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