Friday, May 23, 2014

The Story behind the Indiana FFA Fellowship Center

     Over five months ago when I packed up to spend two weeks at home for Christmas break, I threw a few books I hoped to read in my book bag. Many of these books had been sitting on my desk all of the first semester of state office. When I was faced with some free time, I picked up the first of a couple great books that I read over break! The first book I read is one that bears an incredible story near and dear to the heart of the Indiana FFA Leadership Center, The Journey is more than the Destination by Cathy and Frank James. A book about how a Christian family dealt with the grief of losing their teenage daughter. As I read the book I was hooked after reading the families precious moments with Valerie James. I quickly learned that Valerie was always bearing a smile, optimistic, radiant, and faithful. Her story is incredible - she was actively involved in many activities throughout her ever too short life but held a spot close to her heart at the Indiana FFA Leadership Center.

     In the early evening hours of June 20, 1997, the life of Valerie Victoria James ended as the result of a car accident. Valerie was a vibrant, enthusiastic, beautiful Christian teenager. She was an integral part of her community and school, her favorite organizational activities, and her close knit family. But Valerie's death started her family on a journey to overcome their overpowering grief. One way the family coped with the lose of their daughter was by giving back to a place Valerie loved, her family lead the efforts to build a chapel in the woods at the Indiana FFA Center. Although the family is quoted saying that "God thought and acted on a much grander scale than we could have imagined" and now that chapel in the woods is now known as the Indiana FFA Fellowship Center.

The family is quoted saying that "God thought and acted on a much grander scale
than we could have imagines" and now that chapel in the woods is
now known as the Indiana FFA Fellowship Center.  
      This center can be rented out from the Indiana FFA Leadership Center which will accommodate over 100 people for theatre style seating. It conveniently was built with a full kitchen, two fireplaces, an outdoor deck facing the center's lake, and five hotel-style rooms which will house 20 quests overnight.

      Valerie's story in The Journey is more than the Destination can purchased

     I would love to have known Valerie, but after reading The Journey is more than the Destination and having had the opportunity to spend many hours in the beautiful Fellowship Center her family built "to honor all those who have touched the lives and hearts of the FFA" studying, spending time with FFA members, and reflecting, it has made me feel as if I personally am connected with Valerie and her family.

     I hope you consider reading The Journey is more than the Destination and after finishing it I encourage you to plan a trip to stay at the Indiana FFA Fellowship Center with your family, FFA chapter, church and/or work group - you will not be disappointed! Renting the beautiful Fellowship Center opens the doors to explore all 170 acres of the Indiana FFA Leadership Center, swim or fish in the 5 1/2 acre lake, participate in team training through our newly renovated ropes course, and most importantly make memories that will last a lifetime. More information can be found on,, or by calling the Center's office at (317) 878-4570.  

Smiling for Valerie,

Allie Abney
Indiana FFA State President

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Banquets and State Convention and Fish, Oh My.

May marks the end of banquet season. Since March 18th the seven of us have been flying around the state and have attended a total of 93 banquets, averaging about 13 per officer. Whether it was being the farthest I had ever been from my house alone or showing up late and having to speak as soon as I walked in, I had quite a few learning experiences along the way. I had four banquets one week that were each about three hours from the Leadership Center, so I definitely had some quality singing time in my car, but the long hours definitely paid off when I arrived at a banquet. I had a fantastic time at every banquet I went to and met some pretty awesome people. It was great to see our members awarded for all of their hard work. 

While all of these banquet shenanigans took place, our days were spent in the office. We are about chin deep in state convention preparations and the water is rising fast. Everything is really starting to come together. I can’t spill all of the surprises, but I’m the chair of the 6th session on Thursday afternoon (the elections session), and you’re not going to want to miss it. I can't wait to see everyone there!

Both of our summer interns have arrived and we are happy to have Mallarie and Shelby here with us. Along with them, we have several more new arrivals to the center. First, Cam and I bought some desk fish. He got two but is down to one already, and I have one named Bo-bo and he’s crazy. He loves to pick up rocks and smash his fish face into the tank walls. It’s kind of interesting to watch. 

Our other new arrival is a drum corps. Yes, the whole center is booked out to a drum corps. Sarah welcomed them and told them how happy we are to have them and they said “until you are trying to sleep and we’re drumming all night.” The next four weeks might be very exciting with them here but we are happy that they are.

I did not catch that fish, I just wanted to feel cool. 

I’ll keep you up to date on how the fish are doing.

With Love,

Shelby Sigman
Indiana FFA State Reporter