Monday, December 30, 2019

Ignite Your Passion

This past month, we spent most of our days exploring the many different agricultural companies that support Indiana FFA. At each visit, we introduce ourselves with our name, where we are from, and our future career plans. Going into these visits I was dead set on nursing, but had the fear of being disconnected from agriculture. After many visits, I was starting to wonder if nursing was what I wanted to do. After visiting Pioneer, I was thinking about sales or even possibly studying agronomy. I absolutely loved the environment and thought the tour was a blast.  I reflected on my favorite CDE in high school, crops, and how I loved it. I could see myself working in this field of agriculture in the future. 

I pondered upon this idea and was considering changing my major again. As we walked into United Animal Health, I gave my introduction, but this time added a part at the end that I was potentially changing my major from nursing. Mr. Schneider, from United Animal Health, asked me, “Why do you want to change your major?” I replied with “Well I am afraid of being disconnected from agriculture.” Mr. Schneider shared with me a valuable story that I really needed to hear. He said his daughter was in the same shoes as I was. She was deciding between an agriculture career, but decided to go with nursing because it was her passion. She chose to work as a nurse at an agriculture company, therefore she could pursue both of her passions. Mr. Schneider gave me the encouragement on so many different opportunities I could have within nursing and still be involved in agriculture every single day. 

These words are something that I really needed to hear, as I was worried if I was making the right choice. I’ve spent a lot of time reflecting over break and I am going to pursue both of my passions. They say if you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life. I can’t wait for the day to be spending helping younger kids and their families. 

“It’s not about choosing the right path that matters. It’s knowing what ignites your passion. Once you’ve figured out what brings you joy, you don’t have to worry about finding the right path. Any path will take you there.” -Unknown 

Always do what you love,

Taylor Roy

Monday, December 23, 2019

Beyond the Game

It was the night of October 19, 2018.  I was in my bedroom at home getting my homework finished for the weekend, so I was prepared for my busy weekend.  I was planning on working at a Farm Bureau event on Saturday, and we had a family event to attend on Sunday.  Plus, as an avid sports fan, it was my civic duty to watch whatever game was on that weekend.  Especially that weekend.  It was the Ohio State-Purdue football game, and my Boilermakers were sure going to have their hands full.  With this schedule on my mind, I worked meticulously on my Calculus homework, making sure that I had no scholastic distractions for my busy weekend.  
Then my phone rang.  I was slightly confused at first because it was pretty late for someone to be calling.  I answered the phone, and I could tell my friend on the line seemed anxious.  “Hey, what are you doing tomorrow?”  he asked.  I briefly gave a summary of my busy weekend ahead and asked why they were interested.  “Well,” he said, “you know the Purdue game is going on this weekend, right?”  I laughed.  Of course, I knew the football game was this weekend!  “Well, I just so happened to run across two tickets to the game—second row—and I was wondering if you would want to go?”
As crazy as it sounds, I initially said no.  I was never the kind of person to do things that altered my schedule—especially a two-hour drive to West Lafayette.  All through school, I would turn down last-minute invites to hang out with some friends or would get extremely nervous when something was not planned out ahead of time.  I needed to have concrete plans.  
I tried to make up excuses for why I could not go.  I told my friend that my weekend was too full. I claimed that our chances of winning were so slim that it would not be worth the trip.  And I tried to say that my mom would not possibly let me go.  However, my friend saw right through these excuses, I got the okay from my mom, and after about thirty minutes of discussion, I finally agreed to head to the big game.  
I believe that most of us know the story; and for those that do not, the Boilermakers came back with a historic 49-20 upset over the #2 team in the country.

   I was lucky that night.  Less than twenty-four hours prior, I had insisted on skipping out on going to the game. I was blinded by my fear of disrupting my schedule, and never took into account the amazing things that would happen if I just let myself step away from my schedule.  Yet, thanks to my friend’s persuasion I witnessed one of the biggest events in Purdue football history.
    Take advantage of those opportunities. When a friend asks you to hang out, go with them. When your home football team has a game, go to it. You never know when those small ordinary things may turn into something extraordinary. Do not be afraid to break away from whatever schedule that you thought you had planned.  You never know what might happen beyond the game.    

Monday, December 16, 2019

Here by the Owl

“Why would you ever want to do that? There’s no money in that!” These are some of the constant remarks that I have received after telling folks I plan on becoming an Agriculture Educator. People would jokingly try and sway me from the profession, but it’s hard to sway from something if you want it bad enough. The mindset to become an ag teacher is engrained in many FFA members as they begin to realize how amazing their advisor really is. After four years of high school those students are on to other professions and other dreams. Even after college, some students will still never see a classroom. All of this is okay, but too often I’ve watched friends deviate from the path they started. Agriculture Education faces problems with teacher retention, funding, and all-around stresses of the job. My mom is considered one of these beautiful individuals. She has taught Ag for as long as I can remember, and I want to follow in her footsteps. I spent many nights waiting on my mom to come home from a practice or retreat. So often I found myself in the back of a classroom waiting for mom to finish grading papers or scheduling meetings. Every banquet, trip, and practice; I was there. I was the only 5th grader who knew all of opening ceremonies from start to finish. I am well aware of the toils this stressful profession can bring, yet I still plan to proceed with majoring in Agriculture Education at one of the best colleges in Indiana. Purdue University boast 100% job placement within the Agriculture Education major, is the cradle of quarterbacks and astronauts, and is where my mom graduated with a degree in Agriculture Education. It holds a special place in my heart, and I couldn’t ever imagine a better pair, Ag Ed and Purdue University. I have been on Purdue’s campus time after time and can’t get enough of the black and gold. I am nothing but excited to be in West Lafayette this fall and be able to call myself a Purdue Boilermaker majoring in Agriculture Education.  

Boiler Up! 


Monday, December 9, 2019

Which Team to Cheer For

“Oooooooooooooooooh Go State!”
Standing in the pouring cold rain, I screamed my favorite team’s chant as both Purdue and Indiana football teams kicked off at the Battle for the Old Oaken Bucket. However, the only Michigan State Spartan helmet logo in sight was hidden under my jacket as I was surrounded by Boilermakers and Hoosiers.
Growing up, my weekends were spent in the Notre Dame Football Stadium or watching the Irish play at Grandpa Ray’s house only a few blocks away. We always wore green and gold and were proud to be fans. We’d visit Touchdown Jesus and the Grotto, ice skate in the Compton Ice Arena, and play cornhole at tailgates with family. I always considered myself an Irish fan, that is, until my older cousins were moving on to college. 
My cousins moved away to attend Western Michigan University and Michigan State University, and every weekend they came home with a new story to share about their “crazy” college lives. I sat down with my cousin, Austin, and he told me about the amazing college of Michigan State, and after a little investigating of their agriculture department, I was ready to sign up. I followed their sports teams and had everything decked out in Spartan Helmet logos, I toured programs and attended games. I developed a hatred for the University of Michigan and a love of everything MSU green and white. I screamed “Go Green” and shaped my path to be in East Lansing for college. I was ready to become a Spartan.
Yet here I was, standing in the visitors section of the university I will be attending while wearing an IU hat. Some may call it blasphemy, I call it confusion. With my closest friends being true Indiana Hoosiers and green and white in my veins, I somehow am considered a “Boilermaker” and sometimes don’t know which team to root for. Yet attending Purdue was the choice I willingly made. But you’ll still never hear me utter the words “Boiler Up”.
 To this day you will hear me hold my spartan pride and be proud to attend a university that will create many opportunities. There isn’t any fine print that says you have to wear candy stripe pants to be a Hoosier, you don’t have to say “Boiler Up” to eat at Triple X, and you don’t have to attend Michigan State to sing “Victory for MSU”. We can wear our team’s colors, name our dogs after our favorite college coach, we can cheer for whoever we are proud of. Because it’s not about which team has the best record or banners, it’s about cheering for the team who makes us feel pride growing from our stomachs and willing to stand in the pouring rain for. Whether it be on the banks of Jordan, Wabash, or the Red Cedar, it’s about who you’re going to build an empire with.

Always screaming “Go Green”,
Morgan A. Hinz

Monday, December 2, 2019

Fear the Forest

Most people identify this time of year as the holiday season - people run around purchasing gifts for families and friends, while others spend it doing acts of service for those in need. While this exemplifies most of the season, last year I had something else on my mind. It wasn’t choosing the best present for my friends or the next basketball game I had to play, it was instead a very simple question. What college was I going to attend?

For many people at my school the choice was simple as they were attending Purdue, IU, Ball State, the big schools that everyone always talked about. But for me, I wasn’t so certain. 

At the time, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to major in. While I was interested in the field of education, I didn’t know if it would be for Agriculture Education or Math Education. Because of this, I wanted to go to a school that offered both, so I could keep my options open. 

I didn’t realize that keeping my options open meant that I was limiting myself to three choices. I could:

  1. Attend Purdue University;
  2. Attend Huntington University; or
  3. Attend a school out of state.

Those were my options. The only two schools that offered Agriculture Education in Indiana were Purdue and Huntington. I knew very early on that I didn’t want to go to Purdue. It was too big and too close to home, not to mention I’d been there a thousand times. I mean, I basically grew up there. If there was one thing I knew for sure, it was that I couldn’t spend the next four years of my life there, but I also knew that I didn’t want to go out of state. The tuition to go somewhere other than a college in Indiana was way too high for my liking. 

While I knew I wanted to keep my options open, I still made an effort to tour other campuses. The first one I went on was to the University of Southern Indiana. It was beautiful. USI had a great education department, it was one of the cheapest schools in Indiana, and it wasn’t close to home. It also didn’t offer Agriculture Education, so I kept looking.

I toured Ball State and Indiana State, not really liking either of them. I felt as though I had to go to USI, even though it wasn’t going to allow me to study in the field of agriculture.

Before I made any final decisions, I decided to take one last tour to Huntington University. I remember telling my mom that it was a waste of time, and being as negative as I possibly could have been. I didn’t want to get my hopes up. 

As soon as I stepped foot onto the campus though, I fell in love with it. From the Agriculture Education student that gave us a tour, to the professors, everyone made me feel right at home. And it didn’t stop there. They have been so supportive in my journey through state office, and I couldn’t ask for a more welcoming school to attend. Each time I run into someone I know from Huntington, they always make an effort to say hello. I ran into some fellow Huntington students and professors a week ago, and they made sure to include me in a picture they took. 

Small gestures such as that are the reason that I’m so excited to go to Huntington. I was scared that I wouldn’t be able to find the right fit for me when it came to choosing a college, but that was before I had given Huntington a chance. 

    A year ago I didn’t know my plans for the future. But now I’m so thankful to be able to call myself a future Forester, and I can’t wait to start the next chapter of my life next fall at Huntington University. 

Fear the Forest,
Caitlyn Lewis

Monday, November 25, 2019

Thanksgiving Grace

When I was in Elementary school, my church would put on a small skit during mass. Twelve students would get up and hold letters that spelled out THANKSGIVING. On the back of the card was a small saying that we would read that pertained to that specific letter. 
    I remember being so excited to be picked to read the letters! When I was in 6th grade I had the letter G. The letter G stood for Grace. It said,
 “Grace is the divine influence which operates in humans to regenerate and sanctify, to inspire impulses, and to impart strength to endure trials and resist temptation.”
As a 6th grader, I did not quite understand what this meant. Not until years later did I truly understand what the letter G in THANKSGIVING really meant. 
    I started to understand what grace meant more when my Great Uncle Red passed away. At every family function, he would always come up to us and pull on our ears. As a little kid, I extremely disliked this and always tried to hide(which never worked). However, when he did pull our ears he would always ask how we were or how our day was going.  Once he passed away I realized there would be no more ear pulls much less those simple, meaningful questions. I realized that through grace, Uncle Red truly appreciated his family. I could still remember all of these things by living in his memory. No matter who came in at family parties, Uncle Red greeted everyone with a smile, a handshake, or an ear pull. I try to live with grace like Uncle Red every day. Not only the smile and handshakes but his graceful attitude. Uncle Red and Aunt Ruth did not have to host the family Thanksgiving every year but they did because of grace. They wanted to make sure everyone had a place for Thanksgiving. 
    Once I began to think deeper about having grace, I thought back to the word THANKSGIVING. I realized that giving thanks is the true point. Being able to give thanks for those things that are around you, including your family and friends. I have realized that not everyone believe it or not has 100+ cousins that they actually interact and know. I have realized that not everyone has the same luxury as growing up on a farm or learning the true meaning of friendship. Not only does being thankful come in for family and friends but objects as well. The greatest shoes, the newest phone, the fanciest car, or the best backpack does not mean you are a happy person. Over my many conversations thus far this year, I have become aware that some of the happiest people are the ones with so little, but have the biggest heart for family and friends. You do not have to have the latest gadgets and gizmos, in the end those have no significant impact on our lives. But, the people we surround ourselves with, people who share grace with us-those are the people that are going to make and impact on us. Those people with help fill us with grace. 

Be Graceful, 
Dillon Muhlenkamp

Monday, November 18, 2019

DQ or Bust

It was a brisk 35-degree Monday morning. I was thinking about everything I had to do that day and I realized I didn’t have much to do. I also realized I hadn’t been very active recently. I wasn’t up to going to the gym and it was almost lunch timeI thought about a story of a past team, they rode bikes into Trafalgar for lunch. There was a problem with this idea though, we didn’t have bikes. 
I walked into the living room and found my teammate Noah on the couch. I said, “Noah what do you think about us walking to Dairy Queen for lunch?” He then looked at me like I was insane and replied “Eion it’s like 30 degrees outside and it’s four miles to Dairy Queen!” However, after some thought he agreed to take on the adventure with me. 
Now I knew it was cold and believe me, I prepared for the cold, but I did not prepare for the freezing rain. I quickly found out that my hoodie and tennis shoes where not waterproof and that water makes the cold much worse. Once we had decided wemade some bad clothing decisions, a half hour into the trip, it was too late to turn around. Luckily, Dillon was on his way back and we called him for reinforcements, he met us at DQ and brought us dry clothes. After such a long, cold, and rainy walkthose chicken strips tasted better than they ever had before!
After a lot of persuasion to give up and ride back with Dillon we decided that we were going to finish our adventure! With renewed energy and warm toes, we ventured back out into the cold. Luckily the icy rain had turned into snow and the wind was at our backs. That was all we needed. As we passed the Johnson County library, we saw a tan car sitting on the side of the road, it pulled out and drove up next to us. In the driver’s seat was none other than Dillon. He had been waiting on us to make sure we were doing okay. We laughed and told him we were fine; We were going to finish this trip! On our way back Noah and I talked about everything from why mini vans are so cool, to the corn that was still in the fields. We even came up with our own verses to the song “White Christmas.”  
About the time we were walking down the lane of the FFA center, we had an idea. We decided to call Dillon and tell him we were giving up. As we got to our driveway, I called him to tell him we couldn’t make it. It wasn’t 10 seconds after we called that we saw him running out of the house to his car. Noah and I then hollered at him and laughed. But inside we were both really glad to know he cared so much about us. Not only was he so quick to come get us but he even had hot chocolate ready for us when we walked in. I realized a lot that dayI realized that I had so much fun talking to Noah for the three hours we spent on the road together. I realized how much my teammates cared for me when Dillon kept checking on us. I realized none of those awesome things would have happened if we would not have taken advantage of that spontaneous moment. I challenge you to be spontaneous and enjoy those moments.

Monday, November 11, 2019

Tis' the Season

“It’s the most wonderful time of the year.” That’s right, Christmas is upon us. I know there is a debate on when it’s time to start celebrating Christmas because of Thanksgiving. Let me elaborate:

I personally start in July, but I could see where that might be a little unreasonable. After looking at the calendar above, it’s just letting us be holly and jolly for a month or two longer than usual. Then taking a break for Thanksgiving, and then resuming all festivities. 

Here is my checklist to celebrating Christmas:

  • Christmas Music all the way up
  • Binge watching & quoting Home Alone
  • Watching Elf and eating spaghetti with syrup and M&M’s
  • Driving around and seeing the Christmas lights
  • Drinking hot chocolate for every meal 
  • Making Christmas cookies
  • Spending the season with those you love the most
  • Playing board games
  • Going to Church the night before Christmas

    I love the Christmas season for so many reasons. It brings so much joy and happiness all the time. It also brings those around us closer together with endless laughter (and of course food).

May you all enjoy the Christmas season, 


Monday, November 4, 2019

Find Your Support Team

Anyone who has shown livestock knows that there is no feeling quite like that first march into the show ring.  You need to be on your game.  Your eyes seldom leave the judge, because you know that even when you may not make eye contact, that judge is watching you the whole time.  You have your animal on peak performance.  You hit every set, make even turn, and do whatever you can to make sure that the judge sees just how great you are.  When you are in the ring, it’s your time.  You’ve got your eye on the prize and know that you are going to walk out with that ribbon or banner when it’s all said and done.  

And then the class is over.  

You make the same proud march out of that ring that you did on the way in.  Your hard work has paid off.  You brought home the hardware.  The question is, who helped you get to this point?  Was it your parents?  Your siblings?  For myself, that answer just so happens to revolve around some of those who were in the ring with me.  

Over the eight years that I was involved in showing livestock, I was surrounded by an amazing support system of some of my best friends, a group we called “Team Ternet.”  This team consisted of some of my best friends that I showed livestock with, and generally accounted for about 30 head of cattle every year at our county fair, as well as a handful of other species.  As we went through our years showing various species of livestock, we taught each other how to show, learned from each other’s tendencies, and grew not only as a “team,” but also as a family. 

We had our successes together, however, that was never the point.  We were there to learn together and to support each other no matter what the outcome in the ring.  Together we learned the importance of hard work, what it meant to wake up early and stay up late, how to learn from failures, and rejoice in successes.  No matter what we faced, we always had each other to lean on and learn from.  We were there for each other in everything we faced; no matter if that was in the show ring, in the classroom, or in the blue jacket.  We were—and still are—always there for each other.

Who is your support team?  

In our lives, it is crucial to find that group of people that we can rely on and that likewise rely on us.  We learn together and from each other.  We can lean on that support team when we need someone to be there for us.  We can likewise be there for them.  I hope that we all find that support team and—if we already know who that is—never forget to be thankful for everything they have done for us.


Noah Berning

Monday, October 28, 2019

National Convention Hype

My last blog discussed one of my favorite fall activities which was hunting. I failed to mention that my second favorite fall activity is the wonderful National FFA Convention! As a sophomore, I got to experience convention for the first time. The expo booths, sessions, and wonderful sea of blue had me amazed and mesmerized. I have met so many people from outside of the Hoosier state from the connections I made at National Convention. This year I get the chance to serve as a delegate which means more time in Indy and a chance to make big choices for this wonderful organization. With that in mind, here are some of my favorite memories from National Convention that I hope everyone gets the chance to experience this week!               

▪ Trying to get a signature from every state
▪ Watching the laser light show at session
▪ Seeing the Rodeo, concert, or hypnotist show
▪ Walking away with a bag of free items

▪ Going on tours across the state
▪ Retail therapy at Cowpokes or the FFA Megastore 
▪ Seeing the Blue Room for the first time
▪ Getting to catch up with my friends from across the state

No, I am not sponsored (only in my dreams) but I do remember all of these activities and loved each one as much as the next. As we begin this week of festivities let us all remember to have fun, be safe, and keep your tally whacker tucked!

With plenty of excitement,