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The Indiana FFA Organization is dedicated to making a positive difference in the lives of students by developing their potential for premier leadership, personal growth and career success through agricultural education.
Going with the flow is one thing I do NOT do well. I want to know exactly what I’m doing with my day and it needs to be written down in my planner. Some of my teammates, on the other hand, are experts at being spontaneous and they try to get my stubborn self to join their shenanigans. With only 4 months left of state office, it is seemingly impossible to say no to them. Which is how I found myself on Valentine's day at a fancy restaurant with Grant, Natalie, and Wyatt.
It started off as a normal day in the office when Natalie turned and said, “hey let’s go out to a nice dinner tonight!” We had two boys and two girls, so it was perfect for getting a Valentines Day special (we like discounts.) With a little hesitation and much debate on where to go, we finally settled on a restaurant called Big Woods. Dressed to the nines, we headed out. We arrived just in time and walked in for our reservation. Upon sitting down, I quickly noticed that there was only one menu for the night. And in tiny print on the top, there was a note reading “three-course meal, $54 per person.” “Wait?! Guys we have made a mistake!” Laughter filled the room as we debated whether we should just walk out or ask for a different menu. When our waitress returned, Natalie asked for a different menu which was in a better price range and we talked the night away. I was challenged to continue going with the flow as we went to Freddy’s afterward to get ice cream. None of the events during the night were planned out, which did freak me out to begin with. However, being spontaneous allowed us to have an abundance of fun with our friends. I can confidently say that I have never had a better Valentines Day than the one shared with Wyatt, Natalie, and Grant, making memories and sharing smiles. Life is too short, and we must be willing to be spontaneous sometimes. While it may be uncomfortable at first, we must realize that these moments are the ones we will remember forever.
All my life I have been given a best friend. Almost as if I was handed my friend on a silver platter. Up until this year, it was my twin brother, and then it was my 6 teammates. I have always had that security of having that best friend by my side and at home for me when I needed him most. It will be a strange experience next year.
I am planning to go to Purdue University next year and live in the dorms with a random roommate. I won’t have that automatic built-in best friend. I can’t help thinking of my brother. He has been there for me and I have been there for him. We did nearly everything together including the drive to and from school, eat, study, and most extracurriculars. We were together so much and then, all at once, I was gone, and he had to find his place in the world. It must be hard for him to adjust to college without his best friend there beside him every step of the way. In these hard times, he has relied on God for guidance and God gave him great friends that can be there for him when I cannot. God has blessed me with 6 people that are there for me when I need them, and I am there for when they need someone too. I am blessed in a different way.
Sometimes, no matter how hard we try, we cannot be there for our best friends when they need us. We cannot be everywhere at once. I couldn’t be there for my brother on his first day of college and he couldn’t be at all my conference banquets. I can build new friendships and he can build new friendships too. He can find someone that will help him learn more about himself, I can too, and you can too. Life tends to shuffle things up and we must make the best of it. One of our team’s favorite phrases is “bloom where you are planted.” At Ball State Tanner found Awaken and he is blooming. As life changes around you, how will you bloom where you are planted?
As the week begins to round out, our team is in full gear for a bittersweet weekend; OUR LAST CONFERENCE! It seemed like only yesterday we hosted our very first conference, where we were all running around like chickens with our head cut off trying to figure out what needed to be done! Now that we all have an actual list of priorities and to-do’s, things are much more calm here at The Center.
We started off our true conference season, and will end it with, LDW (Leadership Development Workshop). This conference allows chapter officers to expand their leadership together and grow as a team. Our theme for this year is a cooking show and “Recipe for Success.”
Then in October we hosted SOAR (Seeking Opportunities & Achieving Results), where 7th-10th graders can learn about the opportunities that FFA possesses for them. For this conference, our team chose the theme of Jurassic Park and “Uncovering Opportunities within FFA.”
In November we hosted FIRE (Foundations in Reaching Excellence). This conference is mainly for 11th-12th graders, and focuses on excellence. Members this year learned how to be a mentor, how to set goals, and how they can take their leadership to the next level. The theme created for this conference was Camping and “Sparking Excellence.”
As the end is quickly approaching, we are reminded of all the memories created with our team, advisors, and, most importantly, the members. From receiving and delivering happy grams to delivering our reflections to “gettin’ down on the dancefloor,” conference season will greatly be missed.
Thank you to everyone who has truly made this season one to remember. Late nights and early mornings aren’t ideal, but you made it all worthwhile.
“New year, new me,” that’s what we always hear. Right? Regardless if that is the correct saying or not, there still is a message we can take away from this thought. As the calendar has now flipped over to 2018, we definitely have started a new year, but most of us are still in the midst of the same school year, living in the same town, and being involved in the same things. However, we all still have the power to reinvent ourselves and present a new version of who we are.
While I was at home with my family during this past holiday season, I put a lot of thought into this concept and I couldn’t help but be reminded of my six amazing teammates. The last six months we’ve, of course, lived together, worked together, dreamed together and loved experiencing every moment altogether. We have had the pleasure to do so much, but in all of this, I instantly thought about the person I was through each opportunity and wanted to be better. Not just for myself, but for them, and all of those around me. So I began to focus on how I could be a better leader, friend, teammate and person.
Even though we may be 6 (almost 7) months into our year, it is not too late to make a change and truly pay attention to how we can improve. That same mindset goes for all of us. How can we set a goal to improve? How can we truly be better than we were yesterday, last year and reinvent ourselves this year?
There I was, riding in the back of a van at 10:42 on the way back from a bowling alley, and I felt so much peace in not caring what others thought of me.
I got connected with a small group this September at church that consisted of the youth pastor and other adult leaders. They meet on Monday evenings for a bible study and genuine fellowship. I attended once with a few of my teammates and the group seemed to be welcoming. I intended on making it to more meetings, but I wasn’t able to come back for about 2 months. When I came back they, again were welcoming and I got to know them a little bit better. I had a solid Youth group at my home church that I attended almost every Sunday and, so I needed to have deep conversations like I had through my youth group.
Monday, Natalie and I attended their Christmas party and quickly connected with the group. We had supper, played Catchphrase, and then it was time to go bowling. As people packed up their things, I asked the youth pastor, Tanner, if he had open seats in his car. He said he had room and off we went.
I realized the most fun wasn’t getting a strike. The most fun came from the car ride home. We sang to Taylor Swift and Luke Combs songs in the back of the vans with people we barely knew. It was the most fun I have had in weeks; It was such a pure good time.
As we move into the Christmas season, I think back on the past 6 months that I have been able to serve. Our team has been granted amazing opportunities to attend FFA functions, meet great FFA members, and grow closer together as a team. The best times come from the commitment to just be with someone and enjoy their company. When my team sat down to exchange gifts, we enjoyed the thoughtfulness of each other and the stories keeping those gifts a secret. When you can enjoy simply being with friends, then you can make the most out of any experience.
This past Monday, my team and I finished watching one of our favorite TV shows (before it was sadly taken off of Netflix). At the conclusion of the final episode, each of the beloved main characters shared a big group hug as one of them said,
Sharing a big group hug after the passing of slate at State Convention, 2017.
"This, right here, this is why we can't fall out of each other's lives. We have to be here for the big moments. Just promise me, no matter what, we will always be there for the big moments.” After that line, I began to think about my team and I immediately applied the message.
The big moments are what make for the best memories, and this year our team has had many. Whether it was the first night we ever spent together as a team after our installation, the first time trying on our “Association” jackets, or the first time we got to interact with students during setup of the FFA Pavilion at the Indiana State Fairgrounds, they have all definitely fallen into the category of “big moments” that we’ve been so grateful for. Today, those experiences (among many others) are a few of our favorite memories, not just because they were some of our “firsts”, but because we were all there to experience it. All seven of us together for each of those moments. That's what has caused our favorite memories to be so significant. We often think that a big moment is something monumental that happens to us in our lives, but really big moments are created when we are surrounded by those we love even if it is to experience and celebrate the smallest of things.
Following the statement of that line during the season finale, I began to appreciate my teammates even more. Not just because of who they are and the happy memories we've shared, but because we still have time left together to create more. Our year of service has been flying by and we have now been together for five months. Although that is sad to think about, it's now crucial more than ever that we are intentional about our time and never waste it so we can continue to be there for one another through each of our big moments, but more importantly, all of the moments.
Loving the all of the moments,
2017-2018 State President
Our first team picture after the announcement of slate at State Convention, 2017.
It feels like it was just yesterday, when my teammates and I were elected to state office in June. Time has flown by since then and we have been going non stop on this Indiana FFA roller coaster of awesomeness. In all of the craziness of State Fair, the Farm Progress Show auction, Chapter visits, and conferences, I have been going full speed and have not taken much time to slow down and enjoy all the little things.
During the month of October, Cole, Mrs. Chaudion, Mr. Park, and I payed a visit to Mrs. Doris Hackman. Mrs. Hackman is the loveliest woman who lives in a farm house all by herself at the age of ninety-two years old. She is a long time supporter of the FFA, a wonderful cook (she makes delicious halloween cookies), and has she has wonderful stories to share. While sitting in her living room, Mrs. Hackman shared stories about how she met her husband, tips on freezing fruit, and, of course, her love for farming, FFA and agriculture. For once, a million thoughts weren’t running through my mind. In that moment I was able to sit in Mrs. Doris Hackman’s living room and enjoy these little moments. As I think back to that visit, I can’t help but be reminded of this I poem by Christy Martine that goes like this;
When your world moves too fast
and you lose yourself in the chaos,
to each color of the sunset.
Reacquaint yourself with the earth
beneath your feet.
Thank the air that surrounds you
with every breath you take.
Find yourself in the appreciation of life.
Now as I’m sitting here writing this blog I’m taking it slow and soaking up the little things, like the warm soup in my orange speckled Halloween mug, the crisp orange leaves falling into my hammock, and the little minnow I just watched chase down a water bug. I can’t help but be so grateful for Mrs. Doris Hackman for teaching me how important it is to appreciate all of the little things in life.
It can be so easy to think of life as a stagnant journey where we simply go through the motions. Wake up, go to school, go home, do more work, then finally of to bed to begin the next day’s cycle. However, when was the last time we took a step back to truly admire the beautiful work God has laid for us?
I often times find myself going through the motions, only to realize that I have exactly 227 days, 23 hours, 57 minutes, and 3 seconds left to enjoy life as I know it. One thing I do not take advantage of as much as I should is the Indiana FFA Leadership Center; especially in its full glory during the season of fall. There is no better place to spend my favorite season than in the middle of 110 acres of woods transforming into vibrant colors of red, yellow, and orange. There is beauty all around me, yet I neglect stop for a second to realize it. Amidst this realization, I compiled a list of things I love about fall; discovered because I took time to step back and truly enjoy God’s creation.
As I went home from National Convention thoughts flooded my head. I had just experienced all the National officers retiring addresses, watched members be recognized for their proficiencies, and met other delegates that are doing such great things in their states. The question that went around my mind was: what great things can I do? This is an important question, and one that I was probably supposed to get out of the convention, but it made me feel empty.
I do not mean to accuse anyone at National FFA for this feeling. I can only blame my mind for shifting the question of “What great things can I do” to the very different question “What great things can I do to be recognized.” I know I am not alone in the search for recognition. Our minds seek after the approval of other people and in the days after convention I looked for meaningful things to do in order to receive recognition.
Recognition is not bad, but it caused me to lose sight of something important: my team. In seeking the attention of others, I lost sight of the importance in the people around me. I remembered that I get to live with 6 of my best friends, that I get to take a year out of school and serve full time, and that I get to have countless opportunities to communicate important messages that high school students need to know. I remembered what my purpose is.
Whether it is doing the dishes, making cake pops, or offering your help to others. If you are helping others you are doing something great. If you are making your community better you are doing something great. Awards are not as important as the growth and impact that come from your efforts.
Today’s the day; the start of the 90th National FFA Convention & Expo! A day that thousands of FFA members look forward to each year come October.
Although Wednesday is the true kickoff, my teammates and I, as well as our two other State Delegates had the privilege to drive up to Indianapolis early Monday morning. This gave us the chance to attend a training session entitled “Respecting Diversity” and participate in the National Delegate Day of Service. The Day of Service was an opportunity for State Officers and Delegates from all 52 State Associations to partake in a community service project of their choosing around the city of Indianapolis. As a team, we decided we would donate our time to Gleaners Food Bank of Indiana, an organization that combats hunger by inspecting donated food, packing boxes to the brim, and distributing that food all across the state of Indiana. Now, this seems like an event that wouldn’t be that big of a deal, as any person who really wanted to could easily go in and donate their time doing the exact same thing we did that day. However, there was something special about Monday.
Gleaners didn’t just have nine people come help out, but rather over 120 FFA members selflessly giving up three and a half hours of their day in order to help combat hunger. Throughout those hours, we all had a blast sorting food, getting to know each other, posing for pictures, and jamming out to music. This all sounds like something simple and not that big of a deal, but here comes the most impactful part. Within those three and a half hours, we all sorted and packed over 25,000 pounds food, which will soon be distributed to feed 21,064 Hoosiers. Knowing that we had that much of an impact on a state that we love so much was a truly humbling experience that we got to participate in that day. I know it will always be something that sticks with my team and I for months to come. It just goes to show that no matter how tired we may get in life, a huge impact can be made when we all come together with one simple goal in mind.
With a humble heart,
‘17-’18 State Sentinel
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