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 

Friday, August 25, 2017

Life in the Fast Lane

When was the last time that we took time to sit back, relax, and reflect on life? For a lot of us, that moment hasn’t been for a while. With summer wrapping up and schools going back in session, life becomes faster. Homework, after school jobs, and sporting events eat away at the precious time we have to reflect on life. During my senior year, track practice, homework, FFA activities, and livestock chores all became tasks to check off my list of things to do for the day, on top of a full day of school. Rarely in this time did I take a moment to step back and appreciate the time I had as a high schooler. Now that that time has passed, I’ve moved on to a much faster time in my life.

I think our team all agrees that the past four weeks or so were a complete blur. Past state officers always say that “If you can survive state fair, you can survive anything,” and that is so true. It became our routine to get up early, travel an hour to the fair to set up the Pavilion with members, then go home and plan for the next day. Those nine nights consisted of staying up until about midnight in order to have material prepped for the next day. Then, once state fair came around, it became a seventeen day routine to get up early, prepare the Pavilion for the public, open up and interact with attendees for twelve hours, then go back to our dorms tired, sweaty, and ready for bed. At the time, these days usually passed by very slowly, but now as our team looks back on our time at the fair, we’ve realized that the whole experience flew by.

Though the days seemed to pass by slow at times, here are some things that kept us going throughout the fair:
1. The Members
Nothing was better than exchanging and creating FFA and State Fair memories with the members I had the opportunity to meet the past four weeks. In addition, learning who they were as a person and the story they have within FFA was another great opportunity I got to experience. So many smiles and laughs were exchanged during this time, and I thank them for helping the time fly by during the slower times of State Fair.

2. The Public
Located in the middle of Indianapolis, the state fair is the perfect spot to attract people from an urban setting and give them the insight of what agriculture looks like in our point of view. Getting the opportunity to be that person that they come to for any questions of agriculture or FFA was something that my teammates and I absolutely loved.

3. The Country Market Workers
At the FFA Pavilion, we have a wing called the Country Market, where all products sold are made in Indiana, and FFA members have the opportunity to earn money while working this market. They stay in the same dorms as us, so we really get to know those who work, while also creating plenty of memories along the way. These memories were mostly created while staying up until 2:30 a.m. having a night out in the fair then going back to the dorms to play cards or other random games. I also have to send a huge shoutout to these people, because they definitely helped make every moment of fair count!

As we finally get a day to sit in our living room and reflect (while also watching Netflix), we’ve been able to share the crazy, funny, and heartfelt stories that we’ve acquired throughout our four weeks at the state fair. This time to relax and reflect as a team may have seemed to be long overdue, but it definitely was worth waiting for. We may not get as many relaxing moments as we did in high school, but as long as we have these occasional moments with each other, life in the fast lane isn’t such a bad thing after all.

-Grant Sanchez
2017-18 State Sentinel

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Call your mom

              It has been exactly 48 days since I left my home to move into Trafalgar as an Indiana FFA State Officer. I couldn’t wait to move in, get to know my team better, and learn how to be a better officer. It was a blur of a week at State Convention and I was so excited to begin the next chapter in my life. State Officer trainings, Executive Committee training, and preparation for State Fair all seemed to flow one after another.

              I hadn’t even finished the first day of the State Fair before I left for Twinsburg, Ohio for the annual Twins Days Festival. It is something I look forward to every year. I become giddy when I see all the sets of twins together in one place. It reminds me of the fun times I’ve had meeting other twins and taking pictures together in the past. This weekend was also the most meaningful time I spent with my twin brother, Tanner, since State Convention. I didn’t realize how much I needed the time with my brother. We, in the past few weeks, had lost the sync we usually have. It was a great time to finally relax.

We had a great time at the annual parade when we walked with twins our age. We walked around the festival grounds watching twin contests, dancing, and taking countless pictures with our twins. I loved meeting new people and spending time with my old friends catching up on life plans and genuinely caring about each other. It was great to spend quality time with my brother. At the festival, I made time to ask meaningful questions about where my friends were going with their lives. I simply enjoyed their company.

One thing my brother said to me in the car really stood out. He said it quickly, almost in passing. It was a simple phrase with such great weight: “Hey, you need to call mom.” Not because anything was wrong, I just needed to keep my mom updated on my ever-busy life. As I look back on the experience, I think back to the phrase “you need to call mom.” There was so much meaning in it. I was busy with living at a fast pace and I forgot to take the time to have conversations of depth with my mom or anyone. I was flying through life. All I had to do is sit down, talk with someone that will listen, and enjoy their company. Coming back to the State Fair, I felt a difference. I was ready to get to know the people I was working with and go in-depth with conversations. Life can be too fast and too shallow if you don’t make the effort to slow down and be with people.

                                                                                               -Cole Pearson

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Wipe Out!

I’m tumbling through the water, I have lost all control, I’m wondering what I got myself into, and then I wave down a boat! Now pause just a moment, this was me just two weeks ago. My team and I were all excited to get to go to our teammate Natalie’s house on the lake to give skiing, wakeboarding, wake surfing, and tubing a shot. We slept over the night before with the plan of getting up bright and early to get out on the water. Well 7:30 rolled around and the guys were awake and ready, but the girls were nowhere to be seen. So, Natalie’s dad said, “Let’s go,” and we started off without them. Now let’s rewind the first scene to the beginning. As we motored away from the dock he asked us who would like to give it the first shot, so naturally I jumped up. I put on my life jacket and skis then jumped in the water. As I felt the boat pull my rope tight, I ever so gently began pulling myself up, then everything went wrong. I had no idea what I was doing and went head over heels face first into the water. With my teammates laughing at me, I decided to try again. However, this time I did even worse and ended up with water up my nose, both skis knocked off my feet, and I had to regain my bearings. So, a third time, then a fourth, and even a fifth, but they all ended up the same. I was so frustrated when Wyatt told me to watch him do it (He skied often.) Then what do you know, he got up first try. I then watched Cole and Grant both try, now neither got up for very long, but none the less, they got up. At this point I changed my goal from getting up on skis to simply getting up on something. Fast forward 10 minutes to when Mr. Taylor asked if we wanted to try wakeboarding. I once again jumped up. Well you guessed it, the first two times I ate it, but something changed the third try, I got up for about 10 seconds. Now I had hope, I felt confident that I could do this, and on try four it happened. I was gently pulled above water, rotated the board so my right foot was forward, and bent my knees a little bit and I was up for a fair amount of time.
After this we ate breakfast then headed right back out. I watched my teammates conquer their challenges as we all eventually succeeded on one thing or another. Now these successes didn’t come without quite a few failures, but that is what made them so much sweeter. We all had fun, got our fair share of wipeout photos, and gained hundreds of stories through our weekend out, but the lesson we walked away with was also well worth it. We realized that some of us are going to be better at certain things than others, some may take longer to learn, and even if we fail time and time again we should always focus on the bigger goal. Failure should be used as a learning curve to get to success, and I am so glad that I got to fail next to my teammates and best friends, because we helped each other up until we could do it on our own. After that experience, I was more excited than ever to see what our year had in store, and how we will help each other accomplish that overarching goal.


Owen Coon

Your 2017-2018 Northern Region V.P.

Friday, July 21, 2017

The Dream Teams

“Are they all yours?”, “Do they all belong to you?” These are a few very typical questions my mom and dad would get just about anytime they took their 6 kids to a public place. When those questions were asked, my parents would both grin from cheek to cheek, look at all of us kids and then respond with an enthusiastic “Yes, they are all ours!” Those 5 other individuals that I get to call my siblings and best friends have also been my teammates for the past 18 years of my life. Jessica, Melanie, Daniel, Andrew and Peter have all given me so many me so many wonderful memories to cherish. What wonderful adventures we have had! From playing with Lincoln Logs on the stairs, to our homeschool adventures, all the way to making life-sized teepees and homemade swings out in the backyard, we have been blessed with some of the most unique opportunities as a team of siblings. That team has most definitely helped me grow into the gal I am today. Little did I know, while I was living the dream with my 3 brothers and 2 sisters, the good Lord above had a plan to put another team of  wonderful individuals in my life. 

At the 88th Indiana FFA State Convention, 6 other people officially became apart of a new adventure in in my life: Claire, Emily, Owen, Wyatt, Cole and Grant.  After moving in and working with this group of people, they have not only become my teammates, but also some of my best friends. The past few weeks, I have transitioned from the family team that I have grown up with, to a new State Officer team that I get to grow with. This transition may not have been the smoothest, but by golly has it changed my life and I’ve loved every minute of it. I am beyond grateful and overwhelmed with joy to get be apart of a team in multiple areas of my life. There is a sense of joy and pride you feel when you talk with others about your team. Whether that team is made up of your siblings, co-workers or fellow State Officers, you can’t help but smile from cheek to cheek when talking about them. I imagine that may be the way my parents felt when people asked questions about their 6 kids. Now when I am out with my 6 teammates and people I know ask me, “Are they all your teammates?”, I will be the one smiling from cheek to cheek saying, “Yes, they sure are!”

Yours truly,
Natalie Taylor

Thursday, July 13, 2017

30 Days, A world of Difference

This past Sunday, July 8th, 2017, was my first Sunday home as an Indiana FFA State Officer. Not only did I try to cram every single thing I wanted to do with friends into these two short days, but I realized just how different my life is now compared to how it used to be. Looking back to just 30 days ago, it’s difficult to fathom every change that has occurred. June 8th, 2017 marked yet another 20 hour day spent planting the last of the soybean crop on my grandpa’s farm. Our day started around 4:00 AM with the long trip in the tractor to some of our furthest fields and little did I expect the slow day filled with equipment failures that lurked ahead. However, as always, I anticipated the work to come and appreciated the sense of satisfaction that farm labor instilled in me. As my day went on, problems continued. The soil was too dry, the planter was malfunctioning, a tire was going flat, and I was leaving for vacation the next day. It was safe to say that I was a little stressed out. Yet, to top it all off, I had just one week to prepare for State Officer interview rounds at the Indiana FFA State Convention where my fate for the next year would finally be revealed.

This was a fate that I had been wrestling with for weeks. I was constantly asking myself if I was qualified enough to be a state officer or if I would be better off going to college. Either way the uncertainty of what my future held was tearing me apart. Every time someone asked about my plans after high school I was faced with the reality that I still wasn't sure.

But finally, on the 8th day of the month of July, as I sailed across on Lake Monroe, I realized just how much had changed. I was no longer worried about early mornings in the tractor, breakdowns or flat tires. I had achieved my goal of state office, and knew the path that I would follow for the next year. Finally, I had gained the certainty of what was to come that I had desired for so long. Although my life as a state officer may be more focused and routine, I don't think that I would have given up a single minute of my busy life before. There are things that I miss such as the sunrise over Indiana farmland, and the smell of freshly turned dirt on a warm breeze. Just as one of my favorite lines of the FFA creed says, “for I know the joys and discomforts of an agricultural life…,” I too have many positive and negative memories from my life on the farm. Without all of these memories, good or bad, I can undoubtedly say that I would not be where, or who, I am today.

-Wyatt Law

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Here's to the FFA Members

The great majority of 6.62 million Indiana residence aren’t aware that there is an elite group of 12,000 students who are incredible leaders, community builders, and agriculture supporters. These 12,000 students all have a different story to tell, diverse passions to love, and unique purposes they serve. I’ve been lucky enough to not only meet thousands of these people, but be impacted by them. They’ve taught me more lessons than they could even phantom. If you’re one of those 12,000 Indiana FFA members reading this blog – this one is for you.

Most people who know me, know that one of my passions is communications, more specifically, social media. Knowing this fact, it makes sense that one of my goals is to become Twitter famous. To those who aren’t familiar with Twitter, to be Twitter famous means to be well known on Twitter, essentially receiving thousands of likes and retweets on your posts. There was one time this year that I became kinds sorta close to being Twitter famous. As I was leaving Columbus FFA’s banquet, I felt as though a Tweet about how incredible FFA members are was necessary after the impact they left on me. After spending 10 minutes on this one post, I finally created the perfect Tweet that relayed the message I wanted to share in the 140 characters that are allowed. My tweet read, “FFA members are the most inspiring, incredible, and passionate people I know. I’m beyond lucky to be impacted by this type of human.” I believe in every word this Tweet says, but I was surprised at how many other people also believed in the thoughts I had to share. Other FFA members, people who live across America, and adults engaged in this tweet by liking it and retweeting it. I was completely shocked at the reach this post contained until I realized that it only makes sense for people to show this post some love. Who wouldn’t agree with a post that highlights the beauty of FFA members?!
The post that kinda sorta became Twitter famous.

My decision to run for State Office was inspired by all the FFA members I previously met. I knew that I wanted to make a positive difference in their lives and help them become better versions of themselves. What I didn’t expect at all was the difference these members would make on my life. FFA members typically don’t think they impact a State Officer. They normally think we impact them (or so we hope). However, the beauty of this situation is that no matter what type of FFA member you are, you are making a difference.  A quote I’ve recently come across that reminds me of members is, “everything you do has some effect, some impact.” Indiana FFA members have transformed the lives of the 7 State Officers as they showed us their genuine selves, shared their greatest dreams with us, and reminded us why we serve.
Columbus FFA's banquet!

Danville FFA: A chapter that has transformed me for the better!
North Posey FFA: One chapter of MANY that has impacted me!

With all that being said, thank you to every Indiana FFA member. Thank you for transforming my life for the better. In 22 days, my year of service will be over, but one thing that will never end is the love and passion I have for FFA members and our wonderful organization. Here’s to the FFA member who is a Greenhand and is scared yet excited for everything FFA has to offer. Here’s to the FFA member who’s graduating, becoming a proud FFA alum and leaving our organization better than when they began. Here’s to the FFA member who is still debating on joining FFA, but is giving it a chance anyways. Here’s to all FFA members. Thank you for your dedication, impact, and love.

Forever Transformed, Always Thankful
2016-2017 Indiana FFA State Northern Region VP

Sneha Jogi

Monday, May 22, 2017

Lights, Camera, Jump In

The girls bathroom was filled with numerous aromas ranging from burning hair to perfume and hairspray. After the final piece of hair was in place, the make-up was touched up and Nathan finished whatever guys do when they get ready, we were camera-ready. Today was not just another day at the State Officer House, today was a day spent filming.

The day started with filming our parent recognition video and followed with filming a few commercials. Next, we found ourselves filming a commercial for PopSockets. We filmed various scenes including dropping our phones on our faces, attempting to prop our phone up on the salt shaker and even dropping our phone into the lake because we did not have a firm grip without an Indiana FFA PopSocket. We tried to be relatively logical and did not drop our actual phone into the lake and instead threw a phone case into the lake to stage dropping a phone. What we hadn’t planned for was the phone cases’ quick descent to the bottom of the lake.

Moments later we were faced with a decision. We could either forget the phone case, keep our camera ready look and have an afternoon full of productivity or change quickly and attempt to rescue the phone case. After a few seconds of pondering, Emily and I darted to our room, changed clothes and were back to the lake.

Now it was time to find the phone case. Luckily, we knew the general area where the case fell in and Logan had goggles so it would be challenging, but not impossible. I strapped on my goggles and descended to the bottom of the lake. I quickly realized that the goggles were not going to be much help when the lake water was cloudy. Nonetheless, I kept diving attempting to find Logan’s phone case. One time I was convinced I had it, but soon realized it was a misshapen branch. The quest continued, but unfortunately the case was nowhere to be found.

Emily and I could have spent hours pondering if we should get in the lake, but instead we chose to just jump in. Even if our chance at finding this case was pretty slim we decided to take the plunge. In life, there are often moments when we are apprehensive and may be nervous about the next opportunity. We might be afraid that the outcome will not be quite what we wanted. Let’s choose to just jump in. How or where we jump in may look a bit different. Maybe it is simply trying something new, stepping outside of our comfort zone or taking the jump to devote time to selflessly serve those around you. Take time this week to put your apprehensions and fears aside and simply jump in, because I know you will make a huge splash.

Taking the plunge,
Leah Jacobs
2016-2017 Indiana FFA State Reporter

Thursday, May 11, 2017

The Journey Between the Destination

The Journey Between the Destination

During Banquet season, I have covered a lot of miles in my car, used lots of gas and have truly seen areas of Indiana that I have never seen before. I try to embrace Rodney Atkin’s lyrics and “Take a Backroad” as often as I can when I am driving to or from a banquet with a couple minutes to spare.
A gorgeous sunset I captured one evening! 

While adventuring, I have seen many majestic scenes that make each town, county and township unique. I quickly recall the cutest town circle in Paoli, the happiest water tower driving from Bellmont High School, the most beautiful farmsteads in rural Shelby and Decatur Counties and so many more. 
Look closely to see the happy water tower! :) 

Pictures fill my camera roll of these captivating memories. I think about if I had chosen to stay on the main road, I would not have the opportunity to see these neat places. I also would not have new ideas to fuel my dream farmhouse, farmstead and even the most ideal town! Trust me, everywhere we go, our team sees various houses and envisions our dream one that are perfectly planned in our minds- of course, with an unlimited amount of money.
Sometimes, I become so attentive on reaching the banquet – the end destination – that I lost sight of everything else that the journey has to offer. But, when I made the choice to explore, I realized that there is so much more to the journey than the destination.
Isn’t that so much like our lives? We become so captivated by the end destination - a goal, an event, an achievement – that we forget to enjoy the journey of life we are each blessed with.
We live life flying with blinders on, but if we would only take them off, we will realize that there’s so much more to experience.
The journey to our destination is has so much more to offer us than the destination itself. Each journey brings opportunities, experiences and scenes we could never imagine. Always enjoy every moment of your journey that brings you to your destination.

Making the journey count,

Emily Dougherty
2016-2017 Indiana FFA State 

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Be an Agvocate

              Around November or December, my teammates and I, as well as Mr. Martin, went out to eat at the small Southern Comfort Cafe right in the heart of the booming metropolis of Trafalgar. At this lunch was one of our team’s weekly meetings, by the way they are usually at the State Officer house, so going out to even this small cafe for lunch was pretty exciting. However, something that was even more exciting was that this was the meeting where one of us was going to be randomly drawn to go to Washington D.C. in March for National Ag Day. So, all five of us put our names on a piece of paper and then put that piece of paper in a hat to be drawn by Mr. Martin. Note, Jessica and Chaela did not put their names in the hat due to the fact they had both already been to D.C. for State Presidents conference in July. Then, Mr. Martin randomly drew a name and low and behold the amazing outcome. The name on the piece of paper was, “Nathan Blume.” I did find it quite fitting because I was the only one out of the bunch that had never been to D.C.
            Why exactly was I going to D.C. you might be asking? Well, National Ag Day is a day that is recognized annually and a day that has a great amount of value on the agricultural industry. A task force of youth and collegiate organizations such as 4-H, AFA, and FFA work together to plan an event in Washington D.C. for several FFA members and college students. The Indiana FFA Association was allotted one representative to head out to D.C. for the event and I was the lucky one that got to fill the spot. Now, to take you through my journey and the importance it played on myself and those that make impacting decisions for the state of Indiana.

              I had to wake up extremely early on a Monday morning to catch the flight and head out to D.C. Keep in mind, I had never ridden on an airplane before, so I was quite a bit nervous. I did eventually make it through security and on to the plane where I anxiously waited for takeoff. The flight lasted about an hour and a half, having my eyes open for only ten of those minutes. Once we landed, I got off the plane as quickly as I could and headed out into the airport, which was crazy. Then came the difficult part, finding transportation. I decided that Uber was the best way to go about getting around this crazy city. Uber is basically a taxi, except you call for the vehicle using your phone and the driver is just driving an everyday, normal car. After I got out of the Uber, which was quite interesting for no reason besides it being odd that someone I had never met was driving me around, I was in the National Mall. I had until early afternoon before I had to be at the National 4-H center to begin the learning sessions. I took as much time as I possibly could to walk around to all the monuments and see what the city was all about. Let me tell you, I reached my 10,000-step goal very quickly that day, as it is no jog in the park to see everything, but I saw just about every major memorial in close proximity, including the white house.

            After my adventures of exploring the monuments and doing some sight-seeing, I had to get another Uber to take me directly to the National 4-H center, where the actual events of National Ag Day would commence. I got to the center, went to my room, and headed to the main conference meeting place where the meeting session was. There were FFA members, college students, and many others from all over that were here for one common purpose, advocating for agriculture. That truly is the purpose of National Ag Day, to advocate for the industry so many of us hold near and dear to our hearts. Once in the room with everyone and after getting to know those at my table, the advocating sessions began. Basically, the reason myself and others were going through these sessions was so we could get to know some Ag Issues and to craft a message that we were going to deliver to our legislators. Everyone in that room was going to be heading to Capitol Hill the next morning to speak to their senators and representatives about agriculture and to formally ask them for their support of the industry. Following the long night of training and practicing the message I wanted to facilitate, I knew that National Ag Day was going to be a success.
            In the morning, the day of National Ag Day, I loaded up onto a bus and we set out for Capitol Hill. Once at Capitol Hill I teamed up with my fellow Hoosiers and we set out to the visits we had scheduled for the day. Throughout the day, myself as well as the others representing Indiana spoke to the legislative assistants of Representatives Rokita, Brooks, and Walorski. We even got to speak directly to Indiana’s two Senators, Senator Joe Donnelly and Senator Todd Young. It really was a unique opportunity to speak as a voice of agriculture and to facilitate a discussion regarding the importance agriculture holds and why they should support it. I had the opportunity to advocate for agriculture on National Ag Day and we all have that same opportunity every single day.

            Agriculture is something that is so important to everyone, especially those of us that work within agriculture, support agriculture, and those that believe in its future. Every single day, the general public, including the law makers are getting out of touch with agriculture and the importance it plays within our country. So, I encourage everyone to understand the importance of advocating for agriculture and to do something about it. Whether it be organizing an Ag Day event for the public, speaking with state legislators, or just engaging in a conversation about agriculture with your hair stylist, we have to advocate for agriculture. To all those reading this, be an Agvocate.

Striving to Agvocate,

State Treasurer,
Nathan Blume