Friday, May 19, 2023

Bittersweet Endings

    If I had a dollar for every time I heard all great things come to an end, I'd have an excellent
retirement account set up by now. It was a phrase I hated hearing whenever it came to my last
FFA event or last rugby game. However, this saying has a lot of meaning behind it.

    As I think about the last few days of state office, I wanted to share how my final bittersweet moments are lasting memories and the importance of making the most of them. To start, I need to begin with how High School started. On the first day of high school, my dad told me that high school would be some of my life's best and worst four years. I will have some really good memories and some tough challenges to face. Thinking back on this conversation, he was right. 

    High school was full of exciting moments, but the days of Covid made it challenging at times. We all remember this random time in history that has changed so much about our day-to-day life. Good things came out of this time, but it also put people and families in stressful times. Thankfully this time has mostly passed, and we're back to spending time with people again. Thinking back to the conversation with my dad at the beginning of my freshman year, if we both knew how big of an impact Covid would have on us, I would know how important making the most of my time with people would be.

    My last FFA meeting was a bittersweet end to my days in the Warsaw FFA Jacket. I was uncomfortable knowing if it would be the last time I would wear the jacket. I knew I had the Indiana FFA State Convention coming up and running for state office, but the time I had to spend with my home chapter could have been better. So, I had to make the most of that last FFA meeting with my friends and classmates with whom I enjoyed the previous four years.

    My last Rugby game was another bittersweet moment. I was the team captain for this game, and as a senior, I had to lead the team. I was one of the only players who had ever played the game before our season started, and I had to push players to continue to grow throughout the season. But our last game was different. We spent so much time practicing to perfect our game and grew together as a team. I always gave my everything out on the pitch, getting kicked in the face causing a bloody nose, or breaking my ring finger trying to win a ruck. I always gave every game my all. But in the last game, my teammates followed suit. We all left every practice and every fundamental piece we learned of the game out on the pitch, which made this game a memory.

    Whatever last moment you're going through, FFA meeting, Banquet, or contest, know that all of
the hours you spent with this organization came down to that moment, and you have a choice to
make. Do you make the most of these last moments, or do you let the time fly by so fast you
don't realize it past?

                                                                                        - Anthony Taylor

Wednesday, May 17, 2023


    For this last blog, I want to talk about something that has been on my heart lately. As the clock ticks by, and the days wind down, the workload gets heavier. If you’ve ever met or worked with me, you know I’m a huge to-do list person. On any given day you can find me making a to-do list for the simplest of things. The things that should just be natural, or that I should know to do. I live by a to-do list. Sometimes it’s not what I want to do, but what others want me to do. Somedays, it is so much that I forget what living actually is. 


  • Laundry

  • Write this blog

  • Watch Netflix

  • Write in my journal

  • Answer emails

After watching a TikTok, yes, I know it’s just a TikTok, but I realized that I am quite literally living my life to get things checked off of my to-do list. This has been such an easy thing to do with convention prep. If there is one thing that I’ve learned lately it is that I have to start living for myself. That realization hit me tonight (5/11). Seth, Toby, Jaden, Mary, & I loaded up and went to Franklin for dinner. After eating, we walked through the park downtown and it was completely unplanned. No to-do list, no reservations, no time limit, just living. Just enjoying the time that I was given with my teammates. I am so thankful for this time that I got to spend with them. It immediately helped me find the solution. 

Sometimes you have to close your computer, turn off your phone, or walk away from that desk. Go for a walk, take a ride with the windows down, blare your music, smell the freshly cut grass. LIVE… Live. Sometimes it feels like you’re spinning 800 mph in a circle, and you can’t focus, because you’re focused on what you need to do. But there’s a difference between what you need to do and what other people want you to do. Sure, people are going to depend on you. But you only get one life. We only have one year of State Office. I only have 40 days left with my teammates. 

For this last blog I wanted to get in some quick thank you’s. To my team, thank you for helping me live this past year to the fullest and always being up for an adventure. To staff, thank you for all of your guidance. To my family and friends, thank you for supporting me through this past year. To Indiana FFA & all of the members, I cannot thank you enough for giving me a year full of connections, laughs, adventure, and impact. Always know that each and every one of you are seen and valued. 

For these last 40 days of our year of service, I am going to live my life to the fullest. I will go on that adventure, enjoy every last minute, and live my life to simply live. If there is anything that you get out of this blog, I hope that it is to live for yourself. Do what makes you happy, stay humble, work hard, and be yourself. From now on…


  • LIVE! 

                                                                Living to the fullest, 

                                                                 Gracie Lee

                                                              Indiana FFA State Reporter 22-23

Tuesday, May 16, 2023

Life is a Par-Tee

    When I started playing golf for the first time, I could never have expected just how difficult it really was; the professionals on TV make it look so easy! Through the past few years of effort and dedication, I’ve not only been able to learn more about the game, but a few life hacks along the way. This is a list of the top five life lessons I have picked up from golf!

Number 1: Play the Ball Where it Lies.

Sometimes even the most perfect swings give you bad shots, ones that leave you stuck behind a tree, in the bunker, or in the tall grass. It sometimes seems like it is going to be impossible to make a comeback for par from where you landed. But there is a rule that once your ball lands, you can’t move it to give yourself a better shot; you have to play it from where it lies. Life is kinda the same way; we can’t always pick and choose our circumstances, but we can choose how we play out of them! As one of my teammates often says, ‘Life is 10% what happens to you, and 90% how you react.’ A bad shot in golf is the perfect way to put this quote into practice. You can’t control where your ball lands, but you can choose to take the best, safest shot possible and come out on the other side of your obstacle!

Number 2. There is a reason golf carts don't have rearview mirrors.

This is the most important lesson in golf, but it has been the hardest one for me to learn! After I have a bad shot, it normally messes up my game for a few holes, and it’s pretty hard to get back on track. I spend too much time focusing on how bad the last shot was, that I don’t focus on correcting it and giving myself a better shot with the next. It’s always more important to take a breath, reset your mind, and set up for success on the swing that’s coming. You can’t rewind and redo bad shots and can’t look back to the past! I think the designer of golf carts had it right when he didn’t include the mirrors, he knew it wasn’t important to dwell on swings in the past, but instead to focus on what is in front of you! 

Number 3. Follow through matters!

Your swing technique is the most important part of your game! It’s divided into three main parts; the back swing, impact, and follow through. Most people think that impact is the most critical, but even scientific studies have shown that the follow through is actually what makes the shot! If you fail to follow through and stop your swing early, your clubface is closed off giving you quite a nasty hook. If you follow through too quickly and lose control, leaving your club face open, you’re sure to get a far slice right. But if you control your swing speed and follow through completely, you are sure to get a square and straight drive down the fairway. Like in golf, follow through in life is critical to your success! Whether it is follow through in your work to complete tasks well, follow through with relationships to maintain connections, or follow through on your goals to ensure your success, the way you finish your swing is what really counts!

Number 4: Keep your head down, keep your eye on your own ball. 

My swing coach, Ryan Straight, has spent a lot of years as a PGA Golf Professional and knows the game of golf like the back of his hand. The thing he loves to remind me of most is to keep my head down, if something is wrong in my swing, that’s often the first thing he tells me to try fixing. It seems like a simple answer to come from someone who knows how even the slightest motions can affect your shot, but he is almost always right! I sometimes get excited and lift my head too early to see where my ball lands, messing up the rest of my swing…or maybe I see someone beside me making a great shot and I lift my head to watch their ball instead of mine. In golf, it is so easy to lift your head to watch someone else’s shot and allow it to wreck your confidence. If you see someone else have a good shot right before you, it’s easy to feel the sudden pressure to impress them back! But in life too, I have found it pretty easy to catch myself in comparison; to my teammates, family, friends, or even someone on social media. I often compare my progress to theirs, my goals to theirs, and my accomplishments to theirs. One minute we may be proud of the big trophy we are carrying, but seeing someone else’s can instantly make us feel like ours is a little “too small”. By keeping your head down and your eye on your ‘own ball’, you aren’t worried about what others are doing & it keeps you from getting caught up in comparing yourself to others!

Number 5: Relax.

I included this one, just for my dad. As my golf coach he came up with lots of quick quotes to tell me that would remind me of things to fix in my swing. “Relax” meant two things; I had to stop swinging so hard and let the club do the work, and to also just chill out! I would often allow myself to get worried or worked up about the little things like one bad shot or even the attitude of the girls I may have been paired with, but he wanted to make sure I stopped worrying and focused on the shot I had next. While I can say it drove me absolutely crazy to hear the word “relax”, and it's now become a running joke between my parents and I, it's fun to now look back and laugh at how right he really was! Learning to relax and not let the little things bother us is something I am guilty of not doing enough, but I always find that when I do, I find myself being happier and more productive in what I’m doing!

    Golf can be one of the most frustrating yet rewarding sports to play. I will be forever grateful for the opportunities it has given, allowing me to tee myself up for success! (I have been having a blast getting my golf puns up to par!) Life is a part-tee, and applying these life tips will help you up your game and allow you to enjoy the life you live!

                                                                                Find me on the fairway!

                                                                                         Mary Jones

                                                                                         State Northern Region Vice President

Friday, May 12, 2023

Why Not Travel?

    Before State Office, I used to hate having to drive places and especially longer drives, but through my year as a State Officer, I really have gained an appreciation for driving. Not having to move too far away from my hometown of Trafalgar to a radically new environment at the center in Trafalgar I have always been eager to get out of this bubble the entire year. 

    The first big trip as a state officer was when we went to State Officer Summit in D.C. This was a fantastic experience for me. While being in the car for 8+ hours isn’t the most enjoyable experience, what I was able to experience on the other side of that trip was superb. 

    The next bit of decent traveling I got to experience was chapter visits and district kickoffs. I got to travel through Section 2 and Section 3. While Section 3 wasn’t anything out of the ordinary for me I got to cross into Ohio as well as traveling into Illinois. Getting to travel basically across the Wabash in Eastern Indiana in Adams County all the way across to Montgomery County and everything in between, I got to see parts of the state I never thought or knew much about. Those two weeks have been some of my favorite times as a state officer, I got to travel and see how different each area of the state is but also facilitate and get to know members from all over.

    Our state staff likes to take us on retreats to either get a lot of work done or to relax and have good team bonding experiences. Our fall retreat took place in St. Louis, Missouri. Now I had been to St. Louis before but we got to do a chapter visit in a Missouri school which was amazing.

    My next adventures on the road were Business and Industry Visits. These were all over the board we got to travel all the way south to Mt. Vernon to CountryMark and all the way up to Plymouth to Homestead Dairy. Getting to travel many routes on 465 around Indy may not have been the most interesting experiences but getting to the outer extremities of our state and seeing just how big the impact of agriculture in Indiana is to the economy and even help guide me down the path of what I would (really would not) like to do in the future. 

    Moving into January we got some surprise traveling experiences going up near Chicago in Michigan City for our keynote retreat. Getting to be off Lake Michigan is the closest thing you will get to the ocean in Indiana. We also got to go to the Ft. Wayne farm show later that month. But our next and quite largest single traveling experience of the year was FFA Week. This was a complete blast. When I saw I was assigned District 3 and 6 I was really excited because no offense to the rest of the state but I’ve gotten to see you plenty growing up but I had never been north of Ft. Wayne into Noble, LaGrange, Steuben, etc. Counties. It was so fun getting to bounce from Amish country in Adams County to completely different Amish country in LaGrange and Elkhart counties. I even got to go skiing in Michigan.This was definitely one of my highlights of the year traveling into almost completely new territory for myself.

    In March I had the unique and amazing opportunity to attend the Oregon State Convention. Getting to travel out west to a completely new state I’ve never been was incredible. Viewing how their state operates differently than what I’m used to and living in a new culture for a couple days. It was fantastic getting to visit with my State Officer friends from Oregon as well as fellow Visiting State Officers from Ohio, Idaho, Wisconsin, Ohio, and Virginia.

    I’ll now remark about April and May together with all of our banquets. At first, I was really hesitant about banquets. I knew I would enjoy traveling and reconnecting with members I have gotten to know throughout this year, but I really wasn’t feeling too hot about giving the actual keynote. As I have gotten to travel bouncing from North to South, East to West I have gotten quite familiar with the seat of my car. Once the winter hit the times were really drabby and boring but now with the leaves coming in and all the flowers growing it has been so beautiful getting to see the state. Also, in May I was able to Travel to Ohio for their State Convention and while Ohio might not be super far away it is still so cool to see how their state works different to ours and be in a new culture for a couple days. When traveling back from Ohio I had a banquet, and I was able to cross through Kentucky to get to that banquet in southern Indiana. 

    Throughout this year I am so grateful for the travel experience I have had. I’ve gotten to visit each one of our surrounding states, travel into almost every corner of our state, and most of all get to visit and meet the members of Indiana FFA in their home environment. The world has been made much smaller now that wherever I go in Indiana I know someone from that area.

Tuesday, May 9, 2023

Big Talk Doesn’t Make a Big Man

    Humility is one of the most important aspects of being a leader. One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned as a State Officer is to know when to admit I’m wrong as well as know when to hold to my ground. Being humble truly takes courage to be able to knowingly admit your mistakes and take ownership for those. When you decide to talk big talk you are undoubtedly taking a risk that your words will be backed up by the end result. When the results aren’t in your favor, all that big talk will shrink you quicker than you can spit out another comment. 

As leaders we all have a job, that job being the way we lead. Some lead through words, action, service to others or through networking. Leaders must know their job and be proficient at it to be an effective leader, then be able to learn multiple jobs to take them to the next level. When it comes to leading through our actions our results can do the big talking. When we lead through our words there is a line to walk here, quite possible but has the possibility of hurting us if it's the only job we know how to do.  

“Banners are won at home”, a phrase I’m sure all livestock showmen have heard in their career. This is so unbelievably true in many places of our lives. The work we do at home allows us to be confident in the results we will get with our work. Leaving us with no temptation to let ourselves get a big head or talk things up as a defense tactic. I know I’ve been guilty of putting on a false front to make myself feel better about the fact I haven’t put in all the work I know I should’ve. Agreed, it’s fun to let out some friendly smack talk but I’ve seen Big Talk make a small person. 

Remember to let your actions do the speaking, put the work in for the results you want and that Big Talk Doesn't Make a Big Man.

-Seth Ariens Indiana FFA State President

Sunday, May 7, 2023


The clock just keeps counting

While the to-do list just keeps mounting

With each tick I feel deflated

Can this feeling be evaded?

I remember when the clock was 360

I still felt extremely giddy 

I still had an entire year

And the end felt nowhere near

Oh to have that feeling back

Because now I just lose track

Of the what if’s and could have been’s

It almost sends me into a spin 

Now the time is numbered 

And I’m not sure what will be remembered

Was I a big enough light?

Will the impact even take flight?

But unanswered questions don’t help

So I guess there’s no need to dwell

For now I just make each second know 

That I do in fact still have time to grow

The clock is not my enemy

I just needed that second to see

To be grateful for the here and now

To be present is my vow

Time is not forever but memories are

I just need to thank my lucky star

I can enjoy it with the six

Who continue to teach me new tricks

How to laugh, and cry, and feel

And I love each of them a great deal

And know this family doesn't end

Even when it is the last FFA event we attend

But my family is bigger than that

It's the people when we pass the hat

Now that I come to think of it

It is every person in the jacket

The clock doesn’t count friends

And even when the clock ends

I will always have a reason to smile

As I think about the good times on file

Who even cares about the clock?

For this year it can’t mock

I decided to stop hearing the ticking

Because I’m going out alive and kicking

But you might have a clock too

And there's no need to feel blue

Find friends to count instead of minutes

And that is how we make the sky our limit

Enjoying this moment,


Friday, May 5, 2023

A Thank You to Indiana FFA

When asked to write one of my final blogs for the year, I knew that I wanted to make this one special. There is so much I could say about my experience as a state officer, and I know I will not be able to capture down everything I want to convey. However, I will try my best to encompass the things I have learned not just from my teammates, but from the members as well as staff. To all of you who read this, there is so much I am grateful for, and I want to thank everyone for what they have taught me thus far.

To my team: Thank you for teaching me the ability to love. All six of you have unique strengths that I have admired throughout the year. Each one of you taught me something different but combined together, you all taught me the importance of having open and honest relationships. While we may act like brothers and sisters, I have respect for all of you not just as a teammate, but a lifelong friend. I know the bond we all share is something that will last, and I have an intuition that the memories we make together will not end when we take our jackets off for the last time.

To Indiana FFA/ Leadership Center staff: Throughout the year, I have enjoyed getting to know all of you. Your guidance is something that I have greatly appreciated, and I am humbled to have people in my life that can offer that kind of mentorship. Your wisdom is a quality that I have looked up to since the start of my year. I want to thank you for everything that you do for our team and the rest of Indiana FFA. I write this on behalf of everyone, your work behind the scenes does not go unnoticed and we appreciate everything that you.

To all of the members: This year would not have been possible without you. I know this is quoted quite often but the fact that you all are the future of this organization holds true, and it always will. To all members that I have had the opportunity to interact with, YOU were the one that motivated and inspired me to be the best state officer I could. As my team nears the end of our year, I am excited to form as many more relationships with members as I can, and I can’t wait to see you all at convention. As for the chapter advisors, I want to extend a tremendous thank you for the work that you put in to keep FFA alive in your communities and across the state. Forming bonds with advisors was something I always looked forward to this year, and we are lucky as a state to see such dedication to agricultural education. When I see members reach their full potential, that shows me the support they have from you, and it warms my heart knowing that these students have strong teachers back home they can lean on.

Indiana FFA: YOU taught me a lot this year. YOU brought out the best in me. YOU
helped me love. YOU helped me live. For that, I will forever be grateful. “Give thanks to the
Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever.” -1 Chronicles 16:34

                                                                                                    Until next time,