Wednesday, November 30, 2016
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.
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!
2016-2017 Indiana FFA State Southern Region Vice-President
Monday, November 21, 2016
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.
2016-2017 Indiana FFA State Reporter
Monday, November 14, 2016
I have recently read a book titled, “How Full is Your Bucket?”. It is a book about leadership and not just developing yourself as an individual, but also by developing those around you. This was the first leadership type book I have ever actually read and I was a bit skeptical when I first began to get into it. In the beginning, I was thinking that it was going to be some typical, boring leadership words written in a book. However, once I finally flew the book open and began diving into its content, I realized that this book was about much more than just leadership, much more than just becoming a leader, and much more than just learning how to help others.
The first chapter began with a very intriguing story regarding the Korean War, and this story drew me in at an exponential rate due to the fact that I have a strong passion for history. Then the author of the book began indulging his audience (me) into the meat and potatoes of the true meaning behind “How full is your Bucket”. The ideology behind the book is that when you fill someone’s bucket, they not only become happier and more productive, but you become happier and more productive. The phrase, “How full is your Bucket”, relates to the positivity or negativity levels an individual may possess. A person with a negative mind set does not have a very full bucket, while someone with a much more positive demeanor will have a full bucket.
Within the book, the author portrays the fact that positivity as well as negativity will dramatically alter the productivity of someone. So, for instance, in a work place environment, the boss’s positivity or negativity levels will alter the productivity levels of those working for them. A boss that is extremely positive, encouraging, and rewarding will have positive effects on their employees, the boss will thus be filling the employees buckets, and the productivity levels will grow. On the other hand, a boss or employer that uses negativity in the workplace, will be dipping out of their employees buckets, which will lead to a loss of productivity. However, when it comes to rewarding a person for the success they have achieved, in hopes of filling their bucket, it takes a personal approach. Not every person likes to be recognized for their achievements the same way, so if an employer gets to know that person and then makes the recognition personable and germane to the recipient, the bucket of that person will be filled exponentially.
This book that I read gave a me a new sort of vision when it comes to working on myself and how to work with and for others. I have found that when approaching a situation, a positive attitude is the most advantageous method. I found that when working with others it is best to focus on positives at a much higher frequency than negatives. It has also helped me realize that each and every person across this globe is unique as an individual and requires different methods of positivity, encouragement, and reinforcement. So, to the nearly 12,000 Indiana FFA members and its countless supporters, let’s be positive, not just for ourselves, but also for those around us. I challenge every person that reads this to begin thinking of ways to fill your friends, teachers, colleagues, and family’s buckets. It will help make them feel full of joy and excitement but it will also give you that warm fuzzy feeling you get when you make someone’s day better. Indiana FFA, how full is your bucket?
2016-2017 Indiana FFA State Treasurer
P.S. Read the book
Sunday, November 6, 2016
Science, Streetlights, Swine, and Service. While these words may seem like a strange tongue twister, they truly summarize the experiences of my teammates, Mr. Martin, and I this past weekend at our fall retreat. Before departing on this adventure we were told to read the book How Full is Your Bucket by Don Clifton and Tom Rath. This novel showed my teammates and I how we can use positive words to fill people’s buckets, and the horrible effects of dipping from someone’s bucket by using negative words.
|Showing off the differences in the back of our jackets with our new friends, we even named our group "Illiana."|
Science. We began our journey by traveling to the windy city of Chicago to visit Chicago High School for Agricultural Sciences (CHSAS) where we were truly impressed by the knowledge and poise of the students who led us in tours of not only their state-of-the-art facilities but also educated us on their “pathway” in agriculture. It was mind-blowing to see inner-city students share our passion for livestock, horticulture, food science, education, and all other areas of agriculture during our time in the windy city. These students truly filled my bucket by making us feel as we did our favorite dance, "The Juju" with some of the students.
Streetlights. After our visit at CHSAS we headed into Downtown, Chicago which was painted in the colors blue and red as they celebrated The Chicago Cubs winning the World Series. From getting a free t-shirt, to visiting the Shedd Aquarium, to taking selfies at “The Bean,” my teammates and I experienced life in a big city as some true tourists.
|A typical tourist picture in front of The Bean sporting our new shirts that were given our in celebration of The Cubs' win!|
Swine. After getting our candy fix at the Albanese Candy Factory, we headed back into Indiana to visit one of the largest farms in the country, Fair Oaks Farms. After eating Emily’s celebratory birthday meal at the Farmhouse restaurant, we did everything possible including the Dairy, Swine, and Crop Adventures. Similar to the passion for agriculture that we saw at CHSAS, I was truly impressed seeing one of our own Indiana FFA members in her Supervised Agricultural Experience in the Swine Adventure. Natalie Wagner, a senior at Kankakee Valley High School, gave us a personal tour of the Swine barns at Fair Oaks. Her speaking skills were outstanding and I was truly astonished that she could answer any of our questions without missing a beat. We truly hoped to fill her bucket after this visit by telling her how amazing she did as a host and FFA member.
|A picture with our OUTSTANDING personal tour guide, Natalie Wagner, from Kankakee Valley High School.|
Service. “Living to serve” is a part of the FFA Motto so what’s a retreat without serving others? We ended our trip in Downtown, Indianapolis at Circle City Relief, where we served meals and clothing to those in need in our own backyards. This was my favorite opportunity to “fill buckets” as Chaela Minor and I helped families sign up for the Christmas shopping event. I saw parents and grandparents moved to tears as the worry of affording Christmas presents was lifted off their shoulders. I witnessed those who utilized these services travel back to the warehouse with us to clean the kitchen where the food was prepared.
Indiana FFA State President
Tuesday, November 1, 2016
In 2012, Obama was elected to his second term of presidency, everyone thought that the world was going to end, and I stepped into the Sea of Blue for the first time. Young, awkward, and ready to step out of my comfort zone, I confidently turned in my application for the 2012 National FFA Convention and Expo and hoped that I would be lucky enough to go on this WEEK-LONG FIELD TRIP! Soon after this, my bags were packed, the bus loaded, and 12 “country kids” from South Newton High School were ready for a week in the big city of Indianapolis.
Oblivious to the impact this trip would leave, my friends and I laughed and joked as we zipped up our corduroy jackets and entered Bankers Life Field House for the first general session of the 85th National FFA Convention and Expo. As we arrived, the laughter stopped and jaws began to drop. I became completely overwhelmed. Corduroy jackets with lettering ranging from Alaska to the Virgin Islands and from Maine to Hawaii covered every inch of the Fieldhouse. During my time at National Convention, I realized that FFA was bigger than just me. It was bigger than South Newton High School, and it was bigger than Indiana. The impact that speakers, friends, and mentors made at my very first National FFA Convention left me knowing that FFA was my place, so now all I had to do was see where I fit into theSea of Blue.
Each year after, October became a month to reconnect with friends from across the nation and come back to our chapters renewed and ready to make an impact. This year, however, was one that I will never forget because finally, after five National FFA Conventions, I found my place in that Sea of Blue. My teammates and I had the unique opportunity to serve as nine of the 475 National FFA Delegates. This process involves lots of committee work, discussion, and voting on matters that can ultimately affect the National FFA Organization for years to come. It was through this process, that I found my place in the Sea of Blue. Discussing topics that I was passionate about, losing my voice each session on the delegate floor, and representing Indiana to FFA Associations across the nation once again allowed me to find my place in the blue jacket.
Wednesday, October 26, 2016
An idiom, as defined by Oxford Dictionaries, is “a group of words established by usage as having a meaning not deducible from the individual words”. Some of the most popular expressions include “a blessing in disguise”, “actions speak louder than words”, “a herd of elephants”, and, my favorite, “raised in a barn”. As I was growing up, I often got asked “Were you raised in a barn?” as I left the front door to our house open, didn’t clean up my soda cans from across the living room, or tracked mud in from the barn. When I was a child, this was THE worst scolding I could receive; it made me feel like I was just like one of the heifers in the barn whom I had to tend to every day to feed, water, and clean up after.
However, as I have grown older, I have learned to appreciate the phrase. You see, nowadays, people act like being raised in a barn is a bad thing. From the day I was brought home from the hospital all the way up until four months ago when I moved into the State Officer House, the barn was the place where I learned the most important lessons in life. I discovered that hard work has never killed anyone and is the only way to get where you want to be. I learned about love and compassion as I watched cows care for newborn calves. I gained an understanding that being raised in a barn is indeed NOT a bad thing at all; but, more importantly, that neither is being raised in the middle oftown or the suburbs of Indianapolis.
Four months ago, when moving into the State Officer House, one of the biggest things I was worried about was meshing seven very different backgrounds. When we got elected, we became aware that only two of us come from production agriculture backgrounds, three from rural communities, and two from suburban areas. At first, I questioned how in the world it would be possible that such a diverse team could work well together to best serve Indiana FFA. Four months later, our team’s variety is the thing I take the most pride in. If you were to ask me to describe my team, I would reply “The perfect example at what the National FFA Organization is.” It’s diverse. It’s different. It’s a variety of backgrounds coming together for one common cause – service to others. No, we weren’t all born in a barn or raised on a farm. And THAT’S exactly what I love. My team represents the diversity of the agricultural industry and shows that no matter what background you come from, you can still serve the organization.
Throughout the month of September, my team and I had the opportunity to travel the state to visit with many chapters and FFA members. Covering all twelve districts and over 40 chapters each, we had the opportunity to share our backgrounds, but, more importantly, learn about others’ as well. In Indiana, we have just under 12,000 FFA members; nationally, membership has hit its peak at 649,355 students. To me, this isn’t just a number. To me, this represents 649,355 different experiences that have led to where each member is today. The National FFA Organization welcomes diversity and includes everyone – no matter the race, ethnicity, gender, age, socioeconomic status, thoughts, or backgrounds. At one time, the blue jacket represented future farmers. But today, it represents those raised in barns as well as those who have never stepped foot onto a farm. I am proud to be from such a diverse and inclusive organization…are you?
Proudly raised in a barn,
Indiana FFA State Secretary
Proudly raised in a barn,
Indiana FFA State Secretary