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FFA Officers: Travel Blog

Life is a Highway
Jan. 26, 2023
Evan Mennen - Parliamentarian
Bay Port FFA Chapter
Section 9

“Life is a Highway” is a renowned country rock song that we all know from Rascal Flatts. This is by far one of my favorite songs of all time due to the upbeat tune. As I have gotten older, I have started truly listening to lyrics in songs, and these lyrics here are unbelievably relevant within all of our lives. Flatts used so many different words and metaphors throughout this song to convey the main message.

The key metaphor repeated in the chorus is, “life is a highway.” This metaphor helps listeners to understand that just like you can’t stop on a highway, life is a long journey that keeps moving regardless of whether you want it to stop. Life as we know it goes fast, really fast. We have to be able to cherish every moment we are in because it doesn’t stop. As we head into this next part of our year, let's remember to simply try our best, and strive for success. Life doesn’t stop, and neither should we as we work towards accomplishing our goals.

Overall, this classic seize-the-day anthem has made a great impact on me and has encouraged me to make the most of every day. It has always been a powerful song for me from my childhood when I first heard the song on the Disney movie “Cars” to later in life when I would enjoy belting this song at the top of my lungs on a road trip. Each time I listen to this song I am reminded that life's a journey, "when there's one day here, and the next day gone."
A Sticky Situation
Jan. 23, 2023
Mary Schrieber - Sentinel
East Troy FFA Chapter
Section 10

If you ask my teammates about some of my favorite things, there is a high probability they will tell you about my love for all things bees. My Supervised Agriculture Experience throughout high school was beekeeping, and given the chance, I will talk on and on about my passion for working in my chapter’s apiary.

My love for agriculture’s coolest insect sensibly extends to the honey they produce, so when I had the chance to travel back to my home chapter last week for our honey harvest, I jumped at the opportunity.

I walked through the doors of my agriculture classroom ready to taste one of my favorite foods and was immediately met with the inevitable stickiness of everything I touched. I worked with students to uncap frames of honey, place them in the extractor to be spun, separate the wax, and double-sieve every last drop. Very quickly, I was covered nearly head to toe in honey.

During this process, I tend to feel a bit impatient, preferring to jump to the part where I am able to taste-test. I was reminded that sometimes, in order to reach the most treasured things, we need to get our hands a little dirty and allow the process to yield the best results. The labor we endure to finish some tasks isn't always enjoyable and it can even get a bit sticky. However, once the task is complete, we feel a sense of accomplishment and we are able to enjoy the fruits of our labor.

During the final hours of honey extraction, I worked alongside other students as we bottled (and taste-tested) several jars of the honey we had worked together to produce. The hard work we had completed was not forgotten, but appreciated. We knew that our accomplishment was won through patience, labor, and a willingness to get a bit messy.

As we approach the start of Leadership and Career Development Events, it can be tempting to skip ahead to the end once our competition is complete. Often, the work that is required to reach that result is glossed over and avoided. Instead, I challenge us all to get our hands a little dirty and to trust that the preparation we do will allow us to succeed. Know that we could encounter some sticky situations along the way, but understand that those experiences produce very sweet outcomes.

Throughout our upcoming competitions, don’t be afraid to roll up your sleeves and memorize your speech, study your veterinary terminology, practice your agriculture sales pitch, or review your resume. While the practice might not always be as exciting as competing, know that the efforts you put forth will yield the sweetest results.
Thank you Dad
Jan. 19, 2023
Casey Denk - President
Mondovi FFA Chapter

Growing up as the youngest child, I often found myself doing the chores my older siblings didn’t want to do or the ones they so graciously volunteered me to do. I would get stuck feeding bottle calves, fixing and checking fence, weed whacking, and the list continues. But just because these weren’t the most prestigious duties of the day didn’t mean they could be skipped, or the minor details could be overlooked. At the end of the day, my dad would come, inspect my work and with a smile on his face he would say, “You’ll thank me one day.” At the time, I didn’t buy it, I just thought he was happy the chores were done, and his to-do list was getting shorter.

As I’ve gotten older, I started understanding the underlying meaning behind my dad’s actions. He wasn’t just trying to teach me the importance of consistency while mixing bottles, or how one misplaced insulator can affect the efficiency of an entire fence, or how if you weed whack often it’s not such a daunting task. He was trying to paint a bigger picture with these small tasks. He was working to instill lifelong lessons in me, helping to prepare me for whatever life has instore for me far beyond everyday farm chores. Becoming more involved in the agriculture industry, I have come to learn this is a common theme among our mentors.

Throughout our year of service, my team and I are invited to attend an abundance of outreach events where we can continue to grow our understanding of the industry we gladly represent while developing ourselves professionally. We participate in Farm Bureau’s Young Farmers and Agriculturists Conference, work a display at Farm Technology Days, and attend Wisconsin’s Agribusiness Classic in Madison. At these events we are able to network with business professionals, allowing us to understand how the entire industry connects from the tractors in the field, trucks on the road, and food on our tables. While at these workshops proud producers gather to learn more about the products they are purchasing, feeding, raising, and selling. While attending these events, it is evident that Wisconsin’s agriculturists are dedicated towards a brighter future for the entire agriculture industry and are eager to help influence the next generation of producers and consumers.

While traveling around the state, I have had the pleasure of meeting many dedicated agriculturalists, educators, alumni, and business professionals who are dedicated to the betterment of our industry and organization. These individuals deserve an overdue “Thank You.” FFA members, next time we see our FFA advisor, work with our alumni chapter, job shadow someone within the industry, or tour a farm make sure we are saying “Thank You.” Their action and drive to teach you will take you further than you could ever imagine and will continue to influence you for years to come. And ask for a story or two about how they got to where they are today because I’m sure you’ll learn a thing or two.

Hoping to see you soon,
Casey J. Denk

Connecting with Yourself
Jan. 16, 2023
Isaac Hopke - Secretary
Spooner FFA Chapter
Section 1

As an FFA chapter member, Halftime Conference was my favorite event to attend. After being a part of this conference this past weekend in a new role, I learned that not only was this my favorite conference to attend as a member, but also my favorite to help facilitate as a State Officer. This year, we changed up the order of the conference a little bit and only provided four, 80 minute workshops. The workshop I facilitated, along with Brooke and Heidi, was about confidence, and a large chunk of this workshop was reflecting on ourselves to understand some of our own strengths and a few things we want to improve upon. Ironically enough, our keynote speakers, the two past National Officers Cortney and Josiah, talked precisely about reflection and the importance of reflecting upon ourselves. This is exactly what I’d like to cover in my travel blog today.

When I was younger, I always thought that journaling was not for me. However, as I’ve gotten older, I’ve begun to realize the importance of reflecting on myself and journaling my thoughts. As FFA members, we learn so many different skills and ways to be the best leaders possible at home, in our community, across our state, and throughout our world. However, this is simply the mere knowledge of those skills. If we know all these skills and what we dream to be like, how are we actually supposed to apply these skills, grow as a person with them, and make those dreams become reality? Eventually many of us, including myself, will face this question head on. We might think that all we need to do is attend conferences, be a chapter officer, or learn many skills, but I would beg to differ. By just doing all of these things, we may never truly become who we want to be, it’s more than doing that is needed.

Over the past few years, I have come to understand a solution to the question in the latter paragraph, how we are supposed to make our knowledge and dreams become a reality. I have found a solution in the action of reflecting upon my day, week, month, or my entire life and determining what I am excelling at, what needs to be worked upon, and then also reflecting on the steps that I need to take for improving or achieving anything I desire. By reflecting on ourselves, we are able to pinpoint our strengths so that we can improve our self-confidence, but at the same time we are able to recognize some of our own feebleness. To become a stronger leader, we must understand our feebleness as something to improve upon and a way to truly grow, not as something that tears us down. We are all imperfect, and we must not strive for perfection, otherwise we will never feel as though we are “good enough”, rather, we must simply work to be just a little bit better today, than we were yesterday, and we must reflect upon the goodness of each day.

At first, things may seem overwhelming when you begin to self-reflect, but to combat this, we must simply learn patience with ourselves and work on one aspect at a time! Trying to focus on too many things at a time could lead you to an even worse situation than you started in.

Reflection is a necessary tool to help you process information from your life, and deepen the development of personal growth. Through self-reflection, we increase our self awareness which is directly related to better leadership skills. In order to reflect, it is important to shut out distractions and allow yourself to create moments of silence. Reader, I challenge you to begin self-reflection both of your strengths and your shortcomings. Maybe you don’t need to reflect everyday. To start out, simply reflect at the end of each week on how the past week went. You will more than likely begin to point out some of your strengths, and see an increase in self confidence, but you will also begin to deepen your self-awareness and further your personal growth, and enjoy the peace that silence can bring.
New Year, New Goals
Jan. 12, 2023
Heidi Strey - Vice President
Osseo-Fairchild FFA Chapter
Section 2

Happy New Year! I can’t believe we are already in 2023, and my team and I are starting the second half of our year of service! Looking back on my last few weeks of 2022, I definitely stayed busy. I wrapped up the fall semester of my junior year at UWRF, survived a snowstorm with no power at my house, and spent time with family during Christmas. During this time I’ve also made a few travels to the eastern side of Wisconsin. My absolute favorite part of the east side is Lake Michigan. To someone who lives in west central Wisconsin, the lake is pretty cool to see. When you look out it seems to go on and on forever. I call it the ocean of the midwest. Eastern Wisconsin also has beautiful inland landmarks as well. I recently discovered Wequiock Falls, Maribel Caves, and hidden gems along the Fox River. These adventures have been one of my favorite parts of 2022, and I’m thankful for the ones I’ve had so far in 2023.

Amidst Christmas gatherings, Eastern Wisconsin adventures, and FFA travels, I’ve also taken some reflection time. 2022 was an amazing year for me, and I accomplished many of my goals. Looking ahead to 2023, I have a few things I would like to change, but no major new year’s resolutions. I realized that I can start a new goal at any point in the year. While the start of the calendar is a great way to refresh and start over, never forget that the goals we make for ourselves start on our own timeline. Maybe I’ll think of an idea in a few weeks and put it into play in the middle of February! It’s never too late to start a resolution or make an impactful decision. Let's find the determination within ourselves and see the positive outcomes it can bring in our lives!

See you soon,
-Heidi Strey
Staying Sane in the Crazies
Jan. 09, 2023
Kendra Goplin - Reporter
Whitehall FFA Chapter
Section 3

If you are anything like me, this time of year is absolutely crazy! Our schedules are full to the brim with FFA conferences and competitions, sports, and school coming back in session. This past week I spent time with my teammates in Marshfield planning an awesome Halftime Conference for FFA members. Upon arriving at home, I had to unpack and repack for another filled week on the road. In 2021-22, I served as the Trempealeau County Fairest of the Fair, part of this commitment is running for the Wisconsin Fairest of the Fair at the Wisconsin Association of Fairs this week. After the conference concludes on Thursday morning, I get to drive straight to Stevens Point to meet up with my teammates and FFA members to attend the Halftime Conference. On top of all of that, my online spring semester of classes at SDSU starts on Monday!

Whew!! What a way to start 2023 right?! It may seem pretty overwhelming, but maybe pretty familiar. I have a few tips to help you stay “sane” in this busy season.

Tip #1: Make time for yourself - During this busy time, make sure you are taking time to do something you love. Whether that is spending time outside with your friends or dog, or maybe taking a drive, or even sitting down to watch an episode of your favorite show or movie. Taking time for yourself will help you really appreciate slowing down and enjoying every moment.

Which leads me to my second tip…

Tip #2: Soak in every moment - These events will only happen once. So, don’t be afraid to put down your phones and social media and be fully immersed in these activities. You will only be able to prepare for that exact LDE once. You will only plan one prom. You will only go to this specific conference with these members once. So take time to be fully present in the moment.

And finally…

Tip #3: Understand that the crazy makes you better! - Sometimes, I become overwhelmed with what often feels like a never ending to-do list and a jam-packed schedule. However, I am reminded to take a step back and appreciate how the busy schedule full of these events is going to positively impact myself and those around me. I know that the Fairest of the Fair conference will provide me with new opportunities to network and share agriculture’s story. The Halftime Conference will allow me to meet with new members and prepare them for the next half of the year. New college classes will allow me to grow my knowledge and prepare me for a future career in agriculture. Without this crazy schedule, I would not have the opportunity to make these memories and grow as a person. This year, when you feel crushed under the weight of proficiency applications, LDEs, CDEs, a job, school, and friends, remember that the experiences that you include in your busy schedule will shape your time in FFA and high school into a positive experience.

Remember these tips when your schedule gets crazy to make 2023 the best year yet!
Happy New Year everyone!!! Durin
Jan. 05, 2023
Jeremiah Ihm - Vice President
Lancaster FFA Chapter
Section 4

Happy New Year everyone!!! During the recent holiday break, I had the opportunity to take some time for myself. During this time, I did a little bit of reflecting on the first half of the year and all of the new memories and lifelong friends that were made along the way. I also identified some events that I am really looking forward to in the second half of the year like the Halftime Conference, the last FIRE Conference, and my favorite FFA event, Leadership Development Events. During these days off, I spent a lot of time helping on the farm which led to some very eye-opening reminders of why I do not like the cold.

For those of you that live on farms, raise livestock, or have to maintain anything related to water, you know that cold weather is brutal because everything freezes. Not only did we have calf waterers frozen and feed frozen in the TMR, but our entire old milk-house froze up as well. This is where we house all of the milk for feeding calves, but the water pipe had burst in SEVEN different places. Now, it is typical to have that particular room on the farm freeze, so last year we installed a temperature-controlled outlet to run our spectacular NIPKO heater to keep the room warm. The NIPKO worked amazingly until it quit without us knowing, and the -30 degree temperatures froze ALL the pipes. After two whole days of getting a new heater, wrapping heat tape, repairing holes, finding new holes, and repairing those holes, we finally had thawed pipes and running water.

This experience reminded me how grateful I am to have such amazing teammates that help put on wonderful events, inside, where it is warm. That week was also the most consecutive days the team has had off from FFA-related events, I think since we have been elected, which was sort of odd. In fact, by the end of the week, I was counting down the days until now because this week we all met in Marshfield where we are finalizing details for the upcoming Halftime Conference. However, the night before everyone met in Marshfield the southern carpool (Cole, Mary, Rhylie, and myself), aka the best carpool, spent the night at the Rem-Jem Motel in Unity, aka my grandparent's house. Now, remember how I said I don’t like the cold because everything freezes. Well, when I woke up I had a text from my mom “Good thing you left last night because school is closed today due to the ice.” I tell my dearest teammate Cole the wonderful news and he looks online to see that the majority of schools in southwestern Wisconsin were closed. Boy was I glad to be in Central Wisconsin already. After a brief farm tour, the four of us met the rest of the team in Marshfield and started the productive week with a little bit of service.

That evening the team and I volunteered to cook a meal at the Ronald McDonald House in Marshfield where we meet some truly amazing staff and some very warm-hearted families. As I mentioned earlier, I spent some time over break thinking of what I was looking forward to and why. Halftime was one of the first things on my list this year the team and I are highlighting the importance of “Living to Serve”. Having the opportunity to start our week of preparation with a little bit of service was heartwarming. Wisconsin FFA life can be a little bit chaotic and fast past, but as we start a new year and prepare for the 2nd half of the school year let's make sure to reflect on where we have been and where we want to go.

Until next time,
Jeremiah Ihm
The Winter Drive Survival Guide
Jan. 02, 2023
Rhylie Gough - Vice President
Albany FFA Chapter
Section 5

Winter in Wisconsin can be absolutely beautiful. From snow covered pines to frozen rivers and ponds sparkling in the sun, I never fail to be amazed by the scenes set for us. But for all of its beauty, Wisconsin winters can be just as unpredictable. I mean, we went from a negative twenty-five degree windchill to fifty degrees and sunny a few days later last week. With all of the miles I’ve put on this winter, I’ve definitely learned some lessons about how to set myself up for success before taking on anything from slushy side roads to icy interstates. With that, here are my top three tips for winter driving:

1. Always be prepared.

It’s always better to be safe than sorry when there’s a possibility for bad weather. A good winter emergency kit with warm boots, gloves, a hat, a flashlight, and an ice scraper is essential for anyone. You never know when the weather will take a turn or you’ll end up on the side of the road, and it’s a lot easier to look over your vehicle when you’re warm and able to walk through snow without getting your shoes full of it. Good preparation also means taking the time to consider the risks involved with traveling. When every day can bring entirely different conditions than the day before, it’s important to look at every factor and decide if the roads are worth the destination. Checking weather reports and asking family and friends about local conditions are a great starting point, along with pulling up directions to time out your drive - which leads me to my next tip.

2. Take it slow.

Building in plenty of extra time is essential for any winter travel, which is something I’ve had to learn the hard way. Whether it’s an extra five minutes to scrape some unexpected snow off your car from the night before or an extra thirty to account for ice and traffic, an unexpected inconvenience is bound to cross your path at some point. Rushing along roads with slippery spots can cost you much more time than planning in an added buffer from the get-go.

3. When in doubt, phone a friend.

When it’s proving difficult to stay alert while on the road, sometimes a phone call can be just what’s needed to keep me focused. A conversation with a good friend can break up the monotony of a long drive and help me concentrate on the road instead of zoning out. Even better, if you know you’ll be in for a long haul, sometimes bringing someone along is a great idea. With the opportunity for great memories, good conversation, and another pair of eyes on the road, you can’t go wrong.

While keeping these tips and tricks in mind have been great for my travel this winter, I’ve also been able to bring them into my everyday life. Good preparation before diving headfirst into anything plays a big part in feeling ready for whatever’s coming next. Whether it’s a winter storm warning or a Leadership Development Event this spring, doing some homework on what conditions will be like and gathering supplies for all outcomes will only help. Along with preparation, slow and steady is the way to go in life. Don’t be afraid to pull over for a picture of a gorgeous view or take time to yourself in the middle of wherever life is taking you right now. And when in doubt, phone a friend. That doesn’t change if you're on the road or at home. Be willing to reach out to others about what’s going on in their life, advice on what's taken over your mind lately, or even for a good laugh.

Winter driving conditions may be unpredictable here in Wisconsin, but with a little preparation, a good approach, and a solid plan in place with people to ask for help, they’re nothing to fear. Drive safe, Wisconsin FFA!

Here’s to Wisconsin’s crazy winter weather,

Rhylie K. Gough
Failures Teach
Dec. 28, 2022
Cole Hicken - Treasurer
Waupun FFA Chapter
Section 6

November and December have been a little less jam packed than months prior, but I was fortunate enough to wrap up nearly all of the section 6-chapter visits, attend the Farm Bureau’s Young Farmers of America Wisconsin State Conference, and begin preparation with the team for many of the spring events that are coming up. With 2022 officially coming to a close here within the next few days it’s time to celebrate another year of success, take a moment and think to yourself, “what highlighted my year?” Was it a trip, a sport, a class, a friend, an event? Why?

When I look back at 2022 it was a year absolutely full of new and thrilling experiences. I was elected to state FFA office! I traveled frequently, to many different states and cities: Alabama, St. Louis, Indianapolis, and Washington D.C just to name a few. I visited over 40+ high schools within the beautiful state of Wisconsin. Continued furthering my education at UW-Madison. Moved into my own apartment on campus. And above all I was able to spend countless hours with family, including watching my younger brother compete whenever I can. For me, looking back this is a broad and intriguing highlight to what my 2022 might’ve looked like if I needed to summarize it quickly to someone. It resembles a lot of what’s important to me within my life and identifies many of my successes that came about recently. What you won’t see in the highlight of my year though are many failures… It doesn’t mean they’re not there. Like that Economics midterm exam that didn’t exactly fall my way last spring, the more than monthlong period of searching for my missing air pods, or when I dented the lawn tractor at work by backing into the wall… Each of these at the time seemed like huge issues and things that consumed much of my thoughts. But yet, they don’t make the appearance in my year in review. Why? Because when we think about our past experiences, often we visualize the positive ones! Yet this doesn’t mean that any negative experiences weren’t there. Our failures are some of the greatest learning points for all of us, and sometimes revisiting these will engage even more development within ourselves. When I think about that exam, my missing air pods, or the door ding, I remind myself to be better prepared for challenges, organize my possessions in a meaningful way, and to always be aware of my surroundings. These reminders continue to push me to be a better person each and every day.

Cheers to another year of successes… and failures too. But more importantly to continued growth in every area of your life.

Yours truly,
Cole Hicken
And To All a Good Break!
Dec. 25, 2022
Devani Hinkelmann - Vice President
Loyal FFA Chapter
Section 7

Merry Christmas Wisconsin FFA! I hope everyone’s Christmas was filled with fun, laughter, and plenty of good food! Now, if you are like me, the holiday season means that there is finally some free time to A) catch up with family and B) sleep in.

My family means a lot to me so spending time with them is always fun. This past weekend, my mom’s side of the family got together and keep in mind that her side consists of roughly 80-100 people in one place. Yes, it is crowded but yes, it is always fun. We get to spend the day just catching up and seeing what is new with everyone. One of my favorite parts this year was when my cousins and I decided to start a white elephant gift exchange with the large budget of $5. Needless to say, those gifts were… interesting. That didn’t matter to us though. We just wanted to start a fun tradition. It was something we could all do to add some extra magic to our Christmas. Another highlight of this side’s Christmas is when each grandchild gets in line by age and we are given gifts from our grandparents. When I was younger, it was awesome because I waited a couple minutes and had my gift and I ran off to play with it. Now, I’m one of the “adults” at the back of the line. Talk about a humbling moment, realizing close to twenty people are in front of you. In case you were wondering, I did eventually get my gift and loved it.

Remember “Part B”? That’s right, sleeping in. If you ask anyone that knows me, they’ll tell you I prioritize sleep. So, when given the chance to nap, I’m going to take it. With just the beginning of Christmas break starting, I am so excited to spend some time around home. Whether this means napping, cleaning, or simply spending time with friends, I am so thankful to have some free time. Some time where I can focus on myself and my family, while also reflecting back on the crazy year we’ve had. Yes, naps will definitely be built into my schedule, but I am going to limit them to try and actually be productive over break. While everyone’s holiday breaks may be spent a little differently, we all still are getting time to focus on ourselves.

The holiday season often reminds us that it is okay to take time for ourselves. It’s okay to have fun with family and friends. It’s okay to take a nap and catch up on sleep. It is okay to focus on yourself. Most days we find ourselves searching for more time to build into our busy days. We struggle to fit “me time” into our schedules because we are so busy. Remember, that while it may seem like time is slipping away and never going to slow down, take time to focus on yourself. Spend time with family and friends. Take care of yourself. Take that nap or spend time reading that new book you got. Realize that while it is important to spend time working on homework or practicing a sport, it is equally important to focus on yourself.

FFA members, this year has been busy for all of us. Whether that is through school, sports, or clubs, we are all sometimes caught with not having enough time in the day. Remember that even when time seems to be slipping away, take that time to focus on yourself, it will be worth it in the end.

See you all soon,
Devani A. Hinkelmann
Be in the Now
Dec. 22, 2022
Brooke Casey - Vice President
New London FFA Chapter
Section 8

It’s been 190 days since my team and I were elected on to serve as Wisconsin State FFA Officers. That’s 4,560 hours or 273,600 minutes, it’s what may seem like a long time but feels like no time at all. The past six months have flew by faster than I could have imagined and now I have 175 days remaining until I am a Past State Officer. Although it saddens me to think that my year is halfway complete I like to think back on the memories I have created and the lessons I have learned.

Throughout our lives, we have countdowns. For example, how many days until summer, days (or years) until graduation, days until the weekend, or even years until retirement that lead us to sometimes forget to appreciate what we have now and not work so much about what is to come. Starting this year it was easy not to think about convention and I was taking in all of the new surroundings and the new people we were meeting; as the year has gone on, I find it more and more difficult to not think about convention since it’s approaching rather quickly. However, that does not mean I should start to spend less time in the present and that I can get caught up in what is to come.

Think about middle school or even your earlier years in high school. How much of your time was spend in middle school thinking about or preparing for high school? How much of your high school career has been a countdown of when you get out of class, how many days until the weekend, how long until you become a senior, or when you will graduate? All questions you may ask yourselves and things you dwell on that don’t allow you to enjoy your time. My senior year, I was in school from 7:55 am to 12:15 pm each day then I would go to work because my focus was on graduating with as many college credits as possible and getting experience in the field. I missed out on so much because I was too focused on the future. I didn’t go to anything homecoming related including our dance because I was working. I never took classes outside of what I could use for college credit, what was required, or what I wanted to do with my life, because I wanted to be prepared. I let my senior year slip away because I forgot to recognize the value of what I had then.

Looking back I realize what I did and I was warned by many not to but I never thought I would actually regret it, but I do and think this year I will not make the same mistake nor do I want anyone else to either. I have learned that I have to enjoy the now with meeting members, going to FFA events, and attending conferences whenever I get the chance to. Although I may have finished with Chapter Visits I still am focused on what is going on in the now like preparing for Halftime Conference rather than focusing solely on convention.

Wisconsin FFA I encourage you to be in the present and appreciate all you have right now so you may cherish those memories for the rest of your life.

See you soon,

Brooke Casey
Wisconsin FFA State Vice President 2022-2023
Success Isn't Given, It's Earned
Dec. 19, 2022
Evan Mennen - Parliamentarian
Bay Port FFA Chapter
Section 9

Success isn’t given, it is earned. Those words were said to me by a wise man. At the time they were said, I was upset and just ready to give up. But something in me told me no. The more I kept saying those words over and over in my head, the more those words started to originate in me. Success will never be given to us. If we dream of being successful, there is only one way to attain that success, and that is to put in the work. We are never going to achieve our goals and dreams if we are not willing to put in the effort it takes to accomplish them. As much as I wish life worked that way sometimes, it just doesn’t. The people who deserve success in anything, are the ones who are out there working to make it happen.

For example, take the FFA members who are achieving their goals for their supervised agricultural experiences. These are the members who are consistently working to obtain hours, striving to grow, and giving everything they have towards their SAE. These members aren’t people who are making excuses as to why they can’t do it; these are the members who have made a commitment to themselves to uphold.

Let me pose another question, would you expect someone who has put in the time to practice basketball all of his or her life to lose to someone who has never practiced before? The obvious answer would be NO! The person who has put in the work, has dedicated time in their lives to mastering a craft and becoming the best at it by developing their skills. It’s reasonable to assert that he or she has the fundamental knowledge, principles and experience to be in the position where they are. Thus, one would expect them to be better.

Everything we want in life, whether it’s a great job, money, or success in our goals will have to be earned. There isn’t anything that is going to simply just fall into place for us. We have to be willing to take the initiative and go after whatever it is that we desire. We must be willing to try, and fail in order to succeed. Next time we see someone successful, understand that they are where they are for a reason. They have earned their way. Wisconsin FFA remember that success isn’t given, it is earned.

Love Always,

Evan J Mennen
Grow. Reflect. Advocate. Repeat.
Dec. 14, 2022
Mary Schrieber - Sentinel
East Troy FFA Chapter
Section 10

This week marks six months since we celebrated State Convention in June and also the halfway point of our team’s term as State Officers. This also meant that our team tackled our last round of training at Check Point 2 in Marshfield. While there, we had the opportunity to reflect on the relationships we have built with each other and all of you, our most impactful memories with members, and the influence that FFA has had on each of our lives. After reflection, I realized that FFA has been one of the biggest blessings in my life. It’s given me lifelong friendships, cherished memories, and the chance to become a more well-rounded individual and leader in the agricultural community. My positive experience in this organization has motivated me to promote all the good that FFA does for students and the agriculture community. So, when the chance came for me to advocate for Wisconsin FFA on our state’s most impactful stage, I jumped at the opportunity.

Our Foundation Executive Director, Abi Quinlan, invited me and Cole to attend an important meeting at the Capitol in Madison. We both accepted the invitation, ready to share our own stories and others to highlight FFA’s impact on Wisconsin students. We were informed that we would be meeting with a state senator who serves as the Chair of the Committee on Finance and works to develop agricultural policy. Cole and I were both eager to speak with the senator and hopefully earn his support on FFA’s statewide legislative goals.

As I walked up the steps of the Capitol building, the importance of the meeting suddenly sank in. Representing 23,190 FFA members across our state in one half-hour meeting was a daunting task. The outcome had the potential to impact each of us, as well as almost 25,000 other agricultural education students. That weight dropped and formed a pit in my stomach. I felt overwhelmed, knowing that I had to meet this challenge and secure support for our organization and all of Wisconsin’s agricultural education students.

As Mrs. Quinlan, Cole, and I continued to make our way into the Capitol, I was reminded of all the reflection I was fortunate enough to experience last week. In an effort to calm my nerves, I reflected on how being a part of this organization has shifted my perspective on agriculture and leadership. I recalled the conversations I had with members who each are committed to the betterment of our industry. At that moment, I chose to focus on my important role during this meeting: to share the impact and power that FFA has on the lives of students. With a new focus, I walked into our meeting feeling confident and spoke to the senator from my heart about how FFA impacted my life and my community.

Sometimes, it’s easy to become overwhelmed with the weight of a new chapter project or class assignment. In times of self-doubt, it can feel easier to focus on the odds stacked against us or the possibility of failure. Instead, I challenge you all to reflect back on the road that has led you to where you are today. Remember all the hours you devoted to developing your Supervised Agricultural Experience, how your favorite class introduced you to a potential career, how you’ve become a better leader through FFA, or how you have served your communities. Don’t overlook the impact that the most important things in your life have had on you.

The six month mark on our FFA calendar serves as the perfect chance for us to reflect on the blessings in our own lives. How has being a part of communities like FFA challenged and prepared you for the road ahead? Focus on those impacts and let them empower you to face future obstacles. Along the way, have the courage to share those experiences with those around you to advocate for our organization and agriculture. We are all here because we believe in the future of agriculture and because we are the future of agriculture. Let’s share that with others!

Let’s continue to grow, reflect, advocate, and repeat throughout these next six months together!

Mary Schrieber
Where We're Going
Dec. 12, 2022
Casey Denk - President
Mondovi FFA Chapter

While spending time together in Marshfield this past week, the state officer team started planning Halftime Conference, developing banquet speeches, and preparing for State Convention. Our calendars are filling up with FFA activities for the rest of the year, all over the state. While looking forward to the next six months, we talked a lot about where we’ve been the last six months and reflecting on what went well. Now, everyone knows state officers put on thousands of miles throughout our year traveling to chapter, sectional, and state FFA events and it’s no secret that we need our fair share of oil changes and tire rotations, but thinking about where we are going means a little more than wheels hitting pavement.

Only six months ago, our team was elected to serve and help represent over 23,190 Wisconsin FFA members. In June we were strangers and did not know where the busy year ahead was going to take us. We couldn’t have imagined all the meaningless inside jokes we would create, goofy nicknames we would delegate to one another, how our playlists would turn into jam sessions during carpools, and how we would become each other’s biggest support group. More importantly, we did not understand the impact we would soon have on each other’s lives.

Over the course of the past six months, we have transformed from strangers to family. Aside from our work time in Marshfield, we were able to celebrate Christmas as a team, spent our nights watching movies, enjoyed Marshfield’s Christmas light display, played holiday games, and shared stories to catch up after some time apart. Amidst all these traditional, holiday endeavors, we laughed the nights away making memories that will last a lifetime.

Looking back at the first half of our year and where we have been has lit a fire in each of us to look forward to where we are going and can’t wait to bring you all along with us for the rest of our year. We have a lot of exciting things in store leading all the way to convention. As we round out our year with FFA activities including leadership development events, career development events, community service projects, and banquets, let's not forget where we have been to help us get to where we are today and use that to look forward to reaching for our next goals or accomplishments.

FFA members, over the course of the second half of our year, let's focus on where we are going. Let’s work together to find new ways to build our organization while creating memories and relationships that will last a lifetime. Our team is excited to make the most out of the remainder of our year and cannot wait to continue traveling around the state meeting FFA members while remembering where we have been to make more memories where we are going.

Let's see where these next months take us,
Casey J. Denk
A New Pair of Glasses
Dec. 07, 2022
Isaac Hopke - Secretary
Spooner FFA Chapter
Section 1

If you asked me a year ago what I’d be doing a year from then, I would have told you something along the lines of this: “I plan to attend the University of Minnesota to attain a degree in Aerospace Engineering so that I one day might work for either NASA or SpaceX!” Now, here I am, the Section 1 State FFA Officer, attending the University of Wisconsin - River Falls pursuing a future solely in the agriculture industry. Let’s go on a little journey of how all of this changed.

If you took the time to read my travel blog titled “F.A.M.I.L.Y.”, you will understand that I have a huge passion for my family. I believe that the change within me began during my senior year of football. I had one of the best rushing seasons that Spooner has had in almost a decade, but that didn’t matter. What mattered was that I started to realize the importance of family. From there, my brother, Dominic, got married, with me being the best man. This event started to open my eyes a bit more, and for the first time EVER, I started to think about a different career path. Then graduation came along, and I wrote my speech about… can you guess it??? That's right, FAMILY!!! Even though I considered other careers, I still planned to attend Minnesota for Aerospace Engineering. Now, the week before state convention, my dad and I, for the first time, began to produce our own hay crop. That’s right… I was becoming a true farmer! All this tractor time provided me with an opportunity to think. I started to recall some of my childhood memories before I thought about Aerospace Engineering. My greatest desire when I was younger was to become a farmer, and work the land like my ancestors before me did. Yet, I did not change where I was going to college.

Shortly after state convention, I submitted an application to the University of Wisconsin - River Falls, simply to earn some internship credits and keep the student status. Little did I know, this choice would influence much of my life. After attending orientation, I started to think more in depth about what my heart truly desired for my life. I learned many life lessons from my football coach, one of which was F.A.M.I.L.Y., but another is best stated by his quote, “I have never worked a day in my life.” What he meant is that by finding a career that you love, you won’t HAVE to work a day in your life. I took this to heart and reflected on the past year of my life and also my whole life. Over covid and this summer, I realized that I love being outside and it bothers me to be inside all the time, something that engineers do a lot of. So, why did I want to be an engineer? I couldn’t come up with a single reason why I wanted to, that wasn't a self centered reason. After many months of not accepting what I truly wanted, I decided to scrap that idea. Although I am uncertain about a single career that I would like to pursue, I know that it will be in the ag industry to help humanity and also that it will be near home so that I can develop my own community who gave so much to me so that I could be successful and achieve many of my lifelong goals.

Over the past year and a half, I have put on a new pair of glasses. A pair that have expanded my world and community view and given me a deeper understanding of the meaning of my life. Readers, I challenge you to put on a new pair of glasses, and reflect on your “why” and think about your own meaning of life. Thank you for reading my story and I hope you gained something, and maybe learned a bit more about me.
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