Monday, July 29, 2019

The Corduroy Dream

It is State Convention.  Elliot Hall of Music is swarmed with a cluster of blue corduroy jackets.  Members are shifting around in their seats as the house lights drop and a hush falls over the crowd as the State Officers begin opening ceremonies.  The State President grabs the gavel and proclaims those famous words:
“FFA members, why are we here?”

On the third gavel tap, thousands of blue jackets rise up around me, towering over me in a sea of National Blue.  I am not standing, however.  I am sitting in my red, white, and blue plaid shirt and jean shorts, amazed at what is happening around me.  Being a 5th grader, I was still too young to have my own FFA jacket. I was simply an observer, and a dreamer.  And although I had no idea what was ahead, I knew that I was going to have my own FFA jacket someday.
    Two years later, I zipped up my first FFA jacket.  It had been my dad’s—and all of his brothers’—jacket.  It had a “Vocational Agriculture” emblem on the back, and my last name hand-stitched to the front, from when my Grandma Berning had done it for my dad and his brothers.  I wore that jacket proudly to State Convention that year, and stood proudly as I had as the State President proclaimed:
    “FFA members, why are we here?”
    However, I was still waiting for my own FFA jacket.
    After that first convention in a jacket I was constantly asking my agriculture teachers when I would be able to finally get my own FFA jacket; one with my name stitched on the front.  And it seemed that every time I asked, my teachers would always remind me that my dad’s jacket had the right chapter on it, which made it fully functional for the time being.  Of course, I brushed these remarks aside.  After enough pestering, I was zipping up my FFA jacket and standing to these words:
    “FFA members, why are we here?”
      From that point forward, I had plenty of chances to wear my jacket.  I went to conferences, banquets, conventions, and took the occasional strut around my room clad in full-on Official Dress.  I was able to wear different jackets with my name, jackets that took me much farther than I had ever dreamed possible while I was staring in awe of those years before.
    Just a couple weeks ago, we received our State Officer FFA jackets.  As I picked it up, I started to remember back to that State Convention in 5th grade.  Back to the day when all I could dream of was having my own FFA jacket.  As I was looking at my new jacket, I turned it around and saw the word “Association” stitched on the back.  I remembered how my agriculture teachers had always told me that my dad’s old jacket would do the job back in the day.  And once again, those words echoed in my head:
    “FFA members, why are we here?”
    Here I was, standing with my own FFA jacket, just like I had dreamed about in 5th grade.  Yet, I realized something.  I finally understood why my teachers had always told me my dad’s jacket was fully functional.  I am here because of and I stand for those whom the names on the back of the jacket represents.

I ask you to consider this.  Why is it that you are here, and what do you stand for?  

Remember why we are here,
Noah Berning

Monday, July 22, 2019

Be the Person Your Dog Thinks You Are

I have lived away from home for nearly a month now, and I miss a lot of things. I miss being with my family, hanging out with friends, and sleeping in my own room; but the one thing I miss most is my black Labrador, Jasmine. If you’ve spent time away from your dog or a pet, you know how much you miss seeing them. I was reminded of Jasmine when I read a t-shirt that bore a humorous yet powerful quote, “Be the person your dog thinks you are”.
            What type of person does my dog think I am? I promise she thinks I am smart. I am the only one who knows how to unlock the food container and get her breakfast every morning. In her eyes I must be an absolute genius for knowing that trick. I know where the ball is at all times, and never chase my tail around which are all things she struggles with.
            She definitely thinks I am a leader. When we go on hikes or hunts, she is always by my side, following my every stride and turn. She rides shotgun on many car rides and always has a smile on her face wherever I lead her. I may not always lead us down the right path, but we find our way no matter what. In the end, she trusts me and my judgment more than I do sometimes.  
            Without a doubt she thinks I am loving. Every time she rolls over for a belly rub, I am always willing to provide. She doesn’t care if I’m upset, sad, or even busy. If she thinks it’s time for a belly rub, she will persist. Sometimes I think she does it for me and not her. She knows how much it makes me happy to see her leg thump when you find that sweet spot. Whatever it is that Jazzy can do to get me in the best mood possible, she will do just that.

            So, whether we have a dog at home, or know a dog from somewhere, let’s all try and be that person they think we are. Sometimes we may doubt ourselves and what we think we are, but we can always count on our pets at home to know us best and expect the best out of us. A professional dog lover, Nathan Fairchild


Monday, July 15, 2019

The Next Stepping Stone

They never said it would be easy, but they never really said it would be this hard, either. Similar to many of my peers, I’ve spent countless hours and sleepless nights in a phase of self-exploration and determining the next steps for the upcoming future. But with us all having different paths in life, I spent those hours preparing extemporaneous speeches while my twin brother, Wyatt, was registering for his freshman orientation for the fall in the room next to me. We were both working towards our own goals in life, progressing in each day, and yet there was this weird, loomy feeling hanging above me. I felt like I still didn’t know who composed of “Morgan” and where my path was headed, when so much time was spent and generous people helped me get to where I wanted to be, yet this inevitable future was something frighteningly amazing. As the days kept progressing, we have to progress with it. I found through these past few months that “the name of the game” is to mature at every turn, whether we like it or not. Because frankly, at the end of the day, we are working towards having a version of a  “yes” or “no” on a piece of paper, but it’s up to us to make it a stalemate or the best opportunity of our lives.
These past few months have more or less encouraged self-development, but the rush of chasing down a big dream still held a piece of me from diving head in. So much time was spent to get to that very moment, but what now? It felt as though I must leave my family and chase down those big city dreams, ready or not. The days continue to progress just as they always have and the weight to grow into who I aspired increased, as well as my desire to return back to my roots. The weekend home arrived and so did I to my two story red house. The air felt different- the dogs were quieter as I walked through the front door, and my youngest brother, Rocco, was making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich by himself for the first time. It felt like I was the only one who had to move forward, but so did my family.
Things felt different but one that wasn’t, was Rocco. He acted as though things never skipped a beat but occasionally made his own snacks. We truly fell back into stride as we played in the pool and argued over the TV remote. But as we continued on the tradition of having an evening at the fair, Rocco taught me something much more valuable than he’ll ever recognize. We indulged in fair food and played in a friendly carnival game. As we tried to outscore each other, Rocco always kept a smile on his face and ignored my notions of perfecting the form for landing these frogs on a lily pad. We walked away with our prizes and he was more excited about sharing the experience together than our latest victory. Every day I had been focusing on how to get to the next stepping stone in this crazy game of Life, and never bothered to breathe and enjoy the moment in time. I was so focused on maturing and being better that it took a ten year old to tell me to smile. We always focus on the future and being a better version of ourselves, but when is the last time we took a step back and enjoyed those who supported us? Sometimes taking a step back from our own realities will show us the worlds of those who help us get to that next stepping stone.

        Always progressing,
                    Morgan A. Hinz

Monday, July 8, 2019

Surrounded by Confidence

During my high school career, I had times where I felt like I was disappointing my teammates. Whether it was for volleyball or basketball, FFA, or life in general, there were many moments where I felt as though I wasn’t capable of doing something. My coaches always told me I was too hard on myself - that if I just had confidence I would be so much better. But the thing about confidence is that you don’t just “get” confidence. It’s something you have to work towards, a mindset that is extremely hard to grasp when you’ve never truly held any. 

Towards the end of my volleyball career, a younger teammate of mine gave me a bracelet that was red, white, and blue; on the inside, the quote “You are capable of amazing things” was written. If you know me, you know that I have a love for America like no other, which means you won’t be surprised I wore this bracelet each and every day. But if you also know me, you know that I can be forgetful. Because of this it didn’t take long for me to lose this bracelet. It was upsetting, and when I went out for breakfast with one of my friends, I made sure to let her know just how frustrated with myself I was. But in turn she said, “Cait, it’s a bracelet, and one that can be replaced. It’s okay.”

As the months went on though, I still hadn’t gotten around to replacing the bracelet. Christmas came to, and I found myself eating breakfast with that same friend to celebrate the holiday. After we were done eating we went outside to exchange gifts. I was expecting something red, white, and blue; however, I wasn’t expecting her to give me the same bracelet I had lost months ago. This time it wasn’t given to me because of the colors though - it was because of the quote that was inside of it. “You are capable of amazing things” was a quote that my friend truly believed, and the reminder helped get me through some tough times throughout my senior year. 

Two months before I started preparing to run for state office, I again lost the bracelet. I didn’t tell anyone because I was embarrassed of having lost it for a second time. I looked for it everywhere, but couldn’t seem to find it. I figured it would show up when I least expected it to, so I decided not to worry about it. There was no sense in fretting over something I couldn’t control. 

And it showed up when I needed it the most. The first night of preparing for state office, I sat in the Ag room at South Newton terrified for what I was about to do. As I was waiting to get started, I felt something in the pocket of the flannel I was wearing. Reaching in I pulled out my bracelet that I had lost months ago. I flipped it over and read the quote again. “You are capable of amazing things.” A quote that I desperately needed to hear reappeared, giving me reassurance that I was taking the right path in running for state office. 
    Sometimes in life all we need is someone to believe in us. I wear my bracelet each day to remind myself that I have people that believe in me, even when I don’t believe in myself. Confidence is a difficult thing to gain, and having a reminder that there is confidence surrounding you never hurts. 

You are capable of amazing things,
Caitlyn Lewis

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

The Passion to Pass On

I absolutely love my county fair. It has been my favorite part of summer for the past several years. I love the noises from animals, the smells of the carnival-well most of them, and the laughs from the grandstand. I spend my time working with my goats and turkeys in the barns as well as admiring the multiple projects competing against me in the Green Building. Working with my projects allows me to help not only myself but others around me as well.

I also l0ve spending my time in the Secretary’s Office where I sell tickets, respond to questions, and answer the phone. While in the office I love to answer the phone by saying, “It’s a great day at the Jay County Fair, How can I help you?” By answering the phone this way, I not only spread sunshine into someone else's life but my own as well. It’s the small things that add up to a great day. This role in the office fulfills part of my duty to serving on the Junior Fairboard. In this role I assist in parking, setting chairs up for concerts, organizing paperwork for hog wrestling, selling pit passes for our derby's, and much much more. 
When working in the office, I work with numerous different people. These individuals range from fellow Junior Fairboard members to Fairboard members. When working with these people I have learned to make the most of every moment. The secretary on the fairboard who is in charge of the office is almost always in the office as well as his wife. These two make the office the best to work on the fairground in my opinion. They are always offering words of encouragement to not only me but any member or person who walks into the office. 
This community service that I provide to the county is something that I will cherish forever and hope to continue on into my adulthood. It is important for everyone to find something they are passionate about. For me, it’s the fair, and for you, well, it's up to you to decide. 
-Dillon Muhlenkamp-