Thursday, December 20, 2012

Indiana FFA Paying it Forward!!!

Living to serve....My teammates and I were able to live up to the FFA Motto by serving meals to the less fortunate at the Wheeler Mission this past Monday afternoon for 2 hours. We all really enjoyed giving back to the community and helping others during the holiday season. It really made us think about and appreciate what we have and how easy it can be taken away. I challenge you all to "Pay it Forward" whether at school, home, church, or somewhere in your community. You will never know how much you can make an IMPACT in the lives of someone else. 


From FFA: Following the Future of Agriculture

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Living to Serve.....

Learning to do, Doing to learn, Earning to live, Living to Serve. That's the FFA motto that FFA members follow, Especially the Shenandoah FFA Chapter. This Past Sunday the seven FFA State Officers were invited by the chapter to help put on the Snug Harbor Christmas Party. It was a Christmas party for about 130 special people in the community to enjoy a meal and meet and receive presents from Santa! The Walker County Band even played Christmas songs to enjoy during the meal. The members and officers organized the event, served the food, and helped pass out the gifts doing all of this with a smile on their face. We had made an impact on the lives of those people and the community. The State Officers then made our way to the Hickey's to enjoy some amazing food, fellowship, and presents! It is days like these I will remember for the rest of my life....

Thursday, December 13, 2012

For the past two and a half weeks the state officers have been traveling around the state on their Business and Industry Visit Tour. The team has thoroughly enjoyed visiting our partners and learning more about the agriculture industry! This tour would not have been possible without our sponsor of this year's Goodwill Visits, Ice Miller. A huge thank you goes out to them for such a generous and growing partnership! Beth Bechdol, an Ice Miller employee, even joined us on our visit to Indiana Packers of Delphi, Indiana. We truly appreciate our sponsors. Words cannot describe how much their partnership means to our organization! Their support provides FFA members across the state with endless opportunities and enables the Indiana FFA and its members to grow, learn, and experience success.

The Indiana FFA State Officers with Sikich and Ice Miller at an Agribusiness update!

From FFA: Following the Future of Agriculture

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

We were going to see SANTA! The excitement inside of me was pumping. After I realized I would not actually be able to see the jolly man himself, we still took time to enjoy all of the wonderful Christmas decorations and wonderful atmosphere.  While being on business and industry visits we have had the opportunity to visit many different agriculture businesses. I soon realized how many businesses had the same values and morals and how those played a factor in their company. It was also extremely exciting for me to see all of the different decorations in each business. Christmas is very near. Make sure you take time to remember the true meaning of Christmas and spend your Christmas with the ones that you love most!

From FFA: Following the Future of Agriculture

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Showing Thanks Through Service

The FIRE conference 2012 was a great success! FFA members in attendance entered the Magical Kingdom and learned more about themselves and opportunities available to them in the future. FIRE was a blast, a special thank you to the members and advisors for making the weekend an enjoyable one. At FIRE FFA members had the opportunity to partake in a service project. FFA members made Christmas cards for troops who would be deployed over the holiday season. These cards allowed Indiana FFA members to not only wish the troops a Merry Christmas, but also thank them for all they do. About 500 cards were sent to Troops Missions in Lexington, Kentucky to be put in holiday care packages. Thank you to all those who participated! Giving thanks through service did not stop with the Christmas cards though. The State Officers and some of the Indiana FFA State Staff had the opportunity to attend Trees for Troops at Dull's Tree Farm in Thorntown, IN. Here Fedex, FFA, and various volunteers packaged 300 Christmas trees along with ornaments that would be sent to troops overseas. The event was an experience that I will never forget. There is no better way of giving thanks during the Thanksgiving season than by doing it through service! The FFA wishes everyone a good Thanksgiving and safe travels!

From FFA: Following the Future of Agriculture

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

The Nationals FFA Organization has teamed up with Kids Against Hunger to package over a million meals! On November 13, the Indiana FFA State Officers were joined with ten other chapters around the state and local community supporters to begin the packaging! In just two hours, with the combined help, we packaged over 200,000 meals! It was such a great feeling to be able to reach out to our community. Indiana FFA has taken action and is helping families around the world, as well as around the corner!
From FFA: Following the Future of Agriculture

Monday, October 29, 2012

Lights Out Ceremony

Wow! What an experience! On Friday night some on my teammates and I witnessed history. The Pepsi Coliseum at the Indiana State Fair had its official lights off ceremony. I have had many great experiences in the coliseum growing up, and now the coliseum will be going through renovation. The renovation is the start of a new chapter for the Indiana State Fair. The coliseum will be under construction until 2014 when it will reopen. The ceremony would not have been possible without FFA members from around the United States participating. Each person at the ceremony was given a flashlight to be turned on once the lights were turned off. The end portrait of all of the flashlights lit was truly beautiful. The ceremony brought tears to my eyes and I was honored to participate in and witness the event.

From FFA: Following the Future of Agriculture

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Creating your Environment

Tonight at the 85th National FFA Convention in Indianapolis, Indiana, we heard the retiring address of Western Region Vice-President, Seth Pratt. In his retiring address Seth stressed the importance of the environments we put ourselves in throughout our lives. Environments consist of what is in our surroundings, whether this be the people we are with, or the lifestyles we choose to live. As FFA members, we need to remembers this inspirational insight from Seth. We choose what environment to put ourselves in. If one does not like the environment they are in, then there is only one solution. You must build your own doing this one can better focus on their goal, reach their goal, and continue to be successful throughout their lives. The Indiana FFA State Officers will do just that, and we challenge you all to do the same! We hope to see you here in the final days of the National FFA Convention!

From FFA: Following the Future of Agriculture

Saturday, September 29, 2012

       The past week has flown by, of course that is what happens when you are having fun! All the State Officers left Sunday evening for northern Indiana to continue Chapter visits and District Kickoffs.  Through random Walmart stops, many McDonalds runs, much needed naps, talking to Michelin Men on the side of tires, and singing loud to the radio, Shelby and I had an amazing week traveling the great state of Indiana. Our GPS was acting up on the last day of traveling, but that did not slow us down. Just a few wrong turns, and short circles later we would eventually reach our destination! I would like to thank District II, V, VIII, and XI for a great week! Briley and I got invited to attend the Pumpkin Show Parade in Versailles, IN this weekend. It was an absolute blast to walk in the parade and pass out candy with the Milan FFA Chapter. Jac-Cen-Del and South Ripley FFA Chapters also had an FFA float in the parade! The parade was an overall success and we thank Ripley County for being so welcoming to us both! This next week the officer team will be getting everything ready for S.O.A.R. so I hope everyone is excited!

From FFA: Following the Future of Agriculture

Friday, September 21, 2012

The week was a crazy one that is for sure. LDW was held on Friday to Sunday.  After camp ended we went out for pizza and then began packing for District Kick- Offs and Chapter Visits. It was finally time to hit the road with my travel partners for the week, Katherine and Briley. We were rocking down the road in Katherine’s spacious vehicle all the way to District I. Throughout the week you may have heard us singing as we drove through DI, DIV, DVII, DX. We voted and we definitely know that we will not be going on American Idol, anytime soon. All I know is that we had an awesome time and I loved every second of this last week. As I got to know the students and the FFA members, I loved to hear what they were truly interested in. It amazes me how truly blessed our state is. On our travels we conducted classroom presentations during the day and then headed to the Kick-Offs at night.  It was a wonderful week on the road. Even if I felt like I was living out of the car, it was still magical and worth every second of it. Happily sleeping in my own bed again,

Monday, September 10, 2012

Indiana FFA State Officers are getting ready to lasso up some leadership at LDW 2012!We have been busy planning sessions, shooting videos, and getting pumped up for over 100 FFA members around the state to come to the Leadership Center! We are looking forward to three days jamed pack full of team bonding and leadership building activities!

Friday, September 7, 2012

Work Hard Play Hard

      If I could describe this week at the state officer house in one word it would be productive! The officers started out the week well rested from our weekend home. We went straight to work on scheduling chapter visits, planning district kickoffs, and working on the first Leadership Development Workshop. The team is pumped to start traveling the state meeting members! :) Besides FFA business, the team has had a ton of fun after office hours this week! We've been the ultimate movie junkies, Facebook creepers, swimmers, interpretive dancers, and trampoline jumpers! Needless to say we have made some funny memories! We can't wait to see everyone next weekend at the Leadership Development Workshop, Premier Leadership Training, or chapter visits! Get pumped Indiana FFA members!!! :)

Practicing my dance moves on the mini trampoline at the state officer house...always a fun time! :)

Friday, August 24, 2012

A Truly Sensational Summer

     Don't blink, or you'll miss it. That's how this summer has felt. It's been two short months since we were elected as the 2012-2013 State Officer Team, but since then, so much has happened! Three days after being elected, we moved into the Leadership Center and it was time for our first team training, Blast Off. After that it was on to Illinois for the National Leadership Conference for State Officers, another team training. At NLCSO, we met state officers from Missouri, Wisconsin, and Illinois as well as gaining valuable skills that will come in handy throughout our year. From there, we jumped straight into our first camp - Summer Challenge! The theme was CSI: Trafalgar and members discovered the true power of community service. It was truly amazing to see what my team could do with just two days to plan a conference.
     Once Summer Challenge was over, the state officers had one thing on our minds, State Fair! All in all, we spent 32 days there between set up, the fair itself, and tear down. Many visitors told us that they think the pavilion looked the best it ever has. This tells me one thing...that Indiana FFA members are truly talented! After all, it was everyone who came to help set up the pavilion that made it look truly awesome. While it was exhausting, it was a good time of team bonding, meeting members, and telling the story of FFA and agriculture to the fair going public. With August coming to an end, school starting back up, and the temperatures getting cooler, I look forward to starting chapter visits and seeing all of you at district kick-offs.  

Saturday, June 16, 2012

I Believe Convention is Almost Here!

     Thousands of staples, hundreds of paperclips, thousands of papers, stacks of envelopes, scripts, boxes of supplies, at least fifteen computers, three interns, and four staff members...  It's almost there!  In just two days two thousand blue jackets will flood the Purdue campus to compete, see friends, and be inspired and motivated.
     To say the state officer team is excited would be a major understatement.  Personally, I cannot wait to see the community service project.  Service is important to our team, and I had the opportunity to organize a service project for the 83rd Indiana FFA State Convention.  FFA members will be packing over 20,000 meals, assisting at the Food Finders food bank in Lafayette, and working at the Tippecanoe County Amphitheater Monday afternoon.
     We have had a lot of fun preparing for convention and can't wait to get everyone here and share it with them!  A service project, a flashmob, sessions, and banquets are just part of what we have to offer.  I Believe that this convention will be a great one because of the members across the state!

Friday, May 4, 2012

A Different Kind of Farming

     FFA used to stand for Future Farmers of America, and my team and I definitely like to embrace the "farmers" part of that when it comes to one thing...  Road farming!  If you're not familiar with the concept (and I definitely wasn't at the beginning of the year!), here's a good example:

     Yesterday Gianna and I spent the day at the Randolph County Farm Bureau Leadership Day.  It was a great day to get away from all the convention planning details, escape the office, and spend some time with a lot of members we had never met before!  We went through ropes courses, zip lined (my personal favorite activity of the day), facilitated an activity about service, and overall had a fantastic time with all of the Randolph County FFA members.  The day at Camp Yale ended a little after 3 with a good talk with the staff, but the day out of the office had just begun.

     "Do you want to take a tour of Winchester?" asked Mr. Snyder.  Yes.  The answer to any advisors asking if you want to tour their town should ALWAYS be yes.  Mr. Snyder took us to Silver Towne, a local company that trades silver, where we met one of his former students and were able to look at the old coins and hold a pound of silver.  Next we went to the highlight of the road farming adventure...  Mrs. Wick's Pie and Restaurant.  Mr. Snyder was kind enough to buy Gianna and I dinner and pie (I had the cherry with ice cream at the recommendation of one of the regulars) and we also met Luke Messer while we were there.  You never know who you are going to run into on one of these adventures!

     After talking for a while, we parted ways with Mr. Snyder in search of the Ohio state line, which we were promised was less than ten minutes away.  We crossed the line, got root beer in Ohio at an A and W stand we were told we had to visit, and headed back toward the center.  On the way back we found the Highest Point in Indiana and made a pact to avoid the interstate since that wouldn't make the trip any longer. We also had to stop (twice) at stoplights so that Gianna could step foot in the county as she works toward her goal to go to every county in Indiana.

     Road farming is the perfect way to liven up a lot of long trips and add some excitement to what could become the monotony of being on the road every day.  Perfect for this year and great for any other time, all it takes is a little time and the ability to appreciate the little things you come across!  You just never know what experiences you will harvest from a road farming adventure.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

April Showers bring June Leaders

It's hard to believe that it's already April.... About a year ago my 6 teammates and I were coming together for the first time.. but not as an officer team yet..

There were 21 outstanding students that decided to run for the position of the 2011-2012 Indiana FFA State Officer.. As a "State Officer Candidate" all 21 of us were asked to be at the Indiana FFA Leadership Center for an entire weekend to help out with State Convention preparations, Spring CDEs and of course attend the State Officer Candidate Open House, to learn more about the positions we were seeking for. It just so happened to be a beautiful weekend in April.

This weekend in April, it's not so beautiful.. A little on the rainy side.. but again 21 candidates are coming together to find out more about a position they are seeking out.. a spot on the 2012-2013 Indiana FFA State Officer Team..

It's crazy to think that a year later these new outstanding students are here to do the same thing that Rachel, Jake, Gianna, Ross, Sarah, Travis and I were doing last year at this time..

The seven of us have been forever blessed because of the opportunity we received to serve the Indiana FFA... Throughout this year we have made countless memories with FFA Members, Supporters.. and most importantly with each other...

I can't help but be filled with excitement, anxiousness, and pride for these new 21 candidates that in just about 50 day will be taking the spots of my team..

Even though it's bittersweet... I am so proud of the individuals that have decided to dedicate the next year of their life to service..

"Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on Earth."- Gandhi.

 Last year's "State Officer Candidates"

The Lucky 7 that were selected to be the 2011-2012 Indiana FFA State Officers

To all of our followers and supporters.. THANK YOU for this amazing year of service :) 

Monday, April 16, 2012

Working hard to Influence and Impact

Long time no see!!! Actually scratch that yo, Long time no talk! How have you been? How’s the family? How’s your local FFA Chapter? How’s Indiana FFA? Wait I know the answer to that! Indiana has been extremely Productive, on the move, extremely fun, Inspiring, Impacting community’s, competitive, and preparing!

This time of the year is a special time for Indiana FFA and likewise Indiana FFA officers! I know I can speak for the whole time when I say we have been productive! We have been on the road and in the office getting everything ready for the 83rd Indiana FFA convention. We are working to make this convention the best yet. Maybe its Anchorman references, techno and dance music, Great keynote speakers that will leave you in tears (laughing so hard),  an opportunity to give clean water to those in need, giving blood to save a life, and so much more! This year’s state convention will be one that you will never forget. If you haven’t made your plans to attend state convention, talk to your advisor today.

Inspiring and impacting. Two words that we use constantly in Indiana FFA! But we really do own up to those very words. Whether it be Princeton and Gibson southern FFA chapters supporting their community’s by purchasing a grain rescue tube and saving a local life. Or Shenandoah’s Snug harbor prom where they invite those with handicaps and disabilities to attend prom at their high school or Scottsburg and Hoosier Hills FFA chapter helping fellow Hoosiers affected by tornadoes.

Likewise this week in Indiana FFA numerous amounts of competitions will be happening.  Sections will be finding out who is best in Parliamentary procedures. The state officers will also be see Star farmers SAE’s.
Indiana FFA is truly on the move and is hard at work to improve the lives in the youth of Agriculture.  

Monday, April 9, 2012

FFA Members, Why Are We Here?

As I sit in the office at the State Officer House, I will occasionally glance at the countdown clock that hangs on the wall to the side of my desk.  With every glance, I see a number lower than the one before.  With every glance, I realize that this crazy adventure is winding down.
On April 5th, Sarah and I tagged along with Rachel to the Crothersville Banquet.  When we walked in to the cafeteria, we were greeted with tables that were extravagantly arranged with placemats, programs, and freebies for guests to take home.  Their camouflage theme was incorporated all over the room.
The banquet first started off with a delicious meal followed by the start of the awards banquet.  It was exciting. As the president tapped the gavel to start opening ceremonies, the butterflies fluttered in my stomach.   Even after 6 years, I still get butterflies whenever I hear opening ceremonies.  As the gavel tapped three times, all of the FFA members in the room stood up and recited in unison "To practice brotherhood...." I looked around the room as we were standing and saw familiar faces.  I saw the face of the girl who was at the first FFA conference I went to; I saw the face of a member who I had talked to when we went to the Crothersville Food-Drive 4 months earlier; I saw the face of one of my best friends; and I saw the face of the boy I had just met earlier that evening.  If there's one moment in FFA where I feel most connected to members, it's during this moment in opening ceremonies.  Everybody in the room has a different background, different reasons for being there that night, and different futures; but during that one moment, we are all connected with the same thing on our minds - making sure we don't mess up the one line of opening ceremonies that almost all FFA members know. :)

As the banquet continued, door prizes were handed out, Rachel gave a wonderful speech about serving others, and awards were given to the Crothersville FFA members.  It was neat to see FFA members awarded for their work and passion.  I will never forget when they announced the person who won the Most Improved Middle School Member award.  Based on his reaction, one could tell that he deserved every bit of it.  It was also obvious that this award had inspired him to put in even more effort into making his FFA career the best it can be.  It's amazing how recognizing an individual can be so motivating for them.

It's moments like these, when we're all standing during Opening Ceremonies and watching others being recognized for their accomplishments, that make me reflect on the crazy FFA journey that has taken place in my life for the past 6 years.  Whenever I glance at the countdown clock, I know it's coming to an end, but I also know that there are still many memories to be made.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Tractor to Truck, Trafalgar to D.C... It's National Ag Week!

     National Ag Week...  Seven days to celebrate our nation's agricultural pursuits and all those people who work to keep us fed, fueled, and clothed.  As FFA State Officers, we are blessed with the opportunity to serve as ambassadors for agriculture and agricultural education on a daily basis, but this nation-wide event adds some extra events and some extra excitement!
     This morning Gianna Hartman and I got to take two of our teammates, Rachel Schmitt and Ross Newton, to the airport.  They are headed to Washington, D.C. with Indiana Farm Bureau to celebrate National Ag Day and to meet with our senators and their representatives.  I'm sure that they will have a great time and represent us well, and I can't wait to hear more from them!
     The rest of the team, myself included, will be spending tomorrow in Indianapolis at ISDA's Tractor to Truck event.  We will be presenting awards to the Indiana Family of Farmers Essay Contest winners as well as spending some time sharing agricultural facts with the public at food trucks downtown and hanging out with some local celebrities.  I cannot wait to share some of agriculture's story in an urban setting or to see some familiar faces tomorrow!
     If you're going to be in the Indianapolis area tomorrow, stop by Scratch Truck, Scout's Treats, Tacos without Borders, New York Slice, West Coast Tacos, or Some of This, Some of That for lunch and see us!

Saturday, February 11, 2012

New Programs and More Fun!

                This has been a spectacular week for Indiana FFA. We are extremely excited about the future of Beech Grove who has just begun their own agriculture program. What is even more exciting is that the excitement that we have is nearly doubled by the students and faculty of Beech Grove! Students will be able to begin classes in the fall of 2012! We are so happy for this program to begin!

                Also this week we traveled up to Clinton Central Where we put on a shortened version of our conference S.O.A.R.!  We had an absolutely fantastic time speaking with our friends about FFA opportunities, conversation skills, and authenticity! We are looking forward to the upcoming weeks as well! We have LDW #2 coming up next week, then of course NATIONAL FFA WEEK, and finally Indiana Young Farmers Convention!

Make sure you keep coming back for more of what’s happening in Indiana FFA!

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Campbells Soup, Meat Lockers, and a Trip Home

     This past week has been a little different than most since we've taken office.  Well, that statement would lead to a conclusion that there is a such a thing as a typical week, which there definitely isn't, but this past week has been different mainly because we literally did a completely different activity every day.
      Gianna and I went north to Western Boone's officer induction on Monday.  Western Boone's advisor had retired just a few days before, which led to the unusual situation of their vice principal acting as their advisor.  The attitudes of the staff and students to keep the program growing and going in a positive direction were definitely reassuring, only second to their well run and well organized meeting.
      Tuesday the entire team switched gears and we headed to the statehouse to meet the Wawasee FFA's agricultural issues team.  They were visiting the statehouse to build their team's resume for the competition in which they will be presenting about the pros and cons of large scale livestock production.  Many of us formed new friendships that day and none of us were complaining when we were taken to Buca Di Beppo for lunch.
      Wednesday meant another trip north.  We ventured into "flat lander country," as my southern teammates refer to it, for a tour at Rose Acres.  It was an awesome visit with some very knowledgeable guides who told us about everything from Campbell's Soup to recycled pallets as they related to Rose Acres.  After the tour I left to go home to the Miami County Soil and Water Conservation District Annual Meeting to congratulate members of my home chapter on their success in soils this past year, chat with a ton of people I hadn't seen in a while, and listen to Mr. Bechman's keynote on the importance of family.
      Thursday was a day of catching up in the office.  We are planning out our personal schedules for FFA week right now, and I can't wait to visit all the schools I've made plans with!  Rachel, Ross, and Jake left that night for a banquet in Rensselaer.
      Friday the rest of us left in the afternoon to stay in Hageman family's guest house.  The house was beautiful and the team enjoyed the time together before making the much shorter trip to Purdue the next morning.
      Saturday's meats and dairy foods contests were amazing.  I had never seen either contest before, and I must say that meats is the coolest contest ever both figuratively and literally.  Students spent a couple hours in meat lockers judging and grading various carcasses and cuts of meats.  As a livestock showman it was very interesting to see the practical side of what I spent the last ten years feeding, fitting, and leading through the show ring.  It was also great to catch up with the friends we have made throughout the year that were competing as well as meeting some new people.
       Though it sometimes felt like we were going thirty directions at once, this week was great for all of us.  We got to see more members than we have seen since our last conference, and it was awesome to do so much.  I am continually thankful for this experience and will definitely count this week as one of my favorites even if it didn't include any huge multi-day events.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

There's More Than Food at the FFA Cafe

This past weekend, the Indiana FFA State Officers had a blast at LDW (Leadership Development Workshop).  We had been working hard to put together the best conference we can for our members.  After seeing the outcome of it, we all agree that it was well worth the effort!
LDW is a statewide leadership conference designed primarily for chapter officers.  The focus on the conference is to help chapter officer teams gain skills that will help them throughout their year and help them create a vision of the direction they want to take their chapters.  Our theme for this conference was "Cafe FFA: Now Serving". I, personally, was STOKED about having a restaurant theme.  It was different and there was a lot we could do with it.  We had about 88 members in attendance that weekend.  Those numbers were a bit low, but our team LOVES having smaller conferences because we get to actually talk to and get to know all of the members there.
Throughout the weekend, the state officer team presented sessions covering: Ag. Ed. Advocacy, Chapter Planning, POA Evaluation, Officer Roles, and Recruitment & Retention.  Two individuals from last year's state officer team, Janna Oxford and Megan Klotz, came back to present a session covering professionalism. I hope the members in attendance were able to walk away from this conference with a ton of ideas for their chapter.
At every conference, we have what we call "reflections."  Reflections are a time where the state officers speak individually about a particular time in their lives or something that's just really on their hearts.  This is always the coolest part of conferences (and the part of conferences that I worry the most about).  I love sitting in the front of the room with my teammates watching all of the FFA members listen to their stories.  Every time I watch them, I think about the crazy things that might be going on in their lives.  I think about how everybody has feelings and how everybody needs somebody to talk to.  I think about how we all are connected and feel like a family through FFA.  For whatever reason, I find it extremely inspiring to watch members react to our stories.  It makes me realize how much I appreciate them.
At the conclusion of LDW, we were all sad to see members head off in all different directions back to their hometowns.  It's so great having them at the center, and, every time they leave, I feel a little bit sad inside.  I think it's safe to say that all of state officers are certainly looking forward to the next LDW on February 17th-19th!

Monday, January 9, 2012

A new year, A new start, and a new me!

 It is January ninth and the state officers are back in business! This past two weeks being home has taught me a lot about myself and where I want to go with my life. December 18- January 2nd The State Officers had a break to go home and enjoy time with family and friends; I done exactly that. I hung out with a lot of different friends over break and a bunch of my family members! It was nice stuffing my face with a smorgasbord of food, but it was also enlightening. Early one night I had just got back from playing a great game of billiards with my best friend Branson. As I was pulling into my driveway I looked down to the barn to see if anything had changed in the past six months since our election. I then realized that it was the first time I had ever really looked at my show pen and saw neither steer nor heifers in the pen. There was absolutely nothing in the pin or anything remotely close to the barn. At that moment had finally sunk in.  For the past ten years of my life there had always been a steer or a heifer roaming around or starring at me with caring eyes. Nothing at all. I then started to reflect on everywhere I had been and everything I had seen.  It’s astounding to me how much I have grown in this short period of time. It wasn’t just that fact I had moved out to serve my favorite organization. Nor was it what title I had. It was about the experiences and memories I had which I am so very thankful for! I count my blessings every night before I lay my head down to rest that I get to serve Indiana FFA.
                After that moment in time came Christmas day! It is my favorite holiday of the year! Not because of the gifts, or the Fried shrimp my family makes, or the paper wade fights we have, or the competition of the famous CB box (Every year my Great grandma Carmichael has a tradition that is over two and a half decades old. Grandma puts names of every family member in a hat. Then the youngest in the family draws two names for the coved 1975 midland CB radio box. Whoever receives this box or its replica have bragging rights for the year and get to sign the box) But it is rather about being with Family. But this year was a little different. During summer challenge of this year my great grandma had been stricken with a rare form of staff infection, which later ended her life. This Christmas was bittersweet to say the least. As we were handing out gift this year every own keep looking for the CB, to see if it was to ever reappear.  During the beginning of the Christmas present exchange my uncle lee handed everyone a present which was from my great grandma Carmichael.  As we penned up the room began to fill with tears of laughter and joy. My grandma had always put back money for Christmas. Every member received a present that was equal in cost to the other. After she passed my grandma, my uncle, and my aunt Connie didn’t know what to do with the money for her last Christmas present. Christmas Eve day it came to my uncle that everyone should have something that would last a lifetime, a bible. I remember growing up, every night before my grandma went to bed she would read out of her old bible for an hour or so. She was strongly rooted to her faith and was a charter member of my church. It got me to thinking about how much I have strayed over the years from god. I talked about him a lot in speeches and in conversation but I never really read anything from the bible. I never truly followed god’s word until now. My new year’s resolution is to become a stronger person and an even stronger Christian. Although FFA is not a faith based organization, our roots are based in belief of a more positive world. For the second part of my year of service I will be more of the leader that I wanted to see being a chapter officer. I want to reach even farther out of my comfort zone and I hope you keep me too it. That’s it for now. Keep believing in yourself and keep believing in something bigger than yourself. God bless and happy new year!