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