Wednesday, August 25, 2021

Plants and People

Jungle life. That’s the closest thing I can compare living in the state officer house to. Plants crowd the tables, corners, and have started to overtake our front porch. Now, this doesn’t come as a surprise considering Jeremiah and I have a small obsession with the plant kind. We even added plants to our fish bowl. 

While these plants are some of the cutest decorations, there are a lot of lessons to learn from them. 

Water and Vitamin D

Growing up, my mom would always tell me to drink some water and go outside any time I would start to get irritated. She’d tell me that I need to treat myself like the plants in my room. In all honesty, we need just as much water and sunlight as those plants because we all know seasonal depression is a real thing. 


We hear about growth a lot, both in character and physically. Some plants grow at a rapid rate, others can take years to grow. One thing I’ve learned is that there is no set pace for growth, and it will even change according to what season of life you’re in. There are even times where you’ll blossom, but remember that blooms don’t last forever- and that’s okay. 

Get Dirty

Repotting plants has become one of the most therapeutic activities ever. Getting dirt under your fingernails, breaking apart the roots, then taking off any dead leaves (small tip: don’t do it on the kitchen table with Nicholas in the house). Be sure to take those moments to get dirty. Soak up those moments where you can act like a kid- those are the best mental breaks. 

Losing Leaves

As plants grow they lose leaves when they don’t help the plant anymore. It’s okay to lose some of your own leaves: friends, hobbies, talents. It’s even okay to grow some new ones. 

Even though plants seem pretty far from being like people, we do have some similarities. So, run on over to your favorite greenhouse, get a plant, and learn a couple lessons yourself. 

Still plant obsessed,


Wednesday, August 18, 2021

Life is a Balancing Act

As the 2021-22 school year begins for many students across Indiana, it has made me reflect upon my highschool career and realize just how hectic it had been. Everyday my time was split between what felt like fifteen different things: FFA, academics, sports, clubs, extracurriculars, baking, family, friends. After school I would have Livestock Skillathon Practice until 5. But I had to leave early to get to soccer practice by 4:30. And then I had to go to the barn to work with my dairy heifers. And then I had to be home to bake a cake for an order that I had taken. And then I would have to go home and do homework for two or three hours. And then and then and then. 

Every single day felt like a continuous “and then.” I was stuck in a cycle of taking too much on with too little time. It was draining. It led to burnout. Because of this, I had a horrible case of senioritis. I did not want to do school work during the day, so I didn’t. You would see me in Mrs. Brashaber’s calculus class working on FFA stuff almost every single day. Because of this, I would do almost six hours of calculus the night before the test so that I could teach myself the lessons. (I would strongly discourage doing this. It led to a slight energy drink addiction and was so much more difficult than just paying attention in class lol). 

While I did enjoy my highschool career, it was not fulfilling. By constantly focusing on what was coming next (the “and then”), I often forgot to live in the moment. Accomplishments in high school did not register in my brain because they were simply something to check off my to-do list. I was living an unbalanced life: one that was focused on the future and not the present. 

My entire highschool career I struggled finding a balance between academics, FFA, and athletics. As you are beginning this new school year, I would encourage you to try and find that balance. Find a balance in which you are truly happy with your life and what you have accomplished. I will not tell you to prioritize academics. I will not tell you to prioritize FFA. I will not tell you to prioritize athletics. Instead, I would encourage you to remember your limits and realize that life is a balancing act. 

Finding a Balance,

Nicholas Neuman

Wednesday, August 11, 2021

Advice from the Most Random Place

When I was growing up my family didn’t have streaming services. We tried to get Netflix once but our wifi was too slow for streaming shows and it was not until very recently that we upgraded our wifi to manageable levels. Because of this, I missed out on some of the most popular shows out there. I never watched the Office, Yellowstone, or countless other icons. So when I got elected to state office- and had access to every streaming service you can imagine, thanks to my wonderful teammate- I knew it was time to start catching up. While I have watched the shows I mentioned I quickly became obsessed with the series Criminal Minds. I do not know what got me hooked whether it was the cast or the brain-stumping mysteries, but I do know that pretty soon I started thinking like the characters from the show. I was analyzing different things and even had some weird dreams about solving crimes, but those are stories for another time. I did notice that I started picking up some pretty great advice from the show. 

First off was the idea of a team leader. In FFA we are often called upon to be leaders. In Criminal Minds, the team has its leader, Jason Gideon. Surprisingly enough he’s taught me some important things about being a good leader. First off is that you have to listen to the advice of others. In the show, Gideon will lead his team into a crime scene to start profiling a killer. Of course, he has his perception of the killer but always asks what his teammates' opinions are first. He realized that to be a good leader you need to listen to what your team has to say. Similarly in FFA when leading others we need to ask what their opinions are. Their strengths will help cover our weaknesses and lead to a better job. 

This leads me to the next point, learning opportunities can come from anywhere. After asking his team for their opinions he gives his own opinion on a crime. But instead of just telling them he helps them to understand where he is coming from. Oftentimes it is the small things that he catches and teaches the others to catch as well. Most of the time by the end of the episode the other detectives are using the same techniques that Gideon just taught them. Again this advice is very prevalent in our FFA careers. While activities like our SAEs, CDEs, and LDEs, and conferences are great ways to learn, FFA is full of those small opportunities to learn. Oftentimes through small interactions with other members, we learn so much. But not only in FFA, in life in general. I know back in high school that I had teachers who when asked a question would answer with their own so that you would have to find the answer out. While I always disliked this, looking back it was those small learning experiences that taught me the most.

That leads me to my last point. The smallest things are often the most important. In almost every episode the criminal is caught because of small details. Oftentimes it takes the entire episode to discover the detail but it has a serious impact on the case. Just like how we can learn so much from the small interactions with other members, those same members can be impacted by the small things that we do. This impact can go either way. Either we can inspire, encourage, and make others happy. Or our small actions can make others sad, discouraged, and lonely. 

When I started watching criminal minds I had no expectations to learn lessons that I would use in my state officer year. But the more I watched the more I learned. Some of the best advice I have found is from the most unlikely places. 

With more stories, 
Tyler Kilmer

Wednesday, August 4, 2021

Accepting Change

This past year, I was given the opportunity to give an address to my class before we walked
across the stage to receive our diplomas and graduate. In the past, this speech was centered
around a specific quote that shared the message the speaker wanted to send. So, I figured that
I would start by deciding on a quote, and work from there, but that didn’t quite work out in my
favor. Now, I’ve never really had a problem writing speeches, it’s always come pretty natural to
me; however, for some reason, as I was preparing to speak at my graduation, I simply couldn’t
put any words on paper. I was stuck.

Eventually, it got too close to time to dilly dally any longer – I had to decide on a quote and get
writing. I forced myself to sit at my computer to google “good quotes” and read until my eyes
couldn’t take it anymore. After a few sessions of quote hunting, I finally found the one I was
looking for. I began to cry as I read the words of this beautiful quote and realized how personal
it was to me and those I was graduating with.

“There comes a day when you realize turning the page is the best feeling in the world – because
you realize there is so much more to the book than the page you were stuck on."

After I read these words, I was set on using them as the basis for my speech on graduation day.
I took some time to sit down with a friend and my mom and brainstorm the different directions
I could take this speech, and finally, I settled on one. I quickly realized that I wasn’t just
addressing the members of my class, but also our parents, teachers, community members, and
most of all, myself. It was at that moment that it really set in that my life was about to change
drastically, and it was finally time to accept that change, take my life by the horns, and start
paving the direction I wanted my life to go. So, that’s exactly what I put in my speech.

As a graduating senior, I was terrified of not knowing what my life was going to look like in the
next year, next month, or even the next couple weeks. I was running for state office and didn’t
know if I would be moving away from home in June to be an officer or in August as I attended
college. I didn’t know whether to prepare myself for a year of service to Indiana FFA or for a
year of education at Purdue University. To say I was terrified, is an understatement. However,
as I was writing and giving my speech, I quickly realized just how much I had been dragging my
feet and avoiding the acceptance of change.

It was time. Time to love the experiences and opportunities I had in high school and get ready
for whatever was about to come my way. Time to appreciate the relationships I had formed
and begin building new ones. Time to learn from the hardships I had and prepare to risk my
time in new adventures.

Although change may be scary and could very well terrify you, I would encourage you to take a
look at where you are in life. Are you putting off change because you’re afraid? Are you waiting
for “just the right time” that will never come? What are you putting off? When you figure that
out, muster up as much courage as you can and face the change you’re embarking on. It may
just be the best decision of your life.

With love and confidence,