does not hear it enough.  Let’s not only celebrate this season of Thanksgiving, but instill a tradition of a life of Thanksliving.

Thanks Always,
Leah Jacobs
2016-2017 Indiana FFA State Reporter