Wednesday, February 17, 2021

7 Things I Love

Valentine’s day was this past Sunday, and love was certainly in the air for many people. It is certainly important to love others, show them how much we appreciate them, and make them feel special. However, I believe love doesn’t just have to be limited to a single person on this day. Now maybe this is the “single guy on Valentine’s Day” syndrome surfacing right now, but I thought it would be fun to create a list/photo album of a few of the things I love and that I am grateful for in my life that isn’t limited to a single person or thing. Enjoy!

1.)  Family

2.)  Teammates

3.)  Travel

4.)  Baseball

5.)  Goats

6.)  Chicken & Broccoli

7.)  Friends (and some more Family)

Wednesday, February 10, 2021

An Open Letter to the Student Contemplating Joining or Staying Active in FFA

What’s your favorite time of the year? For some, it’s the sun-drenched summer months. For others it’s the ice-kissed winter months. Maybe it even falls in a different category, but the point is we all have a favorite time of the year.

As an FFA member, my favorite time of the year is the hustle and bustle of National FFA Week. National FFA Week is a time for students to celebrate the organization and educate the public about the importance of agriculture education. Additionally, it’s a way for students to share the impact the organization has had on their lives. This year FFA week is being held from February 20 thru February 27. With FFA Week right around the corner, what better time to share the story of agriculture and why you should consider joining or staying active within the organization!

What is FFA?

The National FFA Organization is the largest student-led organization that focuses on leadership through agriculture education. We are committed to developing premier leadership, personal growth, and career success to our 760,113 members that range from 12 to 21 years of age. The Indiana FFA, which is a part of the National FFA Organization, is the largest Career and Technical Student Organization in Indiana with over 12,500 members and 212 local FFA chapters across the state. The Indiana State Department of Agriculture provides leadership and direction for the Indiana FFA as a service to local agricultural education programs. FFA is a part of the school-based agricultural education three circle model. This model comprises: classroom instruction, supervised agriculture experience (SAE), and FFA. Well-rounded agricultural education students participate in all three sectors which all contribute to a member's development of premier leadership, personal growth, and career success. 

Why should I join FFA or stay active?

I could talk for days on the importance of agriculture education and FFA, but why I believe you should join FFA is simple: the hands-on experience provided through the organization is incomparable to any other student-led organization. 

Despite growing up in the agriculture industry, I wanted nothing to do with FFA because I was afraid of what my peers would think. Before I joined, I lacked basic communication skills and my face would turn beet red whenever I spoke to others. After countless conversations and a little bit of begging, my agriculture advisor convinced me to join. Through my SAE involvement, I found my passion for agricultural communications and plan to find a future career in that area. The National FFA Organization has changed my life for the better.

If you still aren’t buying it, then take a look at what a few current members think. Haley Fessel, junior from Hamilton Heights FFA, states: “In my school FFA was stereotyped strictly as a farming organization, but I have learned it’s so much more than that. FFA has allowed me to gain new knowledge, acquire outstanding leadership skills, and find lasting friendships.” Although Ms. Haley isn’t from an agricultural background, she is finding her place in the organization by pursuing leadership opportunities on the chapter level. Haley took a leap of faith and is enjoying every second of it. Senior at Eastern Hancock FFA, Jordyn Wickard, states “ I found out while in the National FFA Organization the reason I joined - to find who I truly am, where I belong, and how to be intentional and authentic.” Jordyn has been involved in multiple events that have shaped her personal development. Due to Jordyn’s involvement in FFA, she has found her place and is excited to be pursuing a future career in agriculture. 

FFA inspires personal development throughout agricultural education. No matter the event, you are guaranteed to develop skills that allow you to become more aware and make a difference in this world. If you are contemplating joining, ask yourself this question: Is what I’m doing today helping me become a better leader for tomorrow? If the answer is no, consider joining our organization. The possibilities are endless and the memories you walk away with are so valuable. 

Embracing my time within the organization,

Kylie Schakel 

If you have any questions about National FFA Week or Indiana FFA, please feel free to contact me at: I’d love to chat about the opportunities available through our organization. You can also find more information here:

Wednesday, February 3, 2021

Workin' with Papaw

More often than not, our grandparents are retired by the time we start part-time jobs in high school. For me, I worked at the Shelbyville Boys and Girls Club as the Junior Office Manager. I sat in the office and took phone calls, paged students, and handled desk tasks. I loved my boss, I loved my co-workers, and I loved the kids. Yet, the best part was still to come. My papaw, who’d been retired for several years, worked there too. He was in the kitchen and served snacks to the kids as they came in. 

Every day after I logged all the kids that came into the club, I would walk back to the kitchen to see him. He always had a smile on his face and greeted me with a plate of that day’s snack and a carton of apple juice. We would talk for about 10 minutes about life, how my day at school was, and how IU basketball was doing this season. Once my shift was over, I would help Papaw clean up in the back and we would walk out to my car together. He would give me a hug and tell me he loved me and that he’ll see me at the same time tomorrow. He would hop in his truck and we would do it all over again the next day. 

I never thought I would get to work with my Papaw, but it has been absolutely incredible. I love being around my Papaw at home watching the Colts or basketball, but being able to spend every evening at the Boys and Girls Club with him was a dream come true. What I’ve come to realize is that it’s those small moments that seem to be the most memorable to me. Walking into the kitchen to get a donut from Papaw was something I looked forward to every day and never failed to put a smile on my face. Once we start to appreciate those small things that make us happy, we’re bound to start living happier and more appreciative. 

Appreciating the small things in life, 

Julia Hamblen

2020-2021 Indiana FFA State President

Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Luc's Life in Three Recipes

I saw on Youtube that Sohla El-Waylly, a famous chef, did a video where she made three recipes that described her life story. Naturally, I want to do the same thing. So here it is: *insert drum roll sound* 

Luc’s Life in Three Recipes!

Biscuits and Gravy

This is the meal that made me realize I loved to cook. This dish was the first dish that I learned to make. In fact, I exclaimed to my parents that I was going to be a chef when I grew up. The only problem with this is that five year old Luc could only make biscuits and gravy, so that was going to be a pretty limited menu. But hey, maybe it can still happen. When I make this dish it takes me back to Saturday mornings as a kid and eating breakfast as a family. This wasn't something that we did often, so the nostalgia is real. Also, biscuits and gravy is probably the best breakfast food out there ,besides coffee, and you cannot change my mind. To me this recipe is my home kitchen: love, laughter, and unity. 

You can find the recipes I use here: 

Pasta al Limone with Homemade Noodles

Full disclosure, I make this recipe when I want to feel very “chefy.” If you want to feel “chefy,” this is the recipe for you. In my high school culinary arts class, one of our big units was learning how to make homemade pasta. I can’t speak for my classmates, but I loved this unit. I love the time and preparation that goes into making something that we often overlook. Don’t get me wrong, boxed pasta is great; but if you have the time, homemade pasta is worth it. To put it lightly, when I was first learning to make pasta and use the rolling machines I was a hot mess. In my frustrated rush to finish cleaning up the machine, which is a pain to clean by the way, I tried to run a dish rag through the machine. Needless to say, that didn't work. I got the rag stuck in the machine and had to cut it apart. Lesson learned: do not rush cleaning the pasta roller and new dish towels are always a good gift for a Culinary Arts teacher. To me, this recipe is about growing passions, trying new things, pushing yourself, and learning to fail. 

Here are some recipes to go off of:

National Convention Fried Chicken

When I asked my teammate, Evan, for ideas on what recipes to put in this blog, he said, “When I think of you cooking, I think of chaos. Controlled chaos that, in the end, turns out great.” As soon as he said that, I knew what recipe would fit that. Fried chicken. To sum up a long and painful story, our National Delegate, Megan Wagner, and I made dinner for the team during National Convention and decided to cook fried chicken. After long hours of marinating and frying chicken, we got to the last batch. Unfortunately, I hit the fryer basket with my elbow and sent hot oil down my arm. Was I burned? Yes, yes I was. Was the chicken good? Also yes. So here’s to controlled chaos, hopefully no burns, and fried chicken!

Please don't burn yourself:

Comfort food. Fancy, or “fancy-ish,” food. Good food. There's not much more you can really ask for, right? This is my life in three recipes. What about you? 

Probably in the kitchen,

Luc Sproles

State Sentinel

Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Different Strokes for Different Folks

Inspiration strikes when you least expect it. That has definitely been my motto for any great idea I have ever come up with. From District projects to the Corduroy Connect series we feature today, big ideas can strike suddenly and unexpectedly.

When I first thought about my blog for this week, my original idea was that I would describe my wisdom teeth removal. For those of you who didn’t know that, my surgery went great and I didn’t feel a thing. Some local anesthesia and lots of swelling later, I can hardly even remember having wisdom teeth. Unfortunately for you, the hilarious videos and descriptions of my post-surgery experience will wait for another time. The idea for this blog post actually came to me last week when I was helping Blayne (NRVP) paint the remaining panels of our FIRE Backdrop. While the painting itself wasn’t very interesting, the way Blayne and I went about painting struck me suddenly and unexpectedly.

While channeling our inner Picasso, Blayne would come through with wide brushstrokes and create a pattern in the paint. I would then finish up with smaller brushstrokes to cover the finer details around the edges. This dual action of our two paint brushes completed the entire image that we both had set out to create. When this whole thought process entered my mind, I knew right then and there what I wanted from my next blog post.

When it comes to completing a goal, we usually have two ways of approaching our task. Just like Blayne would come through and paint large sections of the panel, some of us will start off with a big idea or large image of what we want to create. Talking in aspirational terms and thinking of what the future holds, these individuals are known as “big idea” people. On the flip side, some of us will start working out the details and substance behind the idea just like I would come through with smaller paint strokes to cover the edges. Working out the factual side and thinking through all the angles, these individuals are known as the “finer detail” people.

           We need both of these people to work in harmony to create the whole image. You can’t complete a project without having that first big idea. At the same time, you can’t see a project through to the very end without taking care of the finer details. Both types of people must work together if we want to reach that final destination. However, we shouldn’t restrict ourselves to one type or the other. A true growth opportunity can be found when a big idea person is tasked with touching up a project or a finer details person is asked to put a message behind a mission. Never feel like you can’t try out different roles. Push yourself out of what’s comfortable and embrac
e a new style. Fill the painting of life with large brushstrokes and fine edges. You’ll never be disappointed by the whole image.

Warm Wishes,

Derick Williams

Indiana FFA State Reporter

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Grace in Motion

When I graduated from high school, I was given a 40-day devotional by Cory Asbury that is titled Reckless Love. This book was given to me by Shannon Rose, our school library’s paraprofessional, spring musical vocal coach, and a dear friend. As I’ve finally taken the time to dive into this powerful book, I came across a quote that really stood out to me. It made me stop reading to sit and ponder.

“...self-righteousness keeps us blinded to the beauty of grace in motion.”

Self-righteous is defined by Mirriam-Webster as, “having or characterized by a certainty, especially an unfounded one, that one is totally correct or morally superior.” If we become so focused on trying to earn the favor of God and others, we miss the beauty of the big picture. You see, the whole point of grace is that we don’t deserve it. Self-righteous people think that they have to earn everything they get, but this simply isn’t true. Grace comes in many forms, whether we earn it or not.

There’s a parable, or story, about a shepherd and his flock of one hundred sheep. Ninety-nine of those sheep are healthy and safe. However, there was one little sheep that was missing and in danger. The shepherd abandoned the ninety-nine to go and search for the one little sheep. Now you may be wondering, “Why would he leave the ninety-nine who were where they’re supposed to be and don’t need help for the one irresponsible sheep?” 

The little sheep knew he was in danger and he was crying out for the shepherd to rescue him. In all reality, the shepherd probably should’ve ignored the little sheep and focused on the ninety-nine. But the shepherd continued to search for the lost sheep until he was found. Those ninety-nine sheep were like self-righteous people that think they don’t need grace. They think they’re totally correct and perfect in everything that they do, so they miss out on the beauty of an overwhelming grace that leaves no one behind. 

Don’t be afraid to be vulnerable and ask for grace. Whether that’s an extension on a deadline, a second chance at a relationship, or simply asking for something without earning it, lean into vulnerability. When we finally let our guard down and stop viewing ourselves as righteous and self-sufficient, we see the true beauty of grace in motion. 

Humbled by His grace,

Evan Coblentz

State Treasurer

Wednesday, January 6, 2021

Stay Positive, Test Negative

Stay Positive, Test Negative

I would consider myself a big list guy. When I see a list, I'm intrigued to read it knowing that it won't be too much to read. At the same time, I know there's enough to keep me interested for a decent amount of time. So, I decided to make another list. A list of things that I can take away from the year 2020.

  1. Don't Forget Your Mask- I think this is one thing that everyone can relate to. I can't tell you how many times I started to walk into a store, gas station, or restaurant and then had to turn around and go back to my vehicle to get my mask. 

  2. Get Right With Jesus-  The excessive amount of time that we have spent inside is great for self-reflection and deep thinking. I was able to dig into my faith and get more of the Gospel. Although times seemed dark, my faith brought me light.

  3. Cows Are Still Great- 2020 may not have been that great,  but there’s still nothing wrong with some mighty fine bovine.

  4. Cherish Time With Friends And Family-  Nobody realized all the time that we spent with our friends and family could be taken from us overnight. It certainly taught me to cherish those moments.

  5. Don’t Forget Gold Bond- Almost as important as a mask, you can never go wrong with having some spare Gold Bond.

  6. Working Zoom Is Now Easier- Whether it was for class or for meetings, Zoom once seemed impossible, but now has become a common tool for most.

  7. Innovation Is Endless- The challenges brought to us by the past year were insane. This called for people to think outside the box and it was awesome to see. I have come to realize that with this type of thinking a lot of positive ideas, things, and lives are going to come out of this.

  8. 6 Feet Never Seemed So Far- I focus heavily on positivity, but sometimes you have to be real. I never realized that being less than I am tall away from someone could feel so far away until now.

  9. Stay Positive, Test Negative- Obviously 2020 seemed to be filled with more negativity than positivity which can really get to some people. It is important to focus on the positive things the year gave us and everything we have to look forward to.

  10. We Can Only Go Up From Here- By the end of 2021, we will all be reciting lyrics from Drake, “Started From The Bottom, Now We’re Here” because things can only get better from here.

Working on my next list,

Your Friend,

Loren Matlock