Sunday, April 30, 2023

Finding Confidence in the Chaos

I want to be completely transparent with you guys. I have always struggled with confidence. Most days my hair is a mess, I probably sound like a crazy person, and my teammates laugh when my southern accent comes out. I’m far from perfect, but the truth is no one else is either. No matter if it was in school, an FFA event, or even starting a new job I was always nervous. It would take almost anything in me to go up and talk to a new group of people, walk in that contest room and give that speech, or talk to my boss. I wasn’t confident in myself. Even when running for State Office, I wish I had a dollar for every time my face turned bright red, my heart rate increased, or I started to have shakes. I wasn’t confident in myself. 

Throughout this year, a lot has changed for me. Moving 2 hours away from my family, losing my Pappy, and a lot of little moments that didn’t go quite right. Not feeling good enough compared to my teammates, and certainly not comparable to any reflection, speech, or memory they could give. I wasn’t confident in myself. 

This feeling started to change for me during the last half of my year. I was so fortunate to travel to Districts 10 & 11 during FFA Week in February. When I started my first visit at Seymour, I walked in feeling myself and confident as could be. Then that continued at Crothersville, the State House, Seymour’s Degree Ceremony, Tecumseh, Lanesville, North Harrison, West Washington, Northeast Dubois, and Heritage Hills. This week of traveling allowed me to find my confidence. It was my absolute privilege to visit these areas and meet so many awesome members. One memory that also sticks out was facilitating at the Purdue Women in Ag Conference. I got to help over 120 young women find their passion for agriculture and address struggles and how to overcome them. I truly believe that I changed lives that day, because my life certainly changed that day as well. 

Now we are hitting banquet season and my confidence has sprung back into action. My first banquet was Monrovia, then I gave my keynote speech at Owen Valley, and rounded out for now with Lanesville. Although I had my small mistakes, I walked into each of those banquets with a huge weight lifted off of my shoulders. I am confident in myself. 

It is so very hard to find confidence amidst so much chaos. We often have so many things spinning around at once that we don’t remember to credit how we feel. It wasn’t until I went out and discovered who I was, that I felt confident. No matter what you’re going through right now, you can find confidence. My best advice is to truly be yourself and don’t change for anyone or anything. For me, that means skating with a granny walker the whole time at the Columbia City skating party, and being so proud of myself. It means trying new things and erasing my mindset on why I thought I shouldn’t. And that makes me the best version of myself. I can’t change myself and expect to be even more confident. Because amidst the chaos, once I learned who I was there was a weight lifted off my shoulders. 

What the world needs is the best version of yourself that you can be. For me that meant laughing, making jokes, and feeling ok if I made a mistake. For you that might mean saying what you’re thinking, finding your people, or simply believing in yourself. Throughout all of the chaos in life, I encourage you to keep reaching and finding your confidence. 

Skating with a Granny walker, 

Gracie Lee

        State Reporter 2022-2023

Monday, April 24, 2023


Oftentimes in my life I have found a lot of situations where someone and I didn’t see eye to eye on something. I think we can easily think of a time where it's happened to us. Whether we compromised or stood in what we believed in during that moment we had to make a choice from it. You can’t ignore issues and problems for very long before things get out of hand. But with these problems comes a choice.

Before we can talk about the choice we need to make the decision if we really heard and understand what that other person's stance is. You can’t argue with something that you don't understand. So no matter how heated the argument, disagreement, or decision is, you need to listen and understand the other person's point of view. 

This was probably one of the hardest things I had ever had to learn in my life. Growing up, my thought process was to fire first, ask questions later. But during high school and being on teams in FFA I realized why that was so harmful in these situations. The simple act of not hearing the others person's point of view, makes them guard whatever they believe even more. You might as well flip a coin to decide at that point. State office has provided me the opportunity to work on this A LOT… From where we want to go to dinner, to important decisions we had to make as a team. My teammates helped me realize the value of listening to other people before you make a decision. 

When it comes to doing the right thing though, you always have to stand up for how you feel. If a choice is going against your values, or what you believe in, you’re better off to hold your values than choose to side with someone else just because you want to avoid conflict. If we take the integrity away from our morals and values, we might as well not have any. Without morals and values, we aren't a specific person, and we mask ourselves with what we think people want to see. That is why having values and things you believe in is so important to being a human. 

Values and morals go beyond conflict. It's found in our conversations, our friend groups, our hobbies and so much more. Value: “a person’s principles or standards of behavior; one's judgment of what is important in life.” If we remove our values or change our values for people, we aren't our genuine self. Core values can be things dependability, religious, and caring, and these are found to be in our lives every day. 

So, whether it's a conversation, disagreement, or a hobby, hold true to your values, and know that they’re what make you, you.

Anthony Taylor

Monday, April 17, 2023

Banquets and Banquets and Banquets, Oh My!

As our time as state officers comes to a close, the seven of us have been very busy, not
only preparing for state convention (which is gladly back at Purdue) but also visiting schools for
their chapter banquets. It’s always amazing to interact with the members we have met during our
year so far, as well at form new relationships with those that we haven’t.

Banquet season offers all of us the unique opportunity to end our year off strong by
impacting not only FFA members, but their families, friends, school staff, and anyone else who
may be in attendance. I know that my whole team is grateful for these opportunities, but I wanted
to take the time to share what banquet season means to me.

Personally, public speaking has always been an interest of mine. I fell in love with it at a
young age, and my FFA experience has only grown my passion for it. When staff started
scheduling our banquets, I automatically knew this would be my favorite time of the year. My
first banquet I attended was an early one for the Attica FFA chapter in mid-February. It was an
amazing experience, although I might have been a little nervous to give my keynote for the first
time. Fortunately enough, Attica FFA made my first banquet an easy one, and I was thrilled to
see the dedication that those members have.

As I just had my second banquet at South Decatur, I am reminded as to why I fell in love
with not only public speaking, but FFA in the first place. When the workload of State Convention
continues to pile up, banquets have filled my cup. The one thing I pray as I continue on to other
chapters is that when I give my keynote, the audience has left with their cups filled too.

I thank God that he put me in the position to impact a multitude of people with just one
speech. Thank you to all chapters that host state officers for their banquets. We appreciate your
hard work and will be excited to see you all again at Purdue.

Your State Sentinel,
Jaden Maze

Monday, April 10, 2023

The Future of Agriculture

After moving out, I realized how close I am to my siblings. As much as they drive me crazy, I really do miss them. As we now know, Josie is the opposite of me, and her “Yolo” attitude (go read the last blog) sometimes drives me crazy. However my youngest sibling, Jack, is definitely more similar to me. He is more calculated in his decisions, is very success driven, and has a deep appreciation for old country. I think he is the only 14 year old I know that listens to George Jones and Conway Twitty on the daily. On top of his unique music favorites, he is also surprisingly the person I go to for fashion advice. I’m not gonna lie, I often steal Jack’s clothes over Josie’s when I’m home. I often see a lot of myself in Jack, which has given me a new perspective on the future.

Obviously, Jack and I are from the same generation in our family, but being the older sibling, I’ve watched him grow up. I see him as the future. This was first put into perspective when he competed in his first FFA contest. Last year, Jack and I both competed at the Lebanon Invitational. I distinctly remember him wearing my first Whiteland FFA jacket and feeling oddly sentimental. Only a few years ago, I remember feeling the butterflies for my first contest and now my little brother was experiencing the same thing. 

This feeling only continued this past year, when he signed up for the Creed Speaking contest. Again, this was a contest I had competed in and was happy he was carrying on that tradition. After practicing it with him a few times, that beginning line started to have a new meaning. I had always seen myself as the future of agriculture, but now I was watching another develop. During my time in Creed Speaking, I never made it out of the district and challenged Jack to do better than me, and he will now be competing at state this June. Not only did I now see a future beyond me, but saw a brighter one.

I am proud to be the future of agriculture, but even more proud of the future beyond that. I know the future is bright, and continues to become brighter each day. I hope I can help influence this next generation to achieve more, and that is a very inspiring task.

Thank you,

Jenna Kelsay

Southern Region Vice President

Tuesday, April 4, 2023

Top 3 Things I’m Looking Forward To

  1. Getting to travel for banquets. Coming up our banquets will be in full swing, and this means I get to travel. One of my favorite parts of state office is getting to see how each school is different and how they each have their own culture. With spring coming as well, seeing various parts of the state blooming with flowers will be so beautiful.

  2. Preparing for State Convention. When I first thought of State Convention, I was really dreading it. But after we had our retreat for State Convention, I am really excited and looking forward to preparing and then finally presenting State Convention as a culmination of what we have done this year. 

  3. Spending the Last Couple of Months with my Team. Up to now I’ve spent just about a total year with my teammates, once we turned in our applications and started preparing, we got to know each other. We obviously didn’t know who would be on the team, but I made sure I had some relationship with each candidate. Now I’ve spent 9 months strictly with this team and I’m going to make the most of what's left. It will be challenging with all of our individual travel and high-pressure circumstances but it's nothing we haven't overcome before, but this will also be the most rewarding.

                    - Tobias Sturgell