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

Saturday, July 26, 2014

"Individually we can achieve little. Unitied we can accomplish all."

2014-2015 National FFA Theme
Hello from Washington D.C! As mentioned in the last blog post, this week Brittany and I flew out to Washington D.C. while the rest of our team began diligently preparing for the great Indiana State Fair. Since being elected as a State Officer, our schedules have been packed and this week has yet to show any signs of slowing down. These past five weeks have felt like five minutes. All bringing, great people, great food, and great friendships. This week has continued to follow the trend.
Brittany's family and I piled in the car and were ready for the trip to Louisville.
Early Monday morning, I meet up with Brittany at her house so that her mom, aunt, brother, and friend could drive us down to the Louisville Airport. Now if you have never met Brittany's family you definitely should. Hope, Faith, and Love radiates from each of them. After arriving at the airport, my list of "Firsts" began to grow. First time going through airport security, first time flying, first time checking my luggage, and first time meeting the Director of the Secret Service for the Department of Homeland Security.

Yea that's right Brittany and I met the Director of the Secret Service. While on the plane, we had the pleasure of meeting a lady who showed an interest in the FFA and helped me enjoy my first flight. It wasn't until seconds before she exited the plane that she gave Brittany and I her business card. This was when we realized who we had just spent the last two hours getting to know. This just proves that you meet the most unexpected people in the most unexpected places. Lets just say that this is a memory that we will never forget.

Brittany and I met with Congressman Luke Messer and Indiana FFA member Hallie Wright.
After finally arriving at State Presidents' Conference, we wasted no time getting down to business. Throughout the conference, leadership delegates from 49 states (all but Hawaii) and Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, were challenged to Rise Up. Whether that meant rising up for personal improvement or improvement for FFA and agriculture, each delegate took this challenge with pride.

State officers that we met at NLCSO, joined us for a free day in D.C.

Our team decided at NLCSO that we were determined to submit a proposal for the National FFA Organization to establish a National Agricultural Education CDE. After countless hours perfecting this written plan, we were honored that our proposal was chosen as committee business for the National FFA Delegate Committee Process. There are six committees that the state officers will be serving on this year at National Convention, and an Ag. Ed. CDE is included in one of those committees. How cool is that?!

Spending the last week in our nation's capital has been surreal. Standing in the same spot that President Lincoln began his campaign against slavery, being amongst our nation's greatest leaders, and basking in the rich history of Washington D.C. has left a lasting impression on my life. If you have never been to D.C. I encourage you to go. Whether it be for family vacation, Washington Leadership Conference, or even lobbying for agriculture on the National level, D.C. has more to offer than stuffy old men and worn pieces of paper. D.C. is the place where it all began, where we began, and where our future lies.

As leadership delegates, it was Brittany and I's duty to represent the over 10,000 members of Indiana FFA and the over 600,000 members of the National FFA Organization. As an individual state, we can do little to change other minds on agriculture, our future, or even our youth, but united we can accomplish all. The National FFA Organization, formed during the Great Depression, has faced its trial and tribulations, yet united we have been able to Rise Up these last 87 years and I am confident that the work done by the 101 leadership delegates these past seven days will ensure that FFA will stay relevant and Rise Up for the next 87 years and even after.

Individually we can achieve little. United we can accomplish all.

Skylar Clingan
2014-2015 Indiana FFA State Secretary

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Enjoying Every Moment and Making Every Day Count

Good morning Indiana FFA! Today is a beautiful day! As I sit here in the office, I cannot help but feel blessed to have woken up this morning with the opportunity to make today a great day! Each day is a gift and that is why it is called the present! Let's make every single day count!

Like the State Northern Region Vice President, Miss Lindsey O'Hara stated previously on a blog she submitted, the National Leadership Conference for State Officers in Springfield, Illinois was two weeks ago. It was a blast! We attended the conference with state officers from Illinois, Wisconsin, and Missouri! We all had a great time and we cannot wait to see our friends that we met at NLCSO throughout the year!

Here lately around the state officer house, we have been very busy! Last week was Summer Challenge! I am pretty sure I can speak for everyone when I say that we all had a blast! Whether we were swimming in the lake and sliding down the slide, or maybe we were shooting some hoops on the basketball court or even serving it up on the volleyball court, there was never a dull moment during camp. Members had the opportunity to utilize the new ropes course that were just installed not too long ago as well! The National Western Region Vice President, all the way from the state of Oregon, Mr. Jason Wetzler joined us during camp and he shared some of his memorable childhood experiences and some lessons that his grandma taught him growing up. Thank you to Mr. Wetzler for joining us last week! I would also like to send a huge shout out to Dow AgroSciences for sponsoring Summer Challenge and also to Tobacco Free Johnson County for also sponsoring the camp and canoe trip that the campers thoroughly enjoyed on Wednesday. Sponsors, thank you for making Summer Challenge possible for the members of Indiana FFA. 

On July 13, the state officer team went to the Johnson County Fair to serve ice cream at the Farm Bureau booth! Also, our very own, former 2013-2014 Indiana FFA State President, Miss Allie Abney was crowned as the 2014 Miss Johnson County Queen! We are so proud of you Allie and I know that you will be a great representative for your county! Have fun with the rest of your week at your county fair and good luck at the State Fair Queen Pageant in January! 

This week has had a great start! Tuesday morning, the 2014-2015 Indiana FFA Executive Committee had the awesome opportunity to visit Elanco in Greenfield, Indiana. The Executive Committee is made up of District Presidents, Section Directors, Band and Chorus Presidents, and State Officers. While at Elanco, the committee members had the opportunity to tour Elanco's facilities and learn about the background of the company. While at Elanco, we all also had Insights training which was a cool program that helped distinguish what style of leadership everyone uses. We all learned that whether we are calm, cool, and collected or even if we are loud and like to take charge of most situations, we are all leaders and we all possess similar leadership traits! Thank you to the staff at Elanco for helping us out on Tuesday and to those who facilitated training! We appreciate your support to our association! Executive Committee training was rapped up yesterday at the Leadership Center with a session lead by Mr. Martin, the Indiana FFA Program Specialist. The committee set goals that they hope to strive for as individuals, as a team, and goals that they hope the state of Indiana will achieve by the end of the year. I cannot wait to get to work with the members of the Executive Committee throughout this year! 

Tomorrow the state officer team will travel to the Indiana State Department of Agriculture to meet with the Director, Mr. Ted McKinney. We are excited to share some of the goals that we have set as a team and some of the goals that the Executive Committee has also set for our state association. 

This weekend is our first official weekend home! It will be nice to spend some time with our families! On Monday, State Secretary, Mr. Skylar Clingan and myself will be headed to Washington D.C. for the State President's Conference! We will have the opportunity to meet other state officers from around the U.S. and we will also be voting on proposals that have been made by other states. I personally cannot wait to be a voice for the state of Indiana and to meet other state officers from across our great country! 

I still cannot believe that we have officially been in office for four weeks! I feel like we were just voted into office a few days ago! As a team we are so incredibly pumped to see what ways God will use us this year! I cannot wait to meet all of you! Like I said earlier, every day really is a gift so we might as well make the best of it! I know that I will enjoy every single day that I am blessed with this year as I serve our state! I am going to leave you all with a quote. I actually posted this on my Instagram just yesterday. "Once we make the decision to give of ourselves, God will provide the opportunity." I am ready to make every day count and I am pumped up and ready to give of myself and serve Indiana FFA! Make today a great day! 

Serving with a grateful heart,

Brittany Young
Indiana FFA
State President 

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Living the Dream

The 2014-2015 Indiana FFA Officers has taken over Trafalgar, Indiana! Since we arrived on June 22nd it has been action packed with Blast Off and fun team bonding activities in our free time! 

Tuesday Miss. Sam Paschal from the National FFA Organization arrived. She was excited to teach our hungry minds with skills to use as state officers. Each session was directed with a themes. Some of those include but are not limited too  how to communicate, understanding our strengths and find how they benefit the team, executing short statements to advocate FFA and five positive influence actions. 

After we finished up the evening at Blast Off we worked diligently on the Fall Impact and, utilized our time to relax to bond with each other. From swimming in the 5 1/2 acre pond, to exploring the outdoors and finishing up the evening with a good movie we never had a dull moment. 

Finishing up this week we will be heading to NLCSO conference in Springfield, Illinois to further our talents and skills! The officer team is much excited to host West Region Vice President Jason Wetzler to come facilitate Summer Challenge here at the center!  

 Session during the Blast Off training in the Fellowship Center.
 Team after working in the office on the Fall Impact.
 Playing "King of the Mountain" on the super awesome slide!
Derek and Dakota before we headed out on the open road for a team bike ride!!

Hope to see you all very soon at Summer Challenge,
Lindsey O'Hara
Northern Region Vice President 

Friday, May 23, 2014

The Story behind the Indiana FFA Fellowship Center

     Over five months ago when I packed up to spend two weeks at home for Christmas break, I threw a few books I hoped to read in my book bag. Many of these books had been sitting on my desk all of the first semester of state office. When I was faced with some free time, I picked up the first of a couple great books that I read over break! The first book I read is one that bears an incredible story near and dear to the heart of the Indiana FFA Leadership Center, The Journey is more than the Destination by Cathy and Frank James. A book about how a Christian family dealt with the grief of losing their teenage daughter. As I read the book I was hooked after reading the families precious moments with Valerie James. I quickly learned that Valerie was always bearing a smile, optimistic, radiant, and faithful. Her story is incredible - she was actively involved in many activities throughout her ever too short life but held a spot close to her heart at the Indiana FFA Leadership Center.

     In the early evening hours of June 20, 1997, the life of Valerie Victoria James ended as the result of a car accident. Valerie was a vibrant, enthusiastic, beautiful Christian teenager. She was an integral part of her community and school, her favorite organizational activities, and her close knit family. But Valerie's death started her family on a journey to overcome their overpowering grief. One way the family coped with the lose of their daughter was by giving back to a place Valerie loved, her family lead the efforts to build a chapel in the woods at the Indiana FFA Center. Although the family is quoted saying that "God thought and acted on a much grander scale than we could have imagined" and now that chapel in the woods is now known as the Indiana FFA Fellowship Center.

The family is quoted saying that "God thought and acted on a much grander scale
than we could have imagines" and now that chapel in the woods is
now known as the Indiana FFA Fellowship Center.  
      This center can be rented out from the Indiana FFA Leadership Center which will accommodate over 100 people for theatre style seating. It conveniently was built with a full kitchen, two fireplaces, an outdoor deck facing the center's lake, and five hotel-style rooms which will house 20 quests overnight.

      Valerie's story in The Journey is more than the Destination can purchased

     I would love to have known Valerie, but after reading The Journey is more than the Destination and having had the opportunity to spend many hours in the beautiful Fellowship Center her family built "to honor all those who have touched the lives and hearts of the FFA" studying, spending time with FFA members, and reflecting, it has made me feel as if I personally am connected with Valerie and her family.

     I hope you consider reading The Journey is more than the Destination and after finishing it I encourage you to plan a trip to stay at the Indiana FFA Fellowship Center with your family, FFA chapter, church and/or work group - you will not be disappointed! Renting the beautiful Fellowship Center opens the doors to explore all 170 acres of the Indiana FFA Leadership Center, swim or fish in the 5 1/2 acre lake, participate in team training through our newly renovated ropes course, and most importantly make memories that will last a lifetime. More information can be found on,, or by calling the Center's office at (317) 878-4570.  

Smiling for Valerie,

Allie Abney
Indiana FFA State President

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Banquets and State Convention and Fish, Oh My.

May marks the end of banquet season. Since March 18th the seven of us have been flying around the state and have attended a total of 93 banquets, averaging about 13 per officer. Whether it was being the farthest I had ever been from my house alone or showing up late and having to speak as soon as I walked in, I had quite a few learning experiences along the way. I had four banquets one week that were each about three hours from the Leadership Center, so I definitely had some quality singing time in my car, but the long hours definitely paid off when I arrived at a banquet. I had a fantastic time at every banquet I went to and met some pretty awesome people. It was great to see our members awarded for all of their hard work. 

While all of these banquet shenanigans took place, our days were spent in the office. We are about chin deep in state convention preparations and the water is rising fast. Everything is really starting to come together. I can’t spill all of the surprises, but I’m the chair of the 6th session on Thursday afternoon (the elections session), and you’re not going to want to miss it. I can't wait to see everyone there!

Both of our summer interns have arrived and we are happy to have Mallarie and Shelby here with us. Along with them, we have several more new arrivals to the center. First, Cam and I bought some desk fish. He got two but is down to one already, and I have one named Bo-bo and he’s crazy. He loves to pick up rocks and smash his fish face into the tank walls. It’s kind of interesting to watch. 

Our other new arrival is a drum corps. Yes, the whole center is booked out to a drum corps. Sarah welcomed them and told them how happy we are to have them and they said “until you are trying to sleep and we’re drumming all night.” The next four weeks might be very exciting with them here but we are happy that they are.

I did not catch that fish, I just wanted to feel cool. 

I’ll keep you up to date on how the fish are doing.

With Love,

Shelby Sigman
Indiana FFA State Reporter

Monday, April 28, 2014

Beginning the Journey


The Indiana FFA has been blessed to have thirty-seven Indiana FFA State Officer Candidates for the 2014-2015 Indiana FFA State Officer Team. Within this group, there is great potential for the Indiana FFA Organization to mold into our next leaders. Until then, these individuals have a great journey to be enjoyed.

               This past weekend many of the candidates joined together at the Indiana FFA Leadership Center to help with our Spring CDEs: Floriculture, Small Engines, and Practical Forestry, view an Executive Committee Meeting, convene for the State Officer Candidate Open House, and get to know one another. Their journey will most importantly be marked by the time they spend together and the relationships they build. Their journey is arduous, but it can be rewarding.

               As a candidate last year, I pray for each of these candidates. I pray that they all find a “heart to serve” and a “mind to work”. I pray they build lifelong relationships and find immense personal growth throughout the process. My biggest wish is that these candidates have fun.

               I have gotten to know many of the thirty-seven in my time in FFA. They are talented, have huge hearts, and bright personalities. I feel close to them and love them all dearly. I wish each of them the best, not in becoming a state officer, but in life. These candidates all represent how the FFA can develop individuals. For seven, it will be a continued process to grow and serve, but for all thirty-seven, it will be a process that will continually serve them in their future endeavors.

Best Wishes,

Ethan McNeely

Indiana FFA State Southern Region Vice President