Tuesday, October 17, 2017

He Wasn’t a Stranger, He’s a Farmer

This year has been my first harvest away from home and I really have been missing being back on the farm with my grandpa. My teammates often make fun of me for pointing out every tractor or combine in sight. A few weeks back, Emily and I were cruising down a country road about 2 miles away from the FFA center when we came across a farmer combining soybeans. Being one of the first combines I’d seen that year, I perked up immediately and yelled “COMBINE” at the top of my lungs. As we passed, I watched in envy as the farmer worked his way across a golden field under the perfect September sky. I began to think of the next time I would get to go home, and finally be back on the farm. Little did I know, it would be sooner than I thought.

That Sunday, I was heading back to the FFA Center after meeting up with a friend from high school, when I had I crazy idea. I was going to go farm for the afternoon, but I couldn’t make the trip all the way home. I remembered the farmer we had passed just a few days before, and I set out on a mission to find him. Within minutes of turning on to that same country road, I was delighted to see a distinct cloud of dust coming from a combine harvesting soybeans. I continued to follow the cloud of dust until I came across the same farmer I had seen a few days before, again working his way through a soybean field. I then pulled my car through the side ditch and into the field, and began to have second thoughts about my rash decision. As the combine approached I felt even more nervous. When the combine finally stopped and the dust settled, I hopped on the familiar green ladder and climbed my way up to the cab, not knowing what to expect.

I will never forget the look on the face of the rather confused farmer as he slowly swung the cab door open. In fact, he had as little idea of what to expect as I did. Hoping to clear any confusions, I quickly introduced myself and shook hands with the farmer. I continued by explaining who I was, where I was from, but then stopped for a second to think about why I was there. I then said to him, “This might sound a bit weird, but would mind if I rode in the combine with you for a while?” I then explained to the man that I had been unable to be back on my family farm due to that fact that I was serving as a Indiana FFA State officer and was eager to back in the field. Whether it was out of pity, or shear interest in the situation, the farmer agreed, and welcomed me aboard.

It didn’t take long at all before we hit it off. For the first half hour alone, we talk farm equipment as I admired his combine, tractors, and implements. Being in that combine was like a taking a step back to my childhood as it was the same model as the one I rode in when I was younger. We proceeded to talk about yield, fertilizer, seed type, tillage methods, and much more as the afternoon went on. Aside from agriculture, this random farmer and I connected over metal fabrication, diesel trucks, and even mutual friends. By the time evening hit, I had ridden in the combine for over 2 hours, and was left baffled at how much this farmer and I had in common. As I drove away that night, I couldn't help but smile. Not only had I gotten my farming fix in for a while, but I had made a new friend while doing it.

Not long after, I told this story to a classroom full of students during a chapter visit. Upon finishing the story, a girl spoke up and yelled across the room, “Didn’t your mom ever tell you not to talk to strangers?” I replied, “He wasn’t a stranger, he’s a farmer.” I then realized yet another reason why I love the agriculture industry so much, because nobody is a stranger.

Addicted to Agriculture,

2017-2018 SRVP
Wyatt Law

Friday, October 13, 2017

Exploring a Different Option

Grant - “Let’s go hiking at Clifty Falls State Park!”
Me (Owen) – “Yeah let’s do it! We’ve got some extra time.”
Hiking Clifty Falls State Park is exactly what Grant and I did in between two of our chapter visits while in District XII. Now let’s take a step backwards to get the full picture. The night before we met Grant’s aunt so she could lead us to the place we would be staying the for night in Madison. As we drove up the tightest road I have ever been on, winding back and forth up what I thought was a mountain, we were slightly skeptical of where we might be staying. Then we saw it, a little house on top of a wooded hill that had a clear look over an amazing landscape that lead the way to the beautiful Ohio River with the moon reflecting off the water. It was incredible.
After we woke up the next morning , we went to get some doughnuts from a local pastry shop, then drove to our first visit of the day, Jennings County FFA. There we had an amazing time facilitating to a great group of students. As we left the school we tried deciding what to do with the extra two and a half hours we had before we went to be at Madison High School. So, Grant says, “Let’s go hiking at Clifty Falls State Park!” With no other alternative in mind I said, “Yeah let’s do it! We’ve got some extra time.”
Now, for everyone reading this, I have compiled a list of reasons you shouldn’t hike a state park in Official Dress.
1.       Your shoes are not made for the steep cliffs and slick rock
2.       Your corduroy jacket gets way too hot, but you know you can’t take it off because that would be breaking the rules set in the FFA Handbook
3.       You will get mud all over your black pants
4.       If you have a degree chain, it likes to get stuck on rocks and hand rails
5.       Did I mention the jacket gets too hot?
6.       The wooden bridges may be slick after a rain
7.       Other people ask you why you are hiking in a suit
8.       You will have your picture taken, and you know that they are going to make fun of you
9.       Your hiking buddy may be far more athletic than you (Grant is more athletic than I)
10.   You may smell afterwards

Now, Grant and I may have learned all these lessons the hard way, but it may have been the experience that will stick with me the longest. We decided to stray off the path at one point along the way. As we maneuvered through the brush and trees we suddenly found ourselves on the edge of massive over hang. Pictures don’t do this rock face justice. It was amazing. On one side was a waterfall, and on the other an even higher over hang. As we looked out over the beautiful landscape I came to realize something. We can spend our lives going through the motions, or we can take the occasional detour. It would have been just as easy for us to take a nap in the car, but we decided to try our hand at hiking. I guess that is just one of the places that our wonderful blue jackets can take us. So where will you go? 

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Never Forget Your Roots

With District Kickoff season rounding out this week, I can’t help but think of how much I’ve loved traveling the beautiful state of Indiana to experience each kickoff. But, it’s been more than the traveling that I’ve enjoyed; it’s the people I’ve met along the way. The other night, I was sitting at Bremen High School as I watched the District II Officers practice their big “District Kickoff entrance” before the event began. Right then, it hit me. 
Smiling for a picture with the DII Officers after kickoff.
As the officers strutted in to assume their positions on stage, I saw just how much pride, excitement, and joy they had for their home district. This same pride, excitement, and joy has been shown by every FFA member I’ve met while traveling from school to school this September. Perhaps that’s been my favorite part of these last three weeks. Not only have I been able to spend quality time on the road with my teammates, but I’ve been able to meet others who share the same love for FFA and are so proud of the chapter that they come from. What a valuable thing it is to show how much you appreciate your home like that? I believe that we all can be better in this way by making sure to not forget our roots, but embrace them. As I think about the last three months since State Convention, it has been such an amazing whirlwind. But in all of the rush, have I forgotten to show how much I love that I am from the Hamilton Southeastern FFA chapter? Have I forgotten to show appreciation to my advisors and all those who’ve shaped me into who I am today?
My advisors and I after the close of State Convention, 2017. 
Sometimes in dealing with the craziness of life, we are too caught up in our activities. Whether that’s playing a sport, singing in
choir, or even serving beyond our FFA chapters as a State Chorus or Band officer, district officer, or section director, we must never forget about who we really are and where we’ve come from. It doesn’t matter if the back of our jacket says District VIII, Warsaw, District VI, Rushville, North Daviess, Section IV, Hamilton Southeastern, or Association. We must never forget the hometown, the home chapter, and the people that have made us who we are today.

Love always,

          Claire Baney
          17-18 State President
Making memories with my chapter at our Greenhand Initiation, 2014.

My family and I together at State Convention, 2017.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

A Helping Hand

“Help! We are stranded in the middle of nowhere and all we can see are corn fields for miles. We are SO going to be late!”

That was the sound of a phone call to my mom on Wednesday during the middle of chapter visits. Grant and I were briskly driving to the next school on our checklist to give a facilitation that we were pumped for. It had been a long day, so naturally I was sleeping in the car while Grant was driving. But as we reached a four-way stop the car made a clugging sound and at that moment, sleep was the last thing on my mind. We had run out of gas.

              After calling my mom for help, Grant decided he would walk to the business across the way and see if they could be of assistance. Thankfully, a kind man brought us enough gas to get our car to the next station. I introduced myself and with that he informed me that he would be giving my grandfather grief soon for our silly actions. Soon, we took off again in search a place to fill up at.

               Sometimes we get into a groove of only helping ourselves and I am one of the biggest culprits of this. 
     I need to win this contest. I must be an officer in my chapter. I deserve that award. But when was the last time we took a step back and truly helped someone else? That is not an easy task considering the amount of sacrifice we must make; specifically with time. No matter if it takes 1 second or 1 hour to help others, it’s still our precious time that we do not always sparingly give away.
What some may say is the art of helping others should actually be called the art of living. If me make a conscious effort to help others, it will eventually become a part of our lives. Had it not been for the kind man giving us gas and sacrificing a minute of his time, we would not have been able to make it to our next school. Yes, that may seem like a minor task, yet it made all of the difference to the students we had the opportunity to impact. One small act by our hero created a chain reaction that eventually reached hundreds of other across the state of Indiana. Be a hero in someone else’s story. Take the time needed to truly help others and make it a habit in your life to do this. As Ronald Raegan once said, “We can’t help everyone, but everyone can help someone.” If we all help one person in our lives, think of how better this world could be. 

Forever thankful, 
Emily Kilmer
State Secretary