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!