Sunday, October 25, 2015

11th & Baltimore

“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” As FFA members gather in Louisville, Kentucky for the 88th National FFA Convention, our organization continues to move forward. With every step, we grow stronger. Over 629,000 students unite under the blue corduroy jacket, a feat which has never been accomplished before. Every one of these students is setting himself or herself apart from others in life by gaining unique, valuable skills with every step made through  FFA. In 1928 this organization was far from what it is today. Leaps, bounds, and great strides have been made in this organization, but forming this powerhouse started out with a single step.
            Last week, I found myself in Kansas City, Missouri. Knowing that we were in the city where FFA’s journey began, my meats judging teammates and I began wandering around the beautiful downtown landscape looking for where FFA was founded, Hotel Baltimore. Within minutes, we found ourselves standing at the corner of 11th and Baltimore, the famed site of FFA’s inception.
            What we found, or didn’t find, disappointed us. We saw a parking lot. We refused to believe that this was where 88 years of history began. We walked up and down Baltimore Street, searching for the place where 33 students gathered for the very first National Convention. Finally, after a chat with a very informative security guard at the public library, we accepted the fact that the hotel had been demolished.
            After making this realization, we made our way back to the vacant parking lot at the corner of 11th and Baltimore. We stood on the parking lot and stared at the street signs, imagining what that street corner looked like on that monumental day; 11th and Baltimore: where dreams of an organization that would allow farm boys to develop confidence and pride in their industry became a reality.
            I found myself imagining what my life would look like if there had been no history made on this street corner. Though it was difficult, I could imagine my closet with no blue corduroy jackets. I could imagine my shelf with no plaques. I could imagine myself at college instead of serving as a state officer. But when I tried to imagine my life without the people FFA has introduced me to, I simply couldn’t.
As I was standing with two of my best friends from high school, I reminisced about the mini-bus rides, running to get a pop before practice, and the conversations we had in the parking lot of our high school’s Ag building. We went through good times and bad times together. The memories we made, and the lessons that we learned, shaped me into the person that I am today.
Walter Newman had a dream. He brought the FFA founding fathers together at the corner of 11th and Baltimore to put that dream into motion. We have made some tremendous strides since that day, but it all began with the courage to take that single step. We all have dreams that might seem impossible to accomplish. But dreams are a journey, and every journey begins with a single step. Follow your dreams. Take that step. You never know; eighty-eight years from now, someone might be thankful for the single step you took today.

Forever Imagining, 

Mason Gordon
2015-2016 Indiana FFA State Southern Region Vice President 

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

My Three Sisters

To my three sisters,

Those that know me pretty well are aware that I am the middle of three kids. Three boys to be more specific. Aside from the story my mom loves to tell about when we wrote “baby sister” on the grocery list, I’ve never had a sister.

When I opened up the envelope that contained my name, and the names of the six individuals who would become my teammates, I gained more than just a state office. I gained six new siblings.

Three brothers? That I could handle. It was obviously going to take some getting used to but I wasn’t worried. Three sisters? That’s another story altogether. Immediately all the jokes came pouring in from my family and friends that I’d have a big adjustment ahead of me learning to live with three girls.

Honestly? The biggest adjustment was learning to live with 6 other people. Really at the end of the day there weren’t many girl specific quirks that I had to accommodate for. However, I have learned a few things.

Girls are tough. Like, if you throw a pillow across the living room in response to one of them insulting you, you can fully expect revenge. In other words, you can fully expect to be mercilessly beaten with multiple pillows.

Girls take extra time to get ready. Like, a lot of extra time. So when they say they’re going to “change really quickly” give them, bare minimum ten minutes. That’s being polite. Don’t worry, you’ll eventually get where you need to go. So what if you’re late, at least you’re arriving in style.

Lastly, girls are actually pretty great to have around.

Scratch that,

Sisters are pretty great to have around. They give really good advice, and are also really good listeners. They’re stubborn, but it works to their advantage. At the end of the day, they’re there for you. That’s pretty dang important.

Also, they’re pretty good with a baseball bat when you think someone is hiding outside your house.

So, to my three sisters, thanks. Thanks for being you. I may not always say it, but at the end of the day I’m thinking it.

All the best,

Sean Harrington
2015-2016 State Treasurer

Friday, October 9, 2015

Perspective is Everything

“They are perfect . . . he does not deserve to be an officer . . . I want to be just like them . . . I could do such a better job than them . . . their job is so easy, anyone could do it,” are phrases that we as a team of seven have heard since the day we were elected. Not going to lie when I was in high school, sometimes I had a few of these phrases cross my mind too. I mean, sure I could do their job, isn’t that why I ran to be an officer in the first place?
However, my thoughts and the thoughts of others were, and still are, slightly askew. My image of state office was like looking at a puzzle with missing pieces, but now that I sit in the same office chairs as those I once judged, I know how far from easy state office can be. Having the opportunity to serve FFA members and agricultural education students has already made me see the puzzle with more and more pieces every day.
For me learning how to change my perspective has been extremely challenging. By no means did I change my thinking about state office the first week we were elected. I have met success and failure while trying to change my personal perspective, but the instance that left the greatest impact on me happened weeks ago. I just realized the change here recently.
As state officers, we devote a year of service to an organization that we are undoubtedly passionate about. Normally, this deferment of school takes place between high school and college, but for me this is in the middle of my college career. During summer training and even the Great Indiana State Fair, I found this transition easy. However, after school started up is when it hit me the hardest.
I was stuck in a rut so to speak, because I missed being at Purdue with all my friends and studying to enter the best profession for me. I was having an amazing time serving Indiana FFA, but my mind kept wondering back to my time at Purdue. Often times I would complain to my teammates how much I missed it or how hard it is to put something on hold. In my mind, I thought they would not understand because none of them had been to college yet, but not once did I even think about how what I was saying was making them feel.
I know for a fact that I was annoying every time I said anything about it. I never noticed it then, but I sure wish I had. I thought it was so hard to walk away from everything you knew and something you liked being a part of for something else. What I was failing to see through my own selfishness was that my six teammates had done the same thing in a slightly different manner.
Annalee, Brett, Courtney, Kenzie, Mason, and Sean had all side tracked their future plans to serve Indiana FFA— just like I had. After having a great conversation with them, I realized how much of a jerk I had been; I had been selfish and acted like I was the only one affected, but now I understand an alternate perspective.
What did I learn about my teammates from taking a step back? My new perspective not only helped me realize that the seven of us felt the same way, but it also helped me grow closer to them, by making me realize that we are traveling through this journey together. I was able to change my perspective, and it will benefit my team’s impact throughout the year.
Those phrases such as “they are so perfect” that may cross your mind are not true. We as people, are not perfect. No matter the position we may get the opportunity to hold. That perspective about state office that even I once had was changed in a heartbeat, and I believe it will continue to change throughout my year of service.
There are days that I still think “I can do this job,” but there are also those that feel like I’m in that rut again. When those days happen, I have to remember that a simple change of perspective can lead me down the right path. It helps me realize the true reason why I ran for office. I ran to serve FFA members, agricultural education students, and my teammates . . . not myself or my own perspectives like I once had.

Be the Change,
Joshua Calhoun
2015-2016 Indiana FFA State Sentinel

Friday, October 2, 2015

Find Yourself

As soon as I earned the right to drive, I jumped into my red Volkswagen Beetle and took off full speed ahead. I sped down the rough gravel roads with a billowing cloud of dust in my trail, and I flew down the paved highways into town leaving a trail of yellow and white lines. The world seemed big and open; I felt like I could go absolutely anywhere. I could never replace the feeling that I had driving all alone for the first time.
Since turning sixteen and gaining a bit more experience with the responsibilities of driving, it has lost some of its glamour. The realities of stop lights, flat tires, police officers, and gas prices have made themselves present. It is very comparable to growing up. Upon entering high school as a freshmen, the school seems huge and full of curiosities; college seems very distant; the only important things are friends, algebra II, and getting to every football game.
However, as you grow older, and senior year arrives the school begins to feel small and claustrophobic; college looms over your head; important decisions about the future move to the top of your priority list. In my case, the decision to run for state office became my number one concern. Life goes from flippant and undefined to serious and structured. Sometimes a bright red stop sign halts your journey. Sometimes a police officer appears out of thin air and impedes your progress. Sometimes a flat tire causes you to stop on the side of the road. Sometimes the financial burden of driving causes you to be more selective about where you drive your car.
My life has been full of surprises, blessings, and frustrations, and through it all there has always been one place I could go to clear my head—my car. The place where I feel perfectly content is driving down the road, windows and sun roof open, radio blaring, and miles of blue sky and corn fields stretched out in front of me. This tiny haven away from all the turmoil of life relieves my stress because of its openness and rapidity.
When I feel like all the doors are closed, and my window of opportunity is shrinking; the rolled down windows in my car reveal the endless big blue sky above me—new chances revealed every day. When I feel like I’m not moving forward fast enough the wind blowing through my window makes me feel like I’m flying toward the future. Where do you feel most home? Where do you go to clear your head—to relax and refuel? In our lives today the value of individual reflection is often lost, even though it is infinitely valuable. When the unexpected happens, when things become unbearable, when you have only yourself for support, find a place to call your own, go there, and find yourself.

From the State Officer House with Love,

Annalee Witte
2015-2016 Indiana State FFA Secretary