Tuesday, November 28, 2023

How Will You Spread Cheer This Holiday Season?

The Christmas season is upon us!  Yes, it is the season of holiday traditions, bright lights and Christmas cheer, but it's also the giving season.  A time for us to give back to others in our community. In the wise words of Buddy the elf “The best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear.” According to my sister, my “excellent” singing voice may not be the best at spreading holiday cheer.  Luckily for me, there are countless other ways we can spread holiday cheer this December and bring happiness to others.  As FFA members we have a duty to be leaders in our community and a key way to do that is by serving others. Let's look at some activities that chapters across the state are doing to uplift others. 

The South Newton FFA chapter participates in the Toys for Tots challenge where they compete with other local chapters to donate the most new toys.  These FFA members are spreading cheer and brightening the season for many children who will now have a toy or gift under the tree for Christmas.    

The Northwestern FFA chapter makes tie blankets for children’s hospitals during the Christmas season. They also make Thanksgiving meal baskets for the homeless and those in need. This chapter brings a smile to both children and adults going through difficult times during the holiday season.  

The Jay County FFA chapter adopts a family for Christmas and buys the family necessities and Christmas gifts.  These FFA members know that an entire family will have a brighter holiday season due to their efforts.  

The Sullivan FFA chapter hosts a community event called Christmas at the Barn for community children.  The FFA members read Christmas stories to children, provide a hot chocolate station, host a petting zoo, and even invite Santa to visit with children.  In addition, the chapter also plays board games with nursing home residents and has a canned food drive.  The Sullivan FFA stays busy giving back to their community! 

The Tri County FFA chapter holds blood drives, adopts a highway, and packs soap for those in need. The Tri County FFA chapter has found many ways to give back to their local community!

The North Decatur chapter is going Christmas Caroling to spread cheer at local nursing homes this year. They are excited to start this new tradition in their chapter.

Learning about all the great things FFA chapters are doing this holiday season has me motivated to spread some cheer myself!  I plan to reach out to a different person each of the 12 Days of Christmas and tell them how much I appreciate them.

My challenge to each of you is to find one thing you can do to bring joy during this giving season. It can be an individual goal like pledging to say one nice thing to someone you do not know very well each day. Or it can be a chapter goal like your whole chapter volunteering at a nursing home. No matter the size of your action, seize the opportunity to spread cheer in your community this holiday season.

Blaine Wagner, Southern Region Vice President

Tuesday, November 14, 2023

A Season of Thanks

   Thanksgiving goes beyond indulging in delicious food; it is a time to express gratitude and come together with loved ones. Often, I forget to reflect on all the things I am thankful for, so here is a list of all the things I have been thankful for over the past year. 

1. Family

  • My family has been my unwavering support system. They have stood by my side through every triumph and setback since day one. Their constant encouragement, unwavering belief in me, and refusal to let me give up on my dreams have been the driving forces in my life. I cherish them more than anything in the world.

2. Friends

  • Leaving my friends behind has been one of the most challenging experiences, but they have also shaped me into the person I am today. My friends have allowed me to be myself and have supported me wholeheartedly as I pursue my dreams.

3. My team

  • Living with six other teenagers in one house has presented its fair share of challenges. However, these challenges have been positive ones. Whether it's the friendly battles between the boys and girls late at night or the never-ending pile of dishes in the sink, I am grateful for each and every one of them. Their support has meant the world to me.

4. Jesus

  • I owe all my thanks to Jesus, who has guided me through every journey in life without ever letting me down. He has answered my questions and provided unwavering support in the face of any challenge.

5. Oklahoma State

  • My love for the Oklahoma State Cowboys runs deep, but the supportive community surrounding the university is even stronger. When I shared the news of my State Office achievement, OSU showed immense support and encouragement for my year of service. I am excited to see what the future holds as a Cowboy.

6. This Organization

  • FFA has opened countless doors of opportunity for me. I am incredibly grateful for this student-lead organization and everything it has done for me. As I embark on my year of service, I am eager to give back to this organization that has given me so much.

These are just a few highlights of all the things I am thankful for! Throughout this year I have been reminded to never take anything for granted and always enjoy the moment. Be thankful for everything this season. 

Thankful always, 

Tanner Weakley 

Tuesday, October 31, 2023

No Tricks, Just Treats for this National Convention!

I have never been able to choose what my favorite holiday is. I honestly love the different decorations and traditions with every single holiday, but I do have to admit, Halloween is definitely in the top 5. The costumes, candy, scary movies, fall scented candles… oh I could go on forever, but anyways, Halloween definitely has a special place in my heart. 

Oh and I forgot to mention, Halloween is during National Convention this year! How lucky did National FFA get? So in the spirit of Halloween, here are some of the biggest treats National Convention gives! 

Treat #1 - General Sessions

  • If you have ever been to National Convention you just know. Running to get good seats at Lucas Oil Stadium, the pre-session dances, the hype. Everything about the sessions is just a blast. I remember sitting in the stands for the first time as a sophomore and being in awe of all the lights, music, and hype everyone has. Take it all in and have fun! 

Treat #2 - The Shopping Mall

  • One of my biggest weaknesses comes whenever I enter a store or mall, and I could definitely say the same when it comes to shopping at National Convention. I will warn you; when you go in, you will always come out with something. I told myself I was NOT going to buy anything this past year, but ended up coming out with the cutest cow print Hey Dudes and the most perfect jeans that I still wear every other week. I mean, they’re cute so it's worth it… right? 

Treat #3 - The Expo Center 

  • Along with the shopping mall, wherever you go into the expo center you will come out with something, but the good thing is that these items are free! The expo center is filled with booths belonging to different companies from all around the nation that want to give YOU opportunities to succeed as you move on from high school. You can meet people from these companies, learn about the opportunities they can provide for you and then receive free items from the company. How cool is that? I would highly encourage you to go take a look!

Treat #4 - The People!

  • It is very rare that you are surrounded by over 70,000 people who all share a common interest with you. Meet as many people as you possibly can. National Convention gives you the ability to meet people from all over the nation! Take advantage of that; I still have friends I talk to that I met at National Convention!

Treat #5 - Memories

  • During National Convention you will be able to make some of the best memories that you will carry with you for the rest of your life. Some of my favorite memories are actually from National Convention. Keep an open mind, and have fun! You never know what people you will meet, and what opportunities will come your way. 

I hope you all will keep these treats of National Convention in mind and have a blast! Can’t wait to see you all there! :)


Maddie Denton

2023-2024 Indiana FFA State Secretary 

Tuesday, October 17, 2023

Falling for Conference Season

Fall is finally here! My favorite time of the year. Not only does fall mean cooler weather, turning leaves, and bonfires; it also means the Indiana FFA Leadership Center is full of mini buses, members, and gaga ball. Gaga ball is the best open recreation activity ever invented. My favorite memories come from the short time that we get to spend at the recreation activities. Some of those favorite memories include watching members make new friends, being competitive, and having fun! During our SOAR conferences I let my competitive side show by becoming the reigning champion in gaga ball, but one interaction stuck out to me. After playing gaga ball, I had a member walk up to me and tell me how good I was at gaga ball (keep in mind I hadn’t played much before). This was the first time he had attended a camp and was having so much fun, but he was very nervous the night before as he didn't know many people there. These were the same feelings I had attending my first ever conference. We talked for a good while and discovered that we had many things in common: we both were swimmers, both shared the same love for the Oklahoma State Cowboys, and most importantly had a strong passion for FFA. As open recreation activities ended, I encouraged him to enjoy the weekend and make many new friends as these are the people we will remember the most! 

After sitting out a game of gaga ball I realized how important it is to cheer on members. While it would have been easy for me to focus solely on defending my champion title, the connection I made with that particular member far surpassed any victory in gaga ball. Embrace the one not the many.

Tanner Weakley, State Sentinel

Tuesday, October 3, 2023

Seasons Changing

Seasons are changing, and I don’t just mean from summer to fall. Life has many different seasons. Unlike spring, summer, fall, or winter, we won’t always know what to expect in the next season of our lives. We don’t know where we could go or who we might become in the following moments. Sometimes our seasons change quickly, but sometimes they last a while. We just have to be ready for what God has in store for us.  

Thinking back to my senior year, I knew that things were getting ready to change, and I wasn’t quite sure what the next year of my life would look like. Instead of worrying about what the next season held, I did my best to make the most of the time I had left in high school. I spent time studying for contests, getting to know my classmates, and even spent time talking to former teachers. I not only had success in my contests, but I also made some lifelong friendships. Living in the present helped me enjoy the time I had left in high school. 

After graduation, I stepped into my next season with uncertainty. I knew I was running to be a state officer, but I had no idea what was next. Even though I was uncertain about what was going to happen, I wasn’t going in empty-handed. I had my skills, but more importantly, I had my family and friends supporting me. I did my best to prepare, and get everything set up for what would happen no matter the outcome. But I still had doubts about if there was more I could do, or if I was even making the right choice by running.

Looking back on my high school season, I learned the value of personal connections. Much like trees, sometimes the seasons our leaves change or even fall off, but our roots are always there. Sometimes roots grow deeper, or grow a different way, much like the connections we make. We can always have hope for tomorrow because the people we count on will help us through the next seasons of our lives, just as the roots support the growth of new leaves. 

The seasons might be changing, but our support is only growing. We can rely on those who have been there for us, and those we meet along the way. Maybe the seasons of life aren’t all that different from spring, summer, fall, or winter after all. We might lose our leaves, but we will still have our roots. And finally, when the time comes we will grow our leaves back and have a fresh start. Our seasons are just a part of our growing process, and sometimes uncertainty can take over, but we will grow back.

Caden Sixberry, State Treasurer 

Monday, September 25, 2023

Kickoff For a New Year Brings New Opportunities

A new year brings a chance for new opportunities. Throughout this year we will have the chance to take hold of these opportunities. There are opportunities that range from competing in so many different events to helping out our communities to even the opportunity to meet new people. 

FFA events allow us the opportunity to compete and show off all of our hard work and skills. Take the chance to compete in a CDE or LDE and sharpen your skills. Use this year to become a better leader or more skilled in your profession.

Take the chance and help out those in your community. FFA has a reputation for supporting the community and always giving back. Use that as an opportunity to help your community and truly impact those who already support you. One small act of kindness can change the world. 

Finally, take the chance to meet someone new. FFA allows you to meet members from your county, district, and even from all over the state. Making these connections allows us to create a network of individuals who can help us when we need it most.

As we travel throughout this year remember to take hold of so many different opportunities, and don’t miss the chance to make a difference. 

Conner Keeslar, Northern Region Vice President

Monday, September 4, 2023

A Door Closed or A New Window Opened?

Going into my senior year of high school, I was more than ready to embrace all of the “lasts” that were headed my way. The last first day of school, last homecoming, last football game, last basketball game, last time sitting in the cheerblock, last prom, and the list goes on. Before I knew it, experiencing those lasts became natural, and being reintroduced to “firsts” became the new normal. For example, the first night at the state officer house with my teammates, going to the grocery store for the first time, cooking our first meal, and getting the opportunity to go to Washington D.C. which led right into the Great Indiana State Fair.

Everyone who knows me knows that the State Fairgrounds is one of my favorite places on Earth. There has always been something about the people, livestock, and memories that live there, throughout the fair, that has stuck with me and ultimately had a huge impact on who I am as an individual. My first state fair was spent achieving the small goals that my young self had set and establishing new and much larger goals for the future. Each year, I had the opportunity to work towards checking those goals off while being surrounded by some of my favorite people.  I remember every state fair like they happened yesterday, and the memories I have made there are truly unforgettable. Just like the memories from my first nine state fairs have stuck with me, I am sure that my experiences at my tenth, and final state fair, will not leave my mind any time soon.

As my season of lasts turned into a season of firsts, I quickly forgot about the “last” that had yet to happen: the last time in the show ring. In the midst of enjoying the first milestone as a state officer at the FFA Pavilion, I was also taking in every minute I had in Blue Ribbon Pavilion as this would be my final time showing. For sixteen years walking in and out of show rings has been routine, but this time was different. I knew that each time I walked in the ring, depending on the outcome, I could be walking out for the final time. No matter how many times I ran that scenario through my head, imagining how I would feel when that moment came, I wasn’t prepared to physically take that last step. As I walked my ewe out of the ring following the Commercial Ewe Drive, I felt all of the emotions that the Indiana State Fair had offered me at once. A final last had come, and while I cried because that chapter was closing, I couldn’t help but smile as I looked at the people who had walked along this journey with me. I now know that I am “one of them” with the opportunity to do the same for other young livestock showmen just as they had done for me in the past ten years.

I would be lying if I said that it wasn’t hard to close a door that had some of my most cherished memories behind it. But as I was reminded by one of the most influential people in my life just moments after the final backdrop photo was taken, “This isn't the end. This is the moment that you see everything you have accomplished and can recognize the person you have become. Now it’s time for a new role, something that will last for much longer.” Although it may feel like it, a closed door doesn’t symbolize the end. It represents a step towards the future with countless windows of opportunities ahead.

So whether you’re in a season of exciting firsts or heading into a season of lasts, I encourage you to look for every open window that is offering up a great opportunity and to hold on to the memories behind those hard-to-close doors!

Excited for What’s Ahead,

Kelby Roberts

2023-2024 State President