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

Wednesday, February 9, 2022

A Day of Fun

One of the most interesting things about living in the mid-west is the weather. One day you can be outside in jeans in a t-shirt enjoying 60 degree weather and the next you're snowed in. That's exactly what happened last weekend. The week leading up to it we were getting ready for LDW. Hoping that it wouldn’t be cancelled by the forecasted blizzard. We were able to take walks outside and it was hard to believe that they were already about to cancel our conference. That Wednesday they cancelled the camp and us state officers got ready to hunker down in the house. All Thursday it snowed. Multiple times throughout the day Abby would ask the team if we could go sledding. Each time we told her to wait until it stopped snowing or to wait till tomorrow. Tomorrow came and with it the snow left. It was time to go sledding. 

Now if you’ve ever been to the FFA Center then you know that the lake has a dam on the back. On the opposite side of the dam is a big slope into the woods. Many past teams had told us of their own adventures sledding down the back of the dam. We had heard stories of people getting hurt and of the fun they had. Over the years my family has come down to the center in the winter and if it snowed then we would go sledding down the damn. So I knew how much fun we as a team were about to have but the rest were just getting started. There’s something else to note about past teams who have gone sledding. They left behind two different types of sleds. The first are the fast ones. Past teams must have had it down to a science on which sleds were fast because there were a few that flew down the hill. The other type of sled is the rag tag sled. Whatever they could find was used. One such example was what looked like the bucket of a wheelbarrow. It also might have been a cattle waterer but either way it definitely wasn't a sled. 

That Friday we spent hour after hour going down the hill. Once we had a path made in the snow the sleds really started to go. I do want to paint a better image of what was happening at the hill. The dam is actually two hills. So you can get speed on the first and then you ramp off the second. At the bottom is a small pond and a creek. You have about 15 feet from the bottom of the hill to water. Also at the bottom of a hill is a catcher. The catcher’s job is to body-slam the sledder so they don’t go into the water. 

That Friday was amazing. Not just because of the amazing sledding but because of my team. The entire day we were laughing and having fun. Personally that was the best team bonding that we have had since before Christmas. A lot has gone on with Indiana FFA and as a team we needed that fun. While we were bummed about not having LDW I now think that it was a blessing in disguise.

Wednesday, February 2, 2022

Stay Determined

1 girl. 1 kite. 1 fan. 7 extension cords. And no wind. What does this add up to?

A child flying a kite

Description automatically generated with medium confidence

Yep, that’s me….you’re probably wondering how I got here. Flying a kite with the power of a single box fan. Honestly, what was I thinking? It was probably something like this:

“I’m bored. What can I do? I don’t know, I’m still bored. I’m going to see what we have in the garage. Oh look, a kite! I’m going to try to fly it. Oh shoot, there’s no wind. Well, I can’t fly a kite with no wind. But wait, we have a fan! That’s like wind. Dang, the cord isn’t long enough. Let me grab an extension cord…or 7.”

Soon after this series of unfortunate events, my mom stepped out on our front porch to sneak a quick picture. And boy, am I glad she did. As I look back on this day, I see a strong-willed, stubborn, hard-headed, and determined little girl. She was simply ready to take on the world. 

Now, I wonder, what changed? Where is that little girl who was determined to do ALL that she could? Well, she’s just a little hidden. Over the years that little girl became more and more worried about how she was viewed when she took on a new adventure. That little girl gained more anxiety about what would happen if she failed.  That little girl became embarrassed when things didn’t go quite how she expected. So now, it’s taking a little bit of work to find her again. 

And you know what? That’s okay. We all lose our way sometimes, including me. We can’t seem to find the passion, the drive, the determination we once had, and we have no idea where to start looking. Here’s the thing that makes it really tough: there’s no road map to determination, there’s no “X marks the spot” for drive, and there’s surely not a Google Maps for passion. Nevertheless, there’s always that little voice in the back of your head that says “you’re not done yet.” There are friends that surround you to remind you of how proud they are of you. There is that one song that hypes you up before you head off to school or work to face the day. There’s always some sort of light (no matter how small) that serves as our reminder to keep searching for a source of determination. 

I know its tough. Constantly on a trek to find a single bit of passion - sometimes it can feel like a never-ending trail.  But I promise you, it’s there. That passion, that drive, that determination – it’s simply a smoldering piece of coal. All it needs is a little nudge to be aflame once again. 

So, here’s a few reminders as you begin searching for your missing determination:

  • You are smart

  • You are strong

  • You are confident

  • You are brave

  • You are courageous

  • I am proud of you

  • I believe in you

  • You’ve got this

Your determined kite-flying friend,