Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Netflix's Life Lessons

Like any good Millennial, I have an obsession with Netflix. My most recent show of choice is the one and only, “Parks and Recreation.” This show is all about Leslie Knope, the Deputy Director of the Parks and Recreation Department, and her enthusiasm for local parks in the small town of Pawnee, IN. I have come to love this masterpiece of cinema magic for a few reasons. First, it takes place in the beautiful state of Indiana. What can beat that, right? Second, it is about local government, which I hope to work in someday. Finally, it is about being passionate about your work, which I would argue is one of the most important things in life.

Before I began writing this blog, I had a binge watching session to finish Season 2 of this glorious show (I know, I’m not that far in. Don’t judge me, Parks and Rec veterans). However, the last episode of that season is set around the turmoil of the government shutdown of City of Pawnee due to the city’s poorly run budget. This causes quite the problem for Leslie’s grand plan for the start of the city’s summer concert series for children. She can’t use any of the local parks because of the government shut down. She will have to get all the supplies donated because she can’t use any of the department’s resources. However, Leslie doesn’t let this stop her from bringing the joy to the children of Pawnee. She overcomes all the challenges and puts on a great concert all for the kids.

This is what I love most about Leslie Knope. She doesn’t give up. She identifies the obstacle, determines how she will get around it, and sets her mind to be successful. Often times, I sit back and wonder, is what Leslie puts herself through really worth it? That’s the difference between Leslie Knope and most of us though. She is so insanely passionate about her work that she makes sure she is successful.

Here’s my challenge: Be the Leslie Knope of whatever you do. Often times, we get in such a routine with our work. We go through the motion. We do what is absolutely required of us and nothing more. I fall into the same trap. When we fall into this trap of stagnation and apathy, we don’t do all we could and we aren’t as successful as we could be. Every day, we must wake up, reenergize the passion we feel for our work, and push on to be the Leslie Knope of whatever we do. You might ask, what if I don’t feel any passion for what I do? Well, it’s time to move on because if you aren’t passionate, what are you accomplishing?  

In the finale episode of Season 2, Mark Brendanawicz, the City Planner, gives Leslie plans for a future park. While he notes he couldn’t fit everything in that she wanted, such as a shark tank or a roller coaster, he thought it was pretty cool. Just when Leslie begins to think she won’t be able to build a park for a while with Pawnee’s budget issues, Mark says, “I wouldn’t bet against you.” If you put your passion to work to overcome whatever challenges you may face, I wouldn’t bet against you either. Whether you are an accountant, a local farmer, a fresh college graduate, an Indiana FFA member, or even a Deputy Parks Director.

Just remember, be the Leslie Knope of whatever you do.

Smile On,
Brett Roberts
Indiana FFA State Northern Region Vice President

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Smoky Mountain Adventure

As state officers, we have the opportunity to do some pretty awesome things. We have the chance to travel, impact/be impacted by new people, and become close friends with other state officers. Last week, Annalee and I had the chance to travel to Gatlinburg, Tennessee for the Tennessee State Convention. It combined all of those “awesome things” I mentioned earlier, so we knew that it was bound to be a blast.

We endured the seven-hour trek to the Volunteer State, singing along to all the Disney songs I didn’t know (but thanks to Annalee I learned every single one). We stopped for the occasional Speedy Freeze or Diet Coke when the interstate seemed to never end. The terrain constantly evolved from flat, to curvy, to mountainous right before our eyes as we drove further south. I couldn’t soak in enough of the beautiful sights. Time flew by, and before we knew it, we were checking in to our hotel for our stay.
I enjoyed watching our friends from Tennessee put on a great convention. We were able to witness differences and similarities in sessions, watch our friends give their retiring addresses, and reward the hard work of numerous members. Our Association jackets received many odd stares, but we weren’t the only ones. Not only did we attend, but Kansas, Iowa, Mississippi, Kentucky, and Florida state officers were there as well. We had all come for the sole intention of hosting workshops, but the convention became so much more than that. We realized that our time together was limited, so it was imperative that we make the most of it. What better way to do that than by an adventure?

After an afternoon session, a large group of us state officers packed into Mississippi’s big SUV and started driving to wherever the road would take us. We found ourselves traveling further and further into the Smoky Mountains, stopping to take pictures and play in the snow. We then made our way to a hole-in-the-wall BBQ restaurant and ate to our heart’s content, laughing and chatting all the while.
When the gas tank was running low and exhaustion started kicking in, we headed back to Gatlinburg. As we drove, I couldn’t help but feel extremely grateful and refreshed. Grateful for the unforgettable friendships we had made, refreshed from a spontaneous trip, and in awe at just how fun that evening was. Work is great, but a little spontaneity never hurts either.
Make sure to take that trip, attend that fun event, or ditch the map and go to wherever that road leads. Escape the ordinary, because the best gift we can ever have is a lifetime of adventure.

God Bless,

Kenzie Kretzmeier
2015 - 2016 Indiana FFA State President