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,

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*


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. 


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.

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 (, 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