Sunday, February 23, 2020

The Meaning Behind the Blue Jacket

What does FFA mean to me? Someone asked me this question recently and the first answer that came to mind wassomething like, FFA means growing leaders through agriculture. It means a chance to grow out of your comfort zone. Although, before I voiced my thoughts, something felt wrong about that answer. But what could be wrong about it? It was true. I decided I would take some time to think about it and get back to them
After a lot of pondering, pacing, and brain sweats. Here is what I figured out. FFA is a tool, if used properly it can make amazing things. I used FFA to help me develop my speaking skills. In eighth grade I could not speak in front of 2 people, much less a whole class. I used FFA to better my skills by competing in speaking contests and demonstrations. Through FFA I have become a much better leader than I ever thought I could be. I now have a better understanding of what a leader really is beyond the position. At the same time, FFA can be described as a home away from home for me. Every time I go to an event I feel like I belong, I feel like I can go up to anyone and strike up a conversation. I feel safe and comfortable when I am with my FFA people. ButFFA can also be like a cloud, clouds can be found anywhereSo can FFA because the blue jacket can go anywhere
If I had to try to sum up what FFA means to me I would use two words family and growth. See FFA can be described as a hundred different things because it is so much more than a single word or a phrase. I would even go as far as FFA cannot be described entirely by words. I think FFA means something different to every one of us, our experiences are what define our perspective.
With all of this in mind, this week is FFA week. That might mean having a game night with our chapters, serving breakfast to our teachers (then eating the rest of the delicious food ourselves), or maybe some awesome Ag Olympics competitions! Oh and we can’t forget about the dress up days! On the surface all of this just seems like a ton of fun, but it is more than just fun. This week we will grow closer as a FFAmily, give back to our communities, and spread our message. See just like everything else in FFA, this week is so much more than it seems. I challenge you to take this week to find out what FFA means to you.

Always thinking,
Eion Stephens

Sunday, February 16, 2020

Enjoy the Moments

These past few weeks have been the start of a lot of new things. For example, we went down to Magnet, Indiana and learned how to develop our keynotes for banquet season. Following keynote training, we went to Indianapolis to begin planning for State Convention in June, received our third FFA jacket, and finalized our FFA week schedules. This all seemed so crazy to me that this year has flown by in the blink of an eye.

One thing that we have been told this year by many is to “enjoy the moments, because they go by so fast.” To say the least, I didn’t realize how true this was until a couple of weeks ago. At keynote training we had reflections in the evening. During our second evening, Derek Berkshire, our facilitator, reminded us that this year is what we decide to make it, and that we only get this opportunity once - so don't waste it. After hearing this, I realized I needed to enjoy the small moments that surround the big moments in my life. 

I really needed to the take the time to reminisce the moments of this past year. In between all of the exciting events that are happening or what we are planning, I’ve noticed a common theme. Even though we might be busy working, there has always been time to just enjoy ourselves and those around us.
I want to take a chance to share my some of my favorite moments so far this year. 

Getting the chance to work with members during sessions and helping them develop their action plans!

Reflections were always my favorite during high school. Something I will always cherish is having the chance to share my story and hearing member's stories after. 

Talking to the river:
Despite being super busy, we took time to walk and practice with the river during keynote training!

Face masks with the boys:
AH! One of my favorites! Saturday nights are not just for the boys. 
My support team:

Honestly, I wouldn't be standing here today, if it wasn't the endless support from my school, friends, and family. I want to take the chance to say thank you. No matter what, I know I can count on you all to be there. 

Now these are just a few moments from this year. If I were to list all of them, the list would be endless. No matter how busy we get, there's always time to spend with those around you. Take a moment and reminisce on what you've been doing this year. Are you checking off the list? Or are you taking time to enjoy the little things?

Always take the time,  


Monday, February 10, 2020

Do the Small Jobs

I absolutely loved my job in high school.  I worked at the local auto shop in my hometown, a small dealership called Meyer Auto.  On school days I could only get a few hours clocked, but I made sure that I made the most of every minute that I was on the clock.  I loved the people I worked with, and I loved what I did.  
    A close up of a brick building

Description automatically generated

I never really had a specific title for my job, I just helped anywhere necessary.  I performed routine oil changes here, detailed a car there, or cleaned the bathroom in the shop.  Each day brought something new, something I may have never worked on before.  And no matter what the task—even cleaning the bathroom—I gave it all that I had.  Although it might be absurd to some, I enjoyed every job that presented itself.  Often times my classmates wondered how I could love my job so much, when some of the tasks I performed were not necessarily every high schoolers’ dream.
Aside from my job in high school, I was involved in a lot of things and debatably was living the high school dream.  I was almost always involved in making the “big things,” happen.  Whether that be an FFA event, a spirit week, or even just a club meeting, I was usually close to the core of planning that event.  I was “important.”  Yet through tackling these “big events,” I realized something.  When we are so involved in these events, we forget about the little things.  This was most evident to me the morning of my FFA Chapter’s Teacher Breakfast during FFA Week.  Things were getting wrapped up, and I grabbed a few dishes and began to wash them.  One of the younger members came up to me and told me they could not believe that I was doing such a small task.  Why would the person who is running the event worry about something as small as doing dishes?   

    The answer is simple: I loved doing the small things.  At Meyer Auto I had countless opportunities to encounter those “small jobs.”  In fact, that’s why I was there.  I was a high school kid hired to do those small jobs that needed done.  Each time I did one of these “small jobs” I gave them as much effort as I did in every event I helped planned in high school.  By doing this I was able to learn things I would have never known before.  I was mindful of the little details.  I took time to make sure the small things were done right.  I loved doing the small things because they taught me how to handle the “big jobs.”  
    Often times in life we come to a point when we may think we are “big stuff.”  We have those moments when we think we are too good to take out the trash.  Maybe we laugh at the request to do the dishes.  We might ignore the bathroom that needs cleaning, just because we think those jobs are “below us.”  That is not the case.  What we must come to realize is that no matter how important we may be—or think we might be—there is no task that is too small for us to do.  The next time a “small job” comes around, do not laugh at it, just do it.  Enjoy the process.  You might just learn something. Sincerely, Noah Berning

Monday, February 3, 2020

Even Playing Field

Coming off of last nights’ big Super Bowl game, I figured it was only proper to share a football story in this week’s blog. I played football from 5th grade all the way up to senior year. To say it was a huge factor in making me the young man I am today would be an understatement. Playing football was always more than just a game to me, it was an easy reflection of how life can be at sometimes. My fall weeks were filled with practice, film, and more practice. Football was a game of passion for me and that’s the main reason I stuck with it for so long. As much as I loved it, there were days at school that truly just sucked. I wanted nothing more than to skip practice and head straight out to the parking lot to pack up for the day, but I knew my team and myself were going to hold me accountable to attend practice. On days like that, the moment I tied my cleats my mind went into a meditation. Everything was clear, concise, and had a purpose; which is why I was always caught off guard during a halftime speech my senior year.

We were down by a number I don’t quite remember during one of my final games as a high schooler, when our coach stood up in the ag shop to begin our halftime speech. I remember him talking about shaking off the bad plays and getting out there to play like the score is 0-0. That made no sense. Why wouldn’t we match our performance to the score? If we were up, take it slow and steady. If we were down, put our nose to the grindstone and make up for what we’ve lost. It seemed simple, yet coach was contradicting that whole idea. Play like the score is 0-0. I thought on it when we got back on the field. I imagined the scoreboard broadcasting double goose eggs and it all made sense. I didn’t feel comfortable giving up if all I needed was one score to get ahead. The idea of putting the negative feeling of being down by so much to the side was empowering. It’s as if that mentality made the game seem easier. After a long-fought battle, we ended up victorious.  
It’s a lot easier to give up in our lives if we have a constant reminder of everything that goes wrong for us. We can make more excuses and have more reasons to quit as long as we have the score to back us up. We have to play life like the score is 0-0 in the game of Me vs. The Universe. The biggest encouragement in times of oppression is to play with a clean slate. Each score in our favor starts to mean a lot more when we’ve never been scored on. We got to see this last night at Super bowl LIV. When down by 10 points at halftime, the Kansas City Chiefs managed to play like the score was 0-0 and win by 11 points. When we find ourselves losing our game, zero the score. We have to wake up the next day with a mindset to win. It’s the quickest way to success in this game we call life. -Nate Fairchild