Monday, August 29, 2022

FFA, A Future for All

    When I first joined FFA, I automatically felt like I didn’t fit in because I didn’t live on a farm or have an agriculture background. But the more that I kept attending meetings and joining contest teams, I eventually realized that none of that even mattered. Sometimes we get so caught up in the past meaning of FFA. “Future Farmers of America”. However, it is important to recognize why the acronym was changed and what FFA actually stands for as an organization.

This week at the Great Indiana State Fair, I was approached by a woman and a young boy who asked me what FFA stood for. They said, “We have looked all around your Pavilion, and we have yet to find it!” I was automatically so excited to explain to them the meaning behind FFA. I had explained that FFA used to stand for Future Farmers of America but was changed because FFA is for everyone. This was easily the highlight of the first week because I got to help explain a part of FFA that not everyone knows. 

It is important to realize that everyone is involved in agriculture, whether they are a consumer, or a producer. For me, I was a consumer and didn’t have an agricultural background. But what I did have was a passion for agriculture and willingness to learn. During my freshman year I began to join every contest team that my chapter offered, except for a select few like welding and small engines. Now, I know how to judge horses, dairy cattle, forestry, flowers, cheese, and even could give a demonstration on air layering. The quiet seventh-grader who sat in the back of the room is now serving as the State Reporter. 

That is the true meaning behind FFA. Providing members with leadership experiences, growing their knowledge of agriculture, and growing them as a person. That is what FFA really is, a Future for All. My best advice for members is that no matter what walk of life you are in, you belong. Never let your background hold you back, but instead give you a reason to keep on learning and pushing yourself. You never know how far it will take you. Be willing to learn and find your fit in FFA. Maybe it’s a certain judging contest, public speaking, quiz bowl, or even community service. There is something in FFA for everyone. 

Building a Future for All, 

Gracie Lee

Indiana FFA State Reporter

Monday, August 22, 2022

A Letter to My Jacket

To some, your navy blue corduroy is stiff and uncomfortable. It is too thick and heavy. It is outdated and unfashionable. To others, you’re just a piece of clothing that FFA members wear. To a shy middle school girl, who was seeking a place to be accepted and a place to get involved, you seemed to be the symbol of opportunity. I didn’t really believe you would really take me to great places or change my life, but I gave you a shot. I could have never imagined how you would push me to become a leader, achiever, & believer in the power of your blue corduroy. Because of you I learned the value of hard work and commitment, and the impact of following my dreams. Because of you, I get to spend this year, speaking of the opportunities that come with FFA; the scholarships, the friends, the awards, and the lifelong skills. 

I gained more than just skills and awards from FFA, I also found a family. For me, FFA has given me teammates that are working to achieve the same goals and people who have become life-long friends that I’ve met from all over the nation. At first, you were meant to simply be a symbol of who members were (with their name on the front) and where they were from (with their chapter on your back). To the thousands of FFA members who now wear you today, you are a perfect display of passion and professionalism. The choice to match your blue corduroy with yellow-gold stitching may seem odd or peculiar, but it all has true significance. Your dark, navy blue color gives a nod to patriotism and our roots, pulling from the colors of Old Glory. The bright, gold champions the passion that FFA members have for all things agriculture.

Since the first time I zipped you up in 6th grade, until this moment when I now wear a jacket with Association across the back, I’ve learned 4 big lessons that I couldn’t have learned while wearing any other jacket. First, I’ve learned how to give back to others. You have given me an understanding of the importance of feeding those in need; I’ve worn you to countless homes over the years as we traveled to deliver boxes of donated food for the holidays. I’ve worn you while families stand in their doorways, paralyzed with shock and gratitude, because they no longer had to worry about feeding their families during Thanksgiving. Many of those people may not have known who we were or remembered our faces, but I guarantee they will forever remember the bright blue-colored corduroy that we were wearing. Through you, I’ve learned dedication & perseverance. There are hundreds of ways to become successful within FFA but nobody ever said they were easy. I’ve learned that one of those ways may be to spend hours on applications and speeches, dedicating my time and energy into something I’m passionate about. You’ve also taught me that sometimes you can still be successful even if I never come close to winning a plaque or award; my hard work and dedication to finish a project is just as successful as taking home a banner or trophy. Because of you, I’ve also learned what it takes to truly be a leader. You have taught me that leadership isn’t about a title, but rather setting an example for others. I can only gain respect from my teammates by growing alongside them, not controlling them. Lastly, you’ve taught me that I can take you off, but I can never stop wearing you. All these years later, you still symbolize much of my identity, but my perspective of what you mean as an FFA jacket, is more than just my name and school. When I wear you, I am reminded that you represent commitment, pride, tradition, & leadership. But more than that, you are a symbol of the community, family, & sense of belonging that every member gains when they zip you up. 

Although I may be just one more student in the "sea of blue jackets" along with the hundreds of thousands registered FFA members, I believe you have given me the special opportunity to make a difference in my life and in the lives of those around me. Without my father’s decision as a freshman, to take a chance on you, an old, dusty blue corduroy jacket, he would have never discovered a passion for FFA and been able to pass that on to me. Thank you for giving my family 32 years of friendships, learning moments, life-long connections, and a reason to believe in the future of agriculture. I may eventually outgrow my time in the jacket, but I will never outgrow the memories and experiences I had while wearing you. For that, and so much more, I thank you.

Forever wearing the jacket,

Mary Jones

Monday, August 15, 2022


In life for me, and probably for most of you reading this, there are so many things we want to do. I want to be able to have a job I enjoy, but I also want to serve the Lord in all I do. To enjoy life as much as I can, to spend quality family time, and to always progress. During my time, so far, in State Office, I’ve found that the key ingredient for success when dealing with all of these things is something so easily forgotten: balance. 

Trying to find the happy medium is the hardest part. “Life is a balance between holding on and letting go.” This quote from Rumi is especially true. When deciding to run for State Office I had to push myself to find balance. The choices were to continue as planned, which is to attend Purdue for Agricultural Engineering, or run for State Office. I didn’t come to the decision to fully commit and run until March. In the end after weighing everything out I realized that I will still be able to go to Purdue, but I will only have one opportunity at a year of wonderful experiences dedicating myself to FFA, the organization that really helped me grow into the person I am today, and then continue my education afterwards. 

When I was in high school, I was really involved with band, maybe the most out of anything I did. I played Euphonium for concert band, Tuba for pep band, marching band, and concert bands, trombone for jazz band, and finally percussion ensemble. I would participate in all these bands as well as honor bands and solo & ensemble. I started band in 6th grade as early as I could, because my older sister played Flute and Piccolo, so of course I had to join as soon as possible. I later joined the marching band as quickly as I could in 7th grade. I’m so thankful for all of the experiences I had in the band and would never trade it for the world, but I did not balance the rest of my life well. In addition to being involved in Band and FFA, I also participated in Choir and the musicals. Again, there were so many things I wanted to do, but such a limited amount of time. The one thing that made balance such a hard thing to achieve was how much time I initially committed to the musical arts.

 During my freshman year in FFA, I barely participated, only going to a few meetings the whole year and tractor day. I never went to kick-offs, conferences, contests, or really anything outside of the chapter. Taking it all into account, I just wasn’t an active FFA member, and I began to feel the need to change that. My time in FFA and the opportunity to enjoy all that FFA has to offer was shrinking. When I realized that my time was out of balance, I decided to dedicate more time to FFA and joined Soil Judging, Parliamentary Procedure, and ran for chapter office. After having success with these things, I was given my first opportunity to go to a conference, Winter LDW 2020. This was my first taste of conferences and since then I could never get enough. 

After getting more involved with FFA, I had to make decisions between band and FFA. When I talked it through with my band director and ag teacher, I was able to share my time more evenly between two things that I really loved and was passionate about. I want to encourage all of you busy bees that communication, compromise, and commitment are the factors we must consider if we are to truly uncover that key ingredient to life: balance. It wasn't about choosing one or the other, but how can I use all of these experiences and opportunities to make myself the best person I can be and then grow from all of them

Wishing you the best,

Tobias Sturgell

Indiana FFA State Secretary

Monday, August 8, 2022

State Officer Summit

I feel that I am speaking on behalf of all my teammates when I write that State Officer Summit in Washington DC this past July was an incredible experience that none of us will ever forget. The amount of leadership exemplified by state officers from across the nation, as well as our national officers in just four days is unforgettable. I met so many people and had conversations that truly changed my outlook on life. I walked away with three valuable lessons from my time at summit: Having the desires to learn, lead, and love others.


Learn: Ironically, during summit I quickly learned that there is always more to learn. No matter how much you think you know about a subject, somebody else might have a different perspective. I learned that it is important to recognize everyone’s backgrounds because we all have different experiences that we can bring to the table. Learning from others, as well as learning from our mistakes is important. Without searching for knowledge or having the desire to acquire wisdom from others, there is no room for growth.


Lead: As state officers, we are called to set a standard of leadership for FFA members from across the state of Indiana. Our actions and attitudes set the tone for Indiana FFA this year. As your State Sentinel, I can confidently write that our team is so excited to lead the over 12,000 members and 219 chapters we have. Each of us are so grateful to have the opportunity to lead and are humbled that we were chosen for this role. State Officer Summit helped me realize that my leadership is needed, as well as the leadership from every member that steps foot into FFA.


Love: Without love, learning from others and leading members is impossible. A selfless kind of love can be hard to maintain but choosing to love people highlights your ability to learn from others and lead others. I saw selfless love in multiple ways during summit. Whether it was the late nights and early mornings our national officers put in to make sure that we had an amazing time at summit or somebody simply holding the door for a stranger, love was a common theme during our time in Washington DC. I know that my goal during state office, as well as the rest of the team is to exemplify this kind of love for the rest the year.


To my team, to my roommates, to my new friends from across the country, to state staff and National FFA, thank you for making State Officer Summit a chance for me to learn, lead, and love. We made so many memories and bonded so much more as a team. I am so excited to see what the rest of the year for Indiana FFA looks like. For anyone reading this, I encourage you to implement these three lessons in your FFA chapter, district, section, and life in general. By learning, leading, and loving others on a daily basis, your impact will reach so many more people than you could ever imagine.


Your State Sentinel,

Jaden Maze


Check out the link below to see more of our State Officer Summit experience!

Monday, August 1, 2022

Seth’s Top 10 Favorite Things about The Great Indiana State Fair

1. The Indiana FFA Pavilion!
    I feel like this one is kind of a given, but oh well what is there not to love! I can
always go for a game of putt-putt golf, a stroll through the animal wing or a
delicious shake from the Indiana FFA Country Market! I cannot forget to mention
how thrilled I am to see all the wonderful FFA members and guests in the
pavilion this year!

2. The Blue Ribbon Pavilion
    Why is this Seth’s second favorite thing about the State Fair? Because I have a
passion for showing sheep! When you can’t find me in FFA Pavilion you will
more than likely find me in the sheep barn prepping lambs for the show. Not to
mention it is also air conditioned and that’s always a plus!

3. The West Pavilion or better known as the Cattle Barn
    I guess you could say showing livestock is my thing because I thoroughly enjoy
my time in all the livestock barns. On the first and second weekends of the state
fair I occupy the cattle barn with my dairy steers and dairy cattle. I love my cows,
but they aren’t quite as high as the sheep!

4. The Indiana Farmer’s Coliseum
    This one is self-explanatory. In my opinion the Coliseum is one of THE coolest
places to show livestock! The atmosphere is unforgettable, and the Indiana State
Fair knows how to put on a show there.

5. The Dairy Bar
    As I mentioned earlier, I am a sucker for a good milkshake! When I’m on this
side of the track, the dairy bar is my go-to place for lunch or a snack. Each year I
look forward to the new milkshake flavors and grilled cheese options they create.
A favorite tradition of mine is when my dad and I enjoy a breakfast sandwich and
cold chocolate milk the morning of the dairy show!

6. The Pioneer Village
    This is a place that is packed with some true culture! I love seeing the traditional
side of the fairgrounds and the treats you can get from the village are oh so good.
Agriculture is backed by so much tradition, and by walking through the Pioneer
Village I get a true sense of what this tradition is.

7. The Pork Producer’s Tent
    I am a fair food enthusiast. The pork tent is one of the places I make sure I visit
every single year! No doubt a pork burger and some mac & cheese will come in
handy a few times during the fair. If it were not for the outrageous line at times, I
would frequent this place a lot more.

8. Go listen to some FREE music at the free stage
    The free stage is a must-see attraction at the Indiana State Fair. I love a good
concert and am always ready to listen to some great music. If you happen to be at
the fair during a free stage concert, make sure you stop in for some FREE

9. Indiana Soybean Alliance Glass Barn
    There is always an abundance of things to do in this building! I especially enjoy
acting as Benny the Bean for a few hours during the fair. Interacting with fair
guests as the Bean is such a fun experience. Not to mention the air conditioning
here is always a fantastic place to take a break during the hot days of fair!

10. King’s Sweet Tea
    Now I may catch from flack from this one, but I don’t go to the King’s tent for
sweet tea… I go for the unsweet tea! I love a cold unsweet tea and some ribbon
fries during the fair. Easily one of my favorite snacks during the fair, and the
reusable cup makes it even more tempting to go back for another. I’m definitely
on a first name basis with the King’s Sweet Tea crew by the end of the Fair!
Thanks for stopping in for Seth’s Top 10 favorite things to do at The Great Indiana State Fair!
I’m pumped for the fair this year and I can’t wait to see all the amazing members in the FFA
Pavilion. Hopefully, you partake in a few of my favorite things about the fair and come let me
know if you enjoyed them too!

All the best, 
Seth Ariens