Wednesday, September 28, 2011

The Crossroads of America

As I write this blog, I am currently sitting in a McDonald's. How ironic right? Like Gianna has already described, the state officers are currently smack dab in the middle of our chapter visit tour, aptly named the Impact Express. While on this tour, we will visit somewhere between 65-75 chapters all across the great Hoosier State, and easily talk to more than 1500 students. To say this is an experience we are all excited for would be an understatement. What is more exciting than driving the "Crossroads of America" from top to bottom 3 weeks in a row in order to promote ag education, FFA, and personal growth? That's right, hardly anything, except for IPFW Mastodons basketball, FFA National Convention, Monopoly at McDonald's, Stormchasers on the Discovery Channel, and the new season of Glee. (Ok, I'm totally kidding about the last one.) As I have traveled across our great state, I have realized that the Crossroads of America statement is completely true.

Rachel and I had the great opportunity last Tuesday to visit the Benton Central FFA Chapter just north of West Lafayette in District IV. When we pulled into the parking lot at the school, we noticed something different about the landscape. There is a wind farm located directly behind the school. How neat is that!?
Right then, we made it our goal to get up close and personal with a wind turbine that day. On our drive towards Lafayette for District IV Kick-off, we went road farming, and pulled off of US 52 and on to a country road. We just wanted to take a picture of the wind turbine we could get closest to. And close we got.   We saw a gravel access road that led us right up to the base of the wind turbine! It was a sign that we needed to drive right up to this turbine. Think of Jack and his infamous beanstalk. It grew to the Kingdom of the Giants in the sky. Every person hearing the story knows that Jack has to climb the beanstalk into the sky regardless of what will happen in the end, because well, he just has to. And so we drove down the access road. And parked less than fifty feet away from the bottom of the turbine.

       Wind turbines are incredible structures, and this one was no less. Standing directly under the blades of the turbine, you realize the sheer power of these structures. Surprisingly, there is no whooshing noise and no wind being created from the spinning blades. It really is incredible. After snapping a few photos, we left the turbine.

On Thursday, Jake and I visited District X, which was an absolute blast! We had a morning visit at Northeast Dubois, and then we left for Gibson Southern. As we approached Gibson Southern, worried that we may have been running late, I told Jake (our driver) that we should ignore a road closed sign because we could probably get through with local traffic. Bad decision on my part. We drove a few miles down highway 168 towards Fort Branch, and then saw that the road ahead of us was nothing but dirt and heavy machinery. The road was truly closed; it was hardly there. And so we immediately took a left turn on a gravel road, which was more tar than gravel. While Jake complained about the tar on his car and I sat sullenly thinking about my poor decision to skip the detour, we both burst out laughing. It was truly funny how cruddy this road was. That's when I realized that it didn't matter that I had made a navigational error. We were having a more memorable experience on one of the true Crossroads of Indiana. We ended up being early to Gibson Southern, and I doubt Jake or I will ever forget that awful gravel road.

 It isn't always the final destination that we will remember. Many times it's the experience of getting to that destination that will be more memorable.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Kicking It Back To The Roots

We've been spending the last week and a half traveling throughout the state of Indiana.  We started out on the west side of the state last week hitting up districts I, IV, VII, and X.  We are now working down the center of the state visiting districts II, V, VIII, and XI.  It has been a blast so far!  It's interesting seeing how different parts of Indiana can be from each other.  For example,  when we were in District X, Ross & I had some extra time on our hands so I wanted to look up the closest McDonald's so I can get some Wi-Fi... I was disappointed to find out that the nearest McDonald's was 30 miles away!  For somebody who craves the city life, I struggled with that fact.  It made me appreciate Warsaw, Indiana a bit more seeing as we have 2 McDonald's - not that I'm a huge McDonald's fan. At all.

As we travel, we visit chapters throughout the day and have District Kick-Offs in the evening.  I LOVE going to chapters!  Our team put together two different visits.  One visit focuses on Self-Awareness. During that visit, we focus on identifying with whom we surround ourselves, understanding the impact we have on others, and applying the positive characteristics we see in role models to ourselves.  The other visit focuses on Goal Setting.  We all set TRAIN goals for ourselves (goals that are Timely, Realistic, Accountable, Important, and Noticeable).  We also include activities that explain obstacles with our goals and the importance of setting small goals to achieve larger goals.

Yesterday, Jake and I visited Warsaw and Wawasee for chapter visits.  It was AMAZING to be back in District II.  It was so good to see my chapter and get to know members from Wawasee.  During the District II Kick-Off, I was on Cloud 9.  The district officers did an awesome job starting out the evening with a dance off (you can never go wrong with quality dance moves) and it just got better from there.  It's always important to remember where your roots are.  FFA members, always remember the advisor(s), members, and other individuals who helped you get to where you are now. 

Sunday, September 18, 2011