Wednesday, December 29, 2021

The Time of the Year for Traditions

One of my favorite times of the year is Christmas time. My family loves Christmas time. From the stockings, to the Christmas cookies, to the time together as a family. Every year my family has several traditions that we do to celebrate. I want to take some time this year to share some of my family's traditions. 

One of the earliest traditions we have is the weekend after Thanksgiving. It’s then that my immediate family and several of my aunts and their kids come over to our house to make Schnitzbrot. This tradition definitely needs some explaining. You see, my mom’s side of the family is 100% German. When my great grandma came over she brought with her a lot of traditions and recipes. One such was a bread called Schnitzbrot. The easiest way to describe this bread is sort of like a Christmas fruit cake but more bread like and in a loaf. As long as I can remember my family has made this bread. Each year we make around 20 loaves and give them to all my aunts and uncles and other family members. It’s tradition to eat this bread on christmas morning each year. Even though my grandma passed away several years back we still make this bread and it still brings our family together. This picture is me, my brother, and cousin kneading the Schnitzbrot

The next tradition that we have is with our nativity set. My mom’s side has this tradition where every kid gets a nativity of their own. The nativity is gifted to them by their godparents. You get the basic part on your first Christmas and each year you get more pieces to add to it. This is one of my favorite traditions that my family has. It’s really cool because your nativity scene shows your growth. A lot of times the pieces that you received are customized to something that happened to you that year. An example of this is last Christmas for me. I got a carpenter and his workshop. That was the year that I got grandchapion for woodworking at my county fair. This tradition is a reminder of growth and a reminder of what Christmas is truly about. This is one of the gifts I look forward to the most each year. It’s not the newest technology or fancy clothes but the reminder that Christmas is about family, growth, and God. It’s one of the best gifts to open and adding the piece to my nativity at home on Christmas eve is one of the best feelings. This picture is of my mom’s nativity this year at home. Sadly she doesn’t get her newest piece till Christmas eve.

The final tradition I want to talk about is actually after Christmas day. Two or three days after my family leaves to travel down to the Fellowship Center at the Indiana FFA Center. We meet with the rest of my mom’s side and spent three days together. This is one of the best times of the year for me. The Fellowship Center has a very special place in the hearts of my family. If you’ve ever been to a conference then you might have heard Mr. Martin tells the story of the Fellowship Center. It was built after a girl from Tri-County, named Vallerie James, died in a car crash. Her parents went to the foundation director to have a small chapel built in the woods because the FFA Center was her second home. The director decided to do more than that and through the generous donations from individuals and businesses they decided to build the Fellowship Center. Families and individuals came together to build a place for families and friends to gather for fellowship and growth. That foundation director was my Uncle and my family helped build the center. Because of this we’ve been going there after Christmas since it was built. Within this one tradition my family has several others. We always do a white elephant there, a euchre tournament, the kids have a nerf war, and so many other things. This tradition brings the whole family together. It reminds us of my grandparents who helped build it and all the love they had for us and the FFA organization. It reminds us of all the funny memories that have been made there and all the growth our family has had. Each year there’s new cousins running around and new significant others that get brought down for a day to get introduced.

These are three of the best traditions that my family has around this time of year. When I think back on them I’m reminded of all their lessons. From family to faith and everything in between. It’s these traditions that have made me who I am today. Each tradition that I have helps build something I value. It's the traditions that each of us have that makes us who we are. So what traditions do you have that make you, you.


Tyler Kilmer


Wednesday, December 22, 2021

Endless Love

There are only 3 days until Christmas. 3 days. You know what that means? Christmas EVERYTHING. Christmas socks, Christmas movies, and of course, Christmas music. Recently, I was listening to “Let There be Christmas” by Alan Jackson. During this song, he sings the words, “Let anger and fear and hate disappear, let there be love that lasts through the year”. I quickly realized just how impactful these few words truly were. 


Around Christmas time, we see an abundance of giving and love. Whether it’s donating to a local charity, wrapping presents for an Angel Tree, or helping to cook a meal for those in ourcommunity, we tend to be more giving during the holiday season. But why is this? Maybe it’s because we’re surrounded by loved ones. Maybe it’s the holiday sweets. Maybe, its simply the Christmas spirit. Whatever the cause may be, there’s no doubt that the holiday season is one of the most love-filled times of the year. Nevertheless, I think there are quite a few reasons that we choose not to always exhibit this love. Sometimes, someone hurts us, and we act out in anger. Sometimes, we may be afraid someone may judge us for being too cheery. Sometimes we are simply filled with hatred towards a person who we’ve never really liked. It’s at these times, that we tend to hurt others, and ourselves, the most.


What would happen, though, if this holiday-like love occurred throughout the entire year? Imagine that every single day you witnessed someone giving food to a person who needed it. That person in need may have their first real meal for the week. Imagine walking down the street to watch others greet one another with “glad tidings” of the day. A person grieving over a recent loss may smile for the first time after that encounterSimply imagine if, out of the goodness of their heart, carolers broke out in song just to bring cheer to someone’s day. The possibilities are endless.


So now, I ask you, what would happen if you exhibited endless love towards others? What could you do to bring cheer to someone’s day? How will you show kindness to those you don’t get along with? When will you find time in your everyday life to simply help someone out? What will YOU do? Whatever it is, big or small, I know it will make an impact. Let that anger, fear, and hate disappear, and allow yourself to always show love to those who need it the most. 


Learning to love always, 


Wednesday, December 15, 2021

Be Patient in Times of Confusion

I HATE losing. It’s something I have never enjoyed doing, and I would do anything in my power to ensure that was something I did not go through. This was especially true with my livestock. During my Senior year, I bought a bangin good Angus steer. He was one of a kind, and our goal was to win Champion Angus steer at the state fair. Throughout the show season, we would travel to cattle shows as a family, along with the family we bought from. 

No matter how hard I tried, I was constantly placing second. Never. First.

I would constantly beat myself up about going to these shows, and feeling like I was failing every time. I finally got the nerve to sit down with my Dad and talk about it. I asked him what I was doing wrong - Was I not a good enough showman? Did we give him enough water before strutting into that ring? What was I doing wrong?

He looked at me with his ‘matter of fact dad look,’ and said “Our goal is State Fair. This is a time to just get him out and learn.”

This is normally the time that I’m supposed to be okay with it and move on, right? No. In fact, throughout the entire show season, I was bitter and angry. Do you want to know why? It’s all because I was so close-minded and over focused on being the best.

The State Fair finally rolls arounds, and it’s time for me to go in the ring. I walked in, and I was feeling pretty good! He starts placing the class. 5th gets pulled. Perfect, still in the running… but not for long. 4th gets pulled - and it’s me. At that moment, all I saw was red. After the early mornings, late nights, and long hours in the barn, this is it? At this point, confusion raced through my mind. After the class had ended, I didn’t talk to anyone for a solid two hours, rinsed my steer, and sat in the corner, pouting.

During that time of pout and feeling sorry for myself, I finally had a wake up call with a small voice reminding me, “Pick yourself back up. This all has its purpose.” Sometimes, life may interrupt the goals we have in life. However, if it wasn’t for those moments of placing second in those jackpot shows and fourth at State Fair, I wouldn’t have grown to know that the livestock industry isn’t about winning - it’s about the  relationships within the industry that make it all so great. If it wasn’t for the people within the farming community, agriculture would not be what it is today.

Still embracing the confusion,
Jordyn Wickard

Wednesday, December 8, 2021

I'm My Mother's Daughter

I know that it is currently not the season for Mother’s Day, however, I wanted to show a little love to my mom because I know that I’ve missed her a lot. 

If I am honest, the hardest thing this year has been leaving my mom after our weekends home. I usually end up crying. This is not because I dislike going back to the center but because of the overwhelming amount of love I always feel at home. Heck, I am also pretty worried about college being the same way.

I wanted to write this appreciation blog post because many of you do not realize how blessed I am to have a mom as capable as her. In 2014, my dad passed away because of pancreatic cancer when I was 11. My mom probably never imagined that for the past 7 years she would have to raise me on her own. I am so thankful for the unconditional love she shows me everyday. Especially those texts I get where she just checks in on me, those mean more to me than I could ever explain. 

My mom has been my best friend for as long as I can remember. We love driving around in the car together to get food and then eating in the parking lot. I now only like to eat my fast food in parking lots whether I am with her or not. I appreciate the fact that every year on my birthday we go shopping together at the same mall. We stay in a hotel room each time even though we only live about 25 minutes from the mall. It's the fact that it is a mini vacation away from home that makes it so special.

Yes, the good moments we have are great. But, the moments when I truly appreciate her love the most is when I have a bad day. She is always there to talk and give me a warm hug. Even though I do not like opening up too much when I am upset, she is always there to hold me until I am willing to talk. She is my biggest supporter.

To my mom, thank you for all you have done for me in my lifetime. Thank you for being at every event you can and showing me the abundant support of both parents in one. You are so incredibly strong and everyone notices that. You have taught me so much about how I can be strong and independent in my life. You are the greatest mom a girl could ask for. I also want to thank you for your patience even if I am a lot sometimes. Thank you for never giving up on me. I love you so much. 

With much love,

Madisen Carns

Wednesday, December 1, 2021

Imperfect Perfection

“Perfection is found in accepting your imperfections.” - Bridgett Devoue

Throughout life we learn countless lessons. We learn how to walk, talk, engage, and how to grow. But, one lesson that I’ve found to be the hardest to learn focuses around the idea of perfection. 

You see, perfection is this goal that continually finds its way into my head. I tell myself almost everyday that I have to be the perfect friend, perfect sister, perfect teammate. If I’m going to be honest, I’m not. There are days where I am the furthest from perfect. Even now, as I’m sitting here attempting to write this post, I’ve found myself continually thinking that it has to be perfect, there has to be a lesson. But, thankfully, I have teammates to give me a reality check. 

Mere seconds ago, Nicholas did just that. He looked at me, and said, “Not everything has to have a meaning. Not everything has to be perfect.” So, instead of attempting to instill a lesson, here is a post filled with quotes that remind me it’s okay to embrace that imperfect perfection.

These quotes might not help you now, or in the next two weeks, but when you need a little pick me up- they'll still be here for you. At the end of the day, it's your imperfections that truly make you perfect.

Slightly less of an overthinker,

Kourtney Otte

Wednesday, November 24, 2021

Give Thanks to the Small Things

With Thanksgiving quickly approaching, I thought it important to reflect and pay homage to the things that we are most thankful for. Traditionally, people recognize and appreciate the big things in their lives. The things that occupy our days and thoughts: family, friends, (and for many) FFA. For me, this holds true too. It is my nieces and nephews. For I firmly believe that they are the cutest individuals in the entire world. It is uncontrolled  laughter shared with friends. For that laughter makes you grasp your stomach and convince yourself that abs are forming under your t-shirt. It is my team. For those five individuals have a unique ability to both annoy me and shower me with love at the same time (like when they talk when I’m trying to watch TV). Don’t be mistaken. I truly do appreciate the big things in my life, and I am thankful for every single person that has pushed me to become the person I am today. But I feel that appreciating the big things is not enough. While these big things are important in their own respects, it is vital to recognize and appreciate the small things in life. 

In a single day, there are countless small things that make a person’s day. We must be thankful for those small moments. For me, it is poorly taken polaroid pictures and the memories they capture. Polaroids remind us of the laughter and friendship that we have created. It is the random origami penguins that show up on my desk from time to time. Jordyn makes these for me when I’m having a difficult day <3. It is snapchat memories that let us reminisce on the past. For memories let us relive the moments of pure happiness. It is pizza roll shaped fidget toys that staff gives the state officers to keep us preoccupied. It is hour long facetime calls with friends far away. It is the team bonding over Vampire Diaries. It is little pumpkins, state office requests, Rushville FFA Owls hidden around the house, and …. The list goes on and on. Because there is an infinite amount of small, little things that I appreciate every single day.  

There are so many small things in our lives that seem inconsequential. Because of this, they are often ignored and forgotten. While the big things may dictate our lives, it is the small things that truly bring us happiness. So I pose three questions to you: 1) What are you thankful for? 2) Are you thankful for the small moments and memories that make life worth living? 3) Are you focusing so much on the large things in life that the small things are being forgotten? I would challenge you to take the time to recognize these small things. Write them down and put them on your bathroom mirror. Every morning, you will be reminded of the small things that bring you joy and satisfaction. Because it is those small things that cultivate happiness. This Thanksgiving, appreciate the small things in your life.

Forever Thankful,

Nicholas Neuman

Wednesday, November 17, 2021

If Only the FFA Center Could Talk

The other day I was talking to some people, reminiscing about different memories from the Indiana FFA center and it got me thinking about everything that's happened there. History has been made as well as life long friendships and other memories. I think it would be interesting if the FFA center’s lake could talk because I wonder what stories it would tell. 

I think the lake would start by remembering all the speeches that it has heard. For state staff, state officers, and many other individuals the lake is a judgment free area where they can go to practice their speeches. The flag deck which overlooks the lake has heard the retiring addresses from countless past state officers. How they develop from a simple idea into the impactful stories that we hear at state convention in the summer. Beyond just Indiana retiring addresses the lake and flag deck have heard the retiring addresses of numerous national FFA officers as well. The national officers come to the center the week before the National FFA Convention. A lot of times they can be found practicing their retiring addresses somewhere on the property. The lake has had the opportunity to witness National officers prepare for speaking in front of tens of thousands of FFA members. But retiring addresses are not the only speeches the lake has heard. Just this past year the lake was the home of Mr. Rob Hay’s memorial service. The lake’s helped to remember the ones who have left their impact on Indiana FFA.

 Since the beginning of the center the lake has been around to watch friendship groups. The shore of the lake is home to multiple campfire pits. The places where members are able to gather for lots of fun and where people get to truly know each other. One such fire pit is at the state officer house. I think the lake would remember the numerous teams who have begun their year of service with a simple campfire. Those campfires are the basis to their friendships and are the first glimpses into who they are working with the rest of the year. The lake is home to the beach as well. The laughter and joy that's come from that beach is outstanding. It is genuinely an embodiment of summer and what it means to so many people. 

I think this is the first stuff that the lake would think of. Then it would start to remember all of the other fun memories people have made with it. The evening canoe trips, the monthly swims the current and past state officer teams have made ( even in the winter), and all the other ways that the lake has helped to bond people. The lake, if it could talk, could tell stories for days and never run out. And what is even more amazing is that the lake is only one part of the center. For all the fun and memories it has, the rest of the center has a thousand times more. From the groups that have met in the fellowship center to the members who have walked the lodge, the center is home to many of people’s best memories. 

One of my favorite stories that I’ve heard from Mr. Martin is the story of why he ran for state office. If you’ve ever attended a conference then you may have heard it right before reflections. It’s about how he saw the big dipper at the FFA center and knew that he was home and wanted to run for state office. I think this is true for a lot of people. All it takes is one time to come to the center for it to feel like home. The center and all it’s wonderful attractions have a way of doing that to people. I wonder what other buildings and locations at the center would tell stories about if they could talk? I’m sure they would be full of joy and fellowship just like the lake. Because the FFA center is a home for everyone and is a place for the best stories to be made.


Tyler Kilmer

Wednesday, November 10, 2021

Life's Greatest Advice

As I sat down to write my blog for this week, I’ll be honest, I had no inspiration. I had no message I wanted to share and no story to tell. That’s when one of my teammates, Kourtney, pulled a book off the shelf titled “The Complete Life’s Little Instruction Book”. This book is filled with a ton of little tidbits of advice about how to live your life – some as surface level as “call a radio station with an opinion” and some as deep as “remember that life’s most treasured moments often come unannounced”. 

However, it wasn’t either of these that stood out to me. Rather, it was the following that caught my attention: “Ask an older person you respect to tell you his or her proudest moment and greatest regret”. As I texted some of my greatest mentors in life to ask for their answers to these questions, I soon realized that it is these people who hold some of the best advice. Let’s see what they had to say!

Marty Matlock:

Greatest moment: “The birth of our children, all 3, and watching them succeed is my greatest moment.”

Greatest regret: “My biggest regret is not always stepping outside my comfort zone when I know I should have.”

My grandfather:

Greatest Moment: “I have had a blessed life and as I look back at all those blessings, they tie back to God and Christ’s love for us. My greatest moment is realizing that through Christ all things are possible”

Greatest Regret: “Not living to my potential. I could have done more. Of course, everyone can always do more, but I chose not to even try lots of times. I was too prideful. If there’s a chance of failure, I wouldn’t even try.”

My momma:

Greatest Moment: “I don’t believe I’ve had my greatest moment yet. As I age, I find that life just keeps getting better. But, if I’m pushed to choose, it’s becoming a mom.”

Greatest Regret: “Once again, I’m not sure I have one because all parts of life are determined by God. But, maybe missing your performance in Wizard of Oz.”

My padre:

Greatest Moment: “Day of marriage & the 3 days my children were born.”

Greatest Regret: “Not going to work the wheat harvest in Australia.”

From my research, I would say I’ve found the three pieces of advice I, and hopefully you, needed to hear: 

  1. Find a source of inspiration and strength that fuels you to keep going – no matter what. For my grandfather, and my family, that’s our faith. For Marty, my mom, and my dad, it was their kids and getting the opportunity to raise them. For you, it may be different. Nevertheless, find the catalyst that keeps you motivated.

  2. Life is full of great, exciting events. At times, you may feel as though you have hit the peak moment of your life (getting married, your DREAM job, having kids, etc.). Yet, there is always the potential for even more. As my mom said “I find that life just keeps getting better”. Don’t stay stagnant when you feel you have “peaked”. Rather, allow yourself to keep living, keep growing, and keep pursuing new opportunities that can become some of life’s greatest moments. 

  3. This brings me to my 3rd lesson: don’t avoid pursuing new experiences. My grandfather often avoided “doing more” simply because he was afraid of failure. My dad avoided a trip to the other side of the globe because he wanted to help my grandpa with harvest; while that was important, he avoided the opportunity to travel and explore new opportunities because he felt he had an obligation. Life is full of infinite opportunities to learn and take on new adventures – don’t hold back because of failure or “obligation”.

As I set out to write this blog, I had no idea where it would take me, but I’m glad it started that way. It pushed me to reach out, gain new advice, and learn more than I could’ve ever imagined. While I hope the lessons my mentors shared helped you, I also encourage you to reach out to the mentors in your life.  They are truly full of some of life’s greatest advice. 

Always learning, 


Wednesday, November 3, 2021

Choose People who Choose You

I. Love. Humans. 

  • Humans have so much power in the world, and can bring light and positivity to so many other humans. 

  • Humans have the ability to make people cry. 

  • Humans have the opportunity to make others laugh. 

  • Humans have the power to make others feel loved. 

Let me tell you something - my friend Carissa knows how to do almost all these points pretty well. 

During my weekend home, I had the chance to go to my brother’s football game on Friday night. A couple weeks before that drive home, I got a random text from carissa saying “ma’am let me know when you're in town! I want to see you so bad, I miss you. Maybe we could go to the football game at the school together!”

Perfect timing! I quickly texted her back saying I would be in town in a couple weeks, and we should grab something to eat beforehand. Humans have the power to make others feel loved. 

Friday night came along, and I was beyond ecstatic to see my long distance high school best friend, and meet at my ALL TIME favorite small town restaurant, The Gas Grill. We quickly parked next to each other, gave each other the biggest hug, and made our way in to get some grub before cheering loud for the Eastern Hancock Royals. We sat down, and immediately started talking about what we were up to, how our lives were going, etc. However, Carrisa made it a point to hear what I had been up to with undivided attention and words of encouragement. 

Towards the end of our conversation and a bussin’ meal, Carrisa handed me a letter. In this letter, she talked about how much she missed me and appreciated me as a person, reminding me I have always been someone she has admired and telling me all about how I am the “sweetest, kindest, brightest, and prettiest lady” she has ever met. After reading this letter that night, I started crying tears of joy because of the amount of love I felt… because of this person who has chosen me as a best friend.

In life, we want to be loved. We want to be heard. We are able to feel these feelings by choosing people who choose you. I will forever be grateful for each and every individual I have surrounded myself with in life who continually puts in effort to choose me.

Choose those who choose you. Your life will forever be transformed if you find those who will appreciate, accept, and value you as the authentic you. 

Living a good life,

Jordyn Wickard

Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Stepping Outside of the Comfort Zone

For the past three weekends, our team has met so many members through our SOAR conference. Personally, it helped me to connect and form relationships with many of those people. I know one of my favorite parts was being able to get members to try a line dance or speak in front of the audience to answer a question. These things may have seemed small to others but they were big challenges for some.

We all are very aware of the words “comfort zone”. This idea is that anything that we would feel comfortable doing is inside of the zone. However, watching all of these members reach outside their comfort zone made me want to share my stories to encourage more people to challenge themselves. 

One of the most prominent times I remember being tested to do some uncomfortable task would be public speaking. I know, it sounds crazy that a state officer would be afraid of talking to a large group of people. But, the truth is that it terrified me. I felt like everyone was judging every single word I said. The first time I was faced with this was initially running for state office. Being able to speak in front of mentors or other prep resources made me so nervous. It took a lot of stretching my comfort zone to even begin to stand in front of them. Then, to be honest, I was not very good at first. 

Now, after being elected we have our first week of office which is considered base camp. I was relieved at the thought that I would not have to speak in front of people for quite some time (or so I thought). It was the last day of base camp when our facilitator asked for us to give some practice reflections. It honestly made me sick that now I had to be vulnerable and talk in front of some of the best people in the state (my teammates). Yes, I had done some speaking in rounds, but it was not done right with my teammates sitting a couple of feet away from me. My thoughts were spinning about whether they would wonder why I even got on the team or if the words that came out of my mouth would even make sense. My comfort zone had almost shrunk back down again.

To be really honest, I cried in front of my team that day. It was not because my story was really sad but I was scared of being a disappointment. There was no time to wait though so the timer started on my reflection and I began. Yes, I made it all the way through the speech. No, it was not perfect. But the point was that I made it through a speech in front of my teammates after also receiving critiques. None of those critiques were that I did an awful job or needed a ton of work. I was overthinking and was scared to step out of my comfort zone. 

However, when I did step out of that zone, I realized that my teammates were here for me to be successful. That the other people around me in my life wanted me to do well also. This was one more scary thing that I accomplished. Now, I speak at conferences, chapter visits, and all other sorts of events.

The question is… What is making you a bit nervous, uncomfortable, or scared that you are doing? Go ahead and take the challenge head-on. There are people rooting for you to be successful. This is your challenge to step out of your comfort zone. I cannot wait to see you grow.

Stepping out of her comfort zone,


Wednesday, October 13, 2021

Self Deception

There are some mornings I wake up with a pit in my stomach. My heart starts racing. Somedays it feels like my skin is on fire. Thoughts start to creep in soon after. They start to flood my head almost as fast as the nauseousness. You see, these days come like waves. Sometimes they’re one right after the other, sometimes they arrive quickly.

With these feelings, came worries. Thoughts that I shouldn’t be here, that I will never be able to be the type of state officer that I needed to be. I don’t understand why I’m here. Now, that caused a completely different problem. You see, this created self deception that not only started to destroy me, but others. 

Every morning when I’d wake up, finally pushing those feelings and thoughts aside, I’d try to be the best friend, officer, teammate that I could be. I’d focus so much on trying to get to what I thought everyone wanted me to be that I lost sight of who I actually was. I became indecisive, wanting to make sure everyone else was able to get what they wanted. I became burnout, just the idea of work sending a pit into my stomach because I couldn’t imagine doing anything less than perfect. I became bland, I was so focused on showing up as this shining individual that I actually lost what made me shine. 

I felt like I was hiding behind fogged glass. It’s just foggy enough to blur the edges on who I am, but yet one wrong action could completely shatter whatever I had tried to create. 

This whole realization happened after a conversation with my mom. She mentioned that the person who I was when I walked across the stage at graduation was not the same person that sat before her. She said that I was so focused on making everyone else happy, filling the thoughts and ideas that they seemingly put in my head. 


That’s when it all made sense. I had created this false reality of who I needed to be. I had deceived myself into thinking that I had to be this, do this, think this, wear this, all so I could be someone.

This self deception won’t go away immediately, it's going to take time. In fact, for the first time since June, I woke up without a pit in my stomach. While that was a huge step in ridding myself of that deception, those thoughts were still there. It’s going to take time.

I don’t know what your self deception is. Maybe you think that you’re less than you are, you think that you only cause problems, maybe you even think that you shouldn’t be where you are. But, while I don’t know you, I do know that you can overcome this obstacle, because that’s what it is. They’re just thoughts, they’re just feelings. But, they aren’t reality.

Still improving,

Kourtney Otte

Wednesday, October 6, 2021

Breaking the Stigma

Untouchable. Faultless. Perfect. As a young FFA member, I believed that State Officers were larger than life. They seemed so aloof from my life. It appeared to me as if they lived on a pedestal. At the Leadership Development Workshop (LDW) Conference, it came to my attention that these very thoughts were running through the minds of some of those in attendance. One senior FFA member insisted that he could never see himself in the position of state office because he “was not good enough.” To him, the goal of state office just seemed intangible. This reveals the stigma surrounding the Indiana FFA State Officer program. This reveals the disconnect between state officers and members. 

These moments of disconnect are caused by state officers believing that they must live up to the “expectations” of the office: perfection, professionalism, personability. This creates a divide. In my time as State Secretary, I have found that members want to see the mistakes. Members want to see the times when we as state officers are entirely human. Members want to see authenticity. It is that authenticity that allows for the most genuine of connections and interactions.

The reality behind state officers is simple and shocking: we are very imperfect humans. Just like everybody else. I do not spend all my time writing curriculum, speeches, or emails. I do not spend all of my time behind a computer. I live a simple teenage life; I am only 18. I play soccer when I’m bored. I watch Avatar: The Last Airbender and read Percy Jackson. I love my dairy cows. I go on long drives with the team. I will not hesitate to propose to someone in Walmart on a Tuesday night because I think that it is funny. I reference TikToks and am always on Snapchat. This is me. This is state office. Imperfect and human.

For those that are considering running for a chapter, district, section, or even state office, think about the expectations that you hold for yourself. Are you putting yourself on a pedestal? Are you creating a disconnect between yourself and the members that you pledged to serve? Are you falling into the “expectations” and the stigma of the office? If so, I challenge you to remain genuine and true to yourself. The best way to serve Indiana FFA and its membership is through heartfelt, genuine leadership. 

Breaking the Stigma,

Nicholas Neuman

Wednesday, September 29, 2021

The Best Type of Joke

Now that I’ve been in office for almost four months I think that there's something some of my teammates have started to notice about me. It’s not anything bad and I don’t think that it annoys anyone. It is that I have an interesting sense of humor. You see I seem to find the weirdest, smallest, and most of the time things that they don’t consider funny, funny. I realized that my humor was different from theirs when I started telling them the jokes that I found funny. On snapchat I’m subscribed to a person who posts a daily dad joke. I personally find almost everything he posts funny but my teammates (mainly Nick) don’t find the humor in them. My instagram reels are almost all jokes as well. These small one liner jokes are what I find a lot of joy in life from. To me Dad jokes are the best type of joke. They are small, often are a play on words, and easy to remember. I’ve started using these types of jokes all the time this year. Back during LDW I had my ice breaker activity be matching the set up and punchlines from dad jokes. Personally I thought it was a great way to meet new people and to start a conversation. Thankfully some others agreed and I got to hear about how these jokes helped start a few new friendships. I have also adopted a new way to start my facilitation. We normally start a day with an ice breaker activity or two. Most of the time we are working with middle schoolers who don't like to participate. I’ve found that a good way to get them to talk is to start by telling jokes. That's why I start each facilitation with the joke

How much does a polar bear weigh?

Enough to break the ice. It's time for an icebreaker activity.

These little jokes are something that bring joy to my life. I know not everyone finds these funny but everyone does have something that brings them some daily joy. Maybe that thing is your dog or a sibling, or maybe it's not a physical thing but something you see on social media. But each of us has something that brings us joy. I’m going to leave everyone with some more joy. A few more dad jokes to brighten your day.

I never buy anything that has Velcro with it, it’s a total rip-off

I was going to tell you a fighting joke but I forgot the punch line.

I was going to tell you a time travel joke but you didn’t find it funny.

What does a sweet potato wear to bed? His yammies

6 is scared of 7 because 7,8,9 but why did 7 eat 9? Because you’re supposed to eat 3         square meals a day.

One thing I can’t deal a deck of cards glued together

Wednesday, September 22, 2021

I’m Broken

I am broken. These are three words that I have truly realized over the past few weeks. I am broken. 


However, up until I got the courage to write this blog, I could only see my brokenness as a negative, as something to hide, as a hindrance on my everyday life. Then, a few days ago, I started listening to a podcast hosted by Sadie Robertson called “Woah, That’s Good”. In one of her recent episodes she, as well as her guest interviewee, discuss how they have learned to trust God with their brokenness. While I am Christian and connected deeply to the concept of trusting God in my broken state, there was another key idea I really felt I needed to hear, ponder, and most importantly share. 


Our brokenness is not negative. Our brokenness is not something to hide. Our brokenness is not a hindrance. Rather, our brokenness is a chance to grow, develop, and continue building upon where we currently are. It takes brokenness to create change and create progress. It takes realizing your brokenness to appreciate how far you’ve come. A few very impactful quotes and facts popped up as I was doing some research for this blog:


“God uses broken things. It takes broken soil to produce a crop, broken clouds to give rain, broken grain to give bread, broken bread to give strength. It is the broken alabaster box that gives forth perfume. It is Peter, weeping bitterly, who returns to greater power than ever.” – Vance Havner


“A seed has to crack and break to grow”


“In Japan, broken objects are often repaired with gold. The flaw is seen as a unique piece of the object’s history, which adds to its beauty.”



You see, oftentimes we may find ourselves broken down, truly questioning what we’re doing, where we’re going, and even how we do each of our actions. Sometimes we may be at a complete standstill, unsure of what to do or where to go next. If your me, you may be struggling with finding the passion to do what you want to do. 


Whatever brokenness you’re feeling isn’t permanent, it won’t last forever, and it doesn’t make you any less worthy. Your brokenness is a chance to appreciate where you are, where you have been, and where you’re going. Your brokenness is an opportunity to truly recognize your potential and begin growing. Your brokenness is a part of your unique history. Your brokenness is truly beautiful. 


Allow yourself to recognize your brokenness – to truly investigate yourself and where you are. Appreciate the beauty of your broken state and begin planning how you’ll let your brokenness fuel you to accomplish so much more. And finally, in a few weeks, a few months, or a few years, look back at your period of brokenness and smile at how far you’ve come. 


In a beautiful broken state, 

Abby Stuckwisch