Wednesday, June 22, 2022

With All Our Love

Home. Family. Friends. Love. That is what you all gave our team this year. You opened your homes to us during our travels. You showed us your families, even bringing us in as honorary members. You called us friends, showing us the many types and kinds. But, most importantly, you all showed us love. You showed us love as we traversed the Hoosier state. You showed us love for our flaws, you showed us we can be ourselves, and that we have a home in each of you. You all have been our family for a year, but will remain that for the rest of our lives. We love you. 



Oh, how wonderful it is to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard. You all have left an impact, forever on my heart. No matter where life takes each of us after this year, we are going to travel through life carrying the lessons and love you gave each of us. You all extended your arms, wide open with understanding, during any tough time we had this year. You all have become our life support. For that, we say thank you. You are our pulse.

Ever thankful,
Kourtney Otte
2021-2022 State President



53 chapters. Over the past year, I have felt the pulse of 53 different chapters. Thank you to Argos FFA, Prairie Heights FFA, North Decatur FFA, Oak Farm Montessori FFA, and all of the chapters that welcomed me as a friend instead of just as a state officer. Thank you for taking me to every corner of Indiana and finding friends along the way. Thank you for showing me the value of authenticity. Thank you for allowing me to serve you this year. Indiana FFA, thank you.

Forever grateful,
Nicholas Neuman
2021-2022 State Secretary


It has truly been a pleasure working with you. I will forever cherish all the people I met and the memories I made. Reflecting back on this year there's been one lesson that has stuck out to me. It is that no matter how small of an interaction you had with someone you left an impact. So many times I had members come up to me and say "You probably don't remember when we talked about..." and most of the time I did remember. It was the small interactions that people remember. Those conversations that you had that in the moment might not seem big but later they get brought back up as a positive impact on someone. Once I realized this I began to see it everywhere. Members that I had one interaction with remembered exactly who I was, what we had done together, and what I said to them. So my biggest piece of advice is to remember those small moments because others do. And those small impacts go even further when they are remembered.

With lots of love,
Tyler Kilmer
2021-2022 State Northern Region Vice President



Wow, what a truly crazy and unforgettable year it has been. I feel truly lucky and honored to have served each and every one of you this year. YOU are the heart of FFA and it is YOU that fills this organization with the PULSE of life. A few reminders: you are kind, you are smart, you are important - never forget that. Thank you for being YOU and allowing me to serve you this year.

With love,
Abby Stuckwisch
2021-2022 State Southern Region Vice President 



Indiana FFA - thank you for showing me that who I am is what this world needs. Throughout this past year, I have met some amazing members who have turned into my best friends. Thank you for the endless amount of love and being my fire during those chapter visits, banquets, and small interactions. Thank you to my mentors, family, and friends who have been by my side throughout the 365 days serving this outstanding organization. Indiana FFA - thank you for showing me I. AM. ENOUGH.


Much love,

Jordyn Wickard

2021-2022 State Treasurer




Indiana FFA, thank you for believing in me more than I ever believed in myself. Thank you for all the vulnerable moments that made every moment of this year more than worth it. I appreciate the friendships that were made and the laughs that were had. Each of you amazed me and made me thankful I got to meet you. I am forever grateful for this opportunity. Never stop reaching for your goals because you are so worthy.

Signing off,
Madisen Carns
2021-2022 State Sentinel


Please never forget the impact you all have left on us. You are the pulse of our organization, the future leaders, job seekers, and change makers of Agriculture. Now, go forward and show everyone you meet the home, family, friends, and love you've shown each person here.

Wednesday, May 25, 2022

A Letter to Little Me

Dear Little Me, 


You have a pretty wild future ahead of you. You’ll meet people that will change your life for the better, and some not so much. There will be times that life is so amazing you can’t imagine it any other way, and the opposite will happen just as much. You’ll find out who you are as a person, no matter how crazy that sounds. Over those years you’ll learn a lot of lessons, ones that made you feel all kinds of emotions. Here are a few you learned: 


  • When it’s time to lead, it’s not about you but the people being led. You really struggled with this idea for a while. You had your goals and wanted to achieve them, so you viewed leadership as one extra step to get you to where you wanted to be. Thankfully you don’t think that way anymore. Take steps to do only what a leader should do- communication and teaching others to grow as leaders. 


  • Don’t be afraid to take a step back. I know that sounds horrible, you think you have to constantly be doing something to be something, but your mental health would thank you. Same goes for those around you, they need to have the same opportunities as you, and if you keep taking them they can’t. Not doing something doesn’t make you less of a person, if anything it will make you a better one (as long as it’s giving someone else the chance to grow). A good rule of thumb to remember is that it doesn’t matter the quantity of what you do, but the quality. 


  • Not everyone will love how you approach things, and with that not everyone will love you. This was a lesson you had to learn the hard way. Of course, people’s opinions of you still matter way more than they should, but you need to realize that everyone likes a different cup of tea, and you won’t always be theirs. With that, you’ll have to work with different people and change how you work with them, make sure you understand that before diving into a new officer team. 


  • Don’t be afraid to crush that comfort zone. One day you’ll hear an author talk on the radio, his one bit of advice sticking with you. While his name and what book he had written didn’t, this statement did: “Your favorite sound should be the sound of your comfort box ripping open.” Throughout the next few years in FFA you’ll hear officers say that “there isn’t growth in a comfort zone and there isn’t comfort in a growth zone.” Make sure to take that extra step when at a conference or meeting a new person, take a contest you're not sure about, interview for a new office you don’t think you can get. Break down the comfort zone and then go again. 


  • Listen more than you talk. Cliché, I know, but it’s true. You’ll end up learning so much about people and end up forming a closer bond. You might even find someone that’s going through a similar thing, or someone that’s just like you. 


  • Do not jump to a conclusion about someone before you know them. Duh. But for real, you only see a couple minutes of a person, and that couple minutes can be the worst time in that person’s day or even the best. All that jumping to conclusions does is ruin a relationship that could have been a great one. 


  • Be vulnerable. No matter if it’s to friends, officers, or even members… do it. Don’t try to keep the image up that you’re a perfect person and that you can handle everything (we both know it’s not true). Those connections that you form with people, when they realize that you’re human too, are truly unmatched. You’ll end up learning more about others than you expected too. 


  • Be yourself. There is only one you in this world. There is only one of you that can do what you do, so do not ever compare yourself to others. Every single person you’ll ever meet will bring their own ideas and personality to whatever you are doing, make sure you’re bringing yourself too. No matter how hard it is to fall into the trap of picking apart yourself, it’s not worth it.  


Those are all things I wish I could tell my younger self. I’m sure we all have lessons that we wish we could have learned sooner, and more times than not we end up telling others about them so they can learn from our mistakes. So, I suppose, this letter is for you. Of course, take it for what it’s worth, but do try to look back at your own life and the lessons you wish you could have learned sooner.


With all the love,
Kourtney

Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Fight For Your Fire

Below I have written two variations of this blog. Read the one that most speaks to you. Read the one that you need to hear. *insert fire emoji*


VERSION A:

My grandmother LOVES hosting parties and events. It seems like my family is at her house at least once a week to celebrate a birthday, graduation, or something else. And the INSTANT that Labor Day hits, she is all white pants and outdoor parties. It is basically a crime to be inside whilst at her house because she paid for a big patio and fire pit so we will be using it. Some of my fondest memories are of my entire family congregating around the fire pit to roast marshmallows and hotdogs. To sit, chill, and relax with the people that I love.



When I got State Office, I was happy to see that my teammates had this same fondness for fire pits and marshmallow roasting. You will find us singing along to the music blaring through my speaking while huddled around the fire. Marshmallows flying, graham crackers crumbling. In summer, the fire became the heart of our team. Fire has represented the heart of our little family.


WARNING: Now, I’m going to geek out on you all a little bit. (DISCLAIMER: I’ve read all of the Percy Jackson Books 8 times over. I’m basically a professor on Greek mythology. Listen to me; I’m a pro). In Greek mythology, fire was a sacred thing. It was first given to the human world by the Titan Prometheus. He defied the gods, stole the fire from their ancient heart on Mount Olympus, and gifted it to mankind. This gift of fire was the center of both the mortal and celestial world. So, Hestia was named the goddess of the hearth. Now for those that have not studied ancient Greek mythology like me, a hearth is comparable to a fireplace/pit. But it represented so much more than just a fireplace. The hearth was the center point of the home and family. The fire was where people gathered to talk politics, create treaties, and discuss the future. It was the place where families gathered for meals, stories, and quality time. 


Throughout my entire life, I have had people at my hearth. Whether it be my parents, siblings, nieces, aunts, uncles, grandparents, or cousins, I have always had people sitting with me around the fire. They are my friends, advisors, and support system. This year, I have realized that the most important people in our lives are gathered around our fires. Appreciate those at your fire, but take it a step further. Bring light to the work of those around your fire. Fight for those at your hearth. Every single day, advocate for those at your fire. Commit time to them. Be a listening ear for them. Support them in their endeavors. Every single day, fight for your fire. 


VERSION B:

A convo between Jordyn and I: 

“Tell me my red flags” “No, you don’t want to hear them” “Okay, I must be perfect then :)” “Ahahaha that’s funny, you are way too persistent and pushy. It could be considered a red flag.” “Bruh, that kinda hurt”


Time and time again, I have been told that I am too pushy. And I am. 10000%. I recognize that, but I do not apologize for it. Earlier this month, the state officer team was given the opportunity to go to DC to advocate on Capitol hill (thank you to Farm Credit Mid-America for making that possible!!!). We did touristy things, we met with American Farm Bureau, we ate ice cream, and we met with our legislators. (two of those things are very important, you decide which two ;) You see, many Indiana legislators have an understanding of agriculture, but they often don’t see where the interest in agriculture begins. It begins in the 300+ agricultural education classrooms in Indiana. It begins with FFA/4-H contests. It begins when youth in agriculture are given a voice. And it was our job as state officers to convey that to our legislators. I think we did a pretty good job conveying that message.



After we met with Congressman Pence, Abby Stinkwisch turned to me and said “we came on wayyy too strong.” And I see where she is coming from. During the meeting, Pence looked at us and was just insistent that we had practiced beforehand. We had not. But, we were persistent throughout. Persistent that agricultural education is the solution to the labor shortage within agriculture. Persistent that continued support for career and technical education is continued support for the future. I was persistent (and slightly pushy). Because I LOVE talking about this kind of stuff. This is where my passions lie. 


You see, I am pushy about things that set my heart on fire. And I will continue to be. Because, they are fuel for the fire of my soul. I would be SOOO bored with life if I couldn’t continue to advocate for the topics and issues that ignite me. Every single person has issues that they are passionate about. From education and reform to sports and media. It can be so easy to see this passionate persistence as a red flag. But NEVER apologize for the passions that fuel your fire. Instead, advocate for your fire. Every single day, fight for your fire. 


Forever Fighting for my Fire,

Nicholas Neuman


Wednesday, May 11, 2022

Life’s Greatest Lesson



    When you run for state office one of the things people tell you about is all the opportunities that you will have. Every one talks about the people you get to meet and the impact that you will have on them. Personally I couldn’t agree more. I think one of the biggest benefits I’ve found as a state officer is the people you get to meet. But those people that I’ve met aren’t just from state office, but they are all from FFA. Because while we focus on the people we meet as state officers those opportunities are similar to those that everyday members get to experience. I think that these interactions can be split into two different categories. Those interactions for fun and those for business.

    Lets start with the business interactions that FFA members get. The first thing that comes to mind for me is the advocacy day at the state house during FFA week. This is the biggest time for members to meet important people. Anyone who’s experienced this day would agree that it’s a great opportunity to impact their legislators. The goal is to form connections with those making decisions. And that is the goal of FFA, to make connections. Those connections are one of the many benefits of being an FFA member.

    Those business connections go further than politicians. They extend to the local level as well. Throughout the state local chapters are supported by local businesses. Those local leaders and other professionals form connections with us that last a lifetime. For them that blue jacket we wear is exciting and promising. I think those connections are the most important. Those are the ones that are more personal and impactful. Those are the people who see you every day and will help you later. All of these business and political relationships we form as FFA members are important. Because those connections help you and others as long as you make them.

    The other groups is fun connections. These connections are the ones we make with other FFA members. We hear all the time about the close friendships that people make through FFA. I think the best part of these connections is the fact that they are from all across the state and nation. They help to expose us to cultures different from our own. While we might not always consider our far away friends from FFA our best friends they remember the connections that we form. I was reminded of this the other day when a past state officer form Delaware told us about the Indiana state officer he met five years ago and still knew her name. Those fun connections help keep FFA fun. They are the reason that people look forward to state and national events. To see who they are going to meet next. 

    I think if I’ve learned one thing from state officer it’s to cherish the connections that you make. The business ones are important because they will help you and you are impacting them. And the fun relationships are just as important because they are the foundation of our organization. We are a student lead group and we work best when connections form within the students. FFA is a place for connections to form. And I think one of the best things to learn from FFA is how to form those connections and how to use them later. Because that is the best life advice FFA can give.


Living, 
Tyler Kilmer

Wednesday, May 4, 2022

Re-Introducing Me

One of my absolute favorite movies growing up was the Camp Rock movie series. Now, if
you’ve never watched it, here’s your sign – GO WATCH IT IMMEDIATELY! In the second movie,
Camp Rock 2: The Final Jam, Nick Jonas (the best of the three brothers) sings a pretty great
song to his crush. I mean, who wouldn’t be swooned?! Check it out here.
Now, what I like the most about this song is how absolutely transparent he is about everything
that makes him who he is. While most of his song remains surface level, it made me start
thinking about what makes me, me. So, it’s time to re-introduce myself.
“Hi, I’m Abby – a stubborn, goofy, crazy gal who is constantly badgering other people for
entertainment. You can find me randomly dancing, asking a million questions, shopping at
Dollar Tree, or almost drowning (I’m bad at swimming, like really bad). I love all things dairy –
including, but not limited to, Ben & Jerry’s Half-Baked ice cream, Chick-fil-A mac and cheese,
and all types of cheeses – even if I may be a little lactose intolerant. I absolutely love fruits, but
don’t even try to give them to me when their baked. I know absolutely nothing about classic
movies, I’m terrible at video games, and have a weird obsession with the flavor of peppermint. I
also have another habit that I’m trying to quit – diet coke. My favorite time of year is the single
day when you wake up and it’s like spring came out of nowhere – its literally gorgeous. While
my dream career may be agriculture education, I also have an extreme passion for interior
design and all things HGTV.”
While that may have been a bit chaotic, these are the things that make me who I am and who
I’m proud to be. As I made this list, I realized that with each item listed, I smiled. I smiled
because it is without a doubt, without hesitation, me. At the same time, however, I began to
realize how many of these things a lot of people in my life don’t know. Sure, we all know I LOVE
diet coke and most of us know that I’m pretty goofy; but, how many people reading this blog
knew every single item on this list? From my guesses, very few.
Throughout my lifetime, I can say that I’ve been pretty guilty of holding very surface-level
conversations when meeting someone for the first time. Although I love to talk, I don’t always
go too deep and I don’t always share a lot about what makes me, me. While I wish I could tell
you why, I don’t really know. But here’s what I will tell you – I wish more than anything that I
would’ve committed from the start to having intentional conversations to truly get to know
others and fully let them know me. Although I’ve been watching Nick Jonas in Camp Rock 2 for
many years now, I didn’t let his song sink in until now. While there may be some things we
don’t want others to know, there is plenty about ourselves we can share that people would
love to know. With transparent conversation comes a new level of connection and friendship –
one that we all could use a little more of.
As I have now reintroduced myself to every one of you, I have a little request. I would love to be
reintroduced to the real person shining in each of you – something I’ve likely missed along the
way. Compile your own list of characteristics, attributes, likes, dislikes, etc., and send them my
way! You can send them to my Instagram (@abbystuckwisch), my email (srvp@inffa.org), or

post them on Instagram or Facebook and tag me! It’s time to truly “Re-Introduce Ourselves” to
the people in our lives and get to know them deeper.
Re-Introducing Me,
Abby Stuckwisch

Wednesday, April 27, 2022

Be the Energy

My team and I are constantly doing something random in the house. However, Abby and I are the ones doing the most bizarre things at the most bizarre times of the day. I want to let you all in on some of the crazy things the team and I have done.


A couple weeks ago, Abby and I were working on a project together. Knowing our two personalities, we started to get side tracked, and were eventually upside down on the couch. Our teammates decoded to flip said couch as we were upside down. Now, this may have hurt, but the smiles on our face made all the pain disappear.



Kourtney, Abby, and I were at Hobby Lobby the other day, and found these half sphere shaped styrofoam. I decided to set it on top of my head, and then Kourtney and Abby followed. We ended up laughing SUPER hard and had a blast on a simple trip to grab some supplies.



Nicholas, Abby, and I were in the office this week and it was pretty late. We all had our nose to the grindstone, working on our tasks for the Indiana FFA State Convention. Abby and I made eye contact, and immediately knew what was about to happen. We joined hands and spun in a circle, screaming, smiling, and laughing. Nicholas eventually joined us, and we had smiles from ear to ear. 



In all of these moments, the energy was always there. We all have this feeling of happiness we want to share with others. I know when I am surrounded with those who give off a vibe of positivity and encouragement. Be the person you would spend hours around - be the energy you want to attract. 


Positive energy only,

Jordyn Wickard


Wednesday, April 20, 2022

Making Time to Recharge

One thing this year has really shown me is how important it is for me to see family. We do not have an over abundance of time to go home to see people, so some of my family does not see me as often. Easter was an amazing time for me. I was able to go home and see all of my family in one place. We got to enjoy some good food and spend the holiday together.

As we gathered around my dining room table, we had loads of food to eat. We sat for hours eating and then talking about all the small things we needed to catch up on. Once my family had gotten up to leave and started packing left overs, I did not want them to go. I wanted to tell them to just sit back down and they could leave later. I even tried distracting them by keeping more conversations going. I just felt like I had just seen them and now they were leaving.

This made me realize how I had been lacking something very important to me. It showed me that my best way to recharge was being around the people who care the most about me. I had sacrificed my time with them and it ultimately damaged a lot of my personal health. Because of this, I think it is important we all can identify ways that we recharge. It is so important that we take the time to bring ourselves into a balance between work and personal life. My balance was seeing my family. What will you do to find your balance?




Finding Time,

Madisen Carns


Wednesday, April 13, 2022

Finding Meaning in 5, 4, 3, 2, 1

5 seconds. Each story can be summarized in 5 seconds. Don’t believe me? Give it a try. In the interest of time, I have written out an OFFICIAL example. “Jordyn and Abby were being annoying. I was trying to work on writing Star scripts. I threw a Rushville FFA plush owl at Jordyn. Point: Don’t be annoying.” (Picture of Jordyn slapping said owl like a maniac). While this mayyyyy be an exaggeration, I’ve learned over these past two weeks that quite literally everything can be summed up in 5 seconds. 





Recently, I had the opportunity to attend a virtual training with Mr. Jason Wetzler: a past National Officer from Oregan and an iconic inspirational speaker and motivator. Over our Zoom call, we talked about telling stories. Now, I’ve always struggled with finding stories to tell. Nothing in my life has seemed that interesting or exciting. Except the time my brothers earnotched me like a pig :).  But, Jason argued that every single day has a story to tell. Every single day has a 5 second moment that we can learn from. Being quite competitive, I took that as a challenge. I was going to find meaning in those meaningless 5 seconds that he was talking about. And so I began to make a 5 second journal entry every single day. 


Entry 1: “Pop (my dad) didn’t realize that I wasn’t home until noon. I guess the world does not revolve around me *eyeroll*”

Entry 2: “Mommom (grandmother) and Kristen were surprised by the number of people texting them about Daddo (grandfather). There are more people in our corners than we believe.”

Entry 3: “When a person dies, hundreds go to their visitation. It is so important to cherish the relationships in life.”


On Wednesday, March 30th 2022, my grandfather lost his fight with Leukemia. It wasn’t until his funeral that I truly realized what Jason Wetzler had been talking about. Because no matter who I was speaking to or what we were talking about, it all came back to “your grandfather was a lifelong educator.” His entire life summed up in 5 seconds. All 47 years of his teaching and all 79 years of his life, summed up in 5 seconds. 





And I understand that thinking about our life in 5 seconds can be scary. So don’t think about it. Easy. But ask yourself, “Am I appreciating the 86,400 seconds in every single day?” The answer, I would assume, is no. But I am confident that at least 5 seconds of that day had something worth remembering. So I challenge you to think about the meaningless moments: the time you are just chilling on the couch, when you are working, hanging out with your family, grocery shopping. These are the moments that you would normally forget. But it is these moments that have the most potential for meaning. Because every single thing we do has a story and a lesson. To find real meaning in your life, appreciate what seems meaningless. Find Meaning in the 5 Seconds. 


Finding Meaning,

Nicholas Neuman


Wednesday, April 6, 2022

Setting Your Soul on Fire

Have you ever felt so passionate about something that it feels like your body is on fire? That words are being pulled from your heart the second you start talking about it? They bubble up your throat, leaving a sugary coating on your tongue and a fuzzy feeling in your head? It’s like you're so unbelievably encapsulated by this one topic that everything seems brighter?


This might seem like something crazy, achievable even. But, this is how I feel every time I talk about architecture, or books, or about issues facing teachers and agriculture. All of this seemingly pulls itself from my heart when I find someone willing to listen. It sends electricity to my fingers, pulling my hands in a million directions, just so I can fully convey the white hot excitement it causes. 


Now, this feeling hasn’t always been there. It hasn’t always shown up when I talked about something I liked. Very rarely would I feel that, especially in high school. You see, I continually bogged myself down with things I merely liked, or found slight interest in… and I got burned out. I hated showing up to meetings, I refrained from making friends solely because I hated the club. I pushed off doing work that was critical to the events I signed up for. 


I completely lost myself.


Then, somehow, it showed up. This burning feeling rose from my toes to the top of my head every time a new issue facing educators came up. It exploded when I learned about Roman Architecture and art. It was a fire. 


A fire that shed light on who I was. Who I wanted to be. What I wanted to do. 


This fire lit up my soul. The world was bright again. Laughter started to sound like music. I appreciated the hustle of the city, the curvy roads of my hometown. I appreciated life again. 


I continuously find myself talking to anyone and everyone that is willing to sit and listen, going on and on with a smile so large that my cheeks hurt when I finally stop. 


We have things that we like. That we are merely interested in doing. Then we have these things that truly manage to set our soul on fire, they manage to restore life, bring the person we have always wanted to be to the surface.


So, what is something that truly sets your soul on fire? What brings that white hot fire to your entire body? What challenges your mind, and at the same time, softens your heart when you talk about it?


Find it. Share it. Love it. Truly set your soul on fire.


And as always, keep being awesome,

Kourtney



Wednesday, March 30, 2022

The Definition of True Success


This month I was really struggling with coming up with a blog topic. I tried looking up inspirational quotes, reading a book about tips for living your life, and some other things. I eventually found myself looking at a website of creative writing prompts. One such prompt was to flip to a random page in the dictionary and to define what one of the words on the page means to you. Under the prompt was a picture of a dictionary page and the prominent word was success, so I began thinking about what success was to me. My initial thought was that success was the same thing as achievement. It means to win or to accomplish something big. I think that this was my original definition of success. When I joined FFA my goal was to win.

I remember one of my first contests was the creed speaking leadership development event at the district level. I spent months practicing and was sure I was going to get first place. For me the only thing that was going to be considered a success was walking away with the biggest plaque. I ended up getting second place. For me this was the worst feeling ever, it made me sick to the stomach. Later in my FFA journey whenever I was asked what my biggest FFA failure was I would always answer with that experience. It wasn’t until my senior year when someone responded to my answer by asking why I thought getting second was a failure. They said that most kids would be proud of themselves for doing that good in their first public speaking contests. I began thinking of success as different then. 

The reason I didn’t consider second place as a success was because I was limiting what success was. I made it too specific, it was either fail or succeed with no inbetween. Success is more than just an end goal. It’s the journey that it takes to get there. Because I limited my success to first place only I didn’t consider the skills I’d learned, the confidence gained, or any of the things I had to overcome to get second a success. 

While trying to find a topic to talk about I read a lot of quotes about success. What I realized from all of them is that success is different for everyone. That’s been one of the hardest things to remember while being a state officer this year. For a lot of people getting last in a contest is still a success because at least they tried. For others not getting an office is success because they know what they need to improve upon for next year. It’s been hard to not fall back into my old mindset that success is only first place. I’ve found it interesting and helpful to look back at times when I have thought I failed and to find where I’ve actually succeeded, because that’s where I can find a true definition of success.


Still learning,
Tyler Kilmer

Wednesday, March 23, 2022

Life's A Little Messy


I can’t write a blog – I have no inspiration. So, what do I do? I clean the bathroom. Then my bedroom. Then the supply closet. And then the garage. Why? Don’t ask me, I just always have. 


For as long as I can remember, cleaning has been a way of coping for me. Whether I was bored, stressed, sad, or anxious, I would often turn to cleaning. Just this last week, while on spring break, I took an entire evening to fully go through my room, trashing what I didn’t need, organizing what I wanted to keep for now, and deep cleaning my entire space. Knowing I was headed back to the Leadership Center, I wanted to have my space clean and under control for the next time I was home. Then, as I made my way to the State Officer house earlier this week, I spent over an hour reorganizing my clothes, personal items, and desk. Why? I felt over-stressed about the coming weeks; I wanted to feel in control of my space. 


That’s just it – control. I always need a little bit of control. It’s just who I am. When I can’t control my schedule, unending busyness, the people around me, or even my emotions, I turn to my space. It’s always been something I CAN control. Now, I’m not saying I’m never messy or never have a dirty area, because trust me, it gets BAD sometimes. Life's a little messy sometimes. Yet, it’s by controlling this mess that I can finally feel better.


I’ve struggled with perfectionism, self-doubt, and anxious thoughts for a long time, but it really came to fruition my freshman year of high school. As I came to a new school, joined a whole new group of students, and took a lot of advanced classes, I quickly became extremely overwhelmed by life. I can remember finals week, sitting in the cafeteria with a table of friends, with my nose in a book, studying my heart out right before my history exam. One of my friends said something like, “Abby, stop studying, if you don’t know it now, you won’t know it in a bit.” I can remember the sinking feeling in my gut and the tears fill my eyes as I realized that this exam could make or break my grade, and I couldn’t control what I knew. 


While over organizing, deep cleaning, and constantly looking to control my space won’t necessarily heal what I’m going through, it does allow me to take a step back, refocus, and come at my problems with a new angle. I won’t sit here and tell you to just cover up your problems by overworking yourself day in and day out – trust me, I’ve been there. What I will tell you is that it is okay to find something that allows you to take a break and recharge so that you can better handle what you’re going through. For me its cleaning, but for you, it may be taking a walk, reading your favorite book, or watching an episode of your favorite show. Whatever it is, let yourself lean on that when times get tough. Don’t use it as an escape, but use it as a chance to take a breath. 


Your neat freak friend, 

Abby










Wednesday, March 16, 2022

HELP!


If you know me, you know I have plenty of embarrassing stories and quite a few blonde moments. I want to share one of those moments through this blog.


It was about 10:00 PM at the Indiana State Fair a couple years ago. My family had left a couple minutes before me, because I was chatting with some friends of mine, figuring out when each of us were going to be showing the next day. I finally said my goodbyes, and headed towards my car. I get in my car, and start making my way towards I-70 EAST. –keep this in mind.--

I pull up my google maps, because I don’t even want to take the chance of getting lost. 


“Turn right to merge on I-70 west.” That doesn’t sound right, but maybe it's just taking me a weird way. I follow what the directions say, until I realize this is most definitely NOT the right way. I wait to see if it will reroute me, but the service was not strong whatsoever. At this point, I am FREAKING OUT. I pull off at the nearest exit and call my parents. There was nowhere to park on the street, so I pulled off IN AN ALLEY (once again, not one of my finest moments). My parents finally answer and luckily, LIFE 360 saves the day. My parents guide me through how to get back on the interstate from where I am at, and I am finally on I-70 east.




Was I scared for my life during this situation? Yes. Did I think I was going to make it out alive? No, but that’s also my overdramatic side talking. However, it was because I was willing to ask for help that I made it out of the situation.


Have you ever had those moments in your life when you have tried to do everything on your own? Those moments when you refuse to ask for help because your ego has gotten in the way? Me too. I thought I could have gotten myself out of that situation with the interstate, but when you combine bad cell service and a blonde that isn’t very good with directions, things can sometimes get out of hand. Don’t be afraid to reach your hand out, because there will always be someone who is willing to help.


Always here to be a helping hand,

Jordyn Wickard

Wednesday, March 9, 2022

Overachiever, High Expectations

When you get into state office, you take this test called “Insights”. This tells you your top five qualities and at the top of mine was ACHIEVER. Now for some people this may have seemed like a really good thing. I got my work done and I never backed down to a challenge or new opportunity. What I did not realize until this year is that achiever can turn really toxic, really fast. 

I am not sure if I can really blame my need to be over involved in everything on something specific. Yes, I did fear that maybe I would not get into a good college if my extracurriculars did not look as good as they could. Maybe, I was afraid of letting down the people around me who love and support me. The truth was that I was afraid of being seen as a failure. 

So, I dove into EVERY SINGLE THING I could get ahold of. Vice President of National Honor Society, Secretary of Service Learning, Council Member of several clubs, President of my FFA chapter, then State Officer. Not to mention, I could not stand the sight of anything less than an A on my transcripts. This is not to brag but to tell you why this ended up tearing away the one thing that I really needed in my life. Relationships


Quite frankly, I could not keep a steady friendship for the life of me. It was never because those friendships ended poorly or that we got into fights. It was simply because my friendships only existed because of the things I was involved in. As soon as that specific activity ended, usually the friendship did as well. I never prioritized friends because I was too busy looking for my next big move towards success. Looking back on it now, I wish I had stayed in contact with more of these people as we continued to grow into the people we are now. 

What I am really trying to say is that, you should reach your goals but do not sacrifice people and other things along the way. Valedictorian, President, or any other title is not much fun if you are going at it alone. Drown yourself in the things that make you happy not just the things that might look good from the outside. High school ends, the friendships do not have to.


Still growing,
Madisen Carns

Wednesday, March 2, 2022

Random Acts of Kindness

Dandelions. 


They’re a small yellow flower that many people call a weed just because they grow where they aren’t supposed to. They are resilient, and adaptable to change. When they become the little white poofs that fill our lawn, children can make wishes on their seeds. 


Growing up, dandelions filled the yard of my grandmother's house. My sisters and cousins would run around attempting to find the one with the largest flower, the longest stem, the smallest one, and everything in between. We would make flower crowns, we’d gather bundles of them until our hands were stained green only to put them into a tiny glass in the house. 


In elementary school, we would find one or two growing through the cracks in the sidewalk, thriving in conditions that many flowers can not. 


You’re probably wondering why I’m telling you about these stupid little flowers. There’s two reasons. This morning, as I started to ponder what exactly I wanted to tell you all, my eyes drifted up to the corkboard sitting on my desk. Over the year it’s started to gather objects- there’s a polaroid or two, a couple school guest stickers, a kind note, and lots of plant stickers. But, in the very corner, there’s a card that says, “There’s no one else on earth like you.”


I’ve looked at that card a million times, but what struck this time was the wilted dandelion hanging above it. 





During National Convention, back in October, I was waiting outside the Steak and Shake there in Indy. The day had been long, draining, I just wanted to go to bed. 30 minutes pass, still in line, no food insight. Just when I started to get annoyed I felt a tap on my shoulder. This girl, with a cheetah print shirt and bell bottoms, slides this tiny dandelion into my hair and says, “Those jeans look great on you.” 


It took 2 seconds for the whole exchange to be done. I never saw her again. 


She took two seconds to do a small act of kindness that she probably didn’t take a second to think about. This little flower that she planned on taking back home for herself, she just gave to some random person on the street because she liked their jeans. But, it changed the trajectory of my entire night. The annoyance that was building because of sleep deprivation and the wait for food started to fade away. 


These small acts of kindness can cause change for others. They make bad moments good. They chase away the thoughts that eat away at our head. They create good. 


I challenge you to go out and create good. Tell someone they look nice today, pick up some trash, give a thumbs up to someone who looks like they’re struggling. You never know who might need it.  


Wednesday, February 16, 2022

Walk with Purpose. Speak with Passion.

I can be SOOOO annoying. When I was a freshman at Rushville, I received our “Leader of the Month” award for (and I quote) “always walking through the ag building with purpose.” Literally, what does that mean? IDK. In the moment, I didn’t really care though. I was so proud of myself and happy to be recognized. Upon reflection, I definitely think that it was a kind way for my advisors to call me annoying and persistent. (see freshman Nicholas below) But still, little Nicholas began to use that as his life motto: walk with purpose. Because I have found that it is those people that walk with purpose that are the most successful. 


Recently, the state officers had the distinct pleasure to speak with Isabella Chism, one of the most powerful women we have ever met. Despite not having a college degree or growing up with an agricultural background, she found her way to a position of influence as the 2nd Vice President of IN Farm Bureau. (Honestly, I wish she would give a TedTalk. She is that cool.) Mrs. Chism was elected to her position because of her drive and passion for INFB. She held herself with distinction; she walked with purpose. Be like Isabella Chism. Walk with purpose.



Last week, Tyler and I had the opportunity to speak with Melissa Miller (an FFA Icon) on Shine 99 radio and Hoosierland TV.  During the interview, she asked us why we became involved with FFA. A pretty basic question tbh. My answer though? That FFA was a cohort of passionate people. When I was in school, I often did not see eye to eye with many of my classmates. They simply didn’t have the same values or goals that I did. However, it was the people within FFA that saw and understood my passions. They saw further than a football game or a homework assignment or a television show. They saw opportunity. 


With National FFA Week quickly approaching (*in Tom’s voice from Parks and Rec* “the best week of the year”), FFA members have the unique opportunity to use their voice to advocate for what they are passionate about. Do you think many students have the chance to advocate with legislators (this is a shameless plug for Advocacy Day at the Indiana Statehouse. Check it out.)? No. Do you think many students give statements to their local press? No. Do you think that many students plan and execute entire events? NO. But, FFA members do; FFA creates students that know how to use their voice and how to self-advocate. I challenge you to use your platform, as a student, as a leader, as an athlete, to advocate for what you believe in. Speak with passion.


Do I realize that my passion can be pushy? Do I acknowledge that others do not understand my persistence? Oh yeah. Like I said, annoyingggg. Just ask my team or my parents or my teachers or my advisors. And yet, it is that purpose, passion, and persistence that have led me here today. It is by never stopping to think about what can’t be done. It is by being confident in my values and persistent in my goals. That is why I am proud of the life that I have created. As we enter National FFA week, I challenge you to believe in your own power. Walk with purpose; speak with passion.


Forever walking with purpose,

Nicholas Neuman