Thursday, November 22, 2018

Giving Thanks

        As Thanksgiving approaches I think there is no better time to reflect on what we are thankful for in our lives. Ever since I moved out of the house I have this new appreciation for the little things in my life. Here are a few things I am thankful for.

             1. My family. In high school I was ready to move on to bigger and better things, but now I

realize that I had it all right at home. I am thankful for all the life talks I had with my dad either in his office after school or riding together in the combine during harvest. I’m thankful for my mom and all the sacrifices she has made and continues to make for our family. I’m even thankful for my annoying little sister, I miss our car rides jamming out to our favorite songs. I appreciate these three more and more every day, and I would not trade them for the world!

             2. My friends. After graduation my friends moved all over,
some joined the military, others went to college, and one is even in Cambodia. Even though we have all gone our separate ways we still find the time to text and sometimes get together. It’s always fun to reminisce on all the memories we made together and to make a few more.

             3. Finally, I’m thankful for my mom’s home cooked meals. My teammates and I do cook at the house, but nothing beats coming home and eating a good home cooked meal.

As we celebrate what we are fortunate to have this Thanksgiving, remember to be thankful for the little things. Take the time to tell your family and friends that you love them and savor that amazing Thanksgiving meal.

Always thankful,

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Where It All Started

We are over half way through conferences and this got me thinking about where I was a year ago. FIRE 1 was last weekend and it didn’t hit me until we were almost finished with the conference that this is the last conference for so many members. A year ago, I was in their shoes, but it doesn’t feel like it was just a year ago. There is one part of that weekend I remember distinctly: reflections. Now I can’t tell you exactly what all the reflections were about, but what happened after reflections still crosses my mind often. My best friend, Mercedes, and I were sitting there in the EMR, thinking instead of going to the dance. I look over to her and see there are tears running down her face. She says to me, “This is where it all started. And this is the end.” In that moment, I lost it and the tears started streaming down my face too.
           Let me take this back to the beginning that Mercedes was talking about. Imagine freshman Brittany traveling to The Indiana FFA Leadership Center for the first time to attend SOAR conference. I had no idea what to expect and I was nervous. We file into the dining hall area to start the first session and soon after I sit down, a friendly face sits right next to me. We start talking and the nerves slowly begin to disappear. Throughout the entire weekend we wanted to sit next to each other and hang out as much as we could. Little did we know that we would still be friends to this day.
           Now back to the moment where we were sitting in a puddle of our own tears in the middle of the EMR, I began thinking about the future. Mercedes and I both planned to run for a state office. That night we talked about how great it would be to live in a house together and plan conferences and travel the state. I told her, “This is NOT the end.” Even if we didn’t make it in a state office we could still be involved in the organization in other ways. In the end, Mercedes decided not to run for a state office because that was the best decision for her. While I was sad she wasn’t running, I knew she was doing what was right for her future. State office isn’t for everybody. Thankfully, we are still great friends and she supported me through the entire process.
           We attend conferences to learn about FFA, service, and leadership, but the bonus is that we make friendships that last way beyond conferences. Even as your paths may take a different route, like Mercedes and me, you will still have that connection with them. Sitting in the EMR a year ago, I was shocked at how long ago my very first conference was. Keep in mind to embrace every moment at conferences, and other FFA events you love, because time doesn’t slow down.

“It’s not where you go, it’s who you meet along the way.” The Wizard of Oz
Enjoy every moment,

Thursday, November 1, 2018

Dog Blog

“Hello, my name is Moose DeLey. I love running in circles, chasing things and SQUIRREL...and I really really love food. I’m not talking about that dog food stuff but that people food is where it’s at! In fact, I can smell dinner cooking in the kitchen and I CANNOT wait to beg for some leftovers. I’ll be more likely to get some grub if I sit, lay down or shake hands. People love that stuff but I’m really just trying to get some food. Then, I’ll go sprawl out on the couch, maybe take a nap until someone pets me. I live a pretty good life if you ask me.”

Those are a few words my dog would most likely say if he could talk. One of the things I miss most about home is my six year old golden retriever, Moose. Now Moose is not like most dogs. He sleeps a ton, is scared of EVERYTHING, squeals and walks in circles when you talk to him in a high pitch voice that I like to call, “the doggy voice,” rings a bell on the door when he wants outside and he does not bark at all. He is such a good boy and I would claim him as “the goodest boy” but that’s just me.

My mamaw and I were having a conversation about my cousin’s dog being very sick and how he wouldn’t last much longer. I got sad for a moment and then my mamaw mentioned that most dogs live a pretty good life. That really got me thinking.

People provide amazing lives to their beloved dogs and pets. We want what is best for them and we love them unconditionally, even when they mess up and chew up shoes or do something they aren’t supposed to. We take care of them, forgive them for their mistakes and give them the best life we possibly can.

We should push ourselves to treat people like we treat our dogs. I’m not saying play fetch with them or feed them dog food, but we should treat people with the same kindness and love. We should tell people, “Good job!” We should give them credit for doing something new. We should build people up, not tear them down. Take care of the people around you, forgive them for their mistakes and even love them for who they are. We give our dogs a great life so let’s make it a goal to also give the people around us the best life we possibly can.  

- Sami

Thursday, October 18, 2018

The Alternate Path

We all desire success in some way, shape, or form. However, we rarely implement the actions needed to achieve what we hope for. We want to be financially stable, but we don’t make time to balance our checkbooks. We want to possess higher intellect, but don’t open a book or do any independent research. We want to make more money, yet still only put in the minimum hours and effort at our place of work. We want to be physically fit, then don’t dedicate time to go the gym or go for a run. In all of these situations our mind is in the right place, our mind can envision us performing the task, then our body does not execute the steps that our mind seemingly sees as easy.

Our desire fills us, it pushes and pulls on our mind, but our body never comes through on its promise to fulfill the mind’s desire. After the mind realizes that the body is not responding, it thinks harder; it tries a different strategy of dreaming bigger. Now the larger, more impressive, more desirable hopes and dreams engross us. We become excited, and we truly want to reach our goals. But alas, our body often falls back into its old habits and never attains what our mind desires. Finally, in a panic, our mind changes directions. It begins to set smaller goals, hoping to somehow get in touch with the body, and convince it to do something. While this final effort sometimes generates a breakthrough, it can just as frequently result in the same failure as the others. With the body still unresponsive, with our physical being unable to meet the demands of our physiological one, we lock up. We enter a form of psychosis.

At this point our entire being goes through a phase of unresponsiveness. The body has nothing pushing it, and therefore no reason to strive for more; the mind has no faith that any of its goals will be fulfilled, and therefore has no reason to desire anything. We fall into a path, a path that many of us are unaware we are even on. A path of simplicity, a path of little or no accomplishment.

As children, we are often praised. Praise, from both adults and our peers, pushes us to be more successful. But as we closeout our childhood the commendations become less frequent. As we enter adulthood, they become scarce. Our accomplishments and the recognition from our peers pull us out of the simplistic path. But when that recognition ceases, it is much harder to get out of that rutted, frequently used, well beaten path.

I remember working on the farm with my paternal grandfather when I told him I woke up at 5:00 every morning, and went to bed at 8:00 at night. He told me that Benjamin Franklin was once quoted saying, “Early to bed and early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise.” I still remember this event explicitly and I can recall my thought process immediately following. I found that, aside from the ideal of waking up early, this quote could be adopted to many situations. Deter from the path most people take, and we will find more success than most people find.

Prosperity is not found on that conventional path. While we all can find our own small successes with one foot on that pathway, we will not be able to achieve greatness until we abandon the common path and go our own way. The percentage of people who take the standard path is exceedingly high, while the quantity of people who find their own way is exceptionally low. The amount of success attained varies inversely with the amount of people on that given path.

Why does a basketball player stay in the gym for an extra two hours after practice, when she knows her teammates are at home resting? Why does an author continue submitting his work to new publishers when he has previously been turned down? Why does a paramedic take an extra 24 hour shift after she just finished her last one, even though she knows she could be at home with her family? Why does an entrepreneur dedicate an hour to playing with his children, when he knows he’ll be up later finishing paperwork?

We all have the ability to make decisions that set us apart from everyone else. We all have the ability to implement these actions. But in order to truly find our success we must do both simultaneously. We must knowingly step off the path of monotony and take our own path if we truly desire to be triumphant.

-Austin B. Berenda

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Take Time to Thank

There’s a stack of books on the desk in our office.

This stack of books has a decent variety to it. They’re books written by political figures, war heroes, music icons, professors, and more. The pages tell about their lives or their experiences through fictional characters, and how they can relate to the readers. I even have my high school year book in the stack. However, there is one book written about spiritual guidance. While the content is extremely beneficial, it’s how I received the book that truly matters.

This book was given to me by my mother. She gave it to me during my junior year of high school, a time where I was struggling with myself. I was unsure of how I could be a good person while struggling so much. School was concerning me, clubs were concerning me, life was concerning me; and I was taking it out on the wrong people: my mother included. We often clashed, and it wasn’t pretty; then again, the truth isn’t usually pretty. Despite all the arguing, she loved me all the way through. She loved me as much as she had the day as I was born or as much as she loves me now (she may not have liked me as much though, there is a difference). She saw this book and thought it was just what I needed; I thought it was overpriced paper. She gave it to me and I sat it on my shelf.

We overcame that time together. She lifted me up with the help of my whole family, and we figured things out. That’s why we have family. Yet, that book my mom gave me still sat on my shelf. It waited for me to be ready to remember those hard times and give me courage to face the hard times to come.

When I was elected to Indiana FFA office, I decided to pack up a small library to take with me to Trafalgar. Among the books I had read and planned to read, I saw the book my mom gave me. I realized I was ready for those old memories to resurface and opened it up. The very first page was filled with a message from her, telling me that she was always praying for me even in trying times. I continued to read, discovering passages that would remind me of my virtues. This was the gift I needed not just back then, but whenever I need to remember those that have been there for me no matter what.

While the book was a great gift, it was the words from mom that really made it special. Her words of encouragement and love let me know that I’ll always have someone pulling for me. I’m blessed to have a support system so strong, and I hope everyone can find those that will be there for them as well. Don’t forget to take time to thank those who have been there for you.

I know that I can’t thank those who are there for me enough, but hopefully this is a start.

Thank you. Most importantly, thank you mom.
- Jarrett Bailey

Friday, September 28, 2018


Anything new is always either scary or exciting. When something new comes along it can grow a person or even a family. Yesterday I got a text from my mom that read, “Family pics are on Facebook!” Within two seconds of reading the message I instantly start scrolling through Facebook trying to find our family pictures. The first picture I found was an image of my brother, sister and I.

My family was always just my Mom, Dad, brother, sister and me. A family of five full of love. However, as of today that family of five has grown by two family members.

My sister now has a husband and my brother now has a soon to be wife. They are both new additions that grew our family. I am full of love when I look at our pictures and I am thankful everyday for the people in my life. This next picture I am laughing so much because of the funny faces my brother and brother-in-law are making behind the camera.The picture shows three people, but it was affected by more than that.

Growth doesn’t always have to be scary. We all have blessings in our lives and if we look clearly we can find every little joy we encounter.
~Chyenne Deno

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Where Do You Come From?

The station Q103.1 is blaring from the radio, the windows down and that autumn breeze is hitting my face. Jamming to the best country station we have where I live and riding on the back of some country road is what I loved to do. This clears my mind and makes me reflect, and focus on what I love most. Looking at the farms and corn fields is one thing I enjoy doing on these car rides. This past week, as Brittany and I were driving to chapter visits, we passed some fields and farms and took some back roads. Driving by them made me day dream of all the scenes I had passed back home. This brings me to my point: I had been so focused on wanting to move to Montana and live and pass those farm fields. During this trip with Brit, I was thinking about everyone I went to high school with that wanted to leave and wanted to be anywhere but our little town. I had realized that I would not make it in the city. I can’t get those late-night drives, harvest fields of corn gold rows or my favorite view from a big city.  I love sitting on a hill looking down at a little farm house that’s surrounded by animals. Don’t take what you have for granted because it’s not always going to be there. Life changes, things happen, and we move away sometime. Take a minute to reflect on where you come from. What do you love about where you grew up?

Until Next Time,
Nathan Deatrick

Friday, September 14, 2018

Purpose Fuels Passion

Do you ever feel lost? Like you are wondering through a dark forest with no paths to follow? I have been there before. I was in sixth grade, all of my friends played sports and were athletic and I was the least athletic person in my class. I wanted to be the popular athlete in the future because that was the goal of every other sixth grader. I didn’t know what I wanted to do, I did not know my purpose.
Going into seventh grade, I was still trying to fit into this unrealistic expectation of how my life was supposed to pan out: play basketball and volleyball all through middle and high school then go on to become a college athlete. These were my friends’ goals so I thought in order for me to fit in, they had to be mine too.

When school started, there was an FFA callout and I went because my dad was in FFA. Even though in some of my classmates’ eyes it was not the “cool” thing to do, I was immediately sold. I quickly became involved in my chapter through community service projects and contests we competed in. Slowly, I began to realize that my purpose did not lie in sports, but rather in serving those around me.

Because I dared to do something different, FFA helped me discover my purpose. Throughout high school I was able to take that purpose and find the things I am passionate about.  Serving others on mission trips to Honduras, at places such as Circle City Relief, and through community service projects back home. These passions opened my eyes to new perspectives that I would not have gotten otherwise. Taking a part in something bigger than yourself is the most rewarding job ever.

Maybe you feel lost. If you do, I encourage you to think outside of the box and dare to be different even if it is not the “cool” thing to do. You never know what doors that action may open for you. If you have the courage to be different, you will find your purpose which will lead to discovering your passions. Your purpose will fuel your passions.

Be you,
Savannah Bordner

Monday, September 10, 2018

Starting Line in Mind

Now is the time where my teammates and I are traveling across the state for chapter visits and district kickoffs. My first week group consisted of Chyenne, Jarrett, and me. On Wednesday, September 5 we were in district three and decided to stop for lunch at Jimmy Johns. We walked in, ordered lunch, and sat down at one of the booths. If you have ever been to Jimmy Johns you know that they have a wide array of signs throughout the restaurant. One of these signs was hanging on the wall by the booth and we started reading it. It was a list and the title of the list was “16 Things That it Took Me Over 50 Years to Learn by Dave Barry (On the event of his 50th birthday).” One of these numbers stuck out to me...
15. Never be afraid to try something new. Remember that a lone amateur built the Ark. A large group of professionals built the Titanic.
This is the circumstance for many students we are facilitating to during chapter visits and kickoffs. Unlike some, I was very fortunate to come from a school where FFA was the thing to do. I have noticed that others have not been so lucky. At some schools, individuals are ridiculed for being an FFA member. Those brave members join the organization looking to benefit from it like everyone else does, but also hopefully start a spark for other students to join. This embodies one of the reasons why we have chapter visits. Many of the students we talk to are middle schoolers who have their high school FFA career ahead of them or high school students who aren’t in FFA. It could just take one experience for someone to join FFA.
It’s hard to stand alone. I remember this being a fear for me when I was considering state office. My advisor was always there for me when I had a question or needed advice to improve a project. During state office, I couldn’t just send him a presentation or speech and ask for his thoughts on it. I thought I would be alone. I’ve learned this year that I will have individual projects, but the team will always be there to support me. If I need something to be looked over, an opinion on an idea, or a brainstorming session then my team will step up and help.

The reason we don’t start a project could be because we are too focused on the end goal and forget about the steps to get there. When a large task is presented, we just have to take it one step at a time. Focus on the “now” to reach the “then.” If the goal is to start a new fundraiser, start by determining what the fundraiser will be and what resources are already there. It would be overwhelming to think of every action that needs to be done. Trying something new is a scary feat for many of us, but if we tackle projects in steps it can make the end goal seem more realistic.

Never stop trying,
Brittany Gonzales
State Secretary

Thursday, August 30, 2018


     We have seen it a million times. Someone stands behind a phone to take a picture and says that phrase, “Say cheese!” People smile, maybe say, “CHEEEEESEEE” back, and right after the photo is taken, they have a completely straight face. I have witnessed this so often and I’ll be honest; I am guilty of it too. I smile for the picture and the picture only, and then immediately wipe the smile off my face.

     A group of girls and I were taking a photo and witnessed a “say cheese” moment. I would define a “say cheese” moment as a time where a smile is completely forced and definitely just for the picture. Every single one of us stopped smiling right when we were finished taking the photo. Someone pointed this out to us and I felt as if this was something I could work on. It may have been a small change, but I made it a priority of mine to continue smiling after a photo was taken and to smile more often. I tried this on during the Indiana State Fair and felt so excited to be there. I have found myself genuinely happier and enjoying the little things a lot more as I smile more often.

     I was scrolling through my camera roll and I 
realized that the best photos are the ones with
 genuine smiles. The "CHEESE" moments here
 are some examples:

     A simple smile can do wonders for ourselves and more importantly, the people around us. The “say cheese” moments may seem forced at times. But the “CHEESE” moments, when we are smiling from ear to ear and genuinely excited to be smiling and be present, are some of the best moments we could ever experience. Smile because you want to, not because you have to. 

Keep on cheesin’! 
Sami DeLey

Friday, August 24, 2018

Remember Your Roots

     My accomplishments would be few and far between if it weren’t for those responsible for my upbringing. Most of my values and virtues come from my family; hard-work from my step-father, compassion and responsibility from my grandparents, and love from my mother. While there are many values I developed from them, I continue to build my ideals. I thank my friends for teaching me loyalty, my teachers for persistency, and strangers for humbleness. Unfortunately, I’m not taking this opportunity to personally thank all of you like I should, that’s not the educational experience I want to share at this time. This is a time to reflect on how we all got wrapped up in this beautiful whirlwind.
     My feet didn’t begin running through the fields of corn next to my grandparent’s house; they were sunk in the clay of the pond. I knew that we had a tractor in the barn, but I was more worried about getting my fishing pole out and finally hooking some of the bass in the three-quarter acre pond. The world was barely more than the end of the seemingly endless driveway, and boy did I take it for granted. The time spent worriless on the dock or watching the creek trickle away to meet with the St. Mary’s will never be brought back, but those are vivid memories that remind me of why I keep pushing on when life gets rough.
     As time moved on and I moved away from that little bubble of paradise, I learned the joys and discomforts of agricultural life on my step-family’s farm. I acquired my first hogs for the county fair and started riding in the tractors with the guys. Now, these tractors were a little bit bigger than the International 1046 grandpa would let me ride with him. These were used for what is now over 3500 acres of grain farming. I took these experiences for granted as well, pursuing time to waste rather than learn more about being a helpful farmhand. However, as I moved through my years of school to finally make it to high school, I made the best decision I’ve probably ever made by joining the local FFA chapter.
     Joining the chapter alone is not the highlight, nor are the opportunities that I have taken because of it. The true joy was meeting all of these amazing people I could call my friends. My friends pushed me along to become a better version of me. I was working hard towards my success, but the beginnings as a regular member were where I gained a lot of my perception of FFA. I learned it truly is what you make of it. I decided I could make it be an integral part of my life by becoming a State Officer.
     Through two months of the job, I’ve met a wide diversity of people: the public, members, sponsors, and government officials. Telling them my story of FFA and how it’s amazing is important to me, but there were times where I felt pressured. Fortunately, I was able to return home and compete at my 4-H county fair. The thing about my time with 4-H is that’s how I got involved with FFA in the first place. I was trying to be a club officer, and someone confused those intentions with becoming an FFA officer, so they told me to get involved with my chapter. Going back to my fair, I remembered that there was life beyond my work with the FFA. What really brought reality back to me was the conversations I had with those who were curious about what I was doing nowadays. They ended my final day at the fair with the words “stay humble; never forget your roots.” To keep with this, I remember the feeling of pond clay between my toes, looking at the water and looking up to the blue sky.
     What’s your clay that keeps you grounded? Whatever it is, use that memory to hold you steadfast to your values.
Never forget your roots,
Jarrett Bailey
Indiana FFA State Sentinel

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Blessings and Burdens

Greatness… While there is no specific unit of measurement for such a thing, people strive to achieve whatever they deem fits the description of the word. Despite the term lacking a definite, universal meaning, people toil day in and day out to acquire it. The acquisition of such a thing typically comes after a long period of painstaking work. We exert ourselves to the point that the work we do becomes a burden. Our labor sometimes burdens us to the point where we want to quit; our labor becomes so routine and methodical that we can forget what our end goal is or, worse yet, why we are making such an effort. But the tenacious toil on… still seeking, continually searching for, that individually defined objective.

There are two types of success—lasting and temporary. The latter is typically associated with awards, achievements, and accomplishments, while the former is usually found through positions, jobs, and roles. Temporary successes may be short lived, but they prove we have the ability to achieve lasting success. Many times, the accumulation of temporary successes will result in a lasting success.

If a basketball player consistently scores the most points on her team and is still able to give out double digit assists, that individual will likely be selected as the team captain. If a factory worker is continually able to surpass his quota on the assembly line, that person may be promoted to floor manager. If a soldier is able to frequently outperform his squad mates, he may be promoted to sergeant. In all of these situations the person was able to find temporary success, and by doing so regularly, received a form of lasting success. The work leading up to both was no doubt burdening to the individual, and the recognition that followed was absolutely a blessing, but the process doesn’t stop there.

When we reach the point of success we are blessed. At this point, many of us simultaneously give and receive praise. We give to those who helped us and receive from those who admire us. Our blessings become something we cherish, something we don’t ever want to lose, and we hold them tightly.
After fighting the burden of achieving greatness, then basking in the blessing of having it, we hit a wall that’s existence isn’t known until it is ran into. This wall is the next level of burdens. These are the struggles people only face after having their successful, glory filled moment. The burden of acquiring greatness is known to all who have ever desired it; the burden of having greatness is known only to those who have achieved it. Two burdens arise after greatness has been achieved, and each correlates to a type of success. They are the difficulty of continually seeking more success, and the difficulty of performing the job that came with the previously acquired blessing. It is a euphoric feeling when we achieve greatness, but keeping up with the pace of that unspecified, ever evading goal is tiring and difficult to do.

Regardless of where we are in life, we will always be burdened. It is human nature to desire success, which is why we constantly strive for it even during times that it seems so far away. At all times we should be striving for more. To settle is to go against our nature. If you achieved an award you desired, bask in the glory momentarily then roll on to the next one. If you acquired an officer role or ranking job position, be grateful then focus on the job at hand. If you receive a bonus for an outstanding performance, be thankful then work to repeat yourself. We can never stop striving for more. Whether we are shooting for the stars or just searching for contentment, we must all keep striving. No matter where we are, we will all be surrounded by people who are burdened. We will carry our burdens just as everyone else does. The only cure is to seek our next blessing, and then repeat the process. At no point should it be easy. But it is the difficulty that should propel us to do more. We are all capable of finding and doing ‘more.’

Ease can be found in a life of mediocrity. Difficulty will be found in a life of greatness.

Austin B. Berenda

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

MY Obstacle, YOUR Reward

A few weeks ago, I had the chance to travel back home and as I drove, I took a quick detour to see one of my closest friends, Kaitlyn. Her and I have one of those friendships where we are able to call one another sisters. We have two COMPLETELY opposite personalities but when we are together, there is never a dull moment. Most of our memories consist of goat shows, cleaning the barn, shopping trips, and long talks. The past few months we’ve been pushed to take advantage of short visits with one another. This detour was one of those moments.  

When I arrived at Kaitlyn’s apartment, I was so excited to first, look through her fridge for food and second, see her for possibly the last time until December. Kaitlyn is a few years older than me and is getting ready to move to Oklahoma to start her first full time job. I have known about the thought of her moving since the beginning of the summer, but in only a few days from now that thought will become a reality. She will actually be 12 hours and 3 states away.

As I get ready to knock on the apartment door, I feel my mind recollect that this is the final time I will every knock on this door and the final time I will be able to take that quick detour to see her. She opened the door, I walked in, and we took advantage of the short 45 minute time period we had to chat. I never wanted to have her 12 hours away. I never wanted her to be 3 states away, but I never had a say.

Every now and then, we run into obstacles that we truly wish were not there. Life would be a lot easier having Kaitlyn in Indiana, but that isn’t the case. This is my obstacle right now. However this isn’t her obstacle, this is her reward. Her long nights spent studying and working with tutors allowed her to graduate college. This is my obstacle and her reward. A lot of times, we are so focused on what is making our life difficult that we forget to look at how it is making someone else's better. I challenge you to look at someone else’s life for a moment. See if what you see as an obstacle is actually their reward.
Always trying to see your rewards,
Chyenne Deno
2018-2019 Indiana FFA State Reporter

Friday, July 27, 2018

Time to Reflect is Time Well Spent

Let’s take a step back. It’s time to reflect and see where we are, where we have come from and where we want to be. Here is a quote that was shared with the two-hundred and ninety-six state officers this week at the State Officer Summit, “When you take time to do an action take time to reflect. If you do not reflect on that moment, it is time wasted.” So, with that being said, let’s focus on a moment that relates back to what the fifty-two associations are learning at the very first ever State Officer Summit.
The Summit is a newly constructed curriculum for the state officers to attend in Washington, D.C. During this time, the officers attending work on advocacy, meet with congressional leaders on Capitol Hill and meet officers from across the country. So now that you understand what The Summit is, we can dive right in.

As we attended reflections, I had the opportunity to talk to one of my teammates, as well as reflect on why I ran for state office. Throughout this week, we have talked about advocacy, being a part of this team and in my small group, discussed how to be the best we can be for the members. So this week, I was thinking and reflecting on how I almost did not run. I looked at the amazing individuals running, doubted my own abilities and started putting in my head I was not good enough and that I couldn’t do it. Did I have what it took? Was my “why” for running good enough and did it reflect me? These were questions I constantly asked myself.

As I sat on the steps of the Jefferson Memorial and looked across the river and saw the amazing lights on the Washington Monument glaring into the river, I sat and reflected on my prior choice of almost dropping out. I had allowed those previous questions to affect me and define my abilities and who I am.  Tonight, it hit me on why I stuck with it, left it in God’s hands and trusted the process. This had been a dream of mine since eighth grade. I could not allow those words to define me and set my path. You miss one hundred percent of the shots you don’t take.

To close, I want to leave you with this, “The front of your jacket says your name, the back of your jacket says where you are from, but nowhere on that jacket does it say who you will become or where you will go.” Take initiative, do not quit and make the impossible possible. Where will your jacket take you?

Always believing,
Nathan Deatrick
State Southern Region Vice President

Friday, July 20, 2018

Learning from a Weekend Home

The first three weeks of state office have been all about learning. Learning from and about my teammates, learning how we can make the most out of our year as officers, and learning about myself. I think the most invaluable way of learning that has occurred over the past few weeks, has been learning from my teammates.

After reading Sami and Brittany’s blogs, I started thinking about their words and how to apply them to my life. So often, I have failed to listen intently. I have gotten so caught up in the newest song or social media post that I have forgotten to take in those firework moments that truly matter. In high school I was the one that wanted to leave. I wished my time at home with my friends and family away and I could not wait to move on to bigger and better things. I never would have guessed that I would miss home as much as I do right now.

After reflecting on their blog posts, I made it my mission to listen intently and cherish those firework moments. If you haven’t already, check out their posts to understand my learning experience a little better!

This past weekend, I had the opportunity to go home for my county fair. I surprised my parents on Saturday night and saw some of my very best friends. On Sunday, I decided I wanted to go to the annual 4-H fair parade, and my mom reminded me that it was tradition for 10 year 4-H members to ride on a fire truck and I was immediately sold.

While riding on the firetruck, I was able to catch up with two of my closest friends from school. We talked about how excited they were for college, how my year was going and laughed when we hit a pothole and almost fell off the top of the truck.

For me, this was a firework moment. Because I chose to disconnect and listen intently, I was able to make another memory that I will always remember. Do not wish your life away. Cherish every minute you have with your family and friends because before you know it, your life will be changing forever and all you will have is the firework moments to hang onto.

Always Learning
Savannah Bordner
2018-2019 State Northern Region Vice President

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Firework Moments

The first weekend home. This was an exciting time for my teammates and I as we had been in office for about two weeks. I had everything planned out: dinner with a friend Friday night, see fireworks with another friend Saturday night, and church and a pool party on Sunday. I didn’t realize how much I truly missed my friends and family until I was driving home. The two weeks of office went by in the blink of an eye. As a team, we had already made so many memories together, but I was anxious to get home.
On Saturday, I went to see fireworks with my best friend (besides the six other hooligans I live with right now). Her family met us at the school where we would set up to eat and watch the show. We chatted about what was new in our lives and how we missed each other until the fireworks started. Her younger cousin was sitting on her lap and he was getting impatient. He asked how long the show would last because he wanted it to be over. She told him, “you have to cherish these moments because you’ll never remember them.” A simple response that had the intent to calm down a young child had me thinking about how, not only the past two weeks, but my entire 18 years of existence had flown by and I rarely took the time to slow down and enjoy it.
We move too quickly through life, but the smallest moments can have the largest impact. Like fireworks, memories come and they are so often that we don’t remember specific ones that are the most meaningful. Take the time to collect pictures, start journaling, or in some way document the things you want to remember. Memories are a dime a dozen, but you may not realize how important one is until you reminisce on the good times. Cherish the firework moments.

Let it shine,
Brittany Gonzales
State Secretary

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Tune Out to Tune In

We are surrounded by sounds in our world. Music blaring through our headphones, the television buzzing with the latest news or even the constant chatter of videos on our computers. There are an abundance of sounds filling our ears and our minds. We get so consumed and distracted by these sounds and forget to listen to the important things in life. We forget about the birds singing early in the morning. We forget to roll our windows down on a warm summer evening and just listen to our surroundings. We forget to listen to the fire crackle when the sun goes down. We even forget to listen to the people around us. What if we took a second to turn off distracting sounds and tune in to a meaningful conversation?

I have always been fascinated by the concept of listening. I love listening to people talk and learning about them. My teacher once told me, “You shouldn’t listen to respond. You should listen to understand.” Throughout my first week of being a state officer, I have really taken this into consideration.

At times, I find myself driving in complete silence because I am consumed with thoughts. Other times, I have the radio on full blast and I am singing every word to  “Party in the U.S.A” at the top of my lungs (this is probably not good for my sound system or my voice). I have found that it is good to sing along to the radio but sometimes, turning the sound off and giving yourself time to think is very important.

This past week, I went on a drive with my teammate, Austin, to pick up some pizzas. A simple trip that ended up being a great opportunity to learn about my teammate. We could have cranked up the radio in the truck to our favorite old country songs but instead, we engaged in conversation the entire time. We talked about what we liked and did not liked, we talked about how our parents met and we exchanged silly jokes that we shared with each other. We picked up the pizzas, drove back to the house and realized we had not touched the radio dial at all. We tuned out for a brief moment and turned our attention toward something much more important; learning about each other.  
Distractions consume our lives and if we aren’t careful, we may miss out on an opportunity to make a friend, learn something new or learn something about ourselves. Take some time to tune out of those distracting sounds. Listen to what the world has to offer. Instead of diving into a phone, dive into a conversation with someone you have never met before. Be 100 percent present in conversations and always listen with the intent of understanding. The world is a beautiful place with amazing people. All we have to do sometimes is listen.    

Forever striving to listen intently,
Sami DeLey
            2018-2019 Indiana FFA State President