Friday, July 24, 2015

State Presidents' Conference

Standing on Capitol Hill in Washington D.C. is an empowering sight. The white marble buildings embody the very essence of power and tradition. Kenzie and I had the chance to experience this sight this past week at the State President’s Conference. We have experienced D.C. in a new way with our new friends. We have collaborated on delegate work with other State Officers from across the nation and the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico. It has been an amazing adventure; one that we will never forget.

Standing on Capitol Hill I realized what had made this trip so amazing. I was surrounded by old buildings that had stood for over 100 years. What made them so strong—their foundations. Each building has a strong foundation, holding it up through the years. Each State Officer at the State President’s Conference also has a foundation. As people, our foundations are our values. The reason Kenzie and I’s trip has been so amazing is because we got to spend the week with people who shared the same values as us.

Obviously each of us have slightly different values in our everyday lives, but as agriculturalists we all share similarities. We all value agriculture. We value problem solving. We value service. Our values are an important part of our story—personally and agriculturally. When we advocate for agriculture, we can spout off information and facts all we want, but the most powerful thing we can share is our values.

How do we effectively share those values we all obtain? It is as simple as this: ask, listen, and share. When talking to others, ask what they see as their core values and discover what is of utmost importance to them. As people portray their passions and show what their heart beats for, listen in order to learn. Active listening is key to actually understanding others. After identifying their values, respond by sharing what you stand for. Relate your values back to them. Allow them to look at your personal beliefs and understand where you are coming from.  By doing this, we are able to display the true meaning of the agricultural industry.

Instead of using cold, impersonal facts and information, take a different viewpoint. This is where we as agriculturalists sometimes fall short. We rely too heavily on science and data.  We need to rely on sharing our unique ag stories and the values that go with them. When we clearly convey our values people listen. They can relate to us and our industry. Ask, share, and listen—this is how we effectively advocate.

From State President’s Conference with love,
Annalee Witte and Kenzie Kretzmeier

Friday, July 10, 2015

Make the Adrenaline Count

Picture yourself on a boat. It has a motor, a covered top, and is drifting across the ocean. You can see an island on the horizon just barely a shade of green. The water is clear enough so you have no idea how deep it is. You walk to the edge of the boat to get a closer look, and you slip. That adrenaline, the shear second you lost your breath, is just a rush of emotions that your brain cannot comprehend all at once. For my teammates and I the last month has been full of moments like that slip on the boat.

With state convention right around the corner, I finished up my freshman year at Purdue University with a study abroad in Jamaica while my teammates concluded their high school careers with graduation. Shortly after being elected, we loaded up with Mr. Martin and headed south to Lexington, Kentucky, for National Leadership Conference for State Officers. We dove right into training about how to work as a team and what is it like to actually do something worthwhile with our time of service.

Little did I know that learning names would be so hard right off the bat, because we were at NLCSO with five other state associations. There were state officers there from Michigan, Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia, and Arkansas. A total of fifty three state officers were in attendance, but I only barely knew six of them.

As we started training that week I tried to keep myself in that “slip on the boat” moment. I felt like my breath was taken and my body was full of adrenaline every time I met someone new, because that was the way I had decided to remember names. I would associate some crazy moment with each person I met. For example I met this kid Daniel from Michigan, so I immediately thought of the Daniel and the lions’ den story from the Bible. I had no problem remembering Daniel’s name because I just kept that thought of excitement in my mind.

I think that this name learning technique is something small on a larger scale. What if I kept this thought of having adrenaline-filled and breath taking experiences throughout my year of service? Well, I did a small scale test and tried to face each day of BLAST OFF training with this mindset, and guess what happened. I took that week of knowledge and broke it down by relating it to something much more than just training. As a team we learned about our own personal strengths and I kept thinking about my top five talents as pieces of an Iron Man suit.

At that moment I know that I had struck gold! I was able to take something so simple, as names or even personal strengths, and turn them into moments that made my heart skip a beat. I think that could mean something to Indiana FFA. If my teammates and I can complete our year of service always having this mindset, I know we will truly leave an impact. I also know that the initial thought of slipping on the side of a boat will be nothing compared to what could be done with the same mindset.

Be the Change, Joshua Calhoun2015-2016 Indiana FFAState Sentinel