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FFA Officers: Travel Blog

As Strong as Velcro...
Nov. 27, 2020
Melissa Konkel - Vice President
Big Foot FFA Chapter
Section 10

Thanksgiving. A time for family, friends, and fantastic food! This year, our Thanksgivings may look a little different, but no matter where we are, what we are doing, or who we are with, what the holiday is all about remains true.

If you ask the state officer team where their second home is in the state of Wisconsin, they will more than likely tell you the Holiday Inn in Marshfield, WI. I’m very fortunate to actually be spending my Thanksgiving with family back in this second hometown of ours, staying in the exact same hotel!

For as often as I have stayed at this location, this time it is a very different experience. This time…I am without the team. Without the friends who have become my family… It is unfortunate that we are not able to share this wonderful experience of “friendsgiving" with each other during this holiday season. However, while traveling from the very bottom to this center-of-the-state location, one glance at a billboard advertisement helped remind me of something incredibly important…

This billboard was advertising for a Velcro shoe. Velcro…an incredibly sticky, hard-to-pull-apart, interwoven material that holds itself together through interloping hooks. Just like Velcro, each of us represents one of these looping hooks, and when we meet and hook on to one another, even if we are far apart or cannot be with each other in person, our connection cannot be broken.

Wisconsin FFA, this Thanksgiving season may look very different, but the connections we have made and the people we have met, those will continue to stick with us like Velcro. Unbroken, even in moments of great difficulty.

FFA members, enjoy this holiday weekend and keep close those connections we have already made!

“Forever on Thanksgiving Day, the heart will find the pathway home.” – Wilbur D. Nesbit

In Service to You,
Melissa Konkel
Count Your Blessings, Not Carbs
Nov. 25, 2020
Katrina Hoesly - Parliamentarian
Denmark FFA Chapter
Section 9

Three weeks ago, how many of us saw the Halloween decorations flying off the shelves, only to be replaced by Christmas merchandise in stores? It’s like they forgot Thanksgiving, right? I feel the same way. What a month November was. I had so much going on that I seriously do not know where the month went. From preparing and facilitating Fall Leadership Workshops, to catching up on school, to finding time to be with family, it seems as though it's still November 1st. But, in reality, December is 5 days away...

Somehow, amongst the craziness of Christmas, Thanksgiving has fallen upon us. And I love Thanksgiving. It's a time to be with those you love, eating fabulous food, and sharing memories. With it being Thanksgiving tomorrow, I keep seeing people posting on social media all the things that they are thankful for. And while I think that expressing gratitude is always a good thing, I always wonder why people only seem to do it around a specific holiday? Why only think about what you are thankful for around Thanksgiving? Why not do it all year round, every day? Now I know that for many of us it can be hard sometimes to be thankful or show gratitude, especially when things seem so difficult and stressful. This can be when you are not sure how you are going to get all your homework done, pass your exams, and have a social life on top of that. As students, stress is our middle name. But, I have 3 steps to stay grateful each and every day and maybe these will work for you, too!

First, appreciate everything, even if it seems silly. There are days when I struggle to find things to be thankful for but then I remember I can be thankful for ANYTHING. Coffee makes the list more often than not. My fuzzy slippers when my feet get cold. And a good ol' bowl of cheerios to kickstart my mornings. All of these things are small, but I am so thankful for them.

Second, be thankful for your struggles and hard times. I know this one is hard! But they are there for a reason. I believe you are never given more than you can handle. I know at times you can feel overwhelmed and think “why me?”. In times like these, I encourage you to say “thank you”. Say thank you to the universe for providing you with challenges, pain, and obstacles to show you your strength. It is through struggle and challenge that you get to see what you are made and capable of. It is through the resistance that we become stronger. It is through sadness that we are thankful for joy. Be grateful for being given the opportunity to show the world and, more importantly, yourself that you can do it and no matter the struggle, no matter the challenge, you will persevere and come out on the other side stronger and better than you were before. Be thankful that you were presented with the struggles that made you the person that you are today.

And finally, make your gratitude a part of your daily routine. When you are brushing your teeth, think of at least 5 things you are thankful for. Incorporate it into your daily routine so it can become a habit for you. Establishing a routine for your gratitude, remembering to be thankful every day can really improve your mood. It helps you see the world and your life from a perspective of thankfulness. Seeing everything as a blessing. And that should never be limited to a holiday season, it should be a daily occurrence.

These hard times can make it very tough to find things to be thankful for. But it is these times when it is more important than ever to work on being thankful. Because that is how we bring ourselves back to the light and the good times. By finding the good in the bad. Look at 2020 for example. We have all faced many challenges and have had to miss out on so many things. However, look at the good things that have come from this. With our lives and schedules slowed down, we have more time to focus on the present and connect with those friends and family members that we may only see on the holidays. We were also given the opportunity to design new and fun ways to connect with each other! In times of trial, I think of what my team and I have accomplished and all the service we have yet to do as well as all the crazy memories we have made, like walking to Kwik Trip at 2 o’clock in the morning for eggnog! Each and every day, I think of how blessed I am to work alongside 9 talented individuals as we work whole-heartedly to serve all of you, Wisconsin FFA!

There is something to be grateful for every day, we just need to find it. Now tell yourself: I am thankful. I am thankful for yesterday. I am thankful for today. And I am thankful for tomorrow.

With Gratitude,
Katrina Hoesly
We Tied The Knot!
Nov. 17, 2020
Cortney Zimmerman - Vice President
Spencer FFA Chapter
Section 7

Well…Wisconsin FFA, we are almost done with our Fall Leadership Workshops! This will end up being 10 days of workshops, learning, connections, and very random activities! The team has worked so hard to put these workshops together, so in our free time, we take time to just really be present with each other and enjoy the little things. Anything from playing card games, building forts, talking until 3 a.m., and the most unique thing, making tie blankets. On Sunday evening, the team had time to travel to Wausau for a fancy meal and a few shopping adventures! While shopping and gathering materials for FLW, a few officers had the idea that we all should make tie blankets with each other. At first, the idea seemed so crazy that it was going to be impossible, but we did not let that stop us! We shopped for our all very different, unique fleeces, followed by us bombarding the ladies at the counter, but they were so sweet and helpful! Getting everyone what they needed was a task, but so worth the time.

We then went for supper at HuHot and headed for our home away from home. As we arrived, we started to plan, where we were going to move all the furniture, which blankets we were going to start with, and then we got to work! A quick side note is we started at about 8:00 at night, and Jackie and I started right away. While we were working, we played 3 Netflix movies, yes 3. While some officers finished within 30 minutes, others in an hour, as for Jackie and I…it took us until 1 am. That doesn’t mean that we didn’t know what we were doing or that we didn’t want to, we simply just “made it the full experience,” What I mean by this is we took time for snacks, laying on the fabric and saying of how nice it will be when it’s done, asking Katrina for help, and even considering just using the table clothes for our blankets instead.

This may have taken a LOT of time to do, but it was so worth it. It was something so simple that made a bond so much stronger. We were able to just set the craziness of the world aside and sit down, tie our blankets, and be present with each other. We as FFA members, need to just take a moment, set everything aside, and think about the important people in our lives. Whether you are sitting down for a meal, going for a drive, or even making tie blankets, these are the moments that you’re going to end up remembering and cherishing most. Enjoy and appreciate those that make you the best person you can be, spend time with them. Find the most random ways to be present in the moment. With that, lay out your fleece, find your friends, and tie the knots!

Fleece Out! ✌
Cortney L. Zimmerman
Home Away From Home
Nov. 11, 2020
Brooks Lueck - Vice President
Wisconsin Heights FFA Chapter
Section 5

My week began with some travel to Belleville High School to host an in-person chapter officer workshop or better known as COWs. Then I was headed off to Juda for another in-person COW. On my way I made a few pit stops in Monticello to drop off some awards. Then made a pitstop of course at everyone’s favorite Wisconsin gas station, Kwik Trip, and then continued on delivery with some more awards to Monroe. It was great to work with members and am very excited to get more opportunities to meet everyone.
My next trip started on a rainy Tuesday, to pick up the carpool to head to meet Carisa for our trip up to our home away from home, the Marshfield Holiday Inn. Where we started to begin prepping for our 8 days of Fall Leadership Workshops.
You may be wondering why I am calling the Marshfield Holiday Inn our home away from home. Well, this is because we have spent all of our time there this year. Starting with our first time meeting to the most recent being the National FFA Convention and any training, conferences, workshops in between. And of course we will be living there for the time we are running FLWs.
I think if this quote by John O’Callaghan “Home isn’t really a place. It’s the people who make it what it is. I have a great home.” That could mean home is anywhere. It could be your high school ag room, a hotel, your college you attend, or where you live. For me home is my hometown in Section 5, the University of Wisconsin - River Falls, and anywhere I am with my team.
I encourage everyone to make the most of every opportunity and join us for Fall Leadership Workshops!! If you haven’t signed up contact your Ag teacher to get signed up.

Keep on keepin’ on,
Brooks Lueck
Piece by Piece
Nov. 07, 2020
Kendra Jentz - Treasurer
River Ridge FFA Chapter
Section 4

Hey Wisconsin FFA!

It is hard to believe that it is already November. We are only a few days away from the Fall Leadership Workshops(November 11-19, be sure to check them out!) and I couldn’t be more excited! I’m looking forward to meeting all of you. You are my purpose. However, with the leadership workshops coming up and all the other projects on our to do list, things can feel a little overwhelming at times. This was the case for me this week. I was sitting at the kitchen table looking at my to-do list. I wanted things completed so they could benefit FFA members, especially this blog post, but I just couldn’t focus. I felt stuck. I asked my Mom, ”What do you do when you can’t focus?”

She said, “First, I check to see if I’ve had too much coffee. Then, I look at what I want to accomplish and break it into smaller jobs, piece by piece. This allows me to focus and accomplish more.”

Well, the first one was not my problem since I am definitely not a coffee drinker at this point in my life. But my mom's second piece of advice really stuck with me.

Piece by piece, it is the way everything in our lives is built. Think about it this way: our lives are like a puzzle. While we may like it to be simple and easy to figure out, this is typically not the case. Many times it feels like one of those puzzles that has a million different pieces, and we don’t even know where to begin. However, every single piece of our life matters. If one piece is missing, the big picture will not be complete. Sometimes the big picture can seem overwhelming. However if we take it piece by piece, we can focus more and enjoy all the moments and people in our lives.

Piece by piece. This can be said about every part of our lives from doing a job, homework, relationships, learning a new skill, and FFA. Although we always want to have the end goal in mind, it should not be our main focus. We need to get up every day and work hard on accomplishing the small pieces that will create our beautiful picture.

Piece by piece. Our FFA journey is the same way. We all have to start somewhere as a FFA member, which is the first piece. The last piece to our FFA puzzle is when we hang up our FFA jacket for the final time. However, it is all the moments in between -the learning and laughter, people and memories, and finding our home within our organization- that truly matters in our puzzle. There may be times that we are frustrated and want to give up. That’s when we need to remember why we joined FFA and what we want to accomplish during our time within this organization.

Wisconsin FFA Members, remember you are the one who gets to choose what your puzzle looks like. Will it be complete? Will you take advantage of every opportunity and show gratitude to others? Or, will it be missing a few pieces? It is your choice. You get to build your puzzle of life, so make it a great one! Finally, realize that you don’t have to build your puzzle alone. There are people who will help you and want you to be successful with it.

If you ever need help with your FFA puzzle, just let me know. I am here to serve you!

Piece by Piece,
Kendra Jentz
From the Heart
Nov. 04, 2020
Carisa Cleven - Vice President
Tomah FFA Chapter
Section 3

Lead from the Heart...Teach from the Heart...Celebrate from the Heart...Give from the Heart...Live from the Heart...

Last week, we were able to celebrate the National FFA Convention! No matter where we were, we had the opportunity to get excited and celebrate from the heart. Some of us also participated or are participating in Living to Serve projects. This is giving from the heart! Fellow FFA members and people from all backgrounds, we are already celebrating, giving, living, and more from the heart!

However, sometimes we may feel like we hit a slump. I will be completely honest with you, I had a few slump days myself before National Convention. Maybe school is a struggle, maybe we are not sure how to reach out, maybe we just don’t know if we are doing enough, maybe our minds are not in the right place. It’s valid to realize that those slump days occur, but when these happen, remember that we can only do the best that we can do. Folks, doing the best that we can is leading, teaching, celebrating, giving, living…from the heart. Since then, I have seen this happening in our chapters. Our fellow FFA members are reaching out from the heart by checking in on farmers, sharing from the heart by hosting corn maze events or haunted houses, and more.

Now, it is easy to fall into thinking about everything that is happening in our world and lives right now and get stuck in that slump. In order to keep going, we must lean on following what our heart tells us and/or reach out to others. This is what kickstarts great things! We cannot do it all by ourselves.

A prime example is leadership. Leadership cannot happen if we only have a leader or only have a follower. We need each other to be there and be present from the heart, meaning willing to participate in any capacity. Let’s strive to not only live from the heart, but to lead from the heart this year. One step towards this could be attending our Virtual Fall Leadership Workshops, November 11th through the 19th!

The possibilities are endless! When we keep these three words in our mind...from the heart...we will not only accomplish what we set out to do, but we will do it to the best of our ability with others in mind. Someone once told me that everything we do should have a purpose. When we do what we do from the does!

Striving to live from the heart, remember that I am here for you. Reach out if you ever need anything or just want to chat.

From the Heart,
Carisa Cleven
Dancing the Night Away
Nov. 01, 2020
Ben Styer - Vice President
Menomonie FFA Chapter
Section 2

“You put your right hand in. You put your right hand out. You put your right hand in, and you shake it all about!”

These were the words I heard at about 1:30 a.m. as I jumped into the camera frame to dance. The state officer team met together to celebrate and participate in the 93 National FFA Convention and Expo together. During the week, we voted on delegate business, watched sessions, participated in the different features of convention, celebrated the successes of Wisconsin FFA members, approved the new National FFA Officer team, and stayed up pretty late having fun.

In one of the sessions, Kourtney Lehman, National FFA Secretary, and Tess Seibel, National FFA Eastern Region Vice President, led a dance to a medley of songs. At the end of the session, they shared that members should recreate the dance and post it on social media with the convention hashtag for a chance to be featured in the next pre-session. After watching a Halloween movie as a team and talking with each other, we decided to give this dance a go.

Some of the team had already gone to sleep, but the rest of us spent a few minutes practicing and setting up the camera before dancing. After a couple takes, we had a video that turned out. After all, it was 1:30 in the morning and phone battery levels were tanking; we didn’t have much of a choice. This was the video. At that time, Jackie uploaded the video to Instagram and some of the other officers shared it to their stories and tagged the National Officer team. Kourtney and Tess had shared their support for the video on Instagram, and we were featured on the pre-session before session five of the National FFA Convention! This pre-session was not only live on the convention website, but it was also nationally broadcast on RFD-TV.

If you would’ve told me a few months ago that I would be dancing on national television, I would’ve thought you were crazy. In fact, I still cringe a little when I see the video. However, if I could do it again, I would in a heartbeat. While the dancing was embarrassing, the opportunity allowed me to step outside of my comfort zone and embrace the challenge created by Kourtney and Tess. This year is unlike any other we’ve lived so far. We have so many unique opportunities. Personally, I want to make sure I make the most of the year by being present at all times and living in the moment, and I hope you all want that for yourselves too.

In order to do this, jump out of your comfort zone. Join the club, attend the FFA event, sign up for the leadership development event, make the phone call, initiate the conversation, and have fun along the way! There is no growth in the comfort zone and no comfort in the growth zone.

Looking to get involved and make the most of your opportunities? Attend our virtual Fall Leadership Workshops, running from November 11 through November 19. Contact your advisor to register and get more information. Reach out if you need anything. I am here to serve you!

Ben Styer
The Addams Family
Oct. 28, 2020
Jackie Rosenbush - Sentinel
Spooner FFA Chapter
Section 1

Hey Wisconsin FFA,

It is officially the week of National FFA Convention, and the Wisconsin FFA State Officer team has been LOVING it! Not only having the opportunity to watch all of our nations’ amazing FFA members succeed on the national “stage,” but also having time to distress and bond as a team!

This week we have several Spooktacular activities planned, including; social media livestreams, costume dress-up parties, and… PUMPKIN CARVING CONTESTS (Y’all should head over to the Wisconsin FFA Instagram to vote for which one you think is the best)!!! We love having opportunities to work together and accomplish tasks, but my fondest memories come from all of the late-night dance parties and the early morning Dunkin’ Donut runs with my teammates.

Coming into this year, I had always heard that the State Officer Team becomes a “family.” Until now I did not know how much of this was fake and how much was genuine relationships formed. These people are my family! We talk about what is stressing us out. We talk about what is nerve-racking in our lives. We talk about what makes us happy and excites us, and just about everything in between. We talk when we are apart just as much as when we are together and every time we meet back up, and it is like we never left.

I know this is a cliché, but we really are a FFAmily.

In honor of us nearing the end of October and Halloween creeping closer and closer, let us compare us, the state officer team, to the Addams Family. In the Addams Family, every individual is a crazy, spooky monster that is totally unique, but they love one another and feel comfort to be crazy together. Our team is full of totally crazy, spunky, diverse, strong, and loving individuals. When together, we feel totally comfort to be vulnerable and to be our authentic selves.

We are crazy individuals that come together to create a family, The Addams Family.

Stationed by the Door,
Jackie Rosenbush
Making the Magic Happen
Oct. 23, 2020
Joe Schlies - President
Denmark FFA Chapter

For 2020 being my first year living at UW-River Falls, it’s easy to say Northwest Wisconsin experiences winter much faster than back home in Northeast Wisconsin! Mother nature granted River Falls over 5 inches of snow this past Tuesday, and I don’t think many were prepared for it. Usually around this time, it seems as if the leaves are still on the ground and the temperatures are around the upper 40s and mid-50s. You can probably imagine how a person feels in this type of weather when they still have all their winter clothes like gloves and warm boots at home and don’t know how to turn on the heat in the dorm room- COLD! Thanks to the roommate coming back from the weekend, we now have heat. This colder weather may have come too soon this year, but there is one thing that cannot come fast enough- National Convention!

T- Minus three days, and the gavel will drop for the 93rd National FFA Convention! At the same time, it does seem hard to believe National Convention is that close. Since the fall semester seems to be slipping by like no tomorrow with the crazy schedules everyone has, I thought I’d take some time to reflect on all of what my teammates have done in the past couple of weeks.

One of the highlights for me last year around this time was visiting chapters and meeting with each of the officer teams. I wasn’t able to meet with all of the officers at every chapter visit, sometimes I only got in contact with one or two of them, but this year is a different story. One of the best parts includes my teammates being able to meet all of the chapter officers in their sections through our new Chapter Officer Workshop (COW) series.

Opposed to facilitating the workshops, part of the job as President is helping my teammates grow in their facilitation skills. For the past couple of weeks, I have been joining COWs in each section to observe my teammates, and without a doubt, I sure have experienced the magic of Wisconsin FFA take place right in front of my eyes. Innovative minds are just grinding away in these workshops, thinking of events that can take place while meeting safety guidelines. It seems as if every workshop I go to, the chapter officers keep on thinking of ideas that blow me away. To name one, a team thought of hosting an FFA Fast Food Drive Thru! This guy right here wishes he was that creative!

Joining these COWs have shown me that we are forcing ourselves to think of new and creative activities because our usual ones may not be fit for this year, ultimately making our chapters more developed and resistant to anything in front of us. But, what if instead of being forced, we take this creativity and put it into everything we do? What if we continue to think of new ways to improve efficiency and prevent unmet outcomes this year, next year, the year after that, and so on? How could we take that motivation to make the magic happen and implement it in other parts of our life? That same magic that is happening in our workshop as we continue to come up with innovative activities. I have seen officers putting every ounce of ambition they have into these workshops to help their chapter, and that’s what causes the real illusion.

National FFA has also been making magic happen as they prepare for convention. I guarantee it will be one unbelievable and fun experience! To get the full feel of convention, sign up for a workshop, go to the career expo, or join one of the member connection rooms, all in the comfort of your home, but more importantly, have fun!

Stay tuned to the Wisconsin FFA Social Media platforms through National Convention to connect with the state officers! Reach out if you have any questions!

Let the fun begin!
Never a Dull Moment!
Oct. 22, 2020
Melissa Konkel - Vice President
Big Foot FFA Chapter
Section 10

Just like many of you, I am ALWAYS busy! Whether its completing classwork, attending a chemistry lab, helping other FFA members, or facilitating a Chapter Officer Workshop, there has never seemed to have been a “dull” moment during these past few months.

During these insanely busy times, the true highlights of my days are when I have gotten to meet and interact with everyone of you! Through our brand-new Chapter Officer Workshop program, we have had the opportunity to work with numerous chapter officer teams, with still more to come!

Just this last week, I got to work with numerous chapter officer teams and hear all the fantastic discussion that took place. In fact, my most recent virtual visit with the Union Grove FFA chapter left smiles on, I know my face, but hopefully everyone’s faces both during and after out time together. This team’s hard work and dedication to the FFA and their passion for making things happen was more than I could have hoped for in a team! Every team that we’ve gotten to work with has been so outstanding and the future of FFA is in good hands with these teams leading the charge!

More than a few times, I have had close friends of mine say, “Are you crazy? You are way too busy! You need to lighten your load!” However, even as truthful as that statement is lol, I would not trade anything for the incredible experiences gained throughout these extremely busy times. Even though the “less busy” path may add a few more years to my life, I believe the statement of “quality over quantity” truly rings true in these moments.

As FFA members, leaders, and future agriculturalists, even when it seems like there is just to much, I challenge you to keep pushing through and challenge yourself to do more than you thought you ever could, because it is through those challenging experiences that we gain the most experience from. Trust me, you won’t regret it because there is never a dull moment!

Keep pushing forward,
Melissa Konkel

"Keep moving forward, and only look back to see how far you've come." - anonymous
Digging Up Gold
Oct. 19, 2020
Katrina Hoesly - Parliamentarian
Denmark FFA Chapter
Section 9

It proudly begins powerful words like mighty, magnificent, and majestic. It is the 14th most used letter in the English alphabet and is a memorable monument that uses this letter in perhaps the most meaningful way. Over the weekend, I traveled to Section 4 for a fun family weekend and tackled one of Wisconsin's unique landmarks: the world's largest M! The "M" is the official symbol for the "Miners" of the former Wisconsin Mining School and was created to keep the tradition of mining alive! The "M" was first lit as a part of homecoming festivities in 1937, and it has happened ever since. The "M" is even visible from parts of Iowa, Illinois, and Wisconsin! Also, thousands of visitors and locals climb the beloved landmark each year!

While my family and I were conquering the 266 steps to the top of Platt Mound, I started thinking about a few different things. First, I need to get in shape. Second, a miner is just like a leader. Miners dig through the dirt and rock to find shiny precious gems. Once it is found, they develop that gem into something truly remarkable. It is their job to find gold!

A leader should see each member as a mine which contains many different gems, some visible, some hidden, but all valuable. Each gem is a quality, skill, experience, or piece of knowledge, that the individual holds. And, there is an abundance of gems in each and every one of us! To give a few examples, diamonds are the stone of invincibility, green sapphire is the gem of enhanced vision, and sodalite is the stone of logic. In short, gems represent desirable attributes such as strength, compassion, kindness, and many more. While some people show their gems directly on the surface, others have their gems hidden deep down in their mines below many layers of rock and dirt. To bring them to the surface, a lot of dirt and rock needs to be cleared before the gems can be revealed and polished. The job of a leader is to find those gems in others by digging past the rock and dirt.

Even as individuals, we need to find our inner gems in order to shine. Inside each of us lies a vast reserve of gold and gems. Yet, these treasures are hard to tap into when we are facing setbacks and challenges. When the world drags us down, it's tough to find our inner gems, but we cannot let that stop us. And now, with all of the dirt 2020 has thrown at us, we have to continue to keep digging until we find those golden opportunities.

You are going to find yourself dealing with situations where you are standing against the grain, where conventional wisdom is going to push you in a direction that you are not excited about going. Even though things do not look the same, we need to take every chance we get to make memories, build friendships, and grow our FFA journeys. This is important to understand because your qualities are essential to you living your dream life. Your unique strengths help you to deal with the obstacles life will throw your way. When you think of words like resilience and perseverance, they are both tied to a deep sense of inner strength and purpose.

Wisconsin FFA, what gems do you have? Which ones are buried, and which ones are bright and visible? Which ones need a good polish? I challenge you to find your treasures and let them shine!

Happy mining!

Katrina Hoesly
Plan Ahead to Be Ahead
Oct. 18, 2020
Katie Loehrke - Secretary
Weyauwega-Fremont FFA Chapter
Section 8

Technology. Helpful and beneficial but also confusing and troublesome. I think it is safe to say, we all run into technology problems in life, and sometimes they occur at what seems like the worst of times.

This past week I was using some of my extra time to do some schoolwork as I am a student at the University of Wisconsin River Falls. My classes are fully online, so I to understand what many of our members are experiencing with their online classes. Anyways, I was catching up on some work and planning ahead for the upcoming week. However, I had an exam to do. Of course, the exam made me nervous just thinking about it, as it was kind of a big deal and would really affect my grade in that class. So naturally, I pushed it off and did other work instead. When it got to the final day of when that exam was due, I finally started it. Of course, there was a time limit on it. And can you guess what happened in the final minutes of taking that exam? Technology problems. I am talking computer crashing, just about had me in tears problems. After some emailing with the professor and a lot of panicking, everything got worked out in the end.

You know what I took away from this troubling situation? Prepare for the unexpected. Technology is not necessarily something we can control as these tech. problems seem to always find a way. Nonetheless, we prevail. If we focus on things we can control, we can plan ahead for a better outcome. For example, in the situation with taking the exam, next time I won’t wait till the near end of when it is due. We all can prepare our technology to prevent so many sudden problems by making sure our devices are updated, have a good WiFi connection, and have a sufficient battery charge.

Technology is being used more then ever nowadays. From schoolwork, club/chapter meetings, sports, or even a FFA workshop, there’s no doubt we’re learning new things with technology.

All the best,
-Katie Loehrke

“Preparation is the key to success” – Alexander Graham Bell
Well...That Was New!
Oct. 12, 2020
Cortney Zimmerman - Vice President
Spencer FFA Chapter
Section 7

I am a person that likes to try new things, under certain circumstances. I like to stay in the safe zone and do things I’m comfortable with. Over the past few months, I have learned that it is more than okay to do things that are totally different from the usual. In the year we are in we are all aware that doing new things is the way to go. Maybe that’s putting together a virtual meeting, having to make adjustments for social distancing, or quite possibly maybe it is showing off that new talent or interest you found while in quarantine. I challenge you to try something new that you have never done before.

This past weekend I did something I never thought I would do, kayaking. I went down to visit my grandparents, my brother, and my brother’s fiancé, Leeah. It was a weekend to just hangout and be with family. As we were deciding what we were going to do, Leeah suggested kayaking. Immediately, I got very nervous. 1. I have never done it before. 2. I’m really bad a rowing boats, which I learned at Jag Lake, and 3. The biggest concern, I do not know how to swim. I let all these worries make me so nervous that I didn’t have time to think about the fun that I really could have. So, we all agreed that it was going to happen. We loaded up their kayaks and headed to the river. As we arrived, we figured out who was taking which kayak and what we needed to bring. We grabbed the life jacket just before I got into the kayak to make sure I knew I wasn’t going to drown. I still continued to be nervous, so I wasn’t going to be the first to leave land.

Eventually, it was my turn to go so I hopped in and set out on this treacherous journey. After started, I soon learned that it is very easy to row a kayak and I shouldn’t be nervous about drowning, the water was 4 feet deep max. So eventually I got comfortable with the situation and took it all in, how pretty the fall colors were, how much fun I was having with the people around me, and how much I enjoyed something that I had never done before. There were a few obstacle along the way like helping a struggling fawn out of the water, hitting a few sticks, running into the banks of the river, and eventually having arms that felt like noodles, but each obstacle was just part of the kayaking journey. It was just part of becoming experienced in something new. I am so glad that I had the opportunity to go kayaking and I definitely will do it again.

So maybe there is something you are scared of trying, or you question your confidence or ability. Don’t let fear stop you from trying to accomplish your dreams and goals or stepping out of your comfort zone. Maybe it’s speaking in front of a group, maybe it’s running for a chapter office or participating in a CDE…maybe it is asking your advisor to start a new chapter activity. You don’t know until you try. I suggest trying something new. If something isn’t working out the way you planned and you’re struggling to figure it out, try something new. By trying something new you are not only gaining experiences, but also you’re growing your experiences and challenging yourself to be your best self. So, grab your paddle, snap together your life jacket, and set out on your new journey. Remember, don’t be worried if you get tangled in some branches, it’s something to laugh about.

Keep On Paddling,
Cortney Zimmerman
The Beginning Of Something New
Oct. 11, 2020
FFA Chapter
Section 6

Wisconsin FFA,
We all know how crazy this year as been. Completely full of mountains to climb and oceans to swim. Constant cancellations about summed up this year. However this gave us the opportunity to open a new door, one we didn't even see before! My officer team has been faced with remaking the entire organization. Workshops, conferences, and leadership all in need of a change.

This last week was the start of something brand new! COWs or Chapter Officer Workshops. State officers worked so hard to develop a workshop that trained chapter officer teams about their leadership, teamwork, and motivation in a COVID world. We felt that since we couldn't have normal SLWs we still wanted officers to feel prepared to tackle the year!

You see, when we step back and look at how challenging this is, it is so scary to comprehend. But if you look at it from another angle, you see the positive outcome! You are creating something new for the future, finding new ways to deliver leadership to chapters, and even connecting with students on a more personal level than past events!

I think this goes for everything in our lives, the constant need to try something new! It is hard, and comes with a great deal of challenges, but sometimes the outcome can be the most inspiring thing you have ever seen or done!

So, if you are serving as a chapter officer, we can't wait to work with you! If you aren't no worries! We have some other NEW and awesome things coming soon! I am always here if you ever need anything or have questions!

Olivia Lulich
Wisconsin Agriculture World Tour
Oct. 03, 2020
Brooks Lueck - Vice President
Wisconsin Heights FFA Chapter
Section 5

1600 miles, 20 businesses, 10 sections, 5 days, 1 team. What a week we had traveling the state of Wisconsin learning about all different aspects of agriculture. Let’s get down to the nitty gritty.

Day 1 started in Spooner, WI. There we met with former State President Logan Wells who works for the DNR. He taught us about the lumber and wood industry. Throughout the week we applied that knowledge at every tour, where we saw pallets and barrels. Next we traveled to Smith Apple Orchard. Here we found out about how they have overcome the cold winters to grow apples. Also found out why they grow dwarf trees and how to really get a large, juicy apple from a tree. Then we headed to Menomonie, WI. We toured Chippewa Valley bean and learned about the largest processing plant for kidney beans. We ended the day at Alfalawn Farms, which happens to be Ben Styer’s home farm. They milk 2,100 cows in a rotary parlor. Not growing up on a farm this was a very informational tour.

Day 2 we headed out to Stedl’s Apple Orchard in Denmark, WI. Seeing different orchards was a great experience and eye-opening to how different operations can be. Also then we had apples for days. Our next stop took us to Shillcox Alpaca Farms. Yes, ALPACAS. They have some of the softest wool I have ever felt. It doesn’t have lanolin in it like sheep’s wool. That afternoon we went to Weyauwega to tour Milk Source. Now this was a level up from Ben’s family operation, as they milk 7,200 head. We also got to see their show cows. Such as Martha and a few other 97’s. (97 is the highest score you can attain in showing dairy) Then it was off to Riley Goat Farm. We got to learn about a 350 dairy goat operation. It was very interesting how they have their parlor set up and how destructive goats are.

Day 3 was at our home away from home, Spencer, WI. We started out with a tour at Schalow’s Nursery. This was a tour that I knew about, thanks to my Landscape Management Proficiency. Also they do landscaping all over and run a nursery which has thousands upon thousands of plants. Now get ready to head to Tomah, WI. We stopped for lunch at everyone’s favorite restaurant, Culver’s. After lunch we toured Wetherby Cranberry. We got to go in a cranberry bog, and learn about the whole harvesting process. We also got to see the harvesting up close, and how they flood the bogs. Our last tour was Hoag tree farm, where we learned about Christmas trees. We also learned about some of the other tree species they grow, like walnut and red pine.

Day 4 started in Mauston, WI at Alsum farms. Holy, potatoes. One of their holding bins that we got to see was holding 80,000 bags of potatoes (yet to be bagged). They have piles 16ft tall and can go up to 18ft. After potatoes, we started the spooky season off right with pumpkins. They harvest their pumpkins into wagons, and busses. Yes they have renovated busses to hold their pumpkins. Then it was another long drive down to the River Ridge FFA area to tour Vesperman Farms. This farm has transitioned from production to now doing Agri-tourism. The best part was that they produce their own ice cream. If you haven’t tried apple cider donut ice cream, you are missing out. Then we went to Bidick Inc. They produce seed corn, which happens to be grown in my hometown of Mazomanie. They also grow popcorn for Rural Route popcorn and raise cattle.

Day 5 started bright and early. As we headed from Potosi to Section 5. Our tours around the Wisconsin Heights FFA area began with West Madison Ag Research Station. They have 600 acres of land that they grow on the suburbs of Madison. This facility is used to supply the UW-Madison campus farms, and also for the campus to do research. They also have 30 acres of land that is certified organic. Then we traveled back in time to Wollersheim Winery. They are the largest winery in Wisconsin and were first started in 1847 before Wisconsin gained statehood. We met with Phillipe, who is a thirteenth generation wine grower from France. This means his family has been making wine almost before the America’s were discovered. They also not only make wine, but they grow all their own grapes and have the processing facility right there. We ended our week in the Big Foot FFA area. We explored semen production and genetics at Main Street Country Store. They do a lot of work with swine, but also go far and wide including horses, dogs, and poultry. They also have made collection units for elephants and walruses. Our last tour was at Pearce’s farm stand, a small town outdoor market. We got to see how they run their operation of Agri-tourism. From pumpkins to homemade caramels, they have it all. The team and I had a great time this week and are so thankful for all of these businesses for letting us tour. One thing to remember from all of this is that no matter what challenges you are facing, you can adapt to create something great. Continued to be UNSTOPPABLE in all that you do.

Keep on keepin’ on,
Brooks Lueck
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