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?