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