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FFA Officers: Travel Blog

Are There Any Questions?
Sep. 18, 2021
Sydney Bender - Vice President
Big Foot FFA Chapter
Section 10

This week began the first of my chapter visits with Beaver Dam and Hartford! Both schools had students that were enrolled in agricultural education classes that were willing to participate in the workshops and understand what the FFA organization had to offer. During both chapter visits, there was a time before the end of the class to have students ask me any question they wanted. Whether that be about where I was attending school, what I was involved in when I was in an FFA, or where Big Foot High School was located. During this Q&A time, one question was guaranteed to be asked: "Why did you decide to join FFA?" Throughout my time in the organization, as most FFA members can agree this question is asked several times but after these chapter visits, I took the time to reflect on how this impacts our organization.

Each time you ask that question to an FFA member, the answer will always be different or unique. Whether it be you decided to join because of an agricultural education class you chose to take during your time in high school, or FFA is a family tradition that goes back so many generations in your family. No matter what reason we may have had to join this organization we now as FFA members work to achieve a goal for ourselves. To grow and become the next innovators and leaders for our generation.

Wisconsin FFA, our organization, is unique. Unique in the terms that every member has their own individual story as to why they decided to become a part of this organization and why they continue to advocate for those to become involved. No matter what reason we chose to become an FFA member we can all now work towards our goal of becoming the next leaders for our chapters, our communities, and our generation.

If you have any questions or want to talk about what your story is and why you decided to become a member, feel free to reach out to me either through email at sbender@wisconsinffa.org or my cell phone number (262) 745-8280.

In Service to you,
Sydney Bender
Can I have candy?
Sep. 15, 2021
Lashawna Vogel - Reporter
Denmark FFA Chapter
Section 9

My first week of chapter visits came very quickly. I traveled to three different schools throughout the Northeastern Wisconsin area, and it was interesting to me seeing the difference between each and the community surrounding them. This experience was indeed one of my all-time favorites, and one specific moment stands out the most to me.

As I was preparing for the next class, a student approached me, and he saw I had candy sitting out on the table. He asked me, “Can I have a piece of candy?” I responded with, “Only if you can answer the question I ask you.” He then proceeded to tell me that he knew absolutely nothing about agriculture except the fact that a cow is an animal because he was a “city kid.” However, despite his fears, I would ask him a question that would really challenge him; he was insistent on answering so he could receive a piece of candy. He didn’t realize that I helped him set a goal and his persistence showed just how much he cared about accomplishing that one simple goal.

Each of us sets goals for ourselves on a daily basis; while sometimes we might not realize it, the importance of these goals we create is enormous. Our goals are essential to us for four main reasons: 1. They keep us focused and accountable. 2. They help organize our time. 3. They motivate us. And 4. They help us build ourselves. Starting with the first reason, we each have countless distractions, and through our goals, they point out what we must focus on to get to where we want to be. Secondly, organization is seen as the key to success by many; if we manage our time efficiently, we will be able to accomplish more. Third, the motivation through our goals comes because these goals are something we each deeply care about. Finally, the last main reason, our goals can all be smaller goals that will help us work towards a larger goal because each of those “smaller” accomplishments builds up to a much more significant achievement.

As the new school year is well underway, I am confident that FFA members will continue to set amazing and unique goals for themselves and achieve these goals. If you ever need anything, I’m only a call, text, or email away; feel free to contact me at 920-676-7717 or lvogel@wisconsinffa.org.

Keep achieving your goals,
Lashawna Vogel
All you need is boots...
Sep. 08, 2021
Emily Dahlke - Treasurer
Adams-Friendship FFA Chapter
Section 6

“All you need is a pair of boots and a positive attitude” is what I told my teammates before they made the trek to Adams-Friendship to partake in our annual Barnyard Ball/Back to School Picnic.

As we pulled into the High School parking lot we saw the Adams-Friendship FFA members unloading the supplies to play this interesting game. Casey, Amara, and Lashawna began questioning whether or not they should have agreed to come. We walked to the field and saw cones in the shape of a baseball diamond, wheelbarrows, stick horses, stuffed chickens, and shovels. Confusion swept across their faces and then directions began.

Barnyard Ball is like kickball with a twist (or a lot of twists). There are two teams, a FFA member team and an alumni team, and their goal is to get on base, advance around the bases and make it home just like kickball, but it's not as simple as it seems. The pitcher tosses the kick ball to the batter like a softball and the batter has to hit it with a shovel. The fielders are all equipped with a 5 gallon bucket that they have to use to retrieve the ball in the outfield, like a glove. Now, when you are batting you have a partner to run with. One of you will hit and then you will both run to first base. If you or your partner is not wearing boots you have to carry a bag of feed with you to 1st base. Once you are at 1st base in order to get to 2nd you have to grab 2 stuffed chickens and 11 eggs between you and your partner and carry them to 2nd base. To get to 3rd base you and your partner have to decide who gets to ride in the wheelbarrow and who is going to push it. Then to get home you have to ride the stick horse. Simple, right?

This event is a chapter favorite because all the skill you thought you had in sports goes out the window and everyone is at an even playing field. Some of my favorite memories have come from Barnyard Ball and it was so fun to be on the other side as an alumni. Seeing the smiles on members' faces and watching the new interactions between members that might not talk in school reminded me of why this organization is so important in aiding the next generation of agriculturalists.

FFA is such a great place for people from all walks of life because there truly is something for everyone. From different “sporting events” such as Barnyard Ball to the countless speaking opportunities, FFA grows its members without them even knowing. Take every opportunity, even if it seems strange at first, because every opportunity in FFA has a purpose.

I am so excited to take on this year with all of you and do some things that might take us a little out of our comfort zones. Please feel free to reach out to me with any questions or if you just need to chat via email:edahlke@wisconsinffa.org, or phone: (608)-369-0594. I can’t wait to meet you all!

If you got a chance take it,

Emily Dahlke
"Can you hear me now?"
Sep. 07, 2021
Aubrey Schlimgen - Sentinel
Marshall FFA Chapter
Section 5

Doing things virtually was definitely by far one of the biggest obstacles we faced last year. I’m sure many of us can recall the many virtual meetings we had whether it was on Zoom, over google meet, or other platforms that we didn’t even know existed until we had to use them. But those calls also came with lots of trouble mostly including the spotty internet or WIFI. Phrases like “Now is it working?” or “Hey I didn’t catch that you froze again” were things we heard probably way too often. The most frustrating thing I know was definitely getting kicked off the meeting as well, let alone it happening multiple times.

Virtual Learning alone was difficult on many levels as well. From a student's end some struggled not having that in-person connection along with not having as many resources, and the focus unfortunately sometimes was just not there. Then from an Educators perspective it was also frustrating looking at a computer at a bunch of blank boxes while it seemed like you were talking to yourself. Some schools might still have to face this struggle this year in the virtual Learning world. This struggle is also still very prominent in the FFA world as well. As we try to adapt to the obstacle in front of us, FFA events are still held virtually to try and stay connected to its members and still give them the opportunity to be a part of the FFA experience.

However we did find success in the dark as well. With technology and these new ways to connect with others we have now been able to reach others at times and places that we have never been able to before. Keeping our worlds still connected, just virtually. Social Media especially played a huge role in keeping people in touch in a time where we couldn't do that face to face. Therefore helping spread activities, news, and accomplishments to more people than ever before.

Recently I competed in the Preliminary round for the National FFA Extemporaneous Competition. I’ll admit it was hard to compete virtually from districts, sectionals, and for other state associations their state level was virtual as well. But seeing other contenders' reactions when they’re names were announced for advancement to Semifinals, it reminded me of the resilience FFA members truly do have. Even though we were faced with a challenge of the virtual world, FFA members persevered, overcame, and pushed themselves to still be the best they can be. This year I know that FFA members will choose to break through the obstacles that may come their way no matter what, and to say I am a witness of their achievements, is truly the biggest blessing of them all. But as people of service we choose to also help others during this time as well, I am always here to be a listening ear with the struggles and maybe we can even learn and struggle with technology together!

Wisconsin FFA, when times get hard and we don’t know where to turn (and the zoom call won’t start) remember panicking is the last thing you should do. Remember to stop, breathe, and things will be okay! Feel free to reach out at any point via email aschlimgen@wisconsinffa.org or by my cell (608) 422-0649. We all need a helping hand sometimes, and now is the time to reach out.

Wishing you the best always,
Aubrey Schlimgen
Down to Your Roots
Sep. 01, 2021
Mia Hillebrand - Secretary
River Valley FFA Chapter
Section 4

Hello Wisconsin FFA,

I have stepped into the position that I have dreamed of being in, the black heels and the corduroy jacket of a Wisconsin FFA State Officer. Serving from yours truly, Section 4. Now I do say this is a dream come true and one thing I would like to tell you is I am all about dreams, inspirations, and goals. None of those are too big or too small that cannot be accomplished. Steps that take you to your dreams all start from the roots of where you came from.

I came from a small town, in the River Valley School District called Lone Rock, population around 700. I did not grow up on a farm, but my grandfather is a third -generation farmer about seven miles away from my home. Growing up, I loved spending time with the dairy cattle, horses, donkeys, pigs, goats, rabbits, and about every animal we could have on a farm. Now picturing the crazy Dolan Family Farm, something that has stuck with me is the passion, love, and dedication to the future of agriculture that my grandparents had. As I continue to grow from the roots that run richly in the Dolan family, I plan to continue the dreams they had. My grandpa was the first River Valley FFA President and the first to participate in the annual River Valley School Fair, which will be celebrating 58 years this year.

When I talk about my roots and about my love for agriculture, I did not know how important they were and how much they have truly impacted my life. I grew up with little knowledge of the connection between agriculture and the world of education. I felt that my experiences growing up with an agriculture background had not interested my friends, community members, and teachers. Therefore, I spoke little about it and did not know the opportunities that had been available.

My roots got me involved in FFA. They sparked my passion for education and creating opportunities for students who may have never thought about being involved in the FFA organization or agriculture. Just as students exhibited projects at the River Valley School Fair 58 years ago with my grandpa, today I have the opportunity to learn with students as they work with their projects for the school fair. In reflection on my roots, I have dug deep into learning more about who I am as a person, leader, and a student and how that will be utilized to grow.

This year, Wisconsin FFA has dug deep to their roots in so many amazing ways to accomplish the goals, the dreams, and passions. Dig deeper, find your roots, and grow like crazy this year. Work on being a positive impact in your chapter as you achieve chapter and personal goals. Reach out to another student who may not know about FFA, reach out to FFA members who may not know what opportunities they can be a part of, and most of all grow as an individual through every opportunity that FFA has to offer.

Wisconsin FFA, when you look back on your roots, know that your family, friends, advisors, chapter, foundation, alumni, and Wisconsin FFA Association will always help you grow. Please let me know if you need anything to help you grow and reach your goals this year. You can reach me anytime at mhillebrand@wisconsinffa.org or by phone (608) 459-0742. I can’t wait to work with Wisconsin FFA members this year!

Have a great school year!
-Mia Hillebrand
Bumps in the Road
Aug. 28, 2021
Amara Livingston - Parliamentarian
Cochrane-Fountain City FFA Chapter
Section 3

The officer team has been hard at work with training and the Wisconsin State Fair. In the first two months of serving as Wisconsin FFA State Officers, the team has collectively traveled about 13,000 miles. We made it that far without any vehicle problems...until yesterday.

On the way home from Marshfield from Checkpoint #1, we were traveling on a county road. Out of nowhere, we hear a loud “THUMP!” The first assumption was that we hit something, so we look behind us to see if anything is there. The road: clear. We think to ourselves, “Hmm that’s kind of weird.”

Casey looks at me in the back seat and whispers, “I think we popped a tire.”

Ben looks down at his dashboard and says, “Ope! 15 psi. That can’t be good.”

We pull over to a safe spot, open the door, and we hear the air rushing out of the back left tire. We sat back and watched the tire go flat, wondering what was going to happen in the next few moments.

“Well, I know I have a spare. I saw it this morning,” said Ben.

We walked to the back of the vehicle, unloaded all our suitcases to get to the spare tire, and pulled it out along with the jack. As most of us would probably do, Ben called his dad, David, to talk us through the process of changing this tire. Casey, Katie, and I were all hands on deck ready to help. In only a couple minutes, the deflated tire was off and the small spare was on and ready to go. We packed everything back up and we were on our way.

When we got back in the vehicle I caught myself wondering what I would have done if it was my vehicle. What if it was my vehicle and I was by myself? I knew there was no way that I could have changed the tire as quickly. I was so thankful that Ben, Casey, Katie, and I could all work through this situation together. If it wasn’t for each other’s support and patience, the minor inconvenience could have been much worse.

When we surround ourselves with people who support us through any bump in the road, we can think clearly and work efficiently. Let’s think. Who is there to help us when we get a flat? For me, I think of my mom, Marie, who can always be my shoulder to cry on; I think of my friend, Josie, who I call with any problem and she’ll help me center my thoughts; and I think of my uncle, Kevin, who will help me gather corn samples or take videos of the Herefords whenever I need. I could not be more thankful for all these people. My supporters deserve to know this and so do yours. The next time we see them, let’s give our supporters an extra, “I appreciate you.” Let’s give them an extra, “What you do for me does not go unnoticed.”

Wisconsin FFA, I am confident that with our endless support from our advisors, alumni, and foundation, we have a bright year ahead. Please know that when there’s a bump in the road, your supporters and the state officers are here for you. You can reach out to me anytime via email at alivingston@wisconsinffa.org, or by phone at (608)863-3990. I can’t wait to start working with you all!

See you soon!
Amara Livingston
Moments That Matter
Aug. 25, 2021
Casey Denk - Vice President
Mondovi FFA Chapter
Section 2

Nothing beats the county fair! Between livestock exhibits, late nights and early mornings in the barn, eating too much fair food, making malts in the Farm Bureau malt stand, and hanging out with fellow exhibitors, there is never a dull moment at the Buffalo County Fair.

Looking back and reminiscing about my time as a fair exhibitor, there are oodles of memories that come to mind. One of the biggest milestones in my showing career was third grade when I was finally able to start showing market steers and sheep. Growing up with older siblings, I craved my first experience in the show ring. Another summer I cherish is when my cousin and best friend, Kali, started showing with me just a few short years ago. The memories we made as we prepared for and exhibited at the fair are unforgettable. Even though these memories signify major milestones during my showing career, they are not the only moments I treasure from my time as a Buffalo County Fair exhibitor.

Some of my favorite memories are from small, seemingly insignificant acts that quickly turned into much more. Working the malt stand, enjoying our traditional family picnic after the beef show, playing cards in the beef barn, and helping younger exhibitors are all memories that will last much longer than any award or trophy I received.

Throughout life, there will be times when you place first at different FFA events, sporting competitions, or simple yard games, but it is the memories made and lessons learned along the way that will last a lifetime. You will cherish late nights prepping for leadership development events or finalizing your agriscience fair application. At the moment, early-morning and late-night athletic practices might seem dreadful, but when the season is complete, players wish they had one more opportunity to compete alongside their teammates. The memories made while playing cornhole, kubb, spikeball, and other yard games during graduation parties, family reunions, or friend gatherings last longer than the feeling felt when the competition was won. In life, it is important to strive to do our best; however, we must never forget to enjoy the journey. The initial feeling of achievement and triumph is amazing but short-lived compared to the friendships and memories that came along the way. As the 93rd year of Wisconsin FFA begins, we can all strive to enjoy every moment, for the memories will last a lifetime!

Throughout the year, I am looking forward to making countless memories with as many FFA members as possible. Please feel free to reach out to me at any time via email, cdenk@wisconsinffa.org, or phone, (715)-495-2899. I am looking forward to meeting many of you throughout the year.

Live in the present and enjoy every moment,
Casey J. Denk
In a Crazy Turn of Events...
Aug. 21, 2021
Katie Zimmer - Vice President
Flambeau FFA Chapter
Section 1

It has been a crazy, but amazing summer to say the least. After the 92nd Wisconsin State FFA Convention, the 2021-2022 State FFA Officer Team and I have been on the move! Each step of our way, from our first event at Base Camp Training to our most recent travel to the Wisconsin State Fair, I have learned and experienced so many different things. I have greatly enjoyed this experience and wouldn’t trade it for the world, but would you believe me if I told you that about two months ago, I had no intention of becoming a state officer this year?

Now you are probably wondering, Katie if you didn’t plan to run for state office this year, how are you a state officer? Well, a few weeks before convention, I received a phone call from the 2020-2021 Section 1 State Officer, Jackie Rosenbush. She asked me if I had thought about running for state office, and at first, I was a little hesitant. There were so many thoughts running through my head when she asked me this. Should I run this year? I’m not prepared, won’t I embarrass myself? Will I be a good state officer? This was an amazing opportunity and might be my only chance, so with some deliberation, I said yes. After that, much hard work and time was put in, and now I have the privilege to serve all of you as the 2021-2022 Section One Wisconsin State FFA Officer!

In this situation, I had an opportunity in front of me. I could either not run for state office or run for state office and possibly change my life in a whole new way. I could take some risk or none at all. In this situation, the more risk I took the more reward I was presented with.

After this, I have followed this philosophy: If a good opportunity presents itself to you, take it, because most likely it was meant for you. It may include a lot of hard work, determination, and perseverance, but it will reward you in a big way. Whether that be an opportunity to participate in a Leadership Development Event, become a chapter officer, or take a trip to the National FFA Convention, go for it! Everything happens for a reason, so when these opportunities are presented before you, take them and see what great places they lead you!

Feel free to reach out to me with any questions, comments, concerns, or just to chat at 715-567-0610 or kzimmer@wisoconsinffa.org! Always remember, everything happens for a reason, you might not understand it at first, but it will make sense in the end. I look forward to working with all of you this year and helping you find that opportunity that was meant for you!

Yours Truly,
Katie Zimmer
I Believe Because of You
Aug. 18, 2021
Ben Styer - President
Menomonie FFA Chapter
President

“I believe in the future of agriculture...” These words written by E.M. Tiffany are the first words of the FFA Creed, arguably the most well known piece of writing in American agriculture. After being involved in agriculture all of my life, I feel that the FFA community believes in the future of agriculture as deeply now as they ever have. The feeling of having an in-person State FFA Convention in July is one reason I believe this. Seeing chapter presidents carry their FFA flags across the stage, hearing our national anthem, and being together with our Wisconsin FFA family made me beyond proud to call this organization home. On top of this, FFA members from all corners of the state continued to make a difference in the lives of others, persevered through uncertain times, and logged over 3,500 hours of community service this year. Simply put, leaders do what needs to be done, and Wisconsin FFA is home to some of the most diligent leaders who find needs and address them.

Throughout the past two weeks, I had the pleasure of being at the Wisconsin State Fair, surrounded by outstanding leaders! My teammates and I worked in the Compeer Financial Discovery Barn, helped out in the Farm Wisconsin Discovery Center booth, and even had the opportunity to serve delicious ice cream alongside Washington County FFA members from the Hartford, Kewaskum, and Slinger FFA chapters. Volunteering in the Washington County booth was without a doubt one of my favorite parts of the State Fair. Not only did I enjoy greeting customers and serving up tasty milk and ice cream, but I also found that working with FFA members was extremely rewarding.

Every single FFA member I interacted with had a smile on their face, a fashionable Holstein print baseball cap on ;), and was happy to be serving others. One student, Jack, a sixth grader at Hartford, was delighted to be helping out in the stand. The most interesting part though? Jack is too young to be an FFA member. Nonetheless, he chose to help work the booth - taking orders, running the cash register, and serving dairy products - all while smiling and having a great time.

Students like Jack and the many others working diligently in the Washington County FFA Stand are the reason I believe in the future of agriculture. Knowing there are young people, agriculture students, who have the drive to accomplish their goals makes me proud to be part of the FFA and excited for the future. All FFA members, regardless of their background, have the potential to create change they want to see. We can have faith in the future of agriculture because our organization sets students up for success.

As the 93rd year of Wisconsin FFA begins, I am confident that the FFA will continue to prosper. The incredible members, advisors, alumni, and supporters of our organization possess the will, grit, and tenacity to push forward. As we move forward this year, do not hesitate to reach out to me with any questions or simply to chat via phone, (715)505-8900, or email, bstyer@wisconsinffa.org.

FFA members are learners, achievers, and agents of change. We step up and do what needs to be done. We inspire and influence. We are the future because we believe in it. We are FFA members, and we are ready for the year ahead.

Best,
Ben Styer
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