Wednesday, July 8, 2020

Decisions Decisions


My mom enrolled me in dance class when I was just 2 years old at Rat-a-Tat-Tat Dance Studio. What started as 2 hours a week of clapping my hands and running in circles in rehearsal turned into over 10 years of competitive dancing across the country. Most of my younger childhood memories were made in the studio or at competitions. As I grew older, I gradually took dance more seriously. I found myself practicing 10 hours a week in and out of the studio to improve every single day. After dancing at Rat-a-Tat for 8 years, the studio shut down, but I wasn’t ready to give up dancing. I enrolled at Style Dance Academy in Franklin to be on their competitive team. Everyone was so welcoming and took me in as their own. One of my favorite memories from being at Style has to be the Little Red Riding Hood gymnastics routine I did and I got to play the big bad wolf. Although I loved being at Style, one issue lied at hand: it was a 45 minute commute from my house. My best friend, Hannah, and I would get off the bus, quickly get dressed and hop in the car to dance class on time. We would do our homework during our breaks and arrive home around 9:00 in the evening. 
At the beginning of my third year at Style, I was introduced to basketball. I was able to play on my 5th grade team, but I couldn’t play anywhere else due to commuting to Style 3 times a week. The more I played basketball, the more I fell in love with the game. That next year, I knew I had to make a choice: dance or basketball? My mom always taught me to give my 100% best effort into everything I do, and I just couldn't give my absolute best to both. I took the dance stage one last time that year and made the choice to pursue basketball full time. 


My basketball career quickly skyrocketed. From 5th grade to my sophomore year, I played for my school team, a county team, 2 state teams and even a national team. I truly believed that basketball was what I was destined to play. I had goals of playing division 1 and being drafted into the WNBA one day. Just as I thought I had my whole life figured out, FFA came to my school. 

I quickly fell in love with FFA, but I also learned that I couldn’t give my 100% best effort to both this and basketball at the same time. Do I give up the sport I’ve invested years into and possibly have a future with for something brand new, or do I stay in my comfort zone? It was a tough choice, but by far the best choice I’ve ever made. 
I find it fascinating how even the smallest of choices we make can greatly impact our lives. We’re all going to find our niche at different points in our lives. I never thought I would be in FFA in my time as a dancer, but here we are. I challenge you to be open to new activities and experiences anytime you get a chance. Who knows, you just may fall in love with a new activity you never thought you would. 

~Julia Hamblen



Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Hello Indiana FFA!




2020-2021 Indiana FFA State Officer Team

Shelbyville Central. Hamilton Heights. Tri-County. Eastern Hancock. Wawasee. Union City. Frontier. We come from different towns, different chapters, and different backgrounds. We each have our own FFA story and varying levels of agricultural experience. We have reached this unique and special moment from different and diverse paths. 

Despite everything that makes us different, we are united together by a similar mission. We have made a commitment this year to serve, to support, and to strengthen Indiana FFA. We have made a commitment to work together as individuals and as a team to give back to FFA, to provide life-changing opportunities to our members, and to see our organization reach new and exciting heights. By combining our unique passions, our unique ideas, and our unique backgrounds, we can work together to accomplish the mission that brings us all together. Indiana FFA, we are excited, we are committed, and we are ready to embrace the challenges and triumphs in our journey ahead.



Julia: 


Hello Indiana FFA! I am so excited and beyond honored to serve as your 2020-2021 State President! I hail from the Shelbyville Central FFA down in District 8. I was not raised with an agricultural background, but became involved with livestock when I was in 8th grade. FFA was not offered in my school until I was a sophomore in high school, but when I reached that year, I became heavily involved in my brand new FFA chapter. From Forestry and Livestock Judging to Skillathon and LDEs, from SOAR and FIRE to LDW and Conventions, I made it my mission to partake in any and all FFA activities that I could in the little time I had. I look forward to interacting with FFA members across Indiana and hearing your FFA stories and all you have accomplished. I’m so excited to meet you all and serve Indiana FFA. Let’s make this upcoming year one to remember!



Kylie:

While my roots may lie in Benton County; I call Hamilton Heights, located in Hamilton County, my home chapter. From the moment I could walk I’ve raised and shown sheep with my family on a county, state, and national level. If I wasn’t in the barn or helping my family with our agritourism business you could most likely find me on the field, mat, or court. While it may seem like I was destined to be involved in FFA, due to my agricultural background, that hasn’t always been the case. From bouncing from school to school I always thought that sports were the way to go and it took a lot of convincing from a very special person to get me to join; however, I’m thankful that I did. I’m an avid writer, dancer, and Chick-Fil-A eater. I’m ecstatic to embrace everything this year with you all and my fellow teammates. Remember, it will only be as good as we make it, so lets get at it! 


Blayne: 
While Trafalgar may be our team’s home for the year, I am proud to say the town of Wolcott and the Tri-County FFA chapter are where I am rooted. I am truly grateful for the opportunity this year to serve as your Indiana FFA Northern Region Vice President! FFA has played a vital role in my life since 6th grade when I first got involved in Livestock Judging. Since then, my involvement and love for this organization has only grown. From the non stop laughing on bus rides to getting the opportunity to serve at Circle City Relief, FFA has greatly impacted my life. I found my purpose to serve in the fight against food insecurity, and passion to continue to grow as an individual, through FFA. Indiana FFA, my hope is to continue to grow alongside you, make some awesome memories, and to serve you in helping to find your passions and purpose. Our team is beyond excited for what this year may hold!!

Loren: 
I call District 8 home. #D8bringstheparty I live in Greenfield, home to corn, cows, and more corn. I am thrilled to serve as the Southern Region Vice President this year! I have a true passion for anything and everything that deals with cattle. I LOVE Oklahoma State University and will be yelling “GO POKES!” next fall, but I won’t forget where my foundation was laid. Eastern Hancock Highschool is where my FFA journey started and without that program I would be nothing. I am looking forward to meeting all of the members across the state and growing tomorrow's leaders! I am also excited to talk about agriculture with members and community members wherever it may be! 

Evan:
I come from District II, up in Northern Indiana. I live in the small town of North Webster, surrounded by lakes and fields of corn. I am looking forward to serving as your 2020-2021 State Treasurer. Though I do not come from an agricultural background, my love for animals permeated through from a young age. Through FFA, I found a passion for the dairy industry, specifically the dairy goat industry. I can’t wait to give back to an organization that has poured into me over the years and molded my talents into valuable and tangible skills. This year, I’m looking forward to embracing fully and loving big. As mentioned aforehand, agriculture is the very thing that brings us all together. The differences we see are the very things that can be utilized for success this next year. Indiana FFA, this is going to be a great year full of growth and advocating for agriculture!

Derick:
Hey there Indiana FFA!! I’m super excited for the journey ahead and everything we can accomplish this year. I will be serving as the 2020-2021 State Reporter. I originally hail from the Union City FFA Chapter in District IX. Despite being raised in a rural community, I actually grew up without an agricultural background. Joining the FFA provided amazing opportunities for me to learn more about this industry, advocate on behalf of our nation’s agriculturists, and to discover what makes me passionate in life. Without this phenomenal organization, I would definitely not be the swing dance loving, electric car driving, conversation maker I am today. I am looking forward to providing these same opportunities for growth and development to each and every member we serve. I cannot wait to work alongside my team in making so many amazing moments possible this year Indiana FFA!!

Luc: 
Hello Indiana FFA! My name is Luc Sproles and I am serving as this year’s State Sentinel. I proudly hail from the Frontier FFA Chapter in District 1, #number1forareason. I grew up in the small town of Reynolds Indiana. I am just one of countless FFA members who has been impacted by this amazing organization. In case you didn't know, I have a huge love for coffee, talking, cooking, chickens, and show pigs. Luckily, I was able to incorporate these loves in one way or another into my FFA journey. While it hasn’t always been smooth sailing, I wouldn’t trade it for the world. Every high and low is a part of my story and I can't wait to get to know all of you and how FFA has impacted your life and high school journey. Indiana FFA, I am so excited to serve you this year as we grow leaders, embrace obstacles, and ignite our passions.

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Indiana FFA, Thank You

“Tough times never last, but tough people do.” - Dr. Robert Schuller 

It’s a phrase we’ve heard time and time again throughout the past couple months, and it’s something that has echoed throughout our last days in office. 

This year has been full of so many great memories. State Fair, chapter visits, conferences, and the first ever virtual state convention - we can all agree that this year has been quite eventful. Through every moment, the energy in our organization was evident. When times were tough, our members stepped up. Our advisors stepped up. Our staff, sponsors, and supporters stepped up. For that, we say thank you. 
Thank you to all of the members that continued to forge ahead. We never expected one year ago to be hosting a virtual state convention. When we heard the news, we were intimidated. It was uncharted territory. It was daunting. Yet as we stood in an empty Elliott Hall of Music, it didn’t feel empty. We weren’t intimidated. We felt the energy and support from every member that tuned in. We knew through social media that each of you were there with us. You supported us, and you forged ahead to not only make the convention possible, but successful. Because of you, we will continue to forge Indiana FFA’s path now, and forever.

Thank you to our advisors. Without you, we would not have succeeded. You supported our programs every step of the way. We may have been the ones on camera, but you were the ones behind the scenes making it happen. You brought convention to our members and helped forge an impact. Advisors have always been the backbone of our association, and that was proven through the difficulties we were faced with this year. 

Thank you to the dedicated sponsors and supporters of our association. During the tough times, you stuck by us and helped us provide programs and activities to our members. You have exceeded the true meaning behind our mission statement by supporting premier leadership, personal growth, and career success for all Indiana FFA members.

To our staff, we say thank you. From the moment the gavel tapped, you have mentored and supported us every single day. This past month you have told us how tough we have been, but we learned it from the best. You showed us what tough truly meant and you were the ones who helped us through it all. Thank you for being the family we always needed.

Indiana FFA, thank you. 

Love,
Eion, Dillon, Caitlyn, Taylor, Nathan, Morgan, and Noah

Monday, June 8, 2020

Obsessions

When trying something new, my usual mindset is to dive in headfirst. When I was
younger, I loved LEGOs. I would spend hours building the set they came in or making my own
creation. That was all I wanted to do in my free time! At some point though, I started playing
Xbox – and I was hooked. All I wanted to do was play video games. When I got to high school, I
started hanging out with my friend Jack. We would go camping, hiking, and kayaking! One day
he asked me to come over to his sister’s house and help build demolition derby cars. I had so
much fun that day!
From then on, I spent my free time building the derby cars. And it didn’t stop there. Just
a few months ago when we started filming for State Convention I became very interested in
filming and editing. I became what some would call, “obsessed” with learning all that I could
about the process. At first when I thought back on my mindset of, “diving in headfirst” I thought
it was a flaw of mine. After reflecting about it though, I realized that all of my, “obsessions”
have caused me to become the person I am today. The things I learned how to do have made
me a well-rounded individual with many skills.
As I thought about what I was going to be doing in the future, I realized that because of
the things I have done, I don’t want to be an architect. I love working on cars for fun, but I
wouldn’t want to do it every day. I may not know exactly what I want to do for the rest of my
life, but I do have a better idea than I did when I was little. I encourage you all to try new
things!


Always working,
Eion Stephens

Monday, June 1, 2020

Today is a Good Day For a Good Day

At my desk in the office, there’s a sign that states “Today is a good day for a good day.” I love this quote for several reasons. Especially with the time we are in now. Some days of being stuck at home have brought sadness or worry. Seeing our favorite events move virtual, being canceled, or not being able to see our loved ones is hard. These are all things out of our control, but what is in our control is how we choose to handle each day. 
    At the beginning of quarantine, I spent many days dwelling upon everything. It felt like a domino effect of things not going as planned. As I got further into quarantine, I renovated how I was living my life. This time really showed me the value of my family, my teammates, and appreciating what I had.


I spent a few days with my nuggets. My uncle took us mushroom hunting and fishing! It was super cool because I had never been before!
My mom and I doing funny dances together. 


Recently, we got to move back into the FFA Center. It’s been filled with filming commercials, writing our RA’s, writing scripts, and many other duties to ensure we are ready for the first ever VIRTUAL state convention! One thing that I admire about our team though, is that we never forget to spend time with each other. Yes, we are extremely busy, but we make the most of the time we have left. These past three weeks have been filled with fishing, eating our lunch on the “sea bass”, ( our dock that we take out in the middle of the lake) and having a campfire.  I’ve really enjoyed all these memories we have created since we have been back. 


Cait and I made s’mores! These weren’t regular s’mores though! We used Chocolate chip cookies on the outside instead of graham crackers. It was quite the treat. 


    SEABASS fun! I might have forgotten sunscreen, but it was still a great day. 

How have you been spending your time at home? Are you making the most of the times together with your family? No matter how hard times get, focus on what you’re in control of. Always remember “Today is a good day to have a good day,” but the choice is yours. 

Living life to the fullest,    

Taylor

Monday, May 18, 2020

We Are Never Alone

It has been two weeks since our team has moved back to the FFA Center. We have been in full State Convention mode finishing up scripts, developing retiring addresses, and getting videos in place.  And through it all, our team has made it a goal to make sure that we also dedicate some time to enjoy our last few weeks in Trafalgar.
When we moved back, I made it my personal goal to walk to the Vesper Bowl every day. So far, no matter the temperature or weather, I have kept up with that goal.  However, it really was not until the other day that I realized why I made that goal.  I was walking to the Vesper Bowl with my teammate Dillon, and when we arrived, he looked at me and asked, “Why is coming down here so important to you?”  In the moment I honestly did not have a concrete answer, but I thought about that questions for the next few days, and then it finally came to me.  

A tree in a forest

Description automatically generated

Six years ago, I came to my first FFA Conference.  That conference was Summer Challenge, which was a week-long in July that was open to members of all ages.  I was just getting out of my seventh-grade year and I really did not know anybody outside of my school, so that week seemed like eternity thanks to my nerves.  Throughout most of the week I felt like nobody wanted me at the conference; I felt alone.  By the second to last day, I was ready to go home.  I even went into Mrs. Ariens’s office to call my mom to come pick me up. 
Luckily, my mom’s verdict was for me to stay.  We had our reflections in the Vesper Bowl that night, and when the reflections themselves came to a close, I sat in the corner by myself and tried to hold in the tears until everyone left.  However, the fear and anxiety that had made me want to leave was a little too overwhelming.  And to my surprise, I felt a hand on my shoulder.  I looked up to see that it was one of the State Officers, Lindsey O’Hara.  She sat down with me and talked about everything that was going on.  I soon came to realize that people did want me there and that it is impossible to be alone at the FFA Center.  The only reason I felt that way is because I never reached out to anyone.

A tree in a forest

Description automatically generated
That is the reason that I made it my goal to walk to the Vesper Bowl every day.  During this pandemic, there have been times that I have felt alone.  With all of these changes happening from graduations, to conventions, contests, church services, and literally every aspect of our lives, I have felt overwhelmed.  However, my many trips to the Vesper Bowl and having the chance to be back with my teammates have reminded me that we are never alone; we just need to take the hands that are reaching out for us.  We are all going through this together.  Do not be afraid to ask for help, let someone be there for you.  In times like these, where we are all going through this together, we are only truly alone if we do not ask for help.

Always here,
Noah Berning

Monday, May 11, 2020

Write a Letter

One of the hardest things I have had to do during this quarantine is be away from friends and family. Social interaction is what fuels me and keeps me going. I love to hang out with friends, go on drives with my family, and spend genuine time doing the things I love with the people I love. To say that having to social distance and keep trips to an essential minimum was tough, would be an understatement. Earlier this year I wrote a few letters to a few friends because I love the sentimental idea that even years down the road, I will be able to read the words they send me.
Quarantine had me in a slump, longing for authentic interaction with those I am closest with. This sparked an idea in my head. What if I start writing pen pals while we are all stuck at home? There is nothing better than the intimate message of pen to ink that can lift the spirits of anyone around you. So I created my pen pal list. I reached out to friends and family to get their address so I could write them a letter. My letters tended to relate to the positive silver linings that I had happening in my life, small stories, and funny events that may have happened recently. I was not expecting a response from any of my twenty pen pals, but the week after I sent my letters, I was shocked. My friends started writing back! From then on the conversations began. It was a race down to the mailbox every morning and a lighthearted anticipation for the next time the mail carrier went on her route, hoping I would be able to hear back from a friend today. For the first time I had more genuine conversations with my friends and was able to learn more about them than I ever knew. There is a different feeling a letter addressed to you has that you could never get from a Snapchat or text message. Writing letters has helped me clear my mind while keeping social interaction buzzing in my heart.
If I could leave you all with any advice it would be to write a letter. It could be to a grandparent or a close friend. It could be ten pages or ten words. As we continue to battle hardships in life, letters allow us to keep an open network of support that has a deeper sense of connection than a phone could ever give.
     
                              Always writing,
                              Nathan Fairchild