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FFA Officers: Travel Blog

A Boy and His Cow
May. 16, 2022
Emily Dahlke - Treasurer
Adams-Friendship FFA Chapter
Section 6

Springtime brings a lot of things, the return of outdoor sports, planting, new animal babies, but for my brother and I our favorite is jackpot shows. There's just something about loading up the trailer and heading to a place where everyone is there with the same passion and drive for beef cattle.
We joke that jackpot shows are the beauty pageants of the cattle world, but when you see a heifer hit the ring and a switch flips, you get the feeling she thinks it's a pageant too. Watching the way she moves about the ring, head held high and sets every time she stops, you sometimes forget there's even a showman attached.
When you watch a livestock show it is really easy to say, “I can totally do that” or “How hard can it be?”, but you would be amazed at the amount of time livestock kids spend in the barn. It becomes their whole world to wash, rinse, blow, walk and feed their animals.
I’ve shown livestock my entire life at the county fair, but it wasn't until COVID when the county fair was canceled that I stepped out of my comfort zone and went to my first jackpot show. I absolutely fell in love with it and was fascinated to learn the ins and outs of the show stock industry. I quickly learned about the amount of time and energy that these people put into their animals and decided that was what I was going to do. I started late to the show cattle world because I was already 18 years old, but now that I am aging out I get to share my knowledge and love for cattle with a smaller version of myself.
My little brother has always loved animals and has just started his livestock show career. Just last year this young man was timid and nervous at each show and just hadn’t got the hang of being in the show ring. This year was a whole different story. We started by purchasing an Angus heifer (Frankie) in the fall and he quickly made a connection with this heifer that I don’t think I have ever had with an animal. After attending clinics and shows last year he knew what he had to do. Every day after school he heads to the barn to catch Frankie to rinse, blow and walk her which takes over an hour. We work on showmanship skills and making sure she knows how to set up every time she stops. And watching his hard work pay off in the show ring is all an older sister can ask for.
Dedication is a word we hear quite often in the agriculture world and is something that everyone should find. Find dedication to your school work, your SAE’s, your job or whatever else you have a passion for. It might be hard sometimes to see your hard work pay off and it might take a long time before you see it, but as long as you keep growing and learning from those experiences that is all we can ask for.
You would think that after doing something for a long time you might get sick of it, but if it is truly something you are passionate about it will never get old. Take my brother, he walks Frankie everyday, in the cold, in the heat, in the rain, but never fails to have a smile on his face, because he is doing something he loves.
Dedicate some time to doing what you love and you will bring a smile to your face even in the hardest of times. If you ever need anything feel free to reach out! My inbox is always open, 608-369-0594 or edahlke@wisconsinffa.org.

Just Keep Walking,

Emily Dahlke
A Farmers Truth
May. 11, 2022
Aubrey Schlimgen - Sentinel
Marshall FFA Chapter
Section 5

You know how not that long ago Wisconsin was still experiencing an average of 40 degree weather? Yeah, where did this 80 degree, very humid weather come from? I’m not really sure but I think this means one thing, spring field season is in full force. I’m sure you could already tell just by the green grass growing fast, and now the lawnmowers are out. Along with the sun beating down, and tractors and their implements are taking over the roads.

Now that we have nice weather, it's time for farmer’s all across Wisconsin to empty their manure pits, work up the ground, and start planting to grow their crops. On our farm it's time to start working up our fields and start planting corn. Just yesterday my brothers had to take part in the dreaded chore of rock picking. And yes in the 92 degree heat and humidity it is not fun. You get all full of dirt, you sweat like crazy, and from lack of sunscreen, that sun gets you nice and toasty red. But it is all worth it when you get the fields cleared and don’t end up finding one later that breaks the planter or even the tractor.

Needless to say it’s a busy time around here on the farm and on other farms elsewhere. But one of the busiest places right now is the roads. Not only is there everyday traffic from the hustle and bustle of everyday life, but now add the hustle and bustle of farmers in their tractors.

Which now brings up a topic that is very near to my life, and that is safety on the road during this time of year. Fatalities happen every year on the road that relate to the public not driving safely when farm equipment is around. Farmers spend long hours in that equipment, and I know I would like to see my family and friends make it back home safely. But that’s not the case sometimes. According to the Wisconsin Farm-Related Fatality report, fatalities reached 41 in 2017, and 34 in 2018.

I even knew of some family friends who unfortunately lost their lives from these fatalities. Which is why it is important to bring awareness to the surface every year. Yes we are all busy and trying to get places but remember that farmers also have the right to use the road so learn to share it safely. Like giving space for the farm equipment and then finding the right time to pass and giving plenty of time and space when you are allowed to. Or even the small gesture of putting on your hazards to warn others to slow down. The farm equipment on average can only go 18-35mph, so slow down for them. Or even pay attention especially at night to farm equipment leaving the fields and entering or exiting to roads.

We can all play a part to take into consideration the stewards of the land during this busy spring season. You can also research ways to make sure you are being safe around farm equipment, so that way we can all have safer roads and fewer fatalities.

Remember to keep the farmers in your thoughts and I cannot wait to see our crops flourish and for harvest to take place! You can contact me anytime at aschlimgen@wisconsinffa.org or 608-422-0649

Wishing you the best always,
Aubrey Schlimgen
Hit or Miss
May. 08, 2022
Mia Hillebrand - Secretary
River Valley FFA Chapter
Section 4

Time just seemed to fly by this year. Never would I have imagined my time as State Officer go by so quickly. It’s almost like an athletic event I had participated in in high school. Its a sport that requires a lot of practice, skill, a good mindset, and a good team behind you. Now, this sport has orange clays and they are thrown out of a machine that is simliar to a catapult that fly very fast into the air.

If you did not know, I have three younger siblings, Ethan, Ashton, and Ella. All part of the River Valley High School Clay Target Team. Saturday, May 5th, Southwest Technical College hosted their First Annual Clay Target Shoot at the Muscoda Sportmans Club and had invited many teams across Southwestern Wisconsin. In total over 200 student-athletes competed in this event.

My youngest brother Ashton had lead with his best overall score of his high school clay target career with a 46 out 50. Now this seems simply small to a very competitve member of the Wisconsin Clay Target Leauge, but to my brother, this was a huge accomplishment. Pratice, skill, a good mindset, and his team with him had helped him persist in a very competitive competition and reach an accomplishment he had not known he could reach. He had reached the goal of only missing four clay targets, and in this sport it truly is hard to get a perfect score as it comes with practice, weather, mindset, ect.

We as FFA members may have that goal we are aiming for and want to reach so badly and are ready to say “pull” and we miss. We may miss the target but it does not mean we may not reach the goal, hit the goal, or creates another opportunity we may not have seen before.

Today, I encourage Wisconsin FFA members to get ready make the goal and reach the stars. You never know if you may miss the goal and hit another opportunity you may not have seen before. Please reach out to me if you have any questions or need someone to talk to at any time. You can reach me at mhillebrand@wisconsinffa.org or (608)459-0742.

Sincerely,

Mia Hillebrand



The Memories We Make
May. 02, 2022
Amara Livingston - Parliamentarian
Cochrane-Fountain City FFA Chapter
Section 3

Holy smokes! We hear it all the time, but I cannot believe how fast the year has gone! If you are an FFA member, it is more than likely that your chapter has either had their FFA Awards Banquet or will soon. As a state officer, one of the very exciting opportunities we have is to travel to some chapter banquets to help celebrate chapter’s accomplishments.

This past Sunday, I had the opportunity to attend the Gillet FFA Chapter Banquet. Guests were welcomed into a reception area that had pictures from the year displayed all over. One picture stopped me in my tracks. It was an image of me and two FFA members at the Gillet Chapter Visit this winter. The picture was of us around a table with a wireless microphone. The FFA members and I had a bit of a break during the day, so we decided to break out the mic and perform some karaoke. One FFA member had the mic and was singing the one and only “Baby” by Justin Bieber. Looking back at the picture of this moment, I couldn’t help but laugh at this small, silly, goofy memory.

As I was looking at this picture at the Gillet FFA banquet, I realized I will carry countless memories from this year with me for the rest of my life. I was reminded how important it is that we live in the moment because we never know when those moments will become the memories that always make us smile.

For me, attending FFA banquets has been bittersweet. Seeing every member receive their degrees and awards always makes me smile, but at the adjournment of each banquet I am reminded that I am one day closer to the end of my year as the 2021-2022 State FFA Parliamentarian. What gives me the comfort I need is knowing that this year has given me so many moments that have become my fondest of memories, and for that I could not be more grateful.

As the spring approaches, many of us may be reaching the end of a chapter, especially for those of us who are seniors in high school. This can be challenging, exciting, and sad all at the same time. If you are currently in a situation that sounds a lot like this or will be soon, remember this quote: “Cherish every memory, love every moment, and embrace every possibility.” The memories we make are the most valuable things we can acquire in our lifetime. Do everything you can to cherish, love, and embrace every moment, for it is these tiny moments that become our greatest memories.

If you ever need anything or want to share some of your best FFA memories, reach out at alivingston@wisconsinffa.org or 608-863-3990.

Sincerely,

Amara Livingston
Clear Your Path
Apr. 27, 2022
Casey Denk - Vice President
Mondovi FFA Chapter
Section 2

With the school year coming to a close, my college friend group decided to spend one more weekend together before summer. The weather was gorgeous, so we spent most of our time outside. Together we enjoyed helping with farm chores, trap shooting, 4-wheeling, playing basketball and badminton, and taking in the beautiful countryside. We spent our evenings playing ping pong, cards, and Catch Phrase; between the abundance of outdoor activities and our competitive game nights- we created the perfect weekend!

Our afternoon was going smoothly; we ate a delicious lunch and started cruising the hillsides. All of a sudden, we came across a “small” roadblock. Well, I guess, in retrospect I can call this roadblock small, but at the time, I thought our adventures were coming to an abrupt stop. Quickly, we all got off our machines to assess the situation. My first thought was that we should turn around and find a different trail to take. Luckily, the rest of my friend group did not think the same way. The rest of the group started to navigate a plan, and in unison, I heard “one, two, three,” the queue for everyone to start-exerting all our force to move the very-large tree. This pattern continues for a few more tries with no movement. I was ready to give up; there had to be another way. Again, my friends are some of the most determined people I know, and they were not going to back down from this challenge. We devised a new plan of attack and decided to give it one more heave. Suddenly, the tree started to move. After a few more lifts, we cleared the tree from our path. Soon our friend group was consumed with cheering, high fives, and endless smiles. After admiring our work and trying to guess how much the tree weighed, we made our way back to our 4-wheelers and continued our farm tour.

When we made our way back to the house, we were all talking about the afternoon: the beautiful scenery, the steep Buffalo County hills, and the muddy trails, but the main topic of discussion was how, together, we were able to move the massive tree.

In life, there will be obstacles that come out of nowhere along with obstacles that are not easily avoided. It’s not about what the challenge is; or why it’s there; it’s about how we react and respond to each obstacle life throws at us. Looking back, moving the tree, and achieving the act I first deemed impossible soon became the highlight of our afternoon ride. The end of the school year is consumed with FFA banquets, graduations, and convention preparation. While we are met with busy times, it is easy to get lost in our never-ending to-do lists but it is essential to remember the tasks at hand and continue to clear your paths to success.

FFA members, as the year starts to wrap up, please continue to reach out to me anytime at (715)-495-2899 or at cdenk@wisconsinffa.org.

Keep clearing your path,
Casey J. Denk
Appreciate The Little Moments
Apr. 23, 2022
Katie Zimmer - Vice President
Flambeau FFA Chapter
Section 1

To be completely honest with you all, my life has been pretty boring. Hold up, Katie! You are a State FFA Officer, how can your life be boring? Okay, Okay, well it's not boring, but it has been pretty routine.

I haven’t been traveling around as much as I have earlier in the year, and I have the opportunity to get plenty of sleep every night. I also have been attending college pretty normally, except for the occasional walk around campus in FFA official dress for an event. And there haven’t been any super crazy experiences such as visiting a dairy goat farm or walking through a lumberyard.

As humans we like routines. I have my typical routine: wake up, go to classes, eat a loaded quesadilla for lunch (yum), work on some homework, class again, work on homework, dinner, homework again, hang out with friends, go to bed and repeat. Now this does seem pretty busy, but it's mostly the same thing everyday.

But there are many things throughout the days that make the seemingly boring routines memorable, from buying plants, watching my friends come up with crazy ideas (well maybe me too), making guacamole late at night, to laughing until you’re crying, my days are nothing short of entertaining.

Recently one of the out of the routine events I had was attending the UW - River Falls Ag Day on Campus. This is an event put on in the spring by the UW - River Falls Collegiate Farm Bureau. At this event, all of the College of Agriculture Food and Environmental Sciences student organizations, local agricultural businesses, and representatives of Wisconsin and Minnesota agriculture are there to help spread the good word of agriculture. There were many booths set up, a scavenger hunt, bingo game, free t-shirts, and more. We were also able to hear speeches from Alice in Dairyland, Princess Kay of the Milky Way, and Wisconsin Fairest of the Fair focused around the event’s theme “Let the Good Times Grow.”

Casey, Ben, and I had the opportunity to answer questions related to FFA, interact with students and faculty, and help host a milk chugging contest and potato relay. Later that evening we were able to attend a free dinner and listen to keynote speaker Kim Bremmer from Ag Inspirations.

Overall it was a great day! It was so much fun and overall experience that I will never forget. But what made it so amazing was all the little pieces that worked together to make it amazing. I was able to watch my sorority sisters in Sigma Alpha get pied in the face by students answering agricultural trivia, watch Ben start a chainsaw, get plenty of Culver’s free custard tokens, and get pictures with the all famous giant cow Colleen the Dream.

From amazing events to even the most routine days, it's the little moments that make it up. Something that Kim Bremmer talked about in her speech was the idea of changing our perspective to advocate for agriculture. In this situation too, I changed my perspective. Instead of thinking of my overall days as boring or very routine, I chose to think about those little interesting moments in them; because those little moments truly aren’t little, they are a part of something greater.

I encourage you to change your perspective and be in the present so you can truly appreciate the little moments. Such as those moments where you laugh until you cry, feel happy, question what you’re doing, and remember as the “good times.” Those little moments are what makes big memories.

If you have a little moment or a big memory you want to talk about, feel free to contact me at kzimmer@wisconsinffa.org or 715-567-0610.
The Season of Growth
Apr. 20, 2022
Ben Styer - President
Menomonie FFA Chapter
President

Birds are chirping outside, rye cover crops are poking through the soil, it is (sometimes) sunny outside, and slowly but surely, temperatures will increase. Spring is making its 2022 debut!

Growing up, my favorite season was always spring for a few reasons. First, spring symbolizes an end to winter and the beginning of warmer weather. This allowed me and my siblings to begin working with show heifers and pigs outside and start dairy judging practice. Second, spring is a season of growth. Between new animal life and sprouting crops, growth is ubiquitous every spring, and that is inspiring to witness. In FFA, we celebrate growth of a different kind each spring - personal growth. Growth in leadership abilities, industry knowledge, and service towards others attribute to the personal growth FFA members experience, and spring provides plentiful opportunities to experience growth of this kind.

Leadership abilities are developed through many areas of the FFA, one of which being competitive events like Leadership Development Events, or LDEs, and Career Development Events, or CDEs. Both of these competitive events have been happening throughout the spring, and the state level of competition will be here soon! Achievements in both LDEs and CDEs, as well as many other areas, will be recognized at local FFA chapter banquets all throughout the state. While every banquet is slightly different, each one offers a great celebration of growth over the previous year. Personally, I’ve been able to visit banquets at the Sauk Prairie, Randolph-Cambria-Friesland, and Slinger FFA chapters, and each has been a blast as we've celebrated members' growth! I look forward to attending more throughout this spring. One of my favorite parts of every banquet I attend is being able to witness one team retire and the new team installed. Being part of an officer team is without a doubt one of the most influential ways FFA members can grow as a leader, and a banquet’s display of this leadership is always something special to be a part of.

Recently a couple of my teammates and I had the opportunity to participate in another event that recognized growth: the University of Wisconsin - River Falls’ Ag Day on Campus. Fittingly, this year’s theme was “Let the Good Times Grow.” With over 20 booths representing student and community groups, appearances from Alice in Dairyland, the Wisconsin Fairest of the Fairs, and Princess Kay of the Milkyway, and time built in for mingling with other attendees, we indeed had a “good time” participating in this event.

From attending this Ag Day on Campus, FFA chapter banquets, and Career and Leadership Development Events, one thing is clear; growth is all around us! Just as crops will soon sprout and grow this spring, FFA members, too, experience great growth that is celebrated. As this spring is rather cold and damp thus far, I don’t know that spring is still my favorite season. Nonetheless, FFA members’ effort, determination, and well-deserved accomplishments define spring as a season of growth. There are now under two months left until the gavel drops at the 93rd Wisconsin FFA Convention, and the time is now for growth!

Folks, as always, if you’d ever like to shoot the breeze, don’t hesitate to reach me at (715)505-8900 or bstyer@wisconsinffa.org.

Best,
Ben Styer
Share Your Story
Apr. 13, 2022
Lashawna Vogel - Reporter
Denmark FFA Chapter
Section 9

Think of a time when you did something that was normal to you, but it might have seemed a bit strange to others. I have a few things that come to mind, like how I won’t put ice in my lemonade or water at restaurants, or when I pull up directions on my phone to places I know how to get to, or even throwing a toy for my dog, Buddy, one more time even though earlier I told him that was the last time. All of these ‘strange’ things that I do fit under one common theme: something I do that others might not understand.

Agriculture. One of the most significant things that might look strange to people not in our shoes. No matter how much we hope, dream, and wish that everyone will be on the team ag train the next day when we wake up, and there will be no misunderstandings- we will still receive questions. Questions about what we do and why we do it. While it might not seem worth it, in the wise words of the first US President, George Washington, “Agriculture is the most healthful, most useful and most noble employment.” So take a step back and look at some of those things you do and how others not from an agriculture background would perceive them. I know I still have many questions about agriculture because it is such a large industry, and I can’t wait to learn more about it, but what about those who are not already involved? How do we help them understand our whys?

“If you don’t tell your story, then someone else will” is my biggest takeaway from the National FFA’s #SpeakAg Pioneer program that I am a member of this year with Amara and Katie. We have learned many methods to get out our messages and truths, but the first quote I shared is what has further inspired me. Telling your story is essential because you have first-hand knowledge of the industry. At first, telling others about your life can be very difficult because it is personal. But, in the end, it is crucial to spread the word about agriculture from the inside versus letting others pick and choose what is said about agriculture.

Last year, as a senior in high school, one of my teachers was teaching our class about food and agriculture words in another language; she mentioned that the tiny hutches you see when driving past farms are only for calves raised for veal. Hearing this, I knew it was my opportunity to step in and share agriculture’s truth. Those hutches are to protect the calves from everything Mother Nature throws at them; whether it be rain, sun, snow, or even wind, they keep the calves safe and comfortable. After my teacher and I talked about this, she appreciated the learning opportunity. When approaching situations like this, we need to remember to be kind and courteous because if we are not, the individual may not listen to a thing we say and will go on to spread more information that isn’t necessarily true. If you are ever faced with a similar situation, I challenge you to take the opportunity to teach by sharing your story and what you know about agriculture. It is okay if you aren’t familiar with the topic in question, don’t be afraid to say I don’t know right now, but I will get back to you.

Sharing our stories in any way is one of the most important things we can do both as FFA members and agriculturalists. Another golden opportunity for you is at county and state fairs happing each summer; while you celebrate agriculture, you can educate others about its importance. To slow the spread of misconceptions in agriculture, the time is now to help others learn more about agriculture.

Wisconsin FFA, share your stories and experiences because I know you each have unique perspectives and a lot to add to the conversation about agriculture. If you need anything, please reach out to me via email at lvogel@wisconsinffa.org or text/call (920)676-7717.

Forever #SpeakAg,
Lashawna
Hide and Seek
Apr. 09, 2022
Emily Dahlke - Treasurer
Adams-Friendship FFA Chapter
Section 6

Who is the hide and seek champion? Not me- I’m not the greatest at this game, but you know who is the ultimate hide and seek champion, beef calves.
My favorite time of year is calving season and the hunt for new calves in the spring. A day doesn’t go by during calving season that I can’t be found wandering around the pasture checking cows, making sure calves are being taken care of, and looking for signs of new arrivals.
When you come across those signs the game is on. The game begins with binoculars from a distance to try to watch the cow and see where she goes to find her calf. The cow then gets smart and takes you in the completely wrong direction to try to throw you off the scent. She keeps an eye on you and fails to give you even a hint as to where the calf is hiding. Then it becomes a foot race to speed run the pasture, not leaving any long grass unsearched. And just when you think that you’ve lost hope, that little ear gives a wiggle to let you know it's right in front of your face in a place you could’ve sworn you've checked 4 times already. Finding a strong, healthy calf at the end of the hunt makes for a good day.
As soon as you begin to creep closer to the calf to vaccinate and tag it, the game changes from hide and seek to TAG. Now that strong healthy calf is darting away and you question if you will ever be able to catch it. You then work for a while hoping that little calf will tire itself out, but you get tired faster than the calf. Sometimes you can catch the calf and sometimes that calf stays tagless until weaning. Either way, we are happy with an energetic calf.
One thing that makes this time of year even better is doing it with friends and family. I am lucky enough to share an interest in the beef cattle industry with my siblings and cousins. They are always ready to come along for this intense game of hide and seek. The cows and calves won't be around forever but the laughs and memories we have made in the pasture will be forever.
No matter what you are doing, give it your all and surround yourself with people that will make a lasting impact on you. Whether that be a person or a herd of cows there is always something to learn and grow from. Whether you are good at hide and seek or could use some improvements, practice makes perfect and who you surround yourself with will make that practice perfect.
If you ever need anything feel free to reach out! My inbox is always open, 608-369-0594 or edahlke@wisconsinffa.org.

Happy Hunting,

Emily Dahlke
Learn to Fly
Apr. 06, 2022
Aubrey Schlimgen - Sentinel
Marshall FFA Chapter
Section 5

This past week I had the wonderful privilege and opportunity to attend the Tennessee FFA State Convention down in Gatlinburg. Now this may come as a shock to some people but besides going to the National FFA convention, this was my first time traveling ever. To also top that it was my first time flying in an airplane, more or less the first time leaving the ground. To say I was nervous was an understatement.

My grandma drove me to the Chicago airport where she dropped me off for my flight, and when I walked into the giant airport I was overwhelmed with the hustle and bustle of people walking to get checked in and go through security. I was just determined to get to where I needed to go and just hoped that it all went smoothly and I didn’t look too out of place. Sure enough it wouldn't be a trip without a little bit of delay. The people to check us in didn’t show up until an hour later after I got there. Others happened to line up behind me and to pass time (and to help loosen some nerves) I engaged in some small talk with the people around me planning to board the same flight as me to Asheville, North Carolina.

There was an older couple behind me that happened to be from North Carolina but were headed to Florida behind me, so I chatted with them about how it was going to be my first time flying ever and if they could give me some advice. At this point I was taking anything I could get. Turns out this couple Larry and Shawna had flown multiple times. Larry even served as a paratrooper for the Army, even serving as he also fought overseas in Desert Storm. I thanked him for his service and then joked that I really don’t have an excuse to be nervous! But after that conversation with them I definitely became way more comfortable with flying.

I then got checkin in, went through security, and waited to board the plane. When we started to board and take our seats you’ll never guess who I was seated next to, you guessed it Larry and Shawna, and man was I relieved! As we got to talking about our lives and chatting away some more it was almost like all of that anxiety if stress disappeared. Funny enough they gave me their number to contact them when all was said and done and I deemed them as my plane parents.

See if I didn’t muster up the courage to go on that plane I would never have been able to make it to Gatlinburg TN and see amazing Tennessee FFA members for their state Convention. Or even see mountains and waterfalls for the first time hiking North Carolina with my aunt. But I know one things for sure, and that is that one small conversation made my trip so worthwhile.

If there is one thing you take from this story of my recent travels let it be this, significant people will show up in times when you need it the most. You just never know who or when they will appear. So don’t lose hope and have courage to try, you never know what will happen!
You can hear more stories from me at 608-422-0649 or aschlimgen@wisconsinffa.org

Wishing you the best always,
Aubrey Schlimgen
Spring Break
Apr. 04, 2022
Mia Hillebrand - Secretary
River Valley FFA Chapter
Section 4

It is that time of year when the world seems to never slow down. The sun stays up a little longer each day and the weather get a little nicer. We have so many things piling up on are plate to complete before the school year is over. (Egar for summer even with this weather we have going on.) So many more FFA activities to participate in before Wisconsin FFA State Convention.

Currently it is Spring Break time, you know the little summer teaser. Where we get a whole week off of school and maybe have vacation plans with your family or simply have an FFA event you are looking forward to. Now when I think back as far as I can remember I have never really had a “Spring Break” I was always busy with helping on the farm, attending the UW- Platteville Career Development Event judging livestock, or working at meat shop. I could never give myself a break.

This past week, I had been reminded of something, taking a break from the world will not make you any less of athlete, student, leader, FFA member, ect. It reminds us to live in the present moment, take it all in when we can, and come back refreshed to work harder. I know Wisconsin FFA members love to speed up and work hard to do the next event they have planned. Remember a day or maybe even a week break can help push through and come back working harder.

Reminder a break can help refocus and energize you for the next coming part of the year. I look forward to seeing the amazing work Wisconsin FFA members are doing leading up to our Wisconsin FFA State Convention. Please reach out to me if you have any questions or need someone to talk to at any time. You can reach me at mhillebrand@wisconsinffa.org or (608)459-0742.

Have a great spring break,
Mia
My Springboard
Mar. 30, 2022
Amara Livingston - Parliamentarian
Cochrane-Fountain City FFA Chapter
Section 3

I can’t believe we’re already here in the midst of FFA chapter banquets and just over two months away from State Convention. This time of year also means being in the depths of one of FFA’s best and most beloved competitions: Career Development Events. This is one event that truly embodies all FFA has to offer. We take our classroom knowledge, our workforce skills, our studied information and put it all into play at our Regional Career Development Events.

As a state officer, I had the privilege to travel to two of the Regional CDEs: UW-Platteville and UW-River Falls. Of which, both events took me on a trip down memory lane. I first competed in a CDE my eighth grade year. I participated in the classic Middle School Agriscience CDE at UW-River Falls and also competed at UW-Platteville as a member of the Veterinary Science team, the same Veterinary Science team that I credit to as being the springboard of my FFA career.

I vividly remember the day little eighth grade Amara decided that she would join the one and only vet science team. I was in my home chapter’s ag room during quiz bowl practice when junior and chapter vice president at the time, Kaleb Krzyszton, announced to us quiz bowlers as he left the room that Vet Science still needed a fourth man and that this year eighth graders were eligible to compete. At the end of practice that day, I went up to my advisor and said, “I’m in! I want to be on vet science.”

From there it was all a blur. There was another junior officer on the team at the time whose name was Lexie. Both Kaleb and Lexie opened my eyes to the endless possibilities I had in FFA. They both encouraged me to run for chapter office that spring, which I then ended up serving as my chapter’s reporter my freshman year. Joining the Veterinary Science CDE team took me from “I like having pizza at Quiz Bowl practice,” to, “FFA is the place for me.”

I hope many of you have found your place in FFA this year. Whether you are all about mechanics, flowers, or animals, or even leadership, community service, and fun, you have a place in the FFA organization.

As these next two months go by, I hope that your semester finishes off strong and you achieve everything you can. Keep practicing and studying for those CDEs, LDEs, or whatever is in store for you next because that next thing might just be the springboard of your FFA career. As always, you can reach out to me anytime at 608-863-3990 or at alivingston@wisconsinffa.org.

Sincerely

Amara Livingston
Just Around the Corner
Mar. 26, 2022
Casey Denk - Vice President
Mondovi FFA Chapter
Section 2

With the snow disappearing, mud overtaking many farms, and winter rye trying to green-up the countryside, there is one thing on every farmer’s mind, spring. While growing up on our farm I learned at an early age that spring is one of the busiest times of year, yet it still became one of my favorites. Spring on our farm resembles another year of growth, between calving and planting, we are starting next year's production. In the words of Jon Kinzenbaw, founder of Kinze Manufacturing, “planting is one of the most essential things a farm will do each year.”

On March 24th, Ben and I had the opportunity to travel to Iowa with the Elmwood FFA Chapter and Alumni members to tour Kinze Manufacturing. On our tour, we watched a variety of planters get assembled, learned how their different paint lines work, and heard about their different models of grain carts and tillage equipment. After the tour was done, we watched a short video about the history of their business. Throughout the video we learned that Jon started his business out of a small shop doing welding repairs for local farmers to make money to support his own farming dream. Today, the company has grown to employ over 700 employees, has over 30 acres of manufacturing building space, and has grown larger than Jon could have ever imagined.

Jon said the key to his success was listening to farmers and innovating machinery to their needs. During my favorite part of the video, Jon shared how agriculturists have continued to be the most optimistic people he has ever met. Year after year, regardless of price and setbacks, we continue to put crops in the ground during the spring, watch them grow throughout the summer, and hope to harvest a bountiful crop in the fall. Listening to this made me realize how lucky I am to have grown up surrounded by the agriculture industry and the people in it. As I’ve gotten older, I have realized the importance our upbringing plays in forming us into the people we are today. That being said, I am beyond grateful that I was raised immersed in the agriculture industry surrounded by not only the most optimistic, but also the most driven, humble, and ambitious people I have been lucky enough to know and admire.

Throughout the busy spring season feel free to reach out at any time by email cdenk@wisconsinffa.org or at (715)-495-2899. I am looking forward to seeing some of you soon at chapter banquets, Career Development Events, and other upcoming FFA activities!

Enjoy the nice weather,

Casey J. Denk
Just Show Up
Mar. 23, 2022
Katie Zimmer - Vice President
Flambeau FFA Chapter
Section 1

This last weekend we had the EDGE conference in Green Bay, along with the Mission and Impact conferences. The EDGE conference was specifically for our younger FFA members and stands for Experiencing Discovery, Growth, and Excellence. This conference allows for 7, 8, and 9th graders to learn more about teamwork and being a leader from Rhett Laubach and Kelly Barnes from YourNextSpeaker. The State Officer team worked with the members to learn more about official FFA dress, FFA opportunities, and SAEs as well. While at the conference they also had the opportunity to meet with a few of the National FFA Officers, Cortney Zimmerman and Jackson Sylvester.

For many of these members, this was their first FFA event ever. They had no clue what they were walking into. Their advisor most likely offered them a chance to travel across Wisconsin to Green Bay, spend a night in a hotel, and attend this conference. Some students maybe went into this thinking it would be pretty boring, or that it would be the best time ever. Some students were probably nervous to be around new people and some were probably excited to make friends. Either way, these FFA members showed up, no matter what their thoughts were.

All these FFA members had to do was just show up. They didn’t have to put any work into going to this conference. They just had to show up. When they showed up they were able to experience and discover the growth and excellence they can achieve through FFA and through being a leader. They were able to make new friends. They were able to have a great time.

One of the first events that I ever just showed up for, was my first ever FFA meeting. I had no clue what it was going to be like, but I decided to just show up with some encouragement from my parents. And just showing up to that meeting, led to an FFA journey I could have never imagined.

Sometimes that is all we have to do. We need to just show up. A new opportunity may seem intimidating, but if we just show up, we can experience something amazing. One of the most important things we can do is show up. Whether that means showing up to help at an event, showing up to a conference to learn something new, or showing up to support someone. Just by showing up, we open that door to an experience that may be unforgettable. I encourage you to just show up for opportunities not only in your FFA chapter but in your life. You never know what might happen if you just show up.

If you want to learn more about the FFA opportunities available to our younger FFA members feel free to contact me at kzimmer@wisconsinffa.org or 715-567-0610.

Yours Truly,

Katie Zimmer
Country Roads, Take Me Home
Mar. 20, 2022
Ben Styer - President
Menomonie FFA Chapter
President

“Country roads, take me home to the place I belong. West Virginia, mountain mama, take me home, country roads.”

These classic lyrics of John Denver’s infamous song are timeless and instantly recognizable. Between the charming sound of the song and even more so, the meaning, “Country Roads, Take Me Home” will go down as one of the greatest songs of all time. Whether we live in a rural setting and regularly drive down country roads or reside in the hustle and bustle of a big city, we can all appreciate the simple charm of country life and the peacefulness of mother nature.

These past few days, our weather has been beautiful! The snow is melting, birds are returning, temperatures are high for a couple of days, and for the first time in a few months, it is really nice to be outside. To take advantage of this gorgeous weather, I decided to go on a walk down … you guessed it, country roads. I am no fitness guru, but it was so nice to be out and about once again. After a few months of cold, windy Wisconsin winter, I had forgotten how nice it could be to live in the dairy state.

Going on a peaceful walk outside today was a great way to end an even better week. Throughout the past seven days, I helped out at a Sectional LDE, went to a National Officer visit at Adams-Friendship High School, worked with students at the EDGE/Mission/Impact Conferences, and helped out with farm chores when I was home. It has been a busy, yet very rewarding week, and I wouldn’t trade these experiences for the world. However, at busy times such as these, a getaway is important from time to time. For me, going on a peaceful walk was a great way to recharge on a Sunday afternoon. How do you refocus during busy times?

I am sure we all can answer that question differently. Between playing board games with friends and family, reading, baking, exercising, or even taking a nap, the list of ways to recharge goes on and on. With all things though, it’s best to recharge only in moderation. Afterall, in the words of Ridge Hughbanks, 2018-2019 National FFA Central Region Vice President, “The world is run by people who are tired.”

Hopefully as spring continues to make its 2022 debut, we can all get outside and enjoy what Wisconsin’s country roads have to share. As you consider running for state FFA office this spring, prepare for a chapter banquet, or even have some down time and would like to connect, do not hesitate to reach out to me at (715)505-8900 or bstyer@wisconsinffa.org. The most rewarding two years of my life thus far will be complete before I know it, so what better time than the present to make a connection.

I hope your next trip home can be on country roads!

Best,
Ben Styer
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