Friday, April 13, 2018

Exceptionally Blessed

Recently I had the privilege to attend the WYXY Classic FFA All-stars banquet. As we spent the night congratulating 18 very deserving individuals of this award, I couldn’t help but notice one thing. As we moved from one member to the next, it got increasingly harder to describe the sheer amount of accomplishments each person had achieved. Gale Cunningham, the host of the evening, used the word exceptional to describe those 18 individuals. And there is no better word suited for not only those members, but also their chapters and the Indiana FFA. How lucky are we to be a part of this exceptional organization? An organization that loves, supports, and honors both agriculture and those in it. We have exceptional teachers that push us along the way and exceptional supporters that make what we do possible. There are exceptional banquets, service projects, and teams. The list goes on and on for things that are “exceptional” in FFA.

So today, I’m going to keep things short and simple. Take a second to truly realize everything this organization has blessed you with. And thank someone. Thank your advisor for pushing you to your limits and then a little farther to see just how much you can achieve. Thank your parents for driving you to events, for being your biggest supporters, and for volunteering for everything. Thank your friends and teammates for giving you a laugh when needed, a shoulder to cry on, and a helping hand at all times. Simply thank someone for being an exceptional all-star in your life.

Exceptionally blessed, 
Emily Kilmer 
State Secretary 

Monday, April 9, 2018

Change is Inevitable

Inspiration comes from unexpected places. Last December my team went on business and industry visits for about three weeks straight. Each day we would visit and tour an agribusiness or two in the state of Indiana. Our Foundation Director Mrs. Chaudion organized these visits and gave the company the opportunity to put their best foot forward for their business. Some companies were naturally more interesting than others and I believe it was coming near our Christmas break when I discovered this piece of wisdom.
On the drive from one business to the other I glanced out of the window and saw a church Sign that read “change is inevitable, growth is optional.” Of all the things I wrote down that day that phrase is the one that I look back on time after time.
Change is truly inevitable. All around me things are changing; seasons, friendships, and stages of life. Nothing will ever be the same, but that’s the point. If things stayed the same life might get boring. Change is constant. Change is inevitable. Growth, however, is optional. Will you choose to grow or stay where you are? Change is inevitable, growth is optional.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Advocating for Agriculture

Just over a week ago, I had the opportunity to travel to Washington D.C with Natalie in order to advocate for agriculture on National Ag Day. On Monday we arrived at the National 4-H Center in order to go through a seven-hour advocacy training program. Throughout this program, there were multiple guest speakers who informed us about the company they represented, what they do for agriculture, and their tips for advocating. Since writing a book about all these tips isn’t possible right not, here are a few key points we learned.
1. Plant a seed and shine a light:
  • Plant a seed of curiosity in your audience, whether legislature or not, then shine the light on the topic that they now are curious about. By planting a seed and shining a light, you create an environment for that seed to grow.
2. Tell your story:
  • A story is just like a fingerprint, each of us have them and no two are the same. By telling your story, you relate to your audience, who then becomes curious about what you have to say.
3. Show passion:
  • What’s the point of advocating for something if you’re not passion about it? By showing your passion, your audience knows your topic is something you love and something they should pay attention to. 
4. Take control of the meeting:
  • Your message will never be relayed if you stand by and let others in the meeting do the talking. Take control, but do so in an effective manner.
5. Be polite and respectful:
  • This one seems like a given, but if you are advocating about a topic to someone who may not understand or have a different view, it can be easy to come across as a “Know-it-all,” or even let your temper get the best of you. By focusing on this tip, those faults are avoided.

While these are only 5 tips, they could mean everything to your audience while advocating. One final tip we were given at this training is something that we should always keep in mind:
  • Never stop advocating! 
    • We may have been in D.C in order to advocate for a day, but why should it stop there? 
Let’s make everyday National Agriculture Day and starting advocating for the industry we have such a passion for!

With a passionate heart,
Grant Sanchez

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Go With the Flow

Going with the flow is one thing I do NOT do well. I want to know exactly what I’m doing with my day and it needs to be written down in my planner. Some of my teammates, on the other hand, are experts at being spontaneous and they try to get my stubborn self to join their shenanigans. With only 4 months left of state office, it is seemingly impossible to say no to them. Which is how I found myself on Valentine's day at a fancy restaurant with Grant, Natalie, and Wyatt.

It started off as a normal day in the office when Natalie turned and said, “hey let’s go out to a nice dinner tonight!” We had two boys and two girls, so it was perfect for getting a Valentines Day special (we like discounts.) With a little hesitation and much debate on where to go, we finally settled on a restaurant called Big Woods. Dressed to the nines, we headed out. We arrived just in time and walked in for our reservation. Upon sitting down, I quickly noticed that there was only one menu for the night. And in tiny print on the top, there was a note reading “three-course meal, $54 per person.” “Wait?! Guys we have made a mistake!” Laughter filled the room as we debated whether we should just walk out or ask for a different menu. When our waitress returned, Natalie asked for a different menu which was in a better price range and we talked the night away. I was challenged to continue going with the flow as we went to Freddy’s afterward to get ice cream. None of the events during the night were planned out, which did freak me out to begin with. However, being spontaneous allowed us to have an abundance of fun with our friends. I can confidently say that I have never had a better Valentines Day than the one shared with Wyatt, Natalie, and Grant, making memories and sharing smiles. Life is too short, and we must be willing to be spontaneous sometimes. While it may be uncomfortable at first, we must realize that these moments are the ones we will remember forever.

Be spontaneous,
Emily Kilmer
State Secretary


Thursday, February 8, 2018

My Automatic Best Friend

All my life I have been given a best friend. Almost as if I was handed my friend on a silver platter. Up until this year, it was my twin brother, and then it was my 6 teammates. I have always had that security of having that best friend by my side and at home for me when I needed him most. It will be a strange experience next year. 

I am planning to go to Purdue University next year and live in the dorms with a random roommate. I won’t have that automatic built-in best friend. I can’t help thinking of my brother. He has been there for me and I have been there for him. We did nearly everything together including the drive to and from school, eat, study, and most extracurriculars. We were together so much and then, all at once, I was gone, and he had to find his place in the world. It must be hard for him to adjust to college without his best friend there beside him every step of the way. In these hard times, he has relied on God for guidance and God gave him great friends that can be there for him when I cannot. God has blessed me with 6 people that are there for me when I need them, and I am there for when they need someone too. I am blessed in a different way.

Sometimes, no matter how hard we try, we cannot be there for our best friends when they need us. We cannot be everywhere at once. I couldn’t be there for my brother on his first day of college and he couldn’t be at all my conference banquets. I can build new friendships and he can build new friendships too. He can find someone that will help him learn more about himself, I can too, and you can too. Life tends to shuffle things up and we must make the best of it. One of our team’s favorite phrases is “bloom where you are planted.” At Ball State Tanner found Awaken and he is blooming. As life changes around you, how will you bloom where you are planted?

Thursday, February 1, 2018

A Bittersweet Ending

As the week begins to round out, our team is in full gear for a bittersweet weekend; OUR LAST CONFERENCE! It seemed like only yesterday we hosted our very first conference, where we were all running around like chickens with our head cut off trying to figure out what needed to be done! Now that we all have an actual list of priorities and to-do’s, things are much more calm here at The Center.

We started off our true conference season, and will end it with, LDW (Leadership Development Workshop). This conference allows chapter officers to expand their leadership together and grow as a team. Our theme for this year is a cooking show and “Recipe for Success.”
Then in October we hosted SOAR (Seeking Opportunities & Achieving Results), where 7th-10th graders can learn about the opportunities that FFA possesses for them. For this conference, our team chose the theme of Jurassic Park and “Uncovering Opportunities within FFA.”
In November we hosted FIRE (Foundations in Reaching Excellence). This conference is mainly for 11th-12th graders, and focuses on excellence. Members this year learned how to be a mentor, how to set goals, and how they can take their leadership to the next level. The theme created for this conference was Camping and “Sparking Excellence.”
As the end is quickly approaching, we are reminded of all the memories created with our team, advisors, and, most importantly, the members. From receiving and delivering happy grams to delivering our reflections to “gettin’ down on the dancefloor,” conference season will greatly be missed.
Thank you to everyone who has truly made this season one to remember. Late nights and early mornings aren’t ideal, but you made it all worthwhile.

With thanks,
Grant Sanchez, State Sentinel

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Never Stop Improving

“New year, new me,” that’s what we always hear. Right? Regardless if that is the correct saying or not, there still is a message we can take away from this thought. As the calendar has now flipped over to 2018, we definitely have started a new year, but most of us are still in the midst of the same school year, living in the same town, and being involved in the same things. However, we all still have the power to reinvent ourselves and present a new version of who we are.

While I was at home with my family during this past holiday season, I put a lot of thought into this concept and I couldn’t help but be reminded of my six amazing teammates. The last six months we’ve, of course, lived together, worked together, dreamed together and loved experiencing every moment altogether. We have had the pleasure to do so much, but in all of this, I instantly thought about the person I was through each opportunity and wanted to be better. Not just for myself, but for them, and all of those around me. So I began to focus on how I could be a better leader, friend, teammate and person.

Even though we may be 6 (almost 7) months into our year, it is not too late to make a change and truly pay attention to how we can improve. That same mindset goes for all of us. How can we set a goal to improve? How can we truly be better than we were yesterday, last year and reinvent ourselves this year?

Always loving and trying to be better,

                Claire Baney
                17-18 State President