Wednesday, January 26, 2022

Just Say Hello

If you haven’t noticed this about me yet, I love talking to strangers. Now, I don’t mean sketchy people in dark alleys. I mean people I see in passing and at events. It is probably one of my favorite things to do of all time. Ya see, the reason I love talking to people I don’t know is because 1. I THRIVE off of social interaction and 2. I thoroughly enjoy hearing people’s stories. Specifically, I met a family recently that completely changed my perspective on meeting a new person.


My team and I recently attended the Fort Wayne Farm Show. The farm show is a place where many agriculture based businesses come to advocate for their company. During the show, the state FFA officers were put in charge of walking up to each booth, asking if they would be interested in donating any items to the Indiana FFA live auction we would be holding the two days we were there. We walked around booth to booth, asking the simple question if they would be interested in donating.


I noticed a sign that was hanging from a pole, and it had this tik tok symbol. Heck, that looks cool, let’s go check it out!


As we walked up to the table, I was greeted with smiles from a married couple and their son who was in a wheelchair. I said hello, and asked what their tik tok was all about, and the man in the wheelchair handed me a flyer with all the information I needed to know.


The mother and father started to further explain why they were there. Travis, the man in the wheelchair, was in a car accident at the age of 22. From that point on, he has suffered from brain damage, and is not able to form sentences. Since the accident, Travis and the family have started the Travis Burkhart Foundation, raising money where insurance, Medicare, and Medicaid are not present, and assisting through forms of monetary aid, food, gift cards, and information. I was blown away after hearing their story, and Indiana FFA was honored to have a sweatshirt from the foundation for both days of our live auction. 


It was because of a simple hello Indiana FFA is able to thrive.


It was because of a simple hello Travis had a big smile on his face as we presented half the donations of their items back to the Burkhart Foundation.


It is because of a simple hello a new, long lasting friendship was made.


In life, it is up to us to say hello. The hello has a ripple effect. When we say hello, they say hello. Others begin to say hello. That “hello” means a lot more than just a simple word of introduction.


Just. Say. Hello.

Saying hi to strangers,

Jordyn Wickard


Tik Tok: @farming_tbidad

If you are interested in giving to the Travis Burkhart Foundation, you can donate by visiting travisburkhartfoundation.com



Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Reflections

I never understood the full power of a reflection until I started giving them at conferences. For those of you who have never been, reflections is a time where the state officers share a story in their personal lives and the lesson they learned from it. These are usually the stories that we wish we could’ve heard at some point in our own lives.

For me, this was very intimidating at first because we had to share those vulnerable stories that made us who we are. But, I often found myself finding the point to a story while preparing for these reflections. I hardly ever found myself knowing right away what the lesson was to my story until I had to spend my own time reflecting on it. Those moments gave me more insight into my own life than I could have ever asked for.


But, the most impactful moment for me was when I got to talk to individuals at camps after I had shared my story. Individuals that openly told me that they were struggling with the same thing. It made me feel so incredibly good that even just one person out there now knew they were not alone in the battle of life. It also made me feel good because I realized that I was not the only one who had or was struggling either. 

To me, reflections created a deeper connection between friends because we started to realize that other people do not have the easy life we may have imagined they had. We then leaned on those friends around us for support and comfort. I could have never imagined the people I have connected with simply because we just understood each other. I am so thankful for the people I have met because of a quick story.


Grateful,

Madisen Carns


Wednesday, January 12, 2022

New Year, Same Me

If you're anything like me, the new year always brings about a new sense of energy. I start working out again, I plan out my week, I eat way more fruit than necessary. I tell myself that if I do that, and this, and everything in between, I can be the best version of myself possible. 


While all of that sounds like a beautiful idea at first, those are not the things I cherish at the end of the year, instead, it's the lessons that I find myself reflecting on. Here are this year’s:


  • One that took me a very long time to learn is: you should never ever have to beg for love. More times than not, I would find myself thinking that I didn’t deserve to have any type of love (even from family and friends.) If this is the only thing you take from this blog, or from me for that matter- know that everyone is worth love, regardless. 


  • Take pictures of everything you possibly can. I didn’t realize how fast time goes by until I started to pull pictures together for the new year. Looking back at how much each of my teammates have changed, made me wish I took more pictures of them. Even take pictures of random objects. Capture the moments that set your heart on fire. 


  • There is good in every single day. I know that is such a hard thing to believe, even I didn't believe it for a while. I started making a post on Instagram every single day, just to force myself to start looking at the good again. It worked, it is working. So, I challenge you to keep track of those small, but good, things each day. 


  • Some days you will check off every single thing on your to do list. Some days, you won’t even touch it. Both of those are okay. It’s normal for motivation to come in waves… it doesn’t make you any less of an incredible person on the days its ebbing rather than flowing. 


  • You are here for a reason. It might take time to see that reason, but I promise it is out there. 


Honestly, some of these lessons are ones I’m still learning. There are days where it’s hard to remind myself about love, cherishing every moment, reminding myself of the good, and telling myself it's okay to not be okay. So, I’m right here with you. We’ve got this.


That’s what each year is for- another period of growth.


Sending you all the love,

Kourtney

 


Wednesday, January 5, 2022

A Celebration of Community

I LOVE my hometown. I mean, what’s there not to love? We have beautiful parks, an amazing main street organization, and a supportive community. The team definitely gets annoyed with how often I talk about Rushville. I had to prove it to them. I had to educate them: my hometown is truly the best. So, a few weeks ago I brought Tyler, Jordyn, and Kourtney to Rushville’s annual Christmas on Main event. There were lights strung across the street sparkling in shades of green and red. There were people milling happily around the small town shops and booths. There were food trucks and hot chocolate. There were movies being projected on the walls of buildings. There was Santa and his reindeer (he told me that I’m on the nice list btw). And finally, there were my people: friends, family, community members. At that moment, I was so happy. Not only was I proving the awesomeness of Rushville, but I was also sharing my community, my culture, with the team. And as a state officer, I get the unique opportunity to experience the community of the chapters that I visit across the state. 




In a close second place to Rushville is the Crothersville community. Recently, I got to visit the Crothersville FFA Chapter and help out in the 33rd annual Toy and Food Drive. (Check out the December Corduroy Connect that features the event. It's pretty dope.) To raise $$$ for the Toy and Food Drive, members write grants and hold fundraising events. During the actual drive, FFA members ride fire trucks (fire trucks!) to deliver tons of food to those in need. Literally tons of food. Last year, the chapter gave away over 20 tons of food and non-perishable products to those that needed it in the community. And this was almost entirely organized by the members. When I was there, I felt such a sense of camaraderie and appreciation from the community. I was working alongside firefighters, school board members, alumni, and current FFA members. It was amazing. This sense of community almost made me cry. And unlike Abby Stinkwisch, I’m not the crying type.


In my long nineteen years of life, I realized that there are so many amazing things about our communities that we rarely acknowledge. As a high schooler, it is so easy to wish the time in our small towns away. Everyone wants to go to college and move on to bigger and better things. I know I did. But I challenge you to remember the culture of your community. Remember the small events that make your town “home.” Remember the people. As you go into the second semester of this year, ask yourself the following questions: How can I get involved with my community? Where can I volunteer? What is special about the culture of my community? Because there are so many small things that makes your community special. This year, show appreciation for the culture of your community.


McLovin’ my Community,


Nicholas Neuman


Wednesday, December 29, 2021

The Time of the Year for Traditions

One of my favorite times of the year is Christmas time. My family loves Christmas time. From the stockings, to the Christmas cookies, to the time together as a family. Every year my family has several traditions that we do to celebrate. I want to take some time this year to share some of my family's traditions. 

One of the earliest traditions we have is the weekend after Thanksgiving. It’s then that my immediate family and several of my aunts and their kids come over to our house to make Schnitzbrot. This tradition definitely needs some explaining. You see, my mom’s side of the family is 100% German. When my great grandma came over she brought with her a lot of traditions and recipes. One such was a bread called Schnitzbrot. The easiest way to describe this bread is sort of like a Christmas fruit cake but more bread like and in a loaf. As long as I can remember my family has made this bread. Each year we make around 20 loaves and give them to all my aunts and uncles and other family members. It’s tradition to eat this bread on christmas morning each year. Even though my grandma passed away several years back we still make this bread and it still brings our family together. This picture is me, my brother, and cousin kneading the Schnitzbrot

The next tradition that we have is with our nativity set. My mom’s side has this tradition where every kid gets a nativity of their own. The nativity is gifted to them by their godparents. You get the basic part on your first Christmas and each year you get more pieces to add to it. This is one of my favorite traditions that my family has. It’s really cool because your nativity scene shows your growth. A lot of times the pieces that you received are customized to something that happened to you that year. An example of this is last Christmas for me. I got a carpenter and his workshop. That was the year that I got grandchapion for woodworking at my county fair. This tradition is a reminder of growth and a reminder of what Christmas is truly about. This is one of the gifts I look forward to the most each year. It’s not the newest technology or fancy clothes but the reminder that Christmas is about family, growth, and God. It’s one of the best gifts to open and adding the piece to my nativity at home on Christmas eve is one of the best feelings. This picture is of my mom’s nativity this year at home. Sadly she doesn’t get her newest piece till Christmas eve.

The final tradition I want to talk about is actually after Christmas day. Two or three days after my family leaves to travel down to the Fellowship Center at the Indiana FFA Center. We meet with the rest of my mom’s side and spent three days together. This is one of the best times of the year for me. The Fellowship Center has a very special place in the hearts of my family. If you’ve ever been to a conference then you might have heard Mr. Martin tells the story of the Fellowship Center. It was built after a girl from Tri-County, named Vallerie James, died in a car crash. Her parents went to the foundation director to have a small chapel built in the woods because the FFA Center was her second home. The director decided to do more than that and through the generous donations from individuals and businesses they decided to build the Fellowship Center. Families and individuals came together to build a place for families and friends to gather for fellowship and growth. That foundation director was my Uncle and my family helped build the center. Because of this we’ve been going there after Christmas since it was built. Within this one tradition my family has several others. We always do a white elephant there, a euchre tournament, the kids have a nerf war, and so many other things. This tradition brings the whole family together. It reminds us of my grandparents who helped build it and all the love they had for us and the FFA organization. It reminds us of all the funny memories that have been made there and all the growth our family has had. Each year there’s new cousins running around and new significant others that get brought down for a day to get introduced.

These are three of the best traditions that my family has around this time of year. When I think back on them I’m reminded of all their lessons. From family to faith and everything in between. It’s these traditions that have made me who I am today. Each tradition that I have helps build something I value. It's the traditions that each of us have that makes us who we are. So what traditions do you have that make you, you.


Reminiscing,

Tyler Kilmer

INFFA NRVP


Wednesday, December 22, 2021

Endless Love

There are only 3 days until Christmas. 3 days. You know what that means? Christmas EVERYTHING. Christmas socks, Christmas movies, and of course, Christmas music. Recently, I was listening to “Let There be Christmas” by Alan Jackson. During this song, he sings the words, “Let anger and fear and hate disappear, let there be love that lasts through the year”. I quickly realized just how impactful these few words truly were. 

 

Around Christmas time, we see an abundance of giving and love. Whether it’s donating to a local charity, wrapping presents for an Angel Tree, or helping to cook a meal for those in ourcommunity, we tend to be more giving during the holiday season. But why is this? Maybe it’s because we’re surrounded by loved ones. Maybe it’s the holiday sweets. Maybe, its simply the Christmas spirit. Whatever the cause may be, there’s no doubt that the holiday season is one of the most love-filled times of the year. Nevertheless, I think there are quite a few reasons that we choose not to always exhibit this love. Sometimes, someone hurts us, and we act out in anger. Sometimes, we may be afraid someone may judge us for being too cheery. Sometimes we are simply filled with hatred towards a person who we’ve never really liked. It’s at these times, that we tend to hurt others, and ourselves, the most.

 

What would happen, though, if this holiday-like love occurred throughout the entire year? Imagine that every single day you witnessed someone giving food to a person who needed it. That person in need may have their first real meal for the week. Imagine walking down the street to watch others greet one another with “glad tidings” of the day. A person grieving over a recent loss may smile for the first time after that encounterSimply imagine if, out of the goodness of their heart, carolers broke out in song just to bring cheer to someone’s day. The possibilities are endless.

 

So now, I ask you, what would happen if you exhibited endless love towards others? What could you do to bring cheer to someone’s day? How will you show kindness to those you don’t get along with? When will you find time in your everyday life to simply help someone out? What will YOU do? Whatever it is, big or small, I know it will make an impact. Let that anger, fear, and hate disappear, and allow yourself to always show love to those who need it the most. 

 

Learning to love always, 

Abby

Wednesday, December 15, 2021

Be Patient in Times of Confusion

I HATE losing. It’s something I have never enjoyed doing, and I would do anything in my power to ensure that was something I did not go through. This was especially true with my livestock. During my Senior year, I bought a bangin good Angus steer. He was one of a kind, and our goal was to win Champion Angus steer at the state fair. Throughout the show season, we would travel to cattle shows as a family, along with the family we bought from. 


No matter how hard I tried, I was constantly placing second. Never. First.


I would constantly beat myself up about going to these shows, and feeling like I was failing every time. I finally got the nerve to sit down with my Dad and talk about it. I asked him what I was doing wrong - Was I not a good enough showman? Did we give him enough water before strutting into that ring? What was I doing wrong?


He looked at me with his ‘matter of fact dad look,’ and said “Our goal is State Fair. This is a time to just get him out and learn.”


This is normally the time that I’m supposed to be okay with it and move on, right? No. In fact, throughout the entire show season, I was bitter and angry. Do you want to know why? It’s all because I was so close-minded and over focused on being the best.


The State Fair finally rolls arounds, and it’s time for me to go in the ring. I walked in, and I was feeling pretty good! He starts placing the class. 5th gets pulled. Perfect, still in the running… but not for long. 4th gets pulled - and it’s me. At that moment, all I saw was red. After the early mornings, late nights, and long hours in the barn, this is it? At this point, confusion raced through my mind. After the class had ended, I didn’t talk to anyone for a solid two hours, rinsed my steer, and sat in the corner, pouting.


During that time of pout and feeling sorry for myself, I finally had a wake up call with a small voice reminding me, “Pick yourself back up. This all has its purpose.” Sometimes, life may interrupt the goals we have in life. However, if it wasn’t for those moments of placing second in those jackpot shows and fourth at State Fair, I wouldn’t have grown to know that the livestock industry isn’t about winning - it’s about the  relationships within the industry that make it all so great. If it wasn’t for the people within the farming community, agriculture would not be what it is today.



Still embracing the confusion,
Jordyn Wickard