Thursday, March 31, 2011

A Weekend ReTREAT!

This past weekend, myself, Micah and Janna spent our time hanging out with the North Montgomery FFA Chapter. We began early Saturday morning learning about motivation, commitment, career development events, team development, and communication. We had a great time getting to know the FFA members. One of the most memorable events of the weekend was Saturday evening during reflections. We all shared thoughts and words of wisdom about some of the life circumstances that we have all dealt with. After reflections, almost every single FFA member came up to myself and my teammates and thanked us…genuinely. By Sunday we had gained thirty-three new friends and many memories.
As state officers we are allotted one weekend home a month to see family. This past weekend was our scheduled weekend home. Janna, Micah and I have never made a better decision than to stay here in Trafalgar. It truly was a TREAT. 
From FFA: Following the Future of Agriculture

Thursday, March 24, 2011

In Celebration of National Teach Ag. Day!

National Teach Ag Day is a day to celebrate school-based agricultural education and to encourage agricultural education advocates, especially current agricultural educators (middle school, high school, post-secondary, pre-service programs, etc.) to share with others the great career opportunities in agricultural education.  Agricultural education teaches students about agriculture, food and natural resources.  Through these subjects, agricultural educators teach students a wide variety of skills, including science, math, communications, leadership, management and technology.

I had the opportunity to sit down and talk to a couple Ag teachers about their careers:

Mr. Ben Leu
Prairie Heights FFA Chapter Advisor

How many years have you been teaching Ag?
“I am in my 4th year of teaching.”

Why did you want to become an Ag teacher?
“Family tradition – my grandfather was an Ag teacher for over 35 years at Prairie Heights even through serving in the Army.  Being an Ag teacher that long and creating so many relationships and impacting so many students like he did made it seem like a logical decision especially after all my time in FFA.  So with that being said, a lot of it was my family and understanding the opportunities that come with receiving a degree of Ag Education.  I saw that there are countless benefits of becoming an Ag Teacher.”

What do you enjoy most about teaching Ag?
“The competitive nature of being an Ag Teacher and an FFA advisor is very enjoyable for me.  Just a few weeks ago we won Top Chapter in our district.   The other thing is working with students that you know probably wouldn’t succeed in other areas and finding a niche for them to fit into, and grow, and set them up for career success.”

What is your favorite CDE in FFA to have students compete in?
“My favorite CDEs would have to be the speeches and demonstrations.  I love to see a student who isn’t a great public speaker take a topic that they enjoy and put a demonstration together then present it well.  We push students to do just that a lot.  It’s amazing how many contests we can do in one year.  I’ve been impressed with our novice Chapter Meeting team that consists of 7th and 8th graders and Freshmen.  This year we were able to win district.  Competitions like that allow teachers to be able to see students of all ages shine.”

Do you have any success stories of any members you’ve taught over the years?
“The biggest success story in four years is tough to draw from all the students I’ve seen in four years now.  There is one student in particular that I’ve had in various Ag classes in the past four years.  He lives in what is probably not the nicest house you could imagine can comes from a tough home life.  He loves to fish, and before he came to us he had never been around Ag at all.  When he got into middle school we got him into fundamentals and now he stays every day after school helping around our Ag building and he takes care of our fish in our aquatic science tanks and has really found a niche to grow and develop in as he becomes more and more involved with us.  Watching him grow and watching him make positive life decisions because of his involvement with Ag is a perfect example of why Ag Education and FFA can have such a positive effect on students lives.”

Mrs. Diana Arellano
Knightstown FFA Chapter Advisor

How many years have you been teaching Ag?
“I’ve been teaching Ag for 4 years.”

Why did you want to become an Ag teacher?
“Becoming an Ag teacher was something that came to me very unexpectedly.  I fell into it. Looking back on it, it was a “by the grace of God” type event in my life and now looking back I wonder why I haven’t taught Ag for the last 20 years in my life instead of the past 4!  I love it and I’m having a great time doing it.”

What do you enjoy most about teaching Ag?
“I enjoy working with the students.  I enjoy the fast paced nature of it.  There is always something that changes.  Until you’re exposed to that educational environment, I feel that as you grow older you maybe stop learning information.  There is simply so much to learn out there in our Agriculture Industry and I enjoy learning about all I’ve been exposed to through Ag Education.”

Before teaching Ag, did you have an Ag background?
“I have an extensive background in agriculture.  I was raised on a purebred cattle operation.  I was involved in 4-H and FFA during my high school career.  I went on to Purdue University where I received an Animal Science Degree.  I spent some years working for some beef breed registries including the American Shorthorn Association in Omaha, Nebraska, as well as the American Gelbvieh Association in Denver Colorado.  And now, here I am employed as an Ag Teacher!”

What is your favorite CDE in FFA to have students compete in?
“My favorite CDE is Livestock Evaluation.  Simply because that’s where my background is, that’s where my passion is, and that’s where my interest is.  It’s my favorite to coach and recruit new people into.  I do love, in my new experience in teaching and FFA, seeing students compete in the Parliamentary Procedure CDE.  I’ve learned a lot about the CDE and I love seeing students step up to their leadership potential in that area.”

The state of Indiana was fortunate enough to receive a grant from the NAAE to assist our IAAE foundation.

Indiana is very lucky this year in being able to claim this year’s NAAE President, Greg Curlin of the Switzerland County FFA Chapter.

Visit these links to help in promoting National Teach Ag Day!

Vist National Teach Ag day on their website:

Follow TeachAg on Twitter:

Micah Matlock

From FFA: Following the Future of Agriculture

Wednesday, March 23, 2011


"Never never never give up." -Winston Churchill

Members of the Indiana FFA never give up. They put in long hours, blood, sweat, tears and dedication to pursue their agricultural and leadership careers.

The spring is typically a time for those FFA members to celebrate the fruits of their efforts at Chapter Banquets. Thursday evening, North Harrison FFA members in Ramsey, Indiana celebrated a year of heavy involvement and high achievements. From the State Entomology Winner to their District X Proficiency winners, from the Soils Evaluation Teams to the newly elected officer team, awards were given and words of thanks were spoken by the stakeholders of North Harrison FFA.

I had the privilege of sharing with the dozens of FFA stakeholders present the importance of recognizing success, being confidence and competing against oneself. 

North Harrison, thank you for striving towards excellence in your school, chapter and community. Continue succeeding, and continue bettering your agricultural program for the students who will reap its benefits long after you've moved down the road. 

Country Mark, thank you for taking pride in your brand and in the FFA brand. Without this wonderful partnership, celebrating these FFA members would not be possible.

From FFA: Following the Future of Agriculture

Thursday, March 10, 2011

New leaders, New experiences.

Kelly and Janna traveled to Washington DC with members and staff of Indiana Farm Bureau on their New Leaders trip.  We journeyed to the airport on Tuesday morning and made our way to our Nation's Capitol.  After arriving safely in DC we visited the New Zealand Embassy and learned about agriculture there.  New Zealand is actually the number one exporter of sheep meat and number one in the exports of dairy products.  After our visit with New Zealand, we traveled to a nearby seafood restaurant  where we had dinner and listened to President Don Villwock speak about issues and the happenings with Farm Bureau and issues with bills concerning agriculture.  On Wednesday we had an enjoyable breakfast with guest speakers who spoke on the bills in the Senate and the House of which would be affecting farmers and agriculture in general.  The rest of the day was spent on Capitol Hill.  We first met with Senator Coats as we discussed the issues facing agriculture.  Some such issues included regulations for farmers, estate tax, clean water and air acts, alternative fuels such as ethanol, the Perkins Act, and many more.  After meeting with Senator Coats, we had the opportunity to meet with some members of the House Ag Committee. They spoke of the process of the farm bill and how long it normally takes.  For the farm bill of 2008, hearings began in 2006 and the process took over 2 years!  Next Kelly and I had the chance to meet with our Representatives from our respective districts with the Farm Bureau members.  For the end of the day, we met with Senator Lugar and again discussed the same issues with him.  Today (Thursday) at breakfast we listened to Anne Hazlett speak about energy issues and Tom Buis who works for Growth Energy speak about ethanol and energy issues.  We then toured the American Farm Bureau Federation building.  Free time around Washington DC will conclude our trip this afternoon before flying back to Indianapolis.  This trip has been a great experience to learn about politics and learn just how we go about sparking to our congressmen about issues facing our agricultural industry.
Kelly and Janna

From FFA: Following the Future of Agriculture

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Agriculture Day at the State House

After months of anticipation, we zipped up our jackets, loaded up our cars and walked up the limestone steps of the State House. Gov. Mitch Daniels proclaimed March as Indiana Agriculture Appreciation Month, and stakeholders of FFA and Indiana Agriculture attended a celebration Monday, March 7th to kick of this month of appreciation.

From conversing with legislators, lobbyists and agricultural businesspeople, to remarks from Lt. Gov. Becky Skillman, the day was full of educational opportunities and fuel for the passion of all agriculturists in attendance.

Thank you to everyone who made this day possible. Whether you were able to enjoy fellowship with us in downtown Indy or not, we appreciate everything you have done. We look forward to hearing your stories, seeing your impact and making our agricultural industry better than ever.

Keep a look out on Facebook, Twitter and ISDA for updates on Indiana Agriculture Appreciation Month!

From FFA: Following the Future of Agriculture

The Life and Times of Morgan Dawson during FFA week!

FFA Week – the best week-long holiday of the YEAR! This week, I am spending my time in the southwest corner of Indiana – District X! I took off on Monday morning with no idea of how much fun I was going to have and how much I was going to be impacted by the members and types of celebrations I have ran into!

Monday, February 21st:  Tecumseh FFA, Lynnville, IN – What a celebration they have going on there this week! I was able to present to about half of their Chapter during homeroom time after enjoying some pizza with them! We discussed opportunities – whether those be in FFA, in school, in our churches, and in our communities – that are available to us and just waiting for us to take! Our three points were being aware, knowing what’s available, and then taking action! Members were so willing and ready to get FFA Week rolling, and it was evident during the presentation! Their hospitality was incredible – they were so kind as to give me a Chapter t-shirt and a jar of honey! While I thought my week couldn’t get any better from there, I soon discovered I was wrong!

Tuesday, February 22nd:  Mt. Vernon @ Mt. Vernon FFA, Mt. Vernon, IN – Since I have become close with many of their members this year, I was very excited to visit their Chapter for the first time and during FFA Week! We enjoyed the same opportunities presentation as well as cupcakes for their Mr. Reese’s birthday, who is the Chapter Advisor! I also was introduced to their principal, who is a huge supporter of FFA! To promote FFA Week to their entire school, they decorated a display case with signs and other d├ęcor promoting “Infinite Potential,” which is our State theme this year and had a GIGANTIC sign attached to a wooden frame that had the dates of FFA Week and the theme on it! After presenting to the Chapter, two members and I went to the Mt. Vernon Kiwanis Meeting and Luncheon.  It was held at their Country Club and had all of the Kiwanis members there along with their “farmer” friends! I was honored and privileged to speak to the group about the future of agriculture, hitting on the points of youth, education, and technology! What a great time it was! Thank you, Mt. Vernon @ Mt. Vernon FFA, for a great morning and afternoon!
After visiting Mt. Vernon, I made my way over to the District X Dodge Ball Tournament held at Heritage Hills High School! District X is known for having many different kinds of sports tournaments between the Chapters in the District.  This dodge ball tournament had 17 teams, and Tecumseh FFA came out on top! It was wonderful to see members having fun and practicing healthy competition! Congrats to all who participated and enjoyed themselves!

Wednesday, February 23rd:  Gibson Southern FFA:  It was quite the sight going into Gibson Southern High School and seeing students in Official Dress – EVERYWHERE! I was so blessed to present to two wonderful classes who were not afraid to show what they are made of and do anything asked of them! Even though many of them were anxious and nervous about the District X Chapter Meeting that was going to be held later that evening, they still gave it their all! Congrats to Gibson Southern FFA for placing first in both the Novice and Senior Chapter Meeting CDE last night and advancing to the Section Contest in April!
Perry Central FFA: Children and farm animals = HILARIOUS! The Perry Central FFA held their annual Petting Zoo yesterday in their ag. shop for all preschool and elementary students to come visit every fifteen minutes! Some of the animals the children enjoyed were two dogs, llamas, sheep, cows, pigs, ducks, chickens, and a turkey! They students did a great job exhibiting the animals to the youngsters and letting them have a great time! After school, they had their first ever After School Bash, which turned out to be a great success! They grilled hamburgers and hotdogs and had a cornhole tournament! My partner and I won our first game, but then had to play advisor, Mr. Springer, and his partner! Needless to say, we lost after Mr. Springer put all four cornhole bags in the hole on one turn! Thank you, Perry Central FFA, for allowing me to truly celebrate FFA Week with you!

District X Chapter Meeting:  Parliamentary Procedure…a very scary thought to many! Last night, District X faced any fears of parli. they may have had and competed in the infamous Chapter Meeting CDE held at Boonville High School! In the Senior Division, Gibson Southern FFA finished first, followed by North Posey FFA, and then Mt. Vernon @ Mt. Vernon FFA for second and third! Gibson Southern FFA also took first in the Novice Division with North Posey coming in second place! Congrats to all participants!

Thursday, February 24th:  North Posey FFA:  One of my favorite things of State Office is all of GOOD FOOD we eat! After presenting to two classes this morning, my idea of “good food” was changed! Once again this year, North Posey FFA held their Pork Chop Lunch for all members, teachers, and a few others! The meal included a HUGE pork chop, a baked potato, cabbage, a roll, and drink! Never have I EVER had such a wonderful, delicious, melt-in-your-mouth pork chop…sorry, Mom! Ha! Thank you, North Posey FFA, for allowing me to be a part of your annual Pork Chop Lunch tradition!

While this week has flown and it’s already Thursday, it’s not going to slow down for me! Tonight, I am looking forward to attending the Posey County Farm Bureau Stockholders meeting, spending time with South Spencer FFA and Forest Park FFA tomorrow, and then wrapping it up with a steak dinner fundraiser for Give Hope held by Gibson Southern FFA on Saturday! I can only hope that everyone has had an FFA Week as wonderful as mine has been! While doing a lot of driving by myself, I have done much thinking about how FFA has impacted me and how I have no idea where I would without it…right now or in the future! So I ask you, what does FFA mean to you?! Think about it while enjoying the rest of the best week-long holiday there is, National FFA Week 2011!

FFA Week with Nellie

National FFA Week is in full swing and I am seeing blue corduroy in countless Facebook profile pictures. More importantly though, I am seeing the “Infinite Potential” in FFA chapters everywhere I go! On Tuesday I was excited to travel to my “Neck of the woods”, in District IX, and visit with members of the Hagerstown FFA, my home chapter. It was exciting to have the chance to spend some time with such driven FA members. Throughout my week, one chapter that sticks out in my mind is the STAR Academy FFA chapter. I visited this chapter today for their Middle School Ag. Day and I was completely impressed. The chapter officers presented an awesome session about removing the road blocks that keep us from being the best leaders that we can be. The day was filled with fun games, breakout groups, inspiring conversations, and a session filled with a challenging message. This chapter shines as they strive to invest in their students. 
Throughout the rest of the week, my teammates and I will me making the most of National FFA Week by visiting as many schools as we can throughout Indiana. Tomorrow I will be visiting the Central Nine Career Center and then heading down to Paoli, Indiana. On Friday, I will be presenting at the Paoli FFA chapter and visiting with the members. I will wrap up the week in Gibson County spending some time with the members of the Gibson Southern FFA chapter. I am very excited to have all of these opportunities to see some of the FFA chapters and members that make the Indiana FFA so great!

From FFA: Following the Future of Agriculture

Breakfast for the FFAmily

Saturday, February 26, the Mt. Vernon @ Fortville FFAmily hosted its third annual FFA Week Breakfast at the Mohawk United Methodist Church. The doors opened at 6:30 a.m. and community members filled the cafeteria until 10:30. FFA members and parents served biscuits and gravy, pancakes, fruit and pastries to their friends and neighbors, raising over $2,000 with free will donations.

It was incredible seeing these FFA members celebrate the bounty that agriculture brings with the folks they’ve grown up knowing, working alongside, and promoting agricultural education and leadership with. Micah and I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know the members and supporters, and feel so blessed that we were able to partake in such a great event.

As much as FFA promotes student development in premier leadership, personal growth and career success through agricultural education, we witnessed first-hand the impact that community involvement has on individual members.

Mt. Vernon @ Fortville, thank you for allowing us the privilege of joining you this morning! It was an unforgettable experience we both will cherish forever!!!

From FFA: Following the Future of Agriculture

Queen of Hearts

Driving through the hills of Southern Indiana is a beautiful and scenic route especially when that route takes you to Switzerland County High School and the annual Queen of Hearts Contest hosted by Switzerland County FFA. Every year the Switzerland County FFA Chapter beautifies their school by allowing any young women in their school the opportunity to fill out an application and pay a twenty-five dollar entry fee to enter the contest.  Each contestant has a sponsor in the community and a platform.  The platforms are some kind of community service project ranging from awareness about child abuse, domestic violence, giving back to veterans, or fighting cancer.  Whichever young, talented woman is crowned Queen of Hearts will then promote her platform throughout the year with the help of the Switzerland County FFA Chapter. 

Every candidate goes through a three minute interview, models sportswear and an evening gown, and is judged on a response to a leadership quote.  On the day of the contest, all the ladies arrive a few hours early to go through the interview.  After the interviews, the ladies change into their evening gowns and the auditorium fills with spectators.  Each spectator pays a three dollar entrance fee, which along with the twenty-five dollar entry fee each young woman pays, goes toward the Special Olympics in the local area.  The Switzerland County FFA Chapter Advisor, Mr. Curlin who also serves as the NAAE President, commented on how proud he was of his school.  The Queen of Hearts Contest has been going on now for 18 years.  Some of the past Queen of Hearts's platforms have even turned into annual traditions, such as the canned food drive which supports the local food pantry. 

This year's Queen of Hearts was the FFA Chapter President, Andrea, whose platform is to stop texting and driving in both teenagers and adults.  After learning the history of the contest and the impact the platforms make every year it is easy to see that Switzerland County and their FFA Chapter are beautiful inside and out!
From FFA: Following the Future of Agriculture