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: I’d love to chat about the opportunities available through our organization. You can also find more information here:

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