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.

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