Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Fight For Your Fire

Below I have written two variations of this blog. Read the one that most speaks to you. Read the one that you need to hear. *insert fire emoji*


VERSION A:

My grandmother LOVES hosting parties and events. It seems like my family is at her house at least once a week to celebrate a birthday, graduation, or something else. And the INSTANT that Labor Day hits, she is all white pants and outdoor parties. It is basically a crime to be inside whilst at her house because she paid for a big patio and fire pit so we will be using it. Some of my fondest memories are of my entire family congregating around the fire pit to roast marshmallows and hotdogs. To sit, chill, and relax with the people that I love.



When I got State Office, I was happy to see that my teammates had this same fondness for fire pits and marshmallow roasting. You will find us singing along to the music blaring through my speaking while huddled around the fire. Marshmallows flying, graham crackers crumbling. In summer, the fire became the heart of our team. Fire has represented the heart of our little family.


WARNING: Now, I’m going to geek out on you all a little bit. (DISCLAIMER: I’ve read all of the Percy Jackson Books 8 times over. I’m basically a professor on Greek mythology. Listen to me; I’m a pro). In Greek mythology, fire was a sacred thing. It was first given to the human world by the Titan Prometheus. He defied the gods, stole the fire from their ancient heart on Mount Olympus, and gifted it to mankind. This gift of fire was the center of both the mortal and celestial world. So, Hestia was named the goddess of the hearth. Now for those that have not studied ancient Greek mythology like me, a hearth is comparable to a fireplace/pit. But it represented so much more than just a fireplace. The hearth was the center point of the home and family. The fire was where people gathered to talk politics, create treaties, and discuss the future. It was the place where families gathered for meals, stories, and quality time. 


Throughout my entire life, I have had people at my hearth. Whether it be my parents, siblings, nieces, aunts, uncles, grandparents, or cousins, I have always had people sitting with me around the fire. They are my friends, advisors, and support system. This year, I have realized that the most important people in our lives are gathered around our fires. Appreciate those at your fire, but take it a step further. Bring light to the work of those around your fire. Fight for those at your hearth. Every single day, advocate for those at your fire. Commit time to them. Be a listening ear for them. Support them in their endeavors. Every single day, fight for your fire. 


VERSION B:

A convo between Jordyn and I: 

“Tell me my red flags” “No, you don’t want to hear them” “Okay, I must be perfect then :)” “Ahahaha that’s funny, you are way too persistent and pushy. It could be considered a red flag.” “Bruh, that kinda hurt”


Time and time again, I have been told that I am too pushy. And I am. 10000%. I recognize that, but I do not apologize for it. Earlier this month, the state officer team was given the opportunity to go to DC to advocate on Capitol hill (thank you to Farm Credit Mid-America for making that possible!!!). We did touristy things, we met with American Farm Bureau, we ate ice cream, and we met with our legislators. (two of those things are very important, you decide which two ;) You see, many Indiana legislators have an understanding of agriculture, but they often don’t see where the interest in agriculture begins. It begins in the 300+ agricultural education classrooms in Indiana. It begins with FFA/4-H contests. It begins when youth in agriculture are given a voice. And it was our job as state officers to convey that to our legislators. I think we did a pretty good job conveying that message.



After we met with Congressman Pence, Abby Stinkwisch turned to me and said “we came on wayyy too strong.” And I see where she is coming from. During the meeting, Pence looked at us and was just insistent that we had practiced beforehand. We had not. But, we were persistent throughout. Persistent that agricultural education is the solution to the labor shortage within agriculture. Persistent that continued support for career and technical education is continued support for the future. I was persistent (and slightly pushy). Because I LOVE talking about this kind of stuff. This is where my passions lie. 


You see, I am pushy about things that set my heart on fire. And I will continue to be. Because, they are fuel for the fire of my soul. I would be SOOO bored with life if I couldn’t continue to advocate for the topics and issues that ignite me. Every single person has issues that they are passionate about. From education and reform to sports and media. It can be so easy to see this passionate persistence as a red flag. But NEVER apologize for the passions that fuel your fire. Instead, advocate for your fire. Every single day, fight for your fire. 


Forever Fighting for my Fire,

Nicholas Neuman


Wednesday, May 11, 2022

Life’s Greatest Lesson



    When you run for state office one of the things people tell you about is all the opportunities that you will have. Every one talks about the people you get to meet and the impact that you will have on them. Personally I couldn’t agree more. I think one of the biggest benefits I’ve found as a state officer is the people you get to meet. But those people that I’ve met aren’t just from state office, but they are all from FFA. Because while we focus on the people we meet as state officers those opportunities are similar to those that everyday members get to experience. I think that these interactions can be split into two different categories. Those interactions for fun and those for business.

    Lets start with the business interactions that FFA members get. The first thing that comes to mind for me is the advocacy day at the state house during FFA week. This is the biggest time for members to meet important people. Anyone who’s experienced this day would agree that it’s a great opportunity to impact their legislators. The goal is to form connections with those making decisions. And that is the goal of FFA, to make connections. Those connections are one of the many benefits of being an FFA member.

    Those business connections go further than politicians. They extend to the local level as well. Throughout the state local chapters are supported by local businesses. Those local leaders and other professionals form connections with us that last a lifetime. For them that blue jacket we wear is exciting and promising. I think those connections are the most important. Those are the ones that are more personal and impactful. Those are the people who see you every day and will help you later. All of these business and political relationships we form as FFA members are important. Because those connections help you and others as long as you make them.

    The other groups is fun connections. These connections are the ones we make with other FFA members. We hear all the time about the close friendships that people make through FFA. I think the best part of these connections is the fact that they are from all across the state and nation. They help to expose us to cultures different from our own. While we might not always consider our far away friends from FFA our best friends they remember the connections that we form. I was reminded of this the other day when a past state officer form Delaware told us about the Indiana state officer he met five years ago and still knew her name. Those fun connections help keep FFA fun. They are the reason that people look forward to state and national events. To see who they are going to meet next. 

    I think if I’ve learned one thing from state officer it’s to cherish the connections that you make. The business ones are important because they will help you and you are impacting them. And the fun relationships are just as important because they are the foundation of our organization. We are a student lead group and we work best when connections form within the students. FFA is a place for connections to form. And I think one of the best things to learn from FFA is how to form those connections and how to use them later. Because that is the best life advice FFA can give.


Living, 
Tyler Kilmer

Wednesday, May 4, 2022

Re-Introducing Me

One of my absolute favorite movies growing up was the Camp Rock movie series. Now, if
you’ve never watched it, here’s your sign – GO WATCH IT IMMEDIATELY! In the second movie,
Camp Rock 2: The Final Jam, Nick Jonas (the best of the three brothers) sings a pretty great
song to his crush. I mean, who wouldn’t be swooned?! Check it out here.
Now, what I like the most about this song is how absolutely transparent he is about everything
that makes him who he is. While most of his song remains surface level, it made me start
thinking about what makes me, me. So, it’s time to re-introduce myself.
“Hi, I’m Abby – a stubborn, goofy, crazy gal who is constantly badgering other people for
entertainment. You can find me randomly dancing, asking a million questions, shopping at
Dollar Tree, or almost drowning (I’m bad at swimming, like really bad). I love all things dairy –
including, but not limited to, Ben & Jerry’s Half-Baked ice cream, Chick-fil-A mac and cheese,
and all types of cheeses – even if I may be a little lactose intolerant. I absolutely love fruits, but
don’t even try to give them to me when their baked. I know absolutely nothing about classic
movies, I’m terrible at video games, and have a weird obsession with the flavor of peppermint. I
also have another habit that I’m trying to quit – diet coke. My favorite time of year is the single
day when you wake up and it’s like spring came out of nowhere – its literally gorgeous. While
my dream career may be agriculture education, I also have an extreme passion for interior
design and all things HGTV.”
While that may have been a bit chaotic, these are the things that make me who I am and who
I’m proud to be. As I made this list, I realized that with each item listed, I smiled. I smiled
because it is without a doubt, without hesitation, me. At the same time, however, I began to
realize how many of these things a lot of people in my life don’t know. Sure, we all know I LOVE
diet coke and most of us know that I’m pretty goofy; but, how many people reading this blog
knew every single item on this list? From my guesses, very few.
Throughout my lifetime, I can say that I’ve been pretty guilty of holding very surface-level
conversations when meeting someone for the first time. Although I love to talk, I don’t always
go too deep and I don’t always share a lot about what makes me, me. While I wish I could tell
you why, I don’t really know. But here’s what I will tell you – I wish more than anything that I
would’ve committed from the start to having intentional conversations to truly get to know
others and fully let them know me. Although I’ve been watching Nick Jonas in Camp Rock 2 for
many years now, I didn’t let his song sink in until now. While there may be some things we
don’t want others to know, there is plenty about ourselves we can share that people would
love to know. With transparent conversation comes a new level of connection and friendship –
one that we all could use a little more of.
As I have now reintroduced myself to every one of you, I have a little request. I would love to be
reintroduced to the real person shining in each of you – something I’ve likely missed along the
way. Compile your own list of characteristics, attributes, likes, dislikes, etc., and send them my
way! You can send them to my Instagram (@abbystuckwisch), my email (srvp@inffa.org), or

post them on Instagram or Facebook and tag me! It’s time to truly “Re-Introduce Ourselves” to
the people in our lives and get to know them deeper.
Re-Introducing Me,
Abby Stuckwisch

Wednesday, April 27, 2022

Be the Energy

My team and I are constantly doing something random in the house. However, Abby and I are the ones doing the most bizarre things at the most bizarre times of the day. I want to let you all in on some of the crazy things the team and I have done.


A couple weeks ago, Abby and I were working on a project together. Knowing our two personalities, we started to get side tracked, and were eventually upside down on the couch. Our teammates decoded to flip said couch as we were upside down. Now, this may have hurt, but the smiles on our face made all the pain disappear.



Kourtney, Abby, and I were at Hobby Lobby the other day, and found these half sphere shaped styrofoam. I decided to set it on top of my head, and then Kourtney and Abby followed. We ended up laughing SUPER hard and had a blast on a simple trip to grab some supplies.



Nicholas, Abby, and I were in the office this week and it was pretty late. We all had our nose to the grindstone, working on our tasks for the Indiana FFA State Convention. Abby and I made eye contact, and immediately knew what was about to happen. We joined hands and spun in a circle, screaming, smiling, and laughing. Nicholas eventually joined us, and we had smiles from ear to ear. 



In all of these moments, the energy was always there. We all have this feeling of happiness we want to share with others. I know when I am surrounded with those who give off a vibe of positivity and encouragement. Be the person you would spend hours around - be the energy you want to attract. 


Positive energy only,

Jordyn Wickard


Wednesday, April 20, 2022

Making Time to Recharge

One thing this year has really shown me is how important it is for me to see family. We do not have an over abundance of time to go home to see people, so some of my family does not see me as often. Easter was an amazing time for me. I was able to go home and see all of my family in one place. We got to enjoy some good food and spend the holiday together.

As we gathered around my dining room table, we had loads of food to eat. We sat for hours eating and then talking about all the small things we needed to catch up on. Once my family had gotten up to leave and started packing left overs, I did not want them to go. I wanted to tell them to just sit back down and they could leave later. I even tried distracting them by keeping more conversations going. I just felt like I had just seen them and now they were leaving.

This made me realize how I had been lacking something very important to me. It showed me that my best way to recharge was being around the people who care the most about me. I had sacrificed my time with them and it ultimately damaged a lot of my personal health. Because of this, I think it is important we all can identify ways that we recharge. It is so important that we take the time to bring ourselves into a balance between work and personal life. My balance was seeing my family. What will you do to find your balance?




Finding Time,

Madisen Carns


Wednesday, April 13, 2022

Finding Meaning in 5, 4, 3, 2, 1

5 seconds. Each story can be summarized in 5 seconds. Don’t believe me? Give it a try. In the interest of time, I have written out an OFFICIAL example. “Jordyn and Abby were being annoying. I was trying to work on writing Star scripts. I threw a Rushville FFA plush owl at Jordyn. Point: Don’t be annoying.” (Picture of Jordyn slapping said owl like a maniac). While this mayyyyy be an exaggeration, I’ve learned over these past two weeks that quite literally everything can be summed up in 5 seconds. 





Recently, I had the opportunity to attend a virtual training with Mr. Jason Wetzler: a past National Officer from Oregan and an iconic inspirational speaker and motivator. Over our Zoom call, we talked about telling stories. Now, I’ve always struggled with finding stories to tell. Nothing in my life has seemed that interesting or exciting. Except the time my brothers earnotched me like a pig :).  But, Jason argued that every single day has a story to tell. Every single day has a 5 second moment that we can learn from. Being quite competitive, I took that as a challenge. I was going to find meaning in those meaningless 5 seconds that he was talking about. And so I began to make a 5 second journal entry every single day. 


Entry 1: “Pop (my dad) didn’t realize that I wasn’t home until noon. I guess the world does not revolve around me *eyeroll*”

Entry 2: “Mommom (grandmother) and Kristen were surprised by the number of people texting them about Daddo (grandfather). There are more people in our corners than we believe.”

Entry 3: “When a person dies, hundreds go to their visitation. It is so important to cherish the relationships in life.”


On Wednesday, March 30th 2022, my grandfather lost his fight with Leukemia. It wasn’t until his funeral that I truly realized what Jason Wetzler had been talking about. Because no matter who I was speaking to or what we were talking about, it all came back to “your grandfather was a lifelong educator.” His entire life summed up in 5 seconds. All 47 years of his teaching and all 79 years of his life, summed up in 5 seconds. 





And I understand that thinking about our life in 5 seconds can be scary. So don’t think about it. Easy. But ask yourself, “Am I appreciating the 86,400 seconds in every single day?” The answer, I would assume, is no. But I am confident that at least 5 seconds of that day had something worth remembering. So I challenge you to think about the meaningless moments: the time you are just chilling on the couch, when you are working, hanging out with your family, grocery shopping. These are the moments that you would normally forget. But it is these moments that have the most potential for meaning. Because every single thing we do has a story and a lesson. To find real meaning in your life, appreciate what seems meaningless. Find Meaning in the 5 Seconds. 


Finding Meaning,

Nicholas Neuman


Wednesday, April 6, 2022

Setting Your Soul on Fire

Have you ever felt so passionate about something that it feels like your body is on fire? That words are being pulled from your heart the second you start talking about it? They bubble up your throat, leaving a sugary coating on your tongue and a fuzzy feeling in your head? It’s like you're so unbelievably encapsulated by this one topic that everything seems brighter?


This might seem like something crazy, achievable even. But, this is how I feel every time I talk about architecture, or books, or about issues facing teachers and agriculture. All of this seemingly pulls itself from my heart when I find someone willing to listen. It sends electricity to my fingers, pulling my hands in a million directions, just so I can fully convey the white hot excitement it causes. 


Now, this feeling hasn’t always been there. It hasn’t always shown up when I talked about something I liked. Very rarely would I feel that, especially in high school. You see, I continually bogged myself down with things I merely liked, or found slight interest in… and I got burned out. I hated showing up to meetings, I refrained from making friends solely because I hated the club. I pushed off doing work that was critical to the events I signed up for. 


I completely lost myself.


Then, somehow, it showed up. This burning feeling rose from my toes to the top of my head every time a new issue facing educators came up. It exploded when I learned about Roman Architecture and art. It was a fire. 


A fire that shed light on who I was. Who I wanted to be. What I wanted to do. 


This fire lit up my soul. The world was bright again. Laughter started to sound like music. I appreciated the hustle of the city, the curvy roads of my hometown. I appreciated life again. 


I continuously find myself talking to anyone and everyone that is willing to sit and listen, going on and on with a smile so large that my cheeks hurt when I finally stop. 


We have things that we like. That we are merely interested in doing. Then we have these things that truly manage to set our soul on fire, they manage to restore life, bring the person we have always wanted to be to the surface.


So, what is something that truly sets your soul on fire? What brings that white hot fire to your entire body? What challenges your mind, and at the same time, softens your heart when you talk about it?


Find it. Share it. Love it. Truly set your soul on fire.


And as always, keep being awesome,

Kourtney