Wednesday, April 21, 2021

A Friendly (and Cliché) Reminder

Confession time; I am a forgetful guy. 

Now whether this is because of a few too many hits to the head or because they are really just “blonde” moments, I couldn’t tell you. It could be forgetting where I put my keys or the name of someone I just met, regardless of what it is, I usually try to have a few counter measures in place. Which makes the Reminders app on my phone my saving grace. It helps me remember what is important or pressing at the time in case I forget to look or do something.

The more I think about it though, the more I realize the app isn’t the only thing that reminds me what is important. There are also those people, or even those short little sayings in our lives that serve the same purpose. We all know the ones I am talking about, right? Like “Don’t forget to stop and smell the roses,” or “Laughter is the best medicine.” Those little clichés we have all heard. 

To be honest, when I was in middle school, I used to hate hearing those clichés. They made me throw up a little bit in my mouth due to a lack of originality and the fluffy, overly-positive feeling of some of them. Seriously, they were so uncool and cringey.

Due to some interesting events in my life however, I have come to think differently. Now I like to think there are reason to why cliché sayings are cliches. That reason being because there is truth to these sayings that has allowed them to stand the test of time and to remain as popular phrases up to this day. These phrases serve as a reminder for the things we should remember, value, and act on in each of our lives. The things that we should do to truly enjoy the short time we have in our lives.

So here is our friendly reminder. Let’s use those cringey phrase to our advantage, to remind us of what is important. Stop and smell the roses. When life gives you lemons, make the best lemonade you can. Live happily ever after. We get one opportunity, one chance to live our lives to the fullest and make it count. So full steam ahead, take the bull by the horns and chose to use those cliché words to the best of our ability to make ours and other people’s lives better. Just a friendly, little reminder for us all!


Blayne Vandeveer

Northern Region Vice President

Wednesday, April 14, 2021

My Growth Journey

What’re you holding onto that you need to let go of in order to grow? I’m not talking about something physical, but more so internal. For me, it’s an incident that took place during my senior year of high school. 

 

On December 26, 2019, two friends and I were driving back home late at night. As we were on a county road, the back wheel of my friend’s car hit gravel and we spun. After overcorrecting, we ended up in a field with the back end of the car 12 inches away from a telephone pole. At that moment, I was in complete shock and didn’t know what to do. I was scared, embarrassed, and at fault. Fortunately, everyone was physically okay, however the car was not. 

 

Now, there are a lot of details that we simply don’t have time for, but it’s important to realize that this incident was the start of a dark path that has challenged me in unimaginable ways. It took me 11 months to seek help. From January to November of 2020, I suffered from feelings of guilt, shame, and unworthiness. When you couple this incident with quarantine and life transitions, it’s safe to say my mental health was not in the best state. Since November, I’ve been on a journey trying to heal from this experience along with others. It’s been challenging to say the least and still not over, but I’ve learned a few things along the way. 

 

Something I’ve taken away from this journey is that you must embrace, or accept, challenges as an opportunity to grow. Challenges are inevitable, but when they arise, we have two options: grow from them or remain the same. While my journey has helped me grow in certain aspects, there are still times I find myself obsessing over what others think of me or feeling the shame of my past. The truth is, we can’t grow until we let go. 

 

Think back to the first question I asked: What’re you holding onto that you need to let go of in order to grow? Is it a relationship, a rumor, or a mistake you made? Whatever it may be, it’s time to let go of it. Once we do this, we can finally embrace challenges and grow into the individuals we truly want to be. Remember: We’re not the same person we were 5 minutes ago, let alone 5 days/months/years ago. Breath and let go of whatever is holding you back. 

 

Embracing Challenges as an Opportunity to Grow,

Kylie Schakel 

 

P.S. Life is good. 

Wednesday, April 7, 2021

Advocating for Agriculture

It was springtime of 2019 when I learned what it truly meant to advocate for agriculture. At this time, I was finishing up my junior year when I was sitting in my animal science class and my advisor began talking about a hot topic going on in my community. An area of land in the northern part of my county was planned to be used as an industrial solar facility. Now at this time, I was incredibly uneducated on solar energy or the plan itself. I found out that there was going to be a public meeting where the BZA would vote on the project and the public could speak at the meeting. My friend and I decided we would go together just to watch. We both were very interested to learn more about our communities decision making process and wanted to learn more about the project itself, so our plan was just to sit and listen. 

We weren’t inside the auditorium for more than 10 seconds before we were approached by an individual who my brother went to school with that we both knew. He was incredibly passionate about having this project be approved, and asked if we supported it, too. We both were pretty neutral on it, but he still encouraged us to sign up to speak just so we can be involved citizens. So for the first hour, the BZA and solar company gave their remarks, followed by the public. As I sat there listening to everyone speak, one key point kept bugging me: this is not agriculture. I will admit that I was still learning about different agricultural areas, but I knew that sustainability is a hot agricultural field. The more I kept hearing this phrase, the more I felt the need to clear the air. My friend went up to the podium and spoke and soon after, I was called up. 

There were more individuals present who were completely against this facility being built than there were those for it, and those against it had some pretty intense words to give. Being one of the youngest in the room, I knew I had to choose my words carefully. Ultimately, I decided to focus more on discussing how solar energy is in fact agriculture. I made the connection that many think agriculture is just trailers trucks tractors, cows sows and plows and that farming only consists of digging a hole and putting a seed in it, but that solar energy is in fact a farming practice and sustainability falls into the agricultural field. When I finished speaking, I turned around and was immediately met with backlash from those opposed. I heard, “Ok kid it’s past your bedtime.” and “She’s a kid! What does she know about any of this?” I expected this, but I was satisfied that I was able to advocate for agriculture and clear up a common agricultural misconception.

The vote passed that night, meaning the BZA chose to approve the facility. I was met with some pretty harsh backlash from others the days following the meeting, and I won’t lie, some of the words I received hurt. This was something I expected though and that I was ready to receive. However, I received a message from an individual who was strongly against the facility that told me she was proud of what I said at the meeting and she was happy that Shelby County agriculture had passionate young people like myself ready to take our community to the next level in agriculture. That right there helped me see that I did my job as a young agriculturalist. The thing about the agricultural industry is that we’ll always be met by people who don’t support us or believe in those common misconceptions. It’s our job as agvocates to share the real news on agriculture so we can educate our communities on this industry that keeps our world moving. There’s no doubt that advocating means we’ll be met with those who don’t agree with us, but that’s when we need to take that opportunity as a time to educate, not rebuttal. 


Always advocating for agriculture, 

Julia Hamblen

2020-2021 Indiana FFA State President


Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Own the Emotions

The team has lovingly dubbed me the team youth pastor. This came about due in part to my Bible reading, coffee chugging, and worship music playlist. They also noted something about my overall vibe being that of a youth pastor. Anyway, this youth pastor was talking with a teammate about our old youth groups. Remembering all the fun times that I had at youth group, I started flipping through my Bible for some more inspiration for my blog post, and I stumbled across this verse;


"God met me more than halfway; he freed me from my anxious fears." - Psalm 34:4 


Scribbled in the margins, I had written; 


"Lay down your fear and pick up something else. It's still there, but it isn't stopping you." 


Fear, anger, frustration, grief, disgust, disappointment, and shame. We all have experienced these emotions in one way or another. Typically, we would refer to these emotions as “bad emotions.” 


I think that our emotions can be extremely valuable teachers, but if left unchecked, they can become things that stand in our way. There is this idea that there are good emotions, like joy, love, and gratitude; likewise, there are bad emotions, like anger, sadness, and frustration. Susan Davis, who is an award-winning Harvard Medical School Psychologist among other things, challenges this idea by stating that, "Emotions are normal. Emotions are beautiful. There's no good or bad emotion." The problem occurs when we refuse to visit our so-called "bad emotions." Instead of disappearing, they sit and brood, building up over time until we explode. Eventually, they become roadblocks to our better selves. 


I have a bad habit of trying to ignore those strong emotions and try to brush them off. I would try and push down sadness and bottle it up as if that would help me at all. I'm sure I am not the only one who does that, though. How many times have we bottled up our emotions and let them hold us back? Do we let it stop us in our tracks? If so, it's time to stop that right now. 


The idea that if we are just positive our lives will be perfect needs to be dispelled immediately. Countless researchers and philosophers have noted that in order to live a full and joyful life we will have to experience the good and the bad. 


Think about a painful experience that you have had. Go ahead and write this down if you want. Maybe it was disappointing your parents, getting heartbroken, getting stood up by your friends, hearing people gossiping about you, getting told no, feeling alone, or not feeling good enough. What emotions did you feel when that happened? 


Like we said earlier, our emotions are valuable teachers. Dr. Susan Davis tells us that our emotions signpost our values. They reflect what we care about. For example: 

  • If we get angry when we fail a test we thought was easy, we value achieving goals and learning. 

  • If we are sad when we hear someone telling a lie about us, we value friendship and connection. 

  • If we are mad when we see someone getting bullied, we know that we value justice and kindness. 


Go back to that experience that you wrote down and the emotions you felt. What do those emotions teach us about ourselves? What are they signposting for you?


Our emotions signpost our values. We have to take the time to sit with these emotions and learn what they are trying to teach us. Trust me; I was never a fan of all these emotions and vulnerability. When I first watched Brene Brown's Call to Courage on Netflix, I thought it was ridiculous. But as my Past State Officer mentor has taught me, our emotions are powerful tools to learn about ourselves. If we take the time to ask ourselves those hard questions and know about our values, we will become better leaders and better versions of ourselves to unpack the complex emotions.


Our lives, including the good, the bad, and the ugly, are a part of a much broader story at work. Loss, pain, joy, humiliation, grief, gratitude, and excitement are all a part of it. So let's stop bottling up those emotions. I had to learn this the hard way. I tried to engineer a solution where I didn't have to deal with my complicated emotions and I failed miserably. Earlier I wrote, "lay down your fear and pick up something else. It's still there, but it isn't stopping you." Now I challenge you to do the same. Lay down that fear, hate, and frustration. Don't disregard it, don't ignore it, and don't block it out. Our emotions are normal. They are beautiful things. Embrace these emotions. Your future self will thank you. 


Owning the emotions,

Luc Sproles


Thursday, March 25, 2021

The Sky Is No Limit

SPRING BREAK! After the craziness that was February, it was nice to finally relax for a week with my family. When you have two separate conferences, a keynote retreat, and FFA Week all in one month, you forget how nice it is to enjoy some rest and relaxation. My family has a long-standing tradition of traveling somewhere warm for Spring Break. This year was no exception to that tradition. For the past few days, I have been soaking up the sun down here in beautiful Orlando, Florida. White sand beaches, cool water, and eighty degree weather have been major highlights. In addition to nature and the scenery, my family enjoys checking out the major sights and sounds. You can usually find the Williams family at any must-see tourist attraction. For those of you still waiting to check Orlando off the bucket list, you should definitely make the trip over to the Kennedy Space Center for the day. Located about an hour east of Orlando, the Kennedy Space Center offers you the amazing opportunity to see our nation’s space program up close. Rockets from the original Apollo missions, the Space Shuttle itself, and more Moon rocks than any one person can handle are spread out over the visitor complex. Towards the end of our experience at the Kennedy Space Center, we happened to hear from one of the tour guides that there was going to be a rocket launch later in the week.

Of course, I was instantly hooked. I started looking up launch times, the best viewing spots, how far we would have to travel from our condo--the whole shebang. My enthusiasm was so great that finding out the rocket was launching at 4:30 AM and that we would have to leave our condo around 3:00 AM seemed like a minor detail. How awesome would it be to see the rocket blast framed against the dark morning sky?! With that same energy and excitement, my dad and I got up yesterday morning and saw one of the most incredible things I have ever witnessed. Something so moving and so spectacular I can’t believe it was real. Thankfully, a local photographer was there to capture the launch and the small group of onlookers. And there on the right hand side, my dad and I as we witnessed humankind once again reach the heavens.


My FFA Advisor would always tell me that the sky was the limit for my potential. Anything that I wanted to do in life or accomplish in this organization, the sky was the limit. It’s a phrase that we hear so often, yet we never think about the actual words. Well after witnessing what I saw yesterday morning, I would like to offer up a new phrase. If humankind can strap themselves to a rocket of our own design and reach the stars above our heads, then the sky is no limit. If we can accomplish something that once was considered impossible or the stuff of science fiction, there is nothing in life that we cannot achieve. Some of our loftiest goals carry that same feeling of hopelessness and impossibility. Combating climate change, tackling systemic racism, and feeding a growing population all feel like daunting tasks. Ones that will require more than we could possibly give to accomplish. Yet even in the most difficult of times, we bring forth the best of humanity and then some. When we need to be more innovative, we put our minds to work and achieve the impossible. When we need to be courageous, we lead with our hearts and stand up for what’s right. And when we feel the call of history to reach new heights, the sky is never the limit. Here’s to those willing to make the giant leaps for mankind.


Dreaming of the Stars,

Derick Williams

Indiana FFA State Reporter






Wednesday, March 17, 2021

The Stage Door of Life

        After a long night performing on Broadway, actors have the chance to finally head home and get a well-deserved full night’s sleep. They leave the theater through what is called the stage door. Patrons line the stage door after the show, hoping to catch the actors for a picture or to have them sign the show’s Playbill. Some actors are in a hurry to get home, but there are some that stick around to interact with the audience members. 

When I had the opportunity to travel to New York City with my school’s Performing Arts Program, I had the best experience at the Anastasia stage door. Christy Altomare, who played Anastasia, was one of the actors that stuck around to interact with the audience members. As you can probably guess, I was freaking out! The lead actress in the show was coming around to each individual person to take selfies and sign their Playbills! This wasn’t even the coolest part of the experience. The coolest part was when Christy started talking to each individual person at the stage door. She would stop signing the Playbill or stop taking selfies so that she could have intentional, genuine interactions with the audience. When you talked with her, she looked you straight in the eyes and truly listened to every word you said to her. She carried herself with such grace and humility that you forgot you just met her for the first time. It felt like you had talked before and that she genuinely cared for you and what you had to say.

In life, we often have these stage door moments. We “put on a show” when we play in the Friday night sports game, compete in Leadership or Career Development Events, perform in a concert, or whatever else we spend our time doing. Sometimes, we think that this performance is the part that will have the greatest impact on those around us. In reality, it’s those stage door moments that mean the most to those around us. 

If we stop and take the time to be genuine and intentional with those simple interactions, we show our audience that we’re human. We show them we care. We show them that we are their equals and we do what we do for them. These intentional moments are what adds the greatest value to others’ lives. 


Being intentional with every stage door moment,

Evan Coblentz

State Treasurer


Thursday, March 11, 2021

If You Ain't First, You're Last

     If you have ever seen Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby, you know the famous quote of “If you ain’t first, you're last.” Well I decided at a very young age that I was going to live by this saying. I still believe it to this day… well most days. Let me tell you about a time where trying to be first made me dead last. 

My family, some other farmers, and a few friends of mine went down to San Antonio, Texas for the Commodity Classic. This is an agronomy and agriscience convention held every year in a different location. Now, this particular place, San Antonio, is a place where walking is much easier than driving. The small roads and abundance of people make it hard to get around in a vehicle. There was one problem. I don’t like walking everywhere. Thankfully the city has these wonderful things called “Bird Scooters.” So, a couple of farm kids from Indiana decide that their main way of transportation is going to be these scooters. We download the app, put our credit cards in the system, and then start riding our way to a 255 dollar scooter bill by the end of the weekend. 

Throughout the 4 days we were in San Antonio, we had learned pretty much every street, sidewalk, and alley in the city. We started to race everywhere we went. Getting more confident with the scooters, we started going faster and faster much like Ricky Bobby himself would. “If you ain’t first, you're last,” rushed through my thinking device, also known as a brain, which caused me to push myself and that small piece of metal with two wheels. Faster and faster we went. I hit the top speed of 17 mph and was zooming back towards our hotel when out of nowhere the forward motion turned into downward motion. My friend Cody, whom I was racing, had caught my back wheel and sent me slamming into the asphalt. The pain hit immediately and the warmth of blood flowed down my arm. I instantly rolled over to see what had happened and noticed all the people on the street staring at me. I ripped my sleeve off my BRAND NEW Cinch shirt and destroyed my elbow which was where the blood was coming from. I went ahead and scraped my palms raw in the fall while ripping a massive hole in my pants. Cody also took a tumble and was laying on the ground with me while Jimmy and Logan stood over us dying with laughter. As I stood up and tried to pull myself together in front of these people, I realized how trying to be first and pushing myself and that scooter to the limit put me dead last. Was I mad? Of course. But I had a humbling experience that sometimes we don’t have to rush to the front. As many wise men have said “slow and steady wins the race.” I still don’t believe that some days but I really just wanted to share this story with y’all. If I could tell you one thing to take away from this it would be to not push bird scooters to the limit and there is never a bad time to slow down.


Always wanting to go fast,


Loren Dakota Matlock


Wednesday, February 17, 2021

7 Things I Love

Valentine’s day was this past Sunday, and love was certainly in the air for many people. It is certainly important to love others, show them how much we appreciate them, and make them feel special. However, I believe love doesn’t just have to be limited to a single person on this day. Now maybe this is the “single guy on Valentine’s Day” syndrome surfacing right now, but I thought it would be fun to create a list/photo album of a few of the things I love and that I am grateful for in my life that isn’t limited to a single person or thing. Enjoy!


1.)  Family


2.)  Teammates


3.)  Travel

4.)  Baseball


5.)  Goats


6.)  Chicken & Broccoli


7.)  Friends (and some more Family)


Wednesday, February 10, 2021

An Open Letter to the Student Contemplating Joining or Staying Active in FFA

What’s your favorite time of the year? For some, it’s the sun-drenched summer months. For others it’s the ice-kissed winter months. Maybe it even falls in a different category, but the point is we all have a favorite time of the year.


As an FFA member, my favorite time of the year is the hustle and bustle of National FFA Week. National FFA Week is a time for students to celebrate the organization and educate the public about the importance of agriculture education. Additionally, it’s a way for students to share the impact the organization has had on their lives. This year FFA week is being held from February 20 thru February 27. With FFA Week right around the corner, what better time to share the story of agriculture and why you should consider joining or staying active within the organization!


What is FFA?

The National FFA Organization is the largest student-led organization that focuses on leadership through agriculture education. We are committed to developing premier leadership, personal growth, and career success to our 760,113 members that range from 12 to 21 years of age. The Indiana FFA, which is a part of the National FFA Organization, is the largest Career and Technical Student Organization in Indiana with over 12,500 members and 212 local FFA chapters across the state. The Indiana State Department of Agriculture provides leadership and direction for the Indiana FFA as a service to local agricultural education programs. FFA is a part of the school-based agricultural education three circle model. This model comprises: classroom instruction, supervised agriculture experience (SAE), and FFA. Well-rounded agricultural education students participate in all three sectors which all contribute to a member's development of premier leadership, personal growth, and career success. 


Why should I join FFA or stay active?

I could talk for days on the importance of agriculture education and FFA, but why I believe you should join FFA is simple: the hands-on experience provided through the organization is incomparable to any other student-led organization. 


Despite growing up in the agriculture industry, I wanted nothing to do with FFA because I was afraid of what my peers would think. Before I joined, I lacked basic communication skills and my face would turn beet red whenever I spoke to others. After countless conversations and a little bit of begging, my agriculture advisor convinced me to join. Through my SAE involvement, I found my passion for agricultural communications and plan to find a future career in that area. The National FFA Organization has changed my life for the better.


If you still aren’t buying it, then take a look at what a few current members think. Haley Fessel, junior from Hamilton Heights FFA, states: “In my school FFA was stereotyped strictly as a farming organization, but I have learned it’s so much more than that. FFA has allowed me to gain new knowledge, acquire outstanding leadership skills, and find lasting friendships.” Although Ms. Haley isn’t from an agricultural background, she is finding her place in the organization by pursuing leadership opportunities on the chapter level. Haley took a leap of faith and is enjoying every second of it. Senior at Eastern Hancock FFA, Jordyn Wickard, states “ I found out while in the National FFA Organization the reason I joined - to find who I truly am, where I belong, and how to be intentional and authentic.” Jordyn has been involved in multiple events that have shaped her personal development. Due to Jordyn’s involvement in FFA, she has found her place and is excited to be pursuing a future career in agriculture. 


FFA inspires personal development throughout agricultural education. No matter the event, you are guaranteed to develop skills that allow you to become more aware and make a difference in this world. If you are contemplating joining, ask yourself this question: Is what I’m doing today helping me become a better leader for tomorrow? If the answer is no, consider joining our organization. The possibilities are endless and the memories you walk away with are so valuable. 


Embracing my time within the organization,

Kylie Schakel 


If you have any questions about National FFA Week or Indiana FFA, please feel free to contact me at: secretary@inffa.org. I’d love to chat about the opportunities available through our organization. You can also find more information here: www.inffa.org


Wednesday, February 3, 2021

Workin' with Papaw

More often than not, our grandparents are retired by the time we start part-time jobs in high school. For me, I worked at the Shelbyville Boys and Girls Club as the Junior Office Manager. I sat in the office and took phone calls, paged students, and handled desk tasks. I loved my boss, I loved my co-workers, and I loved the kids. Yet, the best part was still to come. My papaw, who’d been retired for several years, worked there too. He was in the kitchen and served snacks to the kids as they came in. 


Every day after I logged all the kids that came into the club, I would walk back to the kitchen to see him. He always had a smile on his face and greeted me with a plate of that day’s snack and a carton of apple juice. We would talk for about 10 minutes about life, how my day at school was, and how IU basketball was doing this season. Once my shift was over, I would help Papaw clean up in the back and we would walk out to my car together. He would give me a hug and tell me he loved me and that he’ll see me at the same time tomorrow. He would hop in his truck and we would do it all over again the next day. 


I never thought I would get to work with my Papaw, but it has been absolutely incredible. I love being around my Papaw at home watching the Colts or basketball, but being able to spend every evening at the Boys and Girls Club with him was a dream come true. What I’ve come to realize is that it’s those small moments that seem to be the most memorable to me. Walking into the kitchen to get a donut from Papaw was something I looked forward to every day and never failed to put a smile on my face. Once we start to appreciate those small things that make us happy, we’re bound to start living happier and more appreciative. 


Appreciating the small things in life, 

Julia Hamblen

2020-2021 Indiana FFA State President


Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Luc's Life in Three Recipes

I saw on Youtube that Sohla El-Waylly, a famous chef, did a video where she made three recipes that described her life story. Naturally, I want to do the same thing. So here it is: *insert drum roll sound* 


Luc’s Life in Three Recipes!


Biscuits and Gravy

This is the meal that made me realize I loved to cook. This dish was the first dish that I learned to make. In fact, I exclaimed to my parents that I was going to be a chef when I grew up. The only problem with this is that five year old Luc could only make biscuits and gravy, so that was going to be a pretty limited menu. But hey, maybe it can still happen. When I make this dish it takes me back to Saturday mornings as a kid and eating breakfast as a family. This wasn't something that we did often, so the nostalgia is real. Also, biscuits and gravy is probably the best breakfast food out there ,besides coffee, and you cannot change my mind. To me this recipe is my home kitchen: love, laughter, and unity. 


You can find the recipes I use here: 



Pasta al Limone with Homemade Noodles

Full disclosure, I make this recipe when I want to feel very “chefy.” If you want to feel “chefy,” this is the recipe for you. In my high school culinary arts class, one of our big units was learning how to make homemade pasta. I can’t speak for my classmates, but I loved this unit. I love the time and preparation that goes into making something that we often overlook. Don’t get me wrong, boxed pasta is great; but if you have the time, homemade pasta is worth it. To put it lightly, when I was first learning to make pasta and use the rolling machines I was a hot mess. In my frustrated rush to finish cleaning up the machine, which is a pain to clean by the way, I tried to run a dish rag through the machine. Needless to say, that didn't work. I got the rag stuck in the machine and had to cut it apart. Lesson learned: do not rush cleaning the pasta roller and new dish towels are always a good gift for a Culinary Arts teacher. To me, this recipe is about growing passions, trying new things, pushing yourself, and learning to fail. 


Here are some recipes to go off of:



National Convention Fried Chicken

When I asked my teammate, Evan, for ideas on what recipes to put in this blog, he said, “When I think of you cooking, I think of chaos. Controlled chaos that, in the end, turns out great.” As soon as he said that, I knew what recipe would fit that. Fried chicken. To sum up a long and painful story, our National Delegate, Megan Wagner, and I made dinner for the team during National Convention and decided to cook fried chicken. After long hours of marinating and frying chicken, we got to the last batch. Unfortunately, I hit the fryer basket with my elbow and sent hot oil down my arm. Was I burned? Yes, yes I was. Was the chicken good? Also yes. So here’s to controlled chaos, hopefully no burns, and fried chicken!


Please don't burn yourself:


Comfort food. Fancy, or “fancy-ish,” food. Good food. There's not much more you can really ask for, right? This is my life in three recipes. What about you? 



Probably in the kitchen,


Luc Sproles

State Sentinel


Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Different Strokes for Different Folks

Inspiration strikes when you least expect it. That has definitely been my motto for any great idea I have ever come up with. From District projects to the Corduroy Connect series we feature today, big ideas can strike suddenly and unexpectedly.

When I first thought about my blog for this week, my original idea was that I would describe my wisdom teeth removal. For those of you who didn’t know that, my surgery went great and I didn’t feel a thing. Some local anesthesia and lots of swelling later, I can hardly even remember having wisdom teeth. Unfortunately for you, the hilarious videos and descriptions of my post-surgery experience will wait for another time. The idea for this blog post actually came to me last week when I was helping Blayne (NRVP) paint the remaining panels of our FIRE Backdrop. While the painting itself wasn’t very interesting, the way Blayne and I went about painting struck me suddenly and unexpectedly.

While channeling our inner Picasso, Blayne would come through with wide brushstrokes and create a pattern in the paint. I would then finish up with smaller brushstrokes to cover the finer details around the edges. This dual action of our two paint brushes completed the entire image that we both had set out to create. When this whole thought process entered my mind, I knew right then and there what I wanted from my next blog post.

When it comes to completing a goal, we usually have two ways of approaching our task. Just like Blayne would come through and paint large sections of the panel, some of us will start off with a big idea or large image of what we want to create. Talking in aspirational terms and thinking of what the future holds, these individuals are known as “big idea” people. On the flip side, some of us will start working out the details and substance behind the idea just like I would come through with smaller paint strokes to cover the edges. Working out the factual side and thinking through all the angles, these individuals are known as the “finer detail” people.

           We need both of these people to work in harmony to create the whole image. You can’t complete a project without having that first big idea. At the same time, you can’t see a project through to the very end without taking care of the finer details. Both types of people must work together if we want to reach that final destination. However, we shouldn’t restrict ourselves to one type or the other. A true growth opportunity can be found when a big idea person is tasked with touching up a project or a finer details person is asked to put a message behind a mission. Never feel like you can’t try out different roles. Push yourself out of what’s comfortable and embrac
e a new style. Fill the painting of life with large brushstrokes and fine edges. You’ll never be disappointed by the whole image.


Warm Wishes,

Derick Williams

Indiana FFA State Reporter


Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Grace in Motion

When I graduated from high school, I was given a 40-day devotional by Cory Asbury that is titled Reckless Love. This book was given to me by Shannon Rose, our school library’s paraprofessional, spring musical vocal coach, and a dear friend. As I’ve finally taken the time to dive into this powerful book, I came across a quote that really stood out to me. It made me stop reading to sit and ponder.


“...self-righteousness keeps us blinded to the beauty of grace in motion.”


Self-righteous is defined by Mirriam-Webster as, “having or characterized by a certainty, especially an unfounded one, that one is totally correct or morally superior.” If we become so focused on trying to earn the favor of God and others, we miss the beauty of the big picture. You see, the whole point of grace is that we don’t deserve it. Self-righteous people think that they have to earn everything they get, but this simply isn’t true. Grace comes in many forms, whether we earn it or not.

There’s a parable, or story, about a shepherd and his flock of one hundred sheep. Ninety-nine of those sheep are healthy and safe. However, there was one little sheep that was missing and in danger. The shepherd abandoned the ninety-nine to go and search for the one little sheep. Now you may be wondering, “Why would he leave the ninety-nine who were where they’re supposed to be and don’t need help for the one irresponsible sheep?” 

The little sheep knew he was in danger and he was crying out for the shepherd to rescue him. In all reality, the shepherd probably should’ve ignored the little sheep and focused on the ninety-nine. But the shepherd continued to search for the lost sheep until he was found. Those ninety-nine sheep were like self-righteous people that think they don’t need grace. They think they’re totally correct and perfect in everything that they do, so they miss out on the beauty of an overwhelming grace that leaves no one behind. 

Don’t be afraid to be vulnerable and ask for grace. Whether that’s an extension on a deadline, a second chance at a relationship, or simply asking for something without earning it, lean into vulnerability. When we finally let our guard down and stop viewing ourselves as righteous and self-sufficient, we see the true beauty of grace in motion. 


Humbled by His grace,

Evan Coblentz

State Treasurer


Wednesday, January 6, 2021

Stay Positive, Test Negative

Stay Positive, Test Negative

I would consider myself a big list guy. When I see a list, I'm intrigued to read it knowing that it won't be too much to read. At the same time, I know there's enough to keep me interested for a decent amount of time. So, I decided to make another list. A list of things that I can take away from the year 2020.


  1. Don't Forget Your Mask- I think this is one thing that everyone can relate to. I can't tell you how many times I started to walk into a store, gas station, or restaurant and then had to turn around and go back to my vehicle to get my mask. 

  2. Get Right With Jesus-  The excessive amount of time that we have spent inside is great for self-reflection and deep thinking. I was able to dig into my faith and get more of the Gospel. Although times seemed dark, my faith brought me light.

  3. Cows Are Still Great- 2020 may not have been that great,  but there’s still nothing wrong with some mighty fine bovine.

  4. Cherish Time With Friends And Family-  Nobody realized all the time that we spent with our friends and family could be taken from us overnight. It certainly taught me to cherish those moments.

  5. Don’t Forget Gold Bond- Almost as important as a mask, you can never go wrong with having some spare Gold Bond.

  6. Working Zoom Is Now Easier- Whether it was for class or for meetings, Zoom once seemed impossible, but now has become a common tool for most.

  7. Innovation Is Endless- The challenges brought to us by the past year were insane. This called for people to think outside the box and it was awesome to see. I have come to realize that with this type of thinking a lot of positive ideas, things, and lives are going to come out of this.

  8. 6 Feet Never Seemed So Far- I focus heavily on positivity, but sometimes you have to be real. I never realized that being less than I am tall away from someone could feel so far away until now.

  9. Stay Positive, Test Negative- Obviously 2020 seemed to be filled with more negativity than positivity which can really get to some people. It is important to focus on the positive things the year gave us and everything we have to look forward to.

  10. We Can Only Go Up From Here- By the end of 2021, we will all be reciting lyrics from Drake, “Started From The Bottom, Now We’re Here” because things can only get better from here.


Working on my next list,

Your Friend,

Loren Matlock