Tuesday, March 14, 2017
Grow leaders, build communities and strengthen agriculture. This set of words, the FFA Vision Statement, has been shared countless times this year. During chapter visits, students across the state learned what it means to grow as leaders, build their communities and strengthen agriculture. Growing leaders is self-explanatory, strengthening agriculture makes sense, but building communities has always been a point that is a little harder to explain. Sure, FFA members complete many community service projects, but the power of building our communities is deeper than that.
The first thing that enters my mind when I think about what the word community means is simply where I live. My mind drifts to my next door neighbors and those who attend my school. As my mind continued pondering the word community, like most people my age, I pulled out my phone and googled it. Google defines a community as, “a group of people living in the same place,” but then proceeded to say, “or having a particular characteristic in common.” The second part explains a lot about the community that exists within FFA.
If you’ve been to National FFA Convention or even District FFA Leadership Contests, you know the feeling of pride when you’re surrounded by blue corduroy jackets. We look to the left and see a jacket from California, look to our right and see a jacket from Kansas, and look down and see our name perfectly stitched on a jacket next to an emblem that unites us into one community. A community 649,355 strong. A community reaching from the state of Alaska to the Virgin Islands and from the state of Maine to Hawaii. A community that accepts any person from any background and allows them to grow as a leader, build their local communities and strengthen agriculture in whatever career they may choose. A community that allows the shy freshman to become a confident senior and the confident senior to have a successful future.
The second definition given of community was, “a feeling of fellowship with others, as a result of sharing common attitudes, interests and goals.” As I read this definition and related it to FFA, I got chills because that is exactly how I feel each time I zip up the blue corduroy jacket. That is why our organization is so powerful. Times in FFA are times in fellowship with those who share interests, attitudes and goals.
This was proven true this weekend as my teammates and I attended the Scottsburg FFA Annual Ag Day Breakfast. Saying it was hard for my teammates and I to be alive, awake, alert or enthusiastic for our 4:30 AM leave time was an understatement, but somehow 1,500 people braved the same early morning to attend the breakfast. That is the power of community.
Build your community. Whether that means improving where you live, or a group of people you associate with, let’s embrace the power of community. The power of community depends on the power within us. That means we do not have to hold a title to build our community or even live in the same place. It means we “share common attitudes, interests and goals.”
Thankful to be a member of the FFA community,
2016-2017 Indiana FFA State Reporter
Sunday, March 5, 2017
Believe it or not, for the majority of my childhood, I wanted to go to Indiana University in Bloomington for some sort of business degree. I was a huge Hoosiers fan from like fifth until tenth grade, anytime Indiana battled Purdue for the Old Oaken Bucket, I made my allegiance with the Hoosiers, every basketball game that was played between the two rivals, I backed the Hoosiers once again. However, towards the end of my junior year in high school when I began to actually begin thinking of where it was that I wanted to go to college, my eyes began to drift away from Indiana University, due to the size of the college, and they began to drift towards smaller liberal arts colleges. I was still stuck on majoring in a business degree, specifically economics when I was ready to begin applying to colleges my senior year.
With that being said, I applied to seven different colleges for a major in economics, however, not a single one of those schools has more than 5,000 students, meaning, I didn’t apply to either Purdue or Indiana University. While I did get accepted into all seven of the smaller colleges, I still didn’t feel good about attending one of them, it just didn’t feel right, I just felt like I belonged at one of the Big Ten Universities. So, without giving it a second thought I applied to a much bigger college than I had previously planned on attending and I let the thought of attending a small liberal arts college exit my mind. So, the day before applications were do, I submitted mine and hoped that I would be attending college the next year at one of the spectacles of the Midwest, right here in Indiana. The only question is would I be wearing black and gold or cream and crimson.
When it came down to it, I decided to turn to the black and gold and become a Purdue Boilermaker in West Lafayette. Throughout my senior year in high school, I had been taking two Ag classes that really helped me determine the course of action I wanted to pursue during my college years. So, I applied to Purdue University in order to major in Agronomy. By deciding that I wanted to further my education at Purdue University, I decided to become a boiler fan. So, ever since being accepted into Purdue, I have continued to be an avid fan of the Purdue vs. Indiana games, only my support has been thrown to the other side. This men’s basketball season has been awesome for a Purdue fan and awful for Indiana fans, with Purdue beating IU in both of their match-ups, it’s a great time to be a boilermaker. With all of this being said, the love I have for Purdue University and the pride I have for being a boilermaker has done nothing but grow since I submitted that application.
In conclusion, it can be said that Purdue is not just a great college of agriculture, but that it is a great university in general, so while I personally think Purdue is the best, I realize that others have their preferences. For everyone thinking about what college they want to go to or what they want to do after high school, consider what it is that you actually enjoy doing, I was able to establish that agriculture is the field I want to go into and that Purdue was the place that could get me into that desired field. Pursue whatever it may be that you want to and love what you’re pursuing and where you are going, oh and don’t forget, Boiler Up.
Wednesday, March 1, 2017
I think it’s safe to say that our team can be a little random at times. Whether it’s making a spontaneous Kroger trip, voicing some of our most outlandish ideas, or making comical memes of each other, each of our random activities typically turns out to give us all a good laugh. Just a few weeks ago, however, one of those random little thoughts that I had, really got me thinking.
“What if our lake could talk?”
After finally understanding the depth of this random question, I first approached my response statistically. The Indiana FFA Leadership Center was established in 1968. Since then, we estimate that over 100,000 FFA members alone have traveled through its gates. Members from across the state and even the nation, sharing their culture, their passions, and their stories on the shores of this lake. In 1976 the first Indiana FFA State Officer Team moved into the FFA Center, with 40 teams and counting since then. That means 280 officers have rehearsed thousands of speeches and hundreds of workshops to this lake that is always willing to listen.
National FFA Officers have shared their retiring addresses with our lake before delivering it for the final time to thousands of FFA members from across the country, and I am sure that a first year FFA member has also shared the very first speech of their FFA career with the same lake.
If our lake could talk, it would describe the love in the air as couples presented their wedding vows. Our lake would hold a moment of silence for the thousands of times FFA members rose Ole Glory proudly over her on a foggy spring morning. If our lake could talk, it would describe the laughter after a canoe full of boy scouts flipped, or when my teammate Emily belly flopped off the slide.
Over the past eight months, my teammates and I have had the honor of living in a home that overlooks our beautiful lake. Whether it was watching fireworks on the dam, swimming in mid-September, or watching the steam rise up early each morning, the lake here at the Indiana FFA Center has set the foundation for many of our most cherished memories. As we embark on the final few months of our year, I am sure that it will continue to be the foundation for more.
So, if our lake could listen, I would say thank you. Thank you for love and laughter that you have brought so many over the years. Thank you for setting the scene that has drawn so many into our gates. But most of all, thank you for standing with us through the joy of our first arrival, and what will soon be the tears of our final goodbye.
Monday, February 20, 2017
|I'm transforming purpose to action during National FFA Week with Central Indiana!|
Tonight I traveled mile 224 of 929 miles that I will drive during National FFA Week. When I turned my car off after parking at mile 224, I found my heart so full. Full of love from all of the amazing FFA members, advisors, and supporters I have already seen this week. Not only was my heart full, but by mile 224, I had gathered quite a few items that were truly symbolic of my visits so far.
1 plastic cup that I took home from the Community Breakfast with the Mt. Vernon at Fortville FFA Chapter. My job that morning was to fill drinks, so needless to say I spent a lot of time with these cups. While this was my job, I think I spent more time getting distracted by talking to all of the amazing FFA members, advisors, alumni, and community supporters.
|Just some of the amazing members at the Mt. Vernon at Fortville Community Breakfast.|
2 Skyzone socks were on my passenger’s seat from my time with the Greenfield Central FFA Chapter. Skyzone may have made me realize how out of shape I was, but it was worth it to make memories with these members. From the crazy bus ride to conquering my fear of jumping on the wall, I will always think of them when I see the bright orange socks.
1 church program was taken out of my jacket pocket after attending Wilkinson Church of Christ with the Eastern Hancock FFA Chapter. I loved being able to experience one of their chapter traditions of going to church in celebration of FFA week, but also to try out the legendary “Gas Grill” for breakfast.
|Blue jackets filled rows at church on Sunday morning because of Eastern Hancock FFA members who celebrated National FFA Week with this tradition.|
1 parking garage receipt found its way to my car after spending Page Day at the Indiana Statehouse. My teammates and I had the opportunity to see over 80 Indiana FFA members from all over the state come to spend the day learning about state government, sharing their agriculture story, and meeting other members, by serving as Pages for our government officials.
|Standing outside of the Office of Lieutenant Governor Suzanne Crouch after an awesome meeting with her, and a great time at Page Day.|
2 pairs of funny teeth were just one of my prizes from my evening competing in the Ag Olympics with the Indian Creek FFA Chapter. While I may not have actually won an event, I had a ton of fun trying. From seeing the girls vs boys competitions, to spitting oranges across the room, this is one prize I’ll always keep.
|Trying out my prizes after not winning a single event at Indian Creek's Ag Olympics!|
As I embark on mile 225 tomorrow morning, I am beyond excited to travel to the rest of my visits, complete media interviews, and celebrate the best week of the year. Happy National FFA Week!
With a full heart (and car),
Indiana FFA State President
Wednesday, February 15, 2017
February 14th – a day many couples look forward to each year (and many singles dread). Celebrations across the world include purchasing flowers, cards, and candy for those who mean a lot to them. According to statisticbrain.com, over 198 million roses were sold on Valentine’s Day, making it the number one holiday for florists. As I scrolled through social media, my heart was full as I saw others boast about their significant others, families, and friends.
But why does it have to stop on February 15th? While at home this past weekend, I asked my four-year old sister Emma if she was excited for Valentine’s Day. She responded, “YES! But I love you every day.” That little girl has taught me so many lessons, but I think what she taught me that day will stick with me forever. We focus so much on the materialistic gifts and items we may or may not receive on that special holiday, but we often lose focus on the thing that we are actually celebrating – love. Don’t get me wrong – I appreciate receiving the flowers and the gift cards, but I think that it is so important that we don’t overlook the people who are giving them to us. I am thankful for those special people each and every day and Emma made me realize showing that love shouldn’t just happen on the fourteenth of February.
Throughout this year, our team has been shown love from all types of people – members, family, mentors, staff, teachers, sponsors, stakeholders. No matter what we endure, we know that we have over 12,000 Indiana FFA members and thousands of others who support us and are there to encourage us in all that we do – and for that, we are thankful.
I challenge you to look beyond the flowers, cards, and other items you may have received this past Tuesday. Sit back and think about all of those who have helped you and those who have shown you love. As you look forward, remember to continuously show your love and appreciation for all that they do. To those who have helped to push me to be the person that I am today – thank you, I truly appreciate all you do!
Indiana FFA State Secretary