Thursday, December 21, 2017

Making every situation more fun

There I was, riding in the back of a van at 10:42 on the way back from a bowling alley, and I felt so much peace in not caring what others thought of me.

               I got connected with a small group this September at church that consisted of the youth pastor and other adult leaders. They meet on Monday evenings for a bible study and genuine fellowship. I attended once with a few of my teammates and the group seemed to be welcoming. I intended on making it to more meetings, but I wasn’t able to come back for about 2 months. When I came back they, again were welcoming and I got to know them a little bit better. I had a solid Youth group at my home church that I attended almost every Sunday and, so I needed to have deep conversations like I had through my youth group.

               Monday, Natalie and I attended their Christmas party and quickly connected with the group. We had supper, played Catchphrase, and then it was time to go bowling. As people packed up their things, I asked the youth pastor, Tanner, if he had open seats in his car. He said he had room and off we went.

I realized the most fun wasn’t getting a strike. The most fun came from the car ride home. We sang to Taylor Swift and Luke Combs songs in the back of the vans with people we barely knew. It was the most fun I have had in weeks; It was such a pure good time.

As we move into the Christmas season, I think back on the past 6 months that I have been able to serve. Our team has been granted amazing opportunities to attend FFA functions, meet great FFA members, and grow closer together as a team. The best times come from the commitment to just be with someone and enjoy their company. When my team sat down to exchange gifts, we enjoyed the thoughtfulness of each other and the stories keeping those gifts a secret. When you can enjoy simply being with friends, then you can make the most out of any experience.

Merry Christmas, 
 Cole Pearson

Thursday, November 16, 2017

The Big Moments

The Big Moments

This past Monday, my team and I finished watching one of our favorite TV shows (before it was sadly taken off of Netflix).  At the conclusion of the final episode, each of the beloved main characters shared a big group hug as one of them said,

Taking part in our first team hug after the passing of slate at State Convention, 2017.
 "This, right here, this is why we can't fall out of each other's lives. We have to be here for the big moments. Just promise me, no matter what, we will always be there for the big moments.” After that line, I began to think about my team and I immediately applied the message.

The big moments are what make for the best memories, and this year our team has had many. Whether it was the first night we ever spent together as a team after our installation, the first time trying on our “Association” jackets, or the first time we got to interact with students during setup of the FFA Pavilion at the Indiana State Fairgrounds, they have all definitely fallen into the category of “big moments” that we’ve been so grateful for. Today, those experiences (among many others) are a few of our favorite memories, not just because they were some of our “firsts”, but because we were all there to experience it. All seven of us together for each of those moments. That's what has caused our favorite memories to be so significant. We often think that a big moment is something monumental that happens to us in our lives, but really big moments are created when we are surrounded by those we love even if it is to experience and celebrate the smallest of things.

Following the statement of that line during the season finale, I began to appreciate my teammates even more. Not just because of who they are and the happy memories we've shared, but because we still have time left together to create more. Our year of service has been flying by and we have now been together for five months. Although that is sad to think about, it's now crucial more than ever that we are intentional about our time and never waste it so we can continue to be there for one another through each of our big moments, but more importantly, all of the moments.

Loving all of the moments,

Claire Baney
2017-2018 State President

Our first team picture after the announcement of slate at State Convention, 2017.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Slow Down and Enjoy the Little Things

It feels like it was just yesterday, when my teammates and I were elected to state office in June. Time has flown by since then and we have been going non stop on this Indiana FFA roller coaster of awesomeness. In all of the craziness of State Fair, the Farm Progress Show auction, Chapter visits, and conferences, I have been going full speed and have not taken much time to slow down and enjoy all the little things.
During the month of October, Cole, Mrs. Chaudion, Mr. Park, and I payed a visit to Mrs. Doris Hackman. Mrs. Hackman is the loveliest woman who lives in a farm house all by herself at the age of ninety-two years old. She is a long time supporter of the FFA, a wonderful cook (she makes delicious halloween cookies), and has she has wonderful stories to share. While sitting in her living room, Mrs. Hackman shared stories about how she met her husband, tips on freezing fruit, and, of course, her love for farming, FFA and agriculture. For once, a million thoughts weren’t running through my mind. In that moment I was able to sit in Mrs. Doris Hackman’s living room and enjoy these little moments. As I think back to that visit, I can’t help but be reminded of this I poem by Christy Martine that goes like this;

When your world moves too fast
and you lose yourself in the chaos,
introduce yourself
to each color of the sunset.
Reacquaint yourself with the earth
beneath your feet.
Thank the air that surrounds you
with every breath you take.
Find yourself in the appreciation of life.

Now as I’m sitting here writing this blog I’m taking it slow and soaking up the little things, like the warm soup in my orange speckled Halloween mug, the crisp orange leaves falling into my hammock, and the little minnow I just watched chase down a water bug. I can’t help but be so grateful for Mrs. Doris Hackman for teaching me how important it is to appreciate all of the little things in life.

Thankful and loving life,
Natalie Taylor
State Reporter

Monday, November 6, 2017

Fall Feelings

It can be so easy to think of life as a stagnant journey where we simply go through the motions. Wake up, go to school, go home, do more work, then finally of to bed to begin the next day’s cycle. However, when was the last time we took a step back to truly admire the beautiful work God has laid for us?

I often times find myself going through the motions, only to realize that I have exactly 227 days, 23 hours, 57 minutes, and 3 seconds left to enjoy life as I know it. One thing I do not take advantage of as much as I should is the Indiana FFA Leadership Center; especially in its full glory during the season of fall. There is no better place to spend my favorite season than in the middle of 110 acres of woods transforming into vibrant colors of red, yellow, and orange. There is beauty all around me, yet I neglect stop for a second to realize it. Amidst this realization, I compiled a list of things I love about fall; discovered because I took time to step back and truly enjoy God’s creation.  

20 Things I Love About Fall
  1. Campfires
  2. Hot Apple Cider
  3. Colorful leaves
  4. Sweaters/sweatshirts
  5. Halloween
  6. Pumpkin spiced everything
  7. Discounted Halloween candy
  8. Smores
  9. Football
  10. Scarfs
  11. Harvest
  12. National Convention
  13. Soils judging time
  14. Perfect weather
  15. Thanksgiving
  16. Pie
  17. Caramel apples
  18. Hay rides
  19. Festivals
  20. Everything
Loving fall, 
Emily Kilmer
State Secretary 

Thursday, November 2, 2017

What Great Things Can I Do?

As I went home from National Convention thoughts flooded my head. I had just experienced all the National officers retiring addresses, watched members be recognized for their proficiencies, and met other delegates that are doing such great things in their states. The question that went around my mind was: what great things can I do? This is an important question, and one that I was probably supposed to get out of the convention, but it made me feel empty.
I do not mean to accuse anyone at National FFA for this feeling. I can only blame my mind for shifting the question of “What great things can I do” to  the very different question “What great things can I do to be recognized.” I know I am not alone in the search for recognition. Our minds seek after the approval of other people and in the days after convention I looked for meaningful things to do in order to receive recognition.
Recognition is not bad, but it caused me to lose sight of something important: my team. In seeking the attention of others, I lost sight of the importance in the people around me. I remembered that I get to live with 6 of my best friends, that I get to take a year out of school and serve full time, and that I get to have countless opportunities to communicate important messages that high school students need to know. I remembered what my purpose is.
Whether it is doing the dishes, making cake pops, or offering your help to others. If you are helping others you are doing something great. If you are making your community better you are doing something great. Awards are not as important as the growth and impact that come from your efforts.

With a Thankful Heart,
Cole Pearson 
2017-2018 Treasurer

Thursday, October 26, 2017

The Effect of Teamwork

Today’s the day; the start of the 90th National FFA Convention & Expo! A day that thousands of FFA members look forward to each year come October.
Although Wednesday is the true kickoff, my teammates and I, as well as our two other State Delegates had the privilege to drive up to Indianapolis early Monday morning. This gave us the chance to attend a training session entitled “Respecting Diversity” and participate in the National Delegate Day of Service. The Day of Service was an opportunity for State Officers and Delegates from all 52 State Associations to partake in a community service project of their choosing around the city of Indianapolis. As a team, we decided we would donate our time to Gleaners Food Bank of Indiana, an organization that combats hunger by inspecting donated food, packing boxes to the brim, and distributing that food all across the state of Indiana. Now, this seems like an event that wouldn’t be that big of a deal, as any person who really wanted to could easily go in and donate their time doing the exact same thing we did that day. However, there was something special about Monday.
Gleaners didn’t just have nine people come help out, but rather over 120 FFA members selflessly giving up three and a half hours of their day in order to help combat hunger. Throughout those hours, we all had a blast sorting food, getting to know each other, posing for pictures, and jamming out to music. This all sounds like something simple and not that big of a deal, but here comes the most impactful part. Within those three and a half hours, we all sorted and packed over 25,000 pounds food, which will soon be distributed to feed 21,064 Hoosiers. Knowing that we had that much of an impact on a state that we love so much was a truly humbling experience that we got to participate in that day. I know it will always be something that sticks with my team and I for months to come. It just goes to show that no matter how tired we may get in life, a huge impact can be made when we all come together with one simple goal in mind.

With a humble heart,

Grant Sanchez

‘17-’18 State Sentinel

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

He Wasn’t a Stranger, He’s a Farmer

This year has been my first harvest away from home and I really have been missing being back on the farm with my grandpa. My teammates often make fun of me for pointing out every tractor or combine in sight. A few weeks back, Emily and I were cruising down a country road about 2 miles away from the FFA center when we came across a farmer combining soybeans. Being one of the first combines I’d seen that year, I perked up immediately and yelled “COMBINE” at the top of my lungs. As we passed, I watched in envy as the farmer worked his way across a golden field under the perfect September sky. I began to think of the next time I would get to go home, and finally be back on the farm. Little did I know, it would be sooner than I thought.

That Sunday, I was heading back to the FFA Center after meeting up with a friend from high school, when I had I crazy idea. I was going to go farm for the afternoon, but I couldn’t make the trip all the way home. I remembered the farmer we had passed just a few days before, and I set out on a mission to find him. Within minutes of turning on to that same country road, I was delighted to see a distinct cloud of dust coming from a combine harvesting soybeans. I continued to follow the cloud of dust until I came across the same farmer I had seen a few days before, again working his way through a soybean field. I then pulled my car through the side ditch and into the field, and began to have second thoughts about my rash decision. As the combine approached I felt even more nervous. When the combine finally stopped and the dust settled, I hopped on the familiar green ladder and climbed my way up to the cab, not knowing what to expect.

I will never forget the look on the face of the rather confused farmer as he slowly swung the cab door open. In fact, he had as little idea of what to expect as I did. Hoping to clear any confusions, I quickly introduced myself and shook hands with the farmer. I continued by explaining who I was, where I was from, but then stopped for a second to think about why I was there. I then said to him, “This might sound a bit weird, but would mind if I rode in the combine with you for a while?” I then explained to the man that I had been unable to be back on my family farm due to that fact that I was serving as an Indiana FFA State officer and was eager to be back in the field. Whether it was out of pity, or shear interest in the situation, the farmer agreed, and welcomed me aboard.

It didn’t take long at all before we hit it off. For the first half hour alone, we talk farm equipment as I admired his combine, tractors, and implements. Being in that combine was like a taking a step back to my childhood as it was the same model as the one I rode in when I was younger. We proceeded to talk about yield, fertilizer, seed type, tillage methods, and much more as the afternoon went on. Aside from agriculture, this random farmer and I connected over metal fabrication, diesel trucks, and even mutual friends. By the time evening hit, I had ridden in the combine for over 2 hours, and was left baffled at how much this farmer and I had in common. As I drove away that night, I couldn't help but smile. Not only had I gotten my farming fix in for a while, but I had made a new friend while doing it.

Not long after, I told this story to a classroom full of students during a chapter visit. Upon finishing the story, a girl spoke up and yelled across the room, “Didn’t your mom ever tell you not to talk to strangers?” I replied, “He wasn’t a stranger, he’s a farmer.” I then realized yet another reason why I love the agriculture industry so much, because nobody is a stranger.

Addicted to Agriculture,

2017-2018 SRVP
Wyatt Law

Friday, October 13, 2017

Exploring a Different Option

Grant - “Let’s go hiking at Clifty Falls State Park!”
Me (Owen) – “Yeah let’s do it! We’ve got some extra time.”
Hiking Clifty Falls State Park is exactly what Grant and I did in between two of our chapter visits while in District XII. Now let’s take a step backwards to get the full picture. The night before we met Grant’s aunt so she could lead us to the place we would be staying the for night in Madison. As we drove up the tightest road I have ever been on, winding back and forth up what I thought was a mountain, we were slightly skeptical of where we might be staying. Then we saw it, a little house on top of a wooded hill that had a clear look over an amazing landscape that lead the way to the beautiful Ohio River with the moon reflecting off the water. It was incredible.
After we woke up the next morning , we went to get some doughnuts from a local pastry shop, then drove to our first visit of the day, Jennings County FFA. There we had an amazing time facilitating to a great group of students. As we left the school we tried deciding what to do with the extra two and a half hours we had before we went to be at Madison High School. So, Grant says, “Let’s go hiking at Clifty Falls State Park!” With no other alternative in mind I said, “Yeah let’s do it! We’ve got some extra time.”
Now, for everyone reading this, I have compiled a list of reasons you shouldn’t hike a state park in Official Dress.
1.       Your shoes are not made for the steep cliffs and slick rock
2.       Your corduroy jacket gets way too hot, but you know you can’t take it off because that would be breaking the rules set in the FFA Handbook
3.       You will get mud all over your black pants
4.       If you have a degree chain, it likes to get stuck on rocks and hand rails
5.       Did I mention the jacket gets too hot?
6.       The wooden bridges may be slick after a rain
7.       Other people ask you why you are hiking in a suit
8.       You will have your picture taken, and you know that they are going to make fun of you
9.       Your hiking buddy may be far more athletic than you (Grant is more athletic than I)
10.   You may smell afterwards

Now, Grant and I may have learned all these lessons the hard way, but it may have been the experience that will stick with me the longest. We decided to stray off the path at one point along the way. As we maneuvered through the brush and trees we suddenly found ourselves on the edge of massive over hang. Pictures don’t do this rock face justice. It was amazing. On one side was a waterfall, and on the other an even higher over hang. As we looked out over the beautiful landscape I came to realize something. We can spend our lives going through the motions, or we can take the occasional detour. It would have been just as easy for us to take a nap in the car, but we decided to try our hand at hiking. I guess that is just one of the places that our wonderful blue jackets can take us. So where will you go?