Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Eyes All Over

Do you ever think to yourself "Is someone watching me?" Personally, I find myself thinking this when I’m walking in the dark… creepy right? Oftentimes, these thoughts happen when we are doing something we know we probably shouldn't be doing, so we look around to see if someone is watching. Well, let’s look at this from a leadership standpoint. Ask yourself the question, "Are younger members watching what I do? Do my peers notice me doing this?" These are questions I wish I asked myself before I did something I wish others hadn't seen.

I was an irresponsible freshman who had no clue how my actions would affect my future. I goofed off in a professional space and others had seen my behavior. Because I had eyes on me, there was no escaping my bad behavior without consequences. This is when I learned if I wanted to be a leader or a role model in FFA I needed to do things with the attitude that someone was watching my actions. I’ll be the first to admit, the hardest part is to work hard and be responsible when no one is looking. It’s even harder to do considering all of the communication networks our world has today; however, it’s important we continue to act as if someone is watching at all times.

We live in a world where people are always connected regardless if it’s in person, on Snapchat, Facebook, Instagram, or Tik Tok. This comes with many risks. For example, whenever something is put on the internet, it’s there FOREVER. When you break the law in front of people, there are others who witness such activity and hold you accountable. When it comes to being a role model in FFA, it’s important to keep in mind there are eyes all over. To be a good leader you must lead by example. It isn't just younger members who look up to you, but it’s also your peers and older adults. Regardless if you’re a Chapter, District, or State Officer, there are always eyes on you. Some of these eyes will sit and wait for you to fail even when you think no one is looking. If you hold your head high and lead in a positive manner with the thought that other individuals are watching, you can ensure yourself that others will look at you in a positive way. The next time you ask yourself "Is someone watching my actions?" assume they are and be a positive influence!

Always looking out, 
Loren Matlock

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Don’t Forget to Smile Along the Way

Growing up, some of the fondest memories I have come from the time I spent with my brother, Tyler. From running and jumping around the living room when we were younger with blankets wrapped around our necks pretending to be superheroes, to the evenings when we would play catch with a baseball or football in the yard and talk about anything and everything, we always seemed to enjoy those small moments we spent together. Upon moving into the State Officer house, I didn’t realize how much I was going to miss those moments that we shared together. The more I thought about how much I appreciated the time we spent together, the more I realized why I love those memories. And the reason is shockingly simple. In those moments we shared together, I realized we also shared the same ear-to-ear grins and endless laughing. It was the pure, unbridled happiness I experienced during these memories that cause them to be ones I will carry with me all throughout my life.
I would be lying if I said this realization didn’t come with its fair share of guilt and regret. For all of those good times we had together, there were some bad moments to accompany them. Maybe it was an argument in the barn on how a goat should be set up during a show, or possibly a joke that was taken too far (Thinking back, most of them may have actually been my fault). There were also the times where I was too absorbed in my own life to make those moments that Tyler and I spent together truly count. It was in those times where my own pride, stubbornness, and selfishness got in the way that I missed those opportunities to smile, be happy, and create those memories that I love. Now that I have moved out of the house there are a lot less chances to even be in a place to make those memories. It hurts to know I’ve lost that.
So, smile, laugh, and find happiness in those moments you create. For me, I am going to do just that in the time I spend with my brother from now on. For the rest of us it may be a brother, sister, family member, a friend, or even a stranger that we decide to create those memories of happiness with. Regardless of who it is, we are given the ability to make the most of the situations we are put in and the relationships we are a part of. One step at a time, we can strive to create memories we love and cherish. At times we may get caught up in our own lives or it may seem like nothing can go right. Take a second to pause, reset, and spend time with someone who brings joy to your life and helps create those moments for you. Life goes on and we grow up, will you take the time to smile and find happiness along the way?

Forever grinning like a fool,

Blayne Vandeveer

Wednesday, July 15, 2020

Seeing the Bigger Picture

Whenever the team has some down time we all like to use it differently; but, a few of us, including myself, like to set up our hammocks on the point. In fact, just the other day we watched a wedding from that location! One night while hammocking I asked my teammates “what is the one thing from your childhood that has undoubtedly made you, you?” Initially, I expected to hear about the activities they did as a kid, but I received this response: “my family”. After a long conversation it fell quiet and I had time to reflect on my own. “Family” has many different meanings for many different people, but let's think about it. When was the last time you appreciated what you do have? I know for me it wasn’t until this conversation that I learned how fortunate I am, but I haven’t always thought that. 

Growing up my family was always on the go between school, sports, livestock, work, and the countless other activities us kids were involved in. I remember sitting in my school's athletic hall as an 8th grader waiting for my mom to pick me up. I was so angry at her for being 30 minutes late and wondered why she couldn’t be on time for once. When tournaments and games rolled around I would blame my parents for my poor performance. This same attitude came about when showing livestock. I would throw a major fit when I was told we had to wash sheep or pack the trailer because I didn’t want to do it. The entire process was almost unbearable because of my attitude. As a kid, I couldn’t grasp why my dad made me do the hard work. In retrospect, I was simply being selfish and didn’t appreciate what was really in front of me. My parents were right beside me giving me the best life possible and teaching me those hard lessons. I would get so caught up in my own emotions that I didn’t even think about what my parents were going through. They were always working to provide us with a home and the opportunity to do anything our hearts desired. I was able to show sheep with my siblings and play on travel sports teams because of my parents' efforts. Now remember all families look different, but think about what your family has been doing for you. Are you complaining like I was? Are you failing to see the bigger picture?

Ever since the hammock conversation I’ve cherished the time spent with my family a bit more. In fact, I recently had the opportunity to attend a sheep show with them. It was one of the most enjoyable shows because I was simply thankful to be with them doing what we love. I encourage you all to take a step back and genuinely enjoy your time with those you love most. After all, we never know what this life may hold, so let's enjoy it with “our people” while we have the chance.  

Appreciating what I have, 

Kylie Schakel

Wednesday, July 8, 2020

Decisions Decisions

My mom enrolled me in dance class when I was just 2 years old at Rat-a-Tat-Tat Dance Studio. What started as 2 hours a week of clapping my hands and running in circles in rehearsal turned into over 10 years of competitive dancing across the country. Most of my younger childhood memories were made in the studio or at competitions. As I grew older, I gradually took dance more seriously. I found myself practicing 10 hours a week in and out of the studio to improve every single day. After dancing at Rat-a-Tat for 8 years, the studio shut down, but I wasn’t ready to give up dancing. I enrolled at Style Dance Academy in Franklin to be on their competitive team. Everyone was so welcoming and took me in as their own. One of my favorite memories from being at Style has to be the Little Red Riding Hood gymnastics routine I did and I got to play the big bad wolf. Although I loved being at Style, one issue lied at hand: it was a 45 minute commute from my house. My best friend, Hannah, and I would get off the bus, quickly get dressed and hop in the car to dance class on time. We would do our homework during our breaks and arrive home around 9:00 in the evening. 
At the beginning of my third year at Style, I was introduced to basketball. I was able to play on my 5th grade team, but I couldn’t play anywhere else due to commuting to Style 3 times a week. The more I played basketball, the more I fell in love with the game. That next year, I knew I had to make a choice: dance or basketball? My mom always taught me to give my 100% best effort into everything I do, and I just couldn't give my absolute best to both. I took the dance stage one last time that year and made the choice to pursue basketball full time. 

My basketball career quickly skyrocketed. From 5th grade to my sophomore year, I played for my school team, a county team, 2 state teams and even a national team. I truly believed that basketball was what I was destined to play. I had goals of playing division 1 and being drafted into the WNBA one day. Just as I thought I had my whole life figured out, FFA came to my school. 

I quickly fell in love with FFA, but I also learned that I couldn’t give my 100% best effort to both this and basketball at the same time. Do I give up the sport I’ve invested years into and possibly have a future with for something brand new, or do I stay in my comfort zone? It was a tough choice, but by far the best choice I’ve ever made. 
I find it fascinating how even the smallest of choices we make can greatly impact our lives. We’re all going to find our niche at different points in our lives. I never thought I would be in FFA in my time as a dancer, but here we are. I challenge you to be open to new activities and experiences anytime you get a chance. Who knows, you just may fall in love with a new activity you never thought you would. 

~Julia Hamblen

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Hello Indiana FFA!

2020-2021 Indiana FFA State Officer Team

Shelbyville Central. Hamilton Heights. Tri-County. Eastern Hancock. Wawasee. Union City. Frontier. We come from different towns, different chapters, and different backgrounds. We each have our own FFA story and varying levels of agricultural experience. We have reached this unique and special moment from different and diverse paths. 

Despite everything that makes us different, we are united together by a similar mission. We have made a commitment this year to serve, to support, and to strengthen Indiana FFA. We have made a commitment to work together as individuals and as a team to give back to FFA, to provide life-changing opportunities to our members, and to see our organization reach new and exciting heights. By combining our unique passions, our unique ideas, and our unique backgrounds, we can work together to accomplish the mission that brings us all together. Indiana FFA, we are excited, we are committed, and we are ready to embrace the challenges and triumphs in our journey ahead.


Hello Indiana FFA! I am so excited and beyond honored to serve as your 2020-2021 State President! I hail from the Shelbyville Central FFA down in District 8. I was not raised with an agricultural background, but became involved with livestock when I was in 8th grade. FFA was not offered in my school until I was a sophomore in high school, but when I reached that year, I became heavily involved in my brand new FFA chapter. From Forestry and Livestock Judging to Skillathon and LDEs, from SOAR and FIRE to LDW and Conventions, I made it my mission to partake in any and all FFA activities that I could in the little time I had. I look forward to interacting with FFA members across Indiana and hearing your FFA stories and all you have accomplished. I’m so excited to meet you all and serve Indiana FFA. Let’s make this upcoming year one to remember!


While my roots may lie in Benton County; I call Hamilton Heights, located in Hamilton County, my home chapter. From the moment I could walk I’ve raised and shown sheep with my family on a county, state, and national level. If I wasn’t in the barn or helping my family with our agritourism business you could most likely find me on the field, mat, or court. While it may seem like I was destined to be involved in FFA, due to my agricultural background, that hasn’t always been the case. From bouncing from school to school I always thought that sports were the way to go and it took a lot of convincing from a very special person to get me to join; however, I’m thankful that I did. I’m an avid writer, dancer, and Chick-Fil-A eater. I’m ecstatic to embrace everything this year with you all and my fellow teammates. Remember, it will only be as good as we make it, so lets get at it! 

While Trafalgar may be our team’s home for the year, I am proud to say the town of Wolcott and the Tri-County FFA chapter are where I am rooted. I am truly grateful for the opportunity this year to serve as your Indiana FFA Northern Region Vice President! FFA has played a vital role in my life since 6th grade when I first got involved in Livestock Judging. Since then, my involvement and love for this organization has only grown. From the non stop laughing on bus rides to getting the opportunity to serve at Circle City Relief, FFA has greatly impacted my life. I found my purpose to serve in the fight against food insecurity, and passion to continue to grow as an individual, through FFA. Indiana FFA, my hope is to continue to grow alongside you, make some awesome memories, and to serve you in helping to find your passions and purpose. Our team is beyond excited for what this year may hold!!

I call District 8 home. #D8bringstheparty I live in Greenfield, home to corn, cows, and more corn. I am thrilled to serve as the Southern Region Vice President this year! I have a true passion for anything and everything that deals with cattle. I LOVE Oklahoma State University and will be yelling “GO POKES!” next fall, but I won’t forget where my foundation was laid. Eastern Hancock Highschool is where my FFA journey started and without that program I would be nothing. I am looking forward to meeting all of the members across the state and growing tomorrow's leaders! I am also excited to talk about agriculture with members and community members wherever it may be! 

I come from District II, up in Northern Indiana. I live in the small town of North Webster, surrounded by lakes and fields of corn. I am looking forward to serving as your 2020-2021 State Treasurer. Though I do not come from an agricultural background, my love for animals permeated through from a young age. Through FFA, I found a passion for the dairy industry, specifically the dairy goat industry. I can’t wait to give back to an organization that has poured into me over the years and molded my talents into valuable and tangible skills. This year, I’m looking forward to embracing fully and loving big. As mentioned aforehand, agriculture is the very thing that brings us all together. The differences we see are the very things that can be utilized for success this next year. Indiana FFA, this is going to be a great year full of growth and advocating for agriculture!

Hey there Indiana FFA!! I’m super excited for the journey ahead and everything we can accomplish this year. I will be serving as the 2020-2021 State Reporter. I originally hail from the Union City FFA Chapter in District IX. Despite being raised in a rural community, I actually grew up without an agricultural background. Joining the FFA provided amazing opportunities for me to learn more about this industry, advocate on behalf of our nation’s agriculturists, and to discover what makes me passionate in life. Without this phenomenal organization, I would definitely not be the swing dance loving, electric car driving, conversation maker I am today. I am looking forward to providing these same opportunities for growth and development to each and every member we serve. I cannot wait to work alongside my team in making so many amazing moments possible this year Indiana FFA!!

Hello Indiana FFA! My name is Luc Sproles and I am serving as this year’s State Sentinel. I proudly hail from the Frontier FFA Chapter in District 1, #number1forareason. I grew up in the small town of Reynolds Indiana. I am just one of countless FFA members who has been impacted by this amazing organization. In case you didn't know, I have a huge love for coffee, talking, cooking, chickens, and show pigs. Luckily, I was able to incorporate these loves in one way or another into my FFA journey. While it hasn’t always been smooth sailing, I wouldn’t trade it for the world. Every high and low is a part of my story and I can't wait to get to know all of you and how FFA has impacted your life and high school journey. Indiana FFA, I am so excited to serve you this year as we grow leaders, embrace obstacles, and ignite our passions.