FFA Officers: Travel Blog
With the extended time off, I’ve had no problem staying busy. The list of projects on the farm never seems to diminish, and those projects certainly don’t go away by themselves. So, we decided to tackle one specific project this week.
Just the other day, my brothers and I were busy taking out an old netting and barbed wire fence. The old fence was severely leaning from years of animals pushing on it and is probably around 80 years old, so needless to say, it's seen its better days. Now if you have never done this before, there are more moving parts than one might think. First, you have to unstaple and unclip the wire, then roll it up into a nice ball, pull out the posts, string out a wire to see where the new posts will go, pound the new posts in, stretch all 4 wires to make sure they are tight enough you can play the guitar on, then the final step, clipping the wires back to the post. Keep in mind the hillsides of Buffalo County add in a little extra fun. But before long, your sweat and back pain has paid off and you’ve built yourself a Grade A barbed wire fence.
It’s certainly not the easiest of work, but building a new fence has several perks. First, it looks beautiful. Second, you don’t have to worry about animals getting out for a while (at least until a big oak tree falls on it). And lastly, you don’t have to worry about building a new one for several decades.
So what can we learn from this experience? Well, as life gets busy, we tend to forget about the items on our to-do list we “never had time for.” During this time off, we have the perfect opportunity catch up on some of those projects. These could include finishing a scholarship application, spending time with family, or getting ahead on some online coursework. With spring just starting up, your own fence may be leaning a little as you are recovering from a busy winter. With only a couple months of school left, use this time to straighten your fence so you don’t have to worry about it when things get busy again.
If you ever need somebody to shoot the breeze with, reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org or (608)-863-6402!
As you read our travel blogs, you have probably picked up on that our schedules have turned in a 360-degree circle. From constantly traveling to being forced to be at a standstill. The state officer team are not the only ones that are currently dealing with this situation.
My question for you is, what are you doing to pass the time with your new schedules?
As I mentioned today in my Takeover Tuesday on Snapchat (wisconsin_ffa), I have been keeping busy. I have been watching my cousins or my advisor’s children five days a week. I am used to being around children, because my mom owned and operated her own daycare at our house until I was in 6th grade. I enjoy being around kids and babysitting them whenever I get the chance. The other day, I was watching my cousins, Chantz and Parker. The three of us went outside to play our own version of a March Madness basketball tournament. Chantz won three games while Parker and I only won a single game. This is just a taste of what I have been doing the past few weeks. Not busy with FFA events but working on this behind the scene. The different pace in life is good. It is times like these that make you realize the importance of family- either by blood or by the family that we have created within FFA.
In terms of social distancing, I wanted to do everything possible to stay busy and to do something every chance that I get. This was my daily schedule for the last nine months, always doing something and not wanting it to slow down. As I am sitting here typing this, I can not help, but reflect on these past few weeks.
I have realized that from time to time it is necessary to take a break from your everyday lives. We are always caught up on wanting to always be doing something. It is always go, go, go in our society.
On Sunday, Kailey, the Sun Prairie FFA Chapter President and I set up a call over Zoom to speak with each other. We had met at the 2020 Halftime Conference and I was supposed to head to Sun Prairie High School last week to give a presentation about my business of raising and selling sheep (Augustine Show Lambs). We ended up talking for two plus hours over Zoom about television shows, both having a twin sister, state office, life in general and so much more. It was great talking with her and getting to know her more throughout the time that we spoke!
During this time that we are not able to see others in person, it is important to check up on others to make sure that they are doing okay. We have gone through a major change in a short amount of time. I know that it has been difficult for me not seeing my teammates throughout this time. Reach out to your friends, teammates, members, your advisor and your family during this time.
If you ever need someone to talk to, please do not hesitate to send me an email, message, or letter! I will be happy to answer anything that you send my way!
Who will you pick up the phone and call today?
Stay safe. Stay healthy. And stay positive.
Thinking back, I can not remember the last time I have had three weeks in a row with literally nothing on my calendar. This is new territory for me but there is one thing that I have discovered thus far; a 20 years old boy with a construction degree + loads a free time = lots of sawdust flying around at the Erickson Farm. Ever since graduating from WITC with my construction and cabinetry degree, I have begun to see the world in a new light. If I see a cool house or shed, my mind immediately goes to, “hmm, I wonder how I would build that?” Or if a piece of farm equipment that I would like is out of my price range, I begin to brainstorm, “could I build that from scratch for less?” And now that I have time on my hands, many of these carpentry ideas have made the jump onto my to-do list. My dad and I are in the middle of building a new hay wagon, I am almost done building a calf crate to transport calves in the back of my truck, and just today I bought the materials that I will need to build a new self-feeder for my Holstein steers. If time allows, there are plans for a new shed on the Erickson farm as well. Would I love to be traveling around to FFA Banquets and events in the weeks to come? Of course! But I don’t see this down time as a negative, I see it as an opportunity to build something new.
Now building a wagon or shed may not interest you whatsoever and that is perfectly fine! But I still want to challenge you, what will you build? To high school juniors or seniors, this is a great time to build your resume or to build a list of personal references. These documents will surly come in handy after your high school years. To FFA members, build your SAE or construct a plan how to start a new SAE in the year to come. And to anybody else reading this, I can not think of a better time to build a better relationship with your family. You are all trapped in the same house anyways, we might as well cherish these moments that we have together. Time is a valuable asset and we are each capable using this time to build something new. So, the question is, what will you build?
Have a good one,
I don’t know what’s going to happen with the coronavirus; nobody does. But what I do know is that the FFA organization is home to the most determined, ambitious, optimistic, relentless, and resilient young people out there. If there’s anybody that can get through this, it’s us.
The only thing we can do at this point is control what we can control. We can’t let the stresses of this time bring out our worst. Everybody is in the same boat. Our hearts all hurt from the opportunities we’re losing out on, but self-pity doesn’t make things any better.
I know it’s much easier said than done but remain optimistic. Stay in touch with your family, friends, and peers. Words of encouragement and hope can go a long ways in making someone’s day. Get outside and enjoy the fresh air as much as you can. Find rays of sunlight shining through these cloudy times. We may have to look a little harder to find them, but they’re out there.
We’re in a time of uncertainty during this unprecedented situation but one thing is for certain, progress comes from the struggle of former years. The coronavirus pandemic and its consequences may be a struggle we’re forced to endure. So be it. But with the proper attitude, perseverance, and grit, we will take the challenge head on, we will Rise Up and over come it, and our generation and generations to come will enjoy the progress from today’s struggle well into the future.
Anybody can lead when things are well. True leadership is revealed during adversity. We don’t get to choose what happens to us, but we do get to choose how we respond. As young leaders in the FFA, let’s use this situation to bring out our best. Let’s find out who we really are.
If there is any way possible I can help you or if you ever want somebody to visit with about anything, PLEASE reach out to me at (608)-863-0895 or email@example.com. That’s why I’m here.
Until next time, stay calm, stay positive, stay healthy, and stay strong. Wisconsin FFA, it may get worse before it gets better, but we’re not going down without a fight. We will get through this together!
Hang in There,
It’s been quite a week, but something I have been looking forward to was meeting with National Western Region Vice President, Lyle Logemann! He was visiting Wisconsin with a few chapter visits and meeting with a few of the State Officers! Let me tell you one thing, I was nervous to be with a National Officer because their power and knowledge overwhelm me a little bit. It's intimating to talk with someone that is a phenomenal leader in our organization. Eventually, the day came along and on Friday a few of us went to see him and go out for dinner.
He is absolutely making the most out of his year and it’s amazing to see such an amazing leader advocate for the FFA organization and the agriculture industry. I had the privilege to ride with him in his rental truck with a few of my teammates and having just one conversation with him was something so valuable. He is one who stands up for what he believes in and is truly inspiring to see his leadership skills.
He is the face of the National FFA organization. I help advocate for Wisconsin FFA. And you? As a chapter officer or an ambitious FFA member, you are advocating for FFA in your community! Just striking a conversation with an Alumni FFA member, a business, or an administrator talking about your experiences in the FFA organization can help make their day. Continue to share our FFA vision to GROW LEADERS, BUILD COMMUNITIES, AND STRENGTHEN AGRICULTURE! As nervous as I was to interact with Lyle, don’t let that fear you from messaging me! I will help you in any way I can so just email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Make it a great day FFA members,
Last week, Curtis, Daniel, and I were able to head to Chippewa Valley Technical College for their Agricultural Skills Contest. Over 400 agricultural students competed in three different categories which included Agronomy, Dairy Technology, and Floriculture. For us three, we had the easy job of talking with members and seeing what the three contests entailed. As I started walking around to each of the contests, I was amazed by how much knowledge members knew as they competed and noticed these students had one heck of a good time doing it.
All competitors were able to experience the Agriculture Day Celebration that took place as part of their lunch program which involved listening to several speakers, two of which were Alice in Dairyland, Abigail Martin and Interim Secretary of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection, Randy Romanski. Curtis, Daniel, and I were, fortunately, able to also speak during the Ag Day Celebration to bring greetings on behalf of the FFA. We each talked a little about what Wisconsin FFA has been up to and I wrapped up with talking about the upcoming Career Development Events (CDEs). After going through the different contests, I realized this ag skills contest is pretty similar to our CDEs and had to add how lucky everyone was to have a practice round to get ready for the FFA CDEs.
With our first regional CDE taking place today in Janesville, the season has officially started. But, for the over 400 students who competed at the ag skill contest, their season started last week and who knows maybe a couple of months ago for everyone. No matter what contest you may compete in, everyone is gaining experience of a different potential agricultural career before they are even out of high school. That is something one should value as not everyone has that option.
So, for those competing in a CDE, it may not be so hard to answer the question “what do you want to do when you grow up?” It’s awesome to see the participation in CDEs as you all are taking the opportunity to learn more about what could be an industry in agriculture you may be working in someday. And while you are competing, always remember to have one heck of a good time similar to what happened last week at the ag skills contest!
Good luck to everyone who is competing at the rest of the upcoming regional CDE contests throughout the state!
See you around,
Anyways, something crazy happened last week… I had just gotten done taking quite a trip to Mauston for a pancake dinner, Sauk Prairie for Culver’s share night, stayed the night at Jared Mack’s house and then went all the way down to Burlington! Now from my house to Burlington is three and a half hours so when they had invited me down for a chapter visit, I thought that would be pretty cool! The day was awesome there and I had so much fun seeing why Michelle loved her section so much. After a nice day there, I headed back home to make it back for chores. It is a herd of about 40 head of beef cattle and 30 miniature dwarf goats, perfect size for someone to do by themselves at night. First, grain the cattle and goats, done! Second, give all of them hay, done! Next, give them all water, done! Lastly, Check the lot. I was on my way to the lot and then I saw the owner coming down the driveway. I went up and told him that there was only one part left and he told me that he would help and then we could both push the empty silage wagon out of the lot on the way back out. All is well with cattle and no new calves for the night so its time to push out the wagon. It’s dark, cold, and icy. We start pushing with all our might while sliding on the small patches of ice littered throughout the lot. I heard him slip and then BANG! The extendable hitch landed right on my foot. Falling immediately to the ground I came to the realization that walking on that foot was not exactly possible. Through the pain I hobbled on over to the vehicle, hopped in, then called my mom. She luckily works for the Marshfield Clinic, so she told me that we were going to have to wait for the next day to get it checked out. That next day came quite slow but right away went to the hospital to hear the news I had been expecting, I broke my foot. Not just any foot, the right one… Driving was no longer an option for 8 weeks according to the doctor. Now I get to be chauffeured around to all of the events and it makes things a little more challenging but hey… Everything happens for a reason.
To all the competitors have fun with Sectional LDEs and CDEs!
Break a leg! (Pun Intended)
Daniel Clark Wisconsin FFA State Vice President
Collin can always point out some great tractors when he isn’t sleeping. Ryan is one of our best drivers, always getting us to our destination safely and letting us jam out to some good country tunes on the way. Lindsey tries to direct us somewhere, but usually, we end up in the wrong place. Curtis makes the back seat like the Scrambler ride at the fair and smooshes us against the door. Grace always has the best Katy Perry CD in her car and we sing those songs at the top of our lungs. Emily is our karaoke queen. If there is an old country song on, she knows every word. Jared Mack is doing what he normally does, making jokes, making us laugh, and accidentally making me miss my turns. Daniel is always bringing us coffee to keep us awake and serenades us to Josh Turner’s “Your Man”. Joe is the best carpool buddy. We are always brainstorming ideas for the next big thing we can do. And Michelle provides the soothing scent of strawberries with her eight car freshener trees on her rearview mirror.
From Madison to Wisconsin Dells to Washington D.C. to Shawano and everywhere in-between this team has been an absolute blast to be with.
Lots of love,
When the week started, I headed up to the Mauston Pancake Dinner. I had such a fantastic time getting to be a part of this spectacular event. I was joined by Collin and Daniel for the night. The night was filled with raffles, milk shakes, many laughs, great people, and a bunch of delicious pancakes.
Later in the week, I was able to make my way over to the Portage FFA for their Ag Olympics. This was an awesome event and students had a blast. There ended up being three teams of Olympians competing. Their team names were pretty “interesting” and included: The Winners, The Losers, and Team Kaylynn. Overall there were seven different events that challenged students to wheelbarrow races, barrel races, hay bale tossing, and many more exciting events. Ironically the winning team was The Winners.
Thursday of FFA Week was a busy day for me. I started my day with the Wisconsin Dells FFA chapter. Here we handed out Culver’s Custard for their teachers in appreciation for all they do. I then made my way down to Madison Capitol with Grace, Michelle, and Emily to hand out FFA reports to every single representative and senator. After being at the capitol, we ended up back with the Portage FFA for their first annul pancake dinner. The food was great, and the company was even greater!
On Friday the whole team met in Madison to meet at the Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection. Here, we gave a presentation to Interim Secretary Romanski. We then left and met with representatives of Compeer Financial and gave them the run down of what Wisconsin FFA is up too.
After a very busy and fun week, I glad to say that my flight to Florida is almost over and I will be walking the beaches in only a few short hours! If you ever need anything, feel free to contact me at email@example.com.
Wisconsin Association of FFA
I hope everyone had a fantastic FFA week! Maybe you dressed up with your school, tossed some hay bales, chugged some milk, or maybe you simply wore your all time favorite FFA shirt! FFA week is all about showing people what FFA is all about while having a whole lot of fun in the process. For myself, my FFA week was filled with a couple different activities, from talking on radio and TV stations, meeting with the interim secretary of Ag in Madison, and watching some FFA members absolutely kill it at a dress up race! But the best part of FFA week was that I was able to spend it with the people that mean the most to me. FFA members! Whether it was my teammates or chapter members, it is never a dull moment when FFA members get together! When people ask me what my favorite part of being a state officer is, I always say it is getting the chance to meet all of you. I love meeting new people, learning their story, and adding to my FFAmily.
FFA is the perfect organization to find your place. I love that FFA allows us to meet strangers, become friends, and then become a family. My senior year of high school I was the president of my chapter and my team was also all seniors, we had been in school together for years so we knew each other but weren’t necessarily close friends. During our senior year and our year as officers together we became a family. We grew together as officers and were my home away from home. I never knew how close I would get to 6 other people that I thought I knew for years. That just goes to show how much you can still learn about the people around you.
In June I was fortunate enough to be put on a team of 10 strangers, we quickly became friends that laugh, joke, and have loads of fun together! Well through our year of getting to know each other and getting to know you all, I can confidently say that my FFAmily has over 20,000 FFA members in it. I’ve always had a big family so why wouldn’t my FFAmily be the same!
Wisconsin FFA, you will always be my FFAmily and I am forever thankful for that!
Love you all,
Something that is really cool about FFA week is, the social media challenge. Each day of the week there is a different theme to post about. And I wanted to keep with the theme and make my blog about #ThankfulThursday. Today is all about celebrating who we are thankful for and the impact that they have made on us. For this, I want to share why I am thankful for my teammates.
It may be a little cheesy to say that I am thankful for my state officer teammates, but it really is the truth. When I was elected as a state officer back in June, I had no idea that these 10 strangers would soon become my closest friends and even my family. We have come a long way since our first awkward conversation about our SAE’s after we were elected. Each one of my teammates brings something special to the table. Individually we are all very different. But when we come together, there is no mistaking the chemistry and the bond that we all have with each other to create something great.
I have been able to see my teammates grow individually and as a team throughout the year so far. I know I have seen positive changes within myself that I can only credit my teammates for. Having the honor to serve Wisconsin FFA with such amazing role models and be able to do that with my 10 best friends would be an understatement. But I wouldn’t be able to this if were not for all of you. I am here because of you and I could not be more grateful for that. THANK YOU for being you!
Who are you thankful for? Share your story on social media with #ThankfulThursday so we see all the amazing people we get to be thankful for!
Until next time,
Well, it's half over! National FFA Week is flying by! It’s been one heck of a week, to say the least.
Yesterday, I had the chance to attend Tomah FFA’s Pancake Supper. There were pancakes, sausage, cheese, apple sauce and slices, Culver’s custard, milk, juice, and coffee. It was quite the spread! After we got done eating, the FFA alumni had a Euchre tournament, so I decided to stick around. I always enjoyed playing cards at my local town hall every other Sunday night, so it was a no-brainer.
As the night progressed, I realized some similarities between the alumni members and the members of the card club back home. For starters, they are both full of conversation, stories, and laughter. But perhaps the biggest similarity was listening to the alumni’s advice for me. I don’t know what it is, but for some reason whenever I play cards, I receive lots of advice. I’ve heard anything from “do what you love to do” to “just have fun” to “don’t stress the small things” to “speed is an asset.” I always try to soak in as much of that advice as possible because I know my fellow card players have all had lots of experiences that have given them plenty of wisdom to pass on.
On this Wisdom Wednesday, let’s remember the value of learning from others. Don’t just let these pieces of advice go in one ear and out the other. Keep them in the back of your mind and think about how you can implement them in your lives through your actions. As the old Chinese Proverb says, “Many receive advice, but only the wise profit from it.” How will you take the advice and wisdom others have shared with you and use it to spark positive change in your life?
With only three days of National FFA Week left, finish strong! Keep up the great work, keep showcasing your effect on your school and community and if you ever need anything, don’t be afraid to get a hold of me at firstname.lastname@example.org or (608)-863-6402!
Have a good one,
Ellsworth has two very dominate traditions that come to my mind right away. These include having an officer retreat and the alumni tractor pull.
Our officer retreat always consists of traveling to Section 1, to Spooner, Wisconsin. My advisor’s family has a cabin there. While we are spending our time there, you can find us working on planning the upcoming year, so that it is a success. It is not always work, work, work because even the great business owners need a break to relax. Throughout my three years of being a chapter officer at Ellsworth, we have had the privilege of doing many different fun activities. These include, but are not limited to; kayaking, mini golfing, swimming, fishing, attending a football game, bonfires, roasting s’mores over the stove, and of course the must have marshmallow fights. While at the cabin, we are able to bond and start working together to become an effective team for the year to come.
The FFA Alumni tractor pull is a fundraiser that benefits our FFA Chapter, along with local groups and the Ellsworth community. This event takes a whole year of planning and plotting to make sure that it is executed successfully. Throughout the past four years of attending and working this event, I have helped with many different areas such as, selling 50/50 raffles, setting up the event, taking tickets at the entrance, working in the food stands, watching my advisor’s two sons, selling beverages in the stands, and my favorite, driving around the gator. Why they let me drive the gators, I still do not know. This event has helped me to learn more about the functions of my FFA alumni by working with them for a common goal. The Ellsworth FFA Alumni are amazing individuals that look to benefit our Chapter and the students that have worked so hard to learn about agriculture. The best part is giving back to the community.
These activities have alumni, students, and community members looking forward to the summer months to arrive!
What traditions do you have?
The next school year rolled around and personally, my mindset hadn’t changed. I was still planning on participating in the same old Barron FFA events and was ready to coast through my sophomore year. The only problem? My Ag teacher was also ready to coast, but instead he was coasting into retirement and the Barron FFA had recently hired a new ag teacher. ONE teacher change throughout high school might not be a big deal to some, but it might just be the reason I am where I am today.
Year after year, I stayed very involved with Barron FFA events. Our new ag teacher soon settled into her new position and was pushing me more than ever to try something new. Finally, I gave in and attended ONE FFA conference, Farm Bureau’s Farm Forum, and that was when I realized just what I had been missing out on. The conference sparked a mentality in me that I, Ryan Erickson, am a part of the future of FFA and the future of agriculture; a mentality that sticks with me to this day.
I finished out my high school FFA career strong, serving as a chapter officer for two years. However, after graduating, I thought my FFA days were most likely over. A few different times, my ag teacher suggested running for state office to me, but I never thought I would be capable of doing that. But after ONE long conversation with my boss in the center aisle of his 40 cow dairy barn, he instilled a confidence in me that I could accomplish whatever I set my mind to.
ONE first day. ONE new teacher. ONE FFA conference. ONE conversation. All it takes is ONE event to change somebody’s life. These are my ONE’s. The moments in time that I will never forget. As FFA Week is upon us. I can’t think of a better time to be a part of somebody else’s ONE. Whether that means trying something new, encouraging a friend, or having a simple conversation, you never know when that opportunity might arise. And all it takes is ONE.
Have a good one,
George Washington celebrated his 288th birthday on Saturday and that means one thing for FFA members across the country- National FFA Week is officially upon us!
While the FFA holiday is celebrated nationally, there’s no doubt it’s the local festivities that have the biggest impact. All across Wisconsin, FFA members are organizing events in their chapters, schools, and communities to celebrate FFA and tell the story of agriculture education and the agriculture industry. We have a lot to be proud of, and FFA Week allows us to share that pride with others.
The state officer team is joining in on the celebration by getting out and visiting as many FFA members as possible through out the course of the week. My FFA week schedule finds me stopping by the Amherst FFA Fisheree, the Dodgeville Kiwanis Club Meeting and FFA Program, the Random Lake FFA Pep Rally, the Mauston FFA pancake breakfast, the Arcadia FFA Week Assembly, Ashland FFA’s Donkey Basketball, and the Cashton FFA Ag Olympics.
The grand finale of the week for the state officer team will be a meeting with the Wisconsin Interim DATCP Secretary in Madison on Friday! We’ll have plenty of fresh miles on our vehicles by the end of the week, but those miles will come with a boat load of memories from witnessing FFA members share the good word of our organization! Sounds like miles well spent to me!
Keep doing great things and enjoy the remainder of FFA Week! Thank you for everything you’re doing this week and will continue to do in the future to promote FFA in your schools and communities. Hope to see you soon!