FFA Officers: Travel Blog
This weekend’s conference was a great place to network with like-minded individuals that are equally excited to put their stamp on the future of agriculture. One way that Farm Bureau Members attempt to accomplish this is in their organization’s featured event, the Discussion Meet. 25 YFA Members and 6 Collegiate Farm Bureau Members qualified for this event and contributed to various conversations about current agricultural issues in front of an audience and a set of judges. Topics included improving food labeling practices, connecting producers with concerned or confused consumers, and adapting current practices to feed our growing world population. These were just a few of the topics discussed but all of the topics were real problems facing farmers or consumers every day. Every contestant in this competition came from a different background in agriculture so the conversations that were had were very thought provoking and productive.
Now that Farm Bureau members have found their way home to their farms, businesses, offices and communities, this will be the test to see if their discussions will truly make a difference. After personally observing five different rounds of discussion between these members, I have no doubt in my mind they will pass this test with flying colors. Each contestant was genuinely excited to bring the new ideas and perspectives they have developed back to their home county and make a difference. Because after all, discussions without action are like a tractor without wheels, it can still sound good, but it won’t ever turn over any soil or make a difference. The Wisconsin Farm Bureau has kept their wheels on and has been making a difference for 100 years now; and with the next generations of leaders that were showcased at this year’s YFA Conference, I believe the future of this organization is in good hands.
If the discussion meet competition sounds intriguing to any FFA Members reading this blog, you’re in luck! Wisconsin FFA’s leadership development events are just around the corner, including our own discussion meet competition. Please feel free to reach out to me at email@example.com with any questions or concerns that you may have. I would be happy to help!
Have a good one!
And just like that, December is here! That means we’re nearing the halfway point of the FFA year. Are you kidding me?! The past 6 months have been amongst the busiest and the most memorable of my life. I can’t even begin to explain how thankful I am for the places I’ve been and most importantly, the people I’ve met throughout the year so far. As the busy fall winds down, the state officer team’s next adventure takes us to the Wisconsin Dells for the Farm Bureau Annual Meeting this weekend and then off to Marshfield for Checkpoint #2 Training. The party never stops!
A couple weeks ago, I had the chance to visit the Waupun FFA chapter. Since they have several agriculture teachers, they invited me to do a chapter visit along with Jared. The only thing was- I hadn’t facilitated a chapter visit in almost a year! I didn’t know if chapter visits were like riding a bike, but I did know there was only one way to find out!
So, I knocked the rust off, wrote some outlines, packed up the supplies crate, and, as it turned out, had an amazing chapter visit in Waupun! The students were outstanding, the activities went well, everyone stayed engaged, and I met plenty of new FFA members. For the icing on top of the cake, I had the privilege of attending the FFA Bowling Party and even getting to visit with the 6th Graders at the School for Agriculture and Environmental Sciences (SAGES) in Fox Lake. It was a visit I will never forget! I thought to myself, “By golly Collin, you still got it!”
I traveled back to college following my visit to Waupun and as I sat in my dorm room that evening, I couldn’t help but smile about the last day and a half. But it wasn’t just the visit to Waupun that had me smiling. Add on the memory of my 27 chapter visits across Section 3 from last fall, and I was grinning from ear to ear. My chapter visit in Waupun reminded me just how much I love chapter visits. Clips from each one of my visits in the previous year started streaming through my mind. “Ahh, the good ole days”, I thought to myself.
Sometimes, all it takes is one event to take us back to our “glory days”- the lists of memories we made. If I was a betting man, I’d say someday you will be brought back to your “glory days” of FFA- the list of memories you made in the corduroy jacket. And I think you too will realize just how special those memories are.
But luckily for us, our “glory days” of FFA are right now! We’re right in the thick of things. We're making memories by the dozens! So, as the second half of the FFA year rumbles on, cherish those moments that will someday have you saying, “Ahh, the good ole days.”
See You Soon,
Priorities range from watching a particular weekly show on television, sports practices, watching nerve-wracking football games, and working many hours at a job, but my high school questioned on the first day of freshmen year, “What will you do after high school?” Even though it was frightening then and still is now, they then asked a follow-up question, “What will you do to get there?” That was a little less intimating because coming from a large high school of approximately 1,200 students there were many diverse opportunities to take advantage of such as the drama club to honor societies to golf – quite a variety to get involved in. Now, whether you come from a large or small school, you still have opportunities that are right in front of you, will you take advantage of them?
All of these opportunities in high school we should be thankful for because it helps us getting into wherever we will go in life, whether it’s in the agriculture industry or a different career, the opportunity of FFA has surely benefited me, my state officer teammates, and over 20,000 other Wisconsin FFA members. During this holiday season, I challenge you to write down your priorities and write what you most enjoy about it. If you realize you are not enjoying life to the fullest right now, make a change. How can you continue to RISE UP to the challenge and STAND OUT from the crowd?
And with a blink of an eye, chapter visits are coming to a close for many of us on the team. Two days ago, I wrapped up my last full day chapter visit of the year and was not the happiest camper seeing them go by so fast. If I could, I would go to every chapter and spend a whole day with them again!
As I reflect on the 29 chapters I visited in the past three months, I started making a list of projects members are doing throughout this year. One that hit the list was called the “December Kindness Project.” Members at Green Bay Lombardi Middle School created a list of 29 different acts of kindness that members in their chapter can do this upcoming month. They are required to do at least ten of them to receive a reward however, everyone has to keep track of how many they accomplish on their own. As goes for me and maybe yourself, I would not be able to remember how many I did without writing it down. To receive the prize, they have to simply tell Ms. Zimmerman, their advisor, they completed at least 10 acts of kindness and they receive a candy bar. For many middle school students, they will do whatever it takes to get candy and you’re probably thinking just like I was, how do you know if someone is lying? You see, it could be easy for anyone to lie and say they completed ten acts of kindness but that ruins the point of the project. Doing simple acts of kindness should not be something you have to keep track of but rather something you lost track of.
Since Thanksgiving is tomorrow, what better time to start your small acts of kindness? We all have so much to be thankful for this year and I know this would be a great way to start the holiday season. With kindness brings happiness and happiness brings moments you will not forget, similar to what I experienced during my chapter visits. Each visit was different but one thing stayed the same. Everyone was so welcoming and kind.
If you would like to participate in the “December Kindness Project,” you can find a list of ideas to do within the next month on my officer profile page! I know this project will make a difference throughout our state with as many motivated members that are out there and want to make a difference in their community.
It simply amazes me to see all of the different classrooms everyone has. I explored an impressive aquaculture set-up in Oconto Falls, and I got to meet many cute critters in Winneconne. I have also seen so many other extraordinary set-ups along the way. Besides meeting the students, members, and advisors, my favorite part of travelling these miles has been seeing how different all of the schools are. I mean going from Bowler to Oshkosh, there is a dramatic change but in an awesome way!
It is so cool to know that even though we come from such diverse backgrounds, we can come together to learn about agriculture and have a ton of fun in the FFA. I am very lucky to be able to serve so many unique people who gather together in one terrific organization. As Thanksgiving approaches, and I reflect on what I am thankful for, the FFA is towards the top of that list. However, the people that make up the organization definitely are number one. Thank you all for being wonderful!
We will catch you later Wisconsin FFA… I gotta go to another visit!
Daniel Clark Wisconsin FFA State Vice President
After my visit in Lodi, I made my way back home. There was just one problem: the ferry was closed. This meant I had to drive around the lake which is about 20 more minutes. The ice had gotten too thick and the ferry closed for the season. The ferry runs 24/7 and is only closed in the winter months. It literally never stops until it is forced too.
Many of us are like the ferry. Even when we have obstacles in the way we keep on going. The only time that we stop is when we are forced too. Honestly, being forced to stop sometimes in our tasks isn’t a bad thing. If the ferry kept going, it would get frozen in ice and would break down. If we keep on going, we’ll get exhausted and lose our focus. So, what does this mean? Be like the Merrimac Ferry. Keep chugging away until your forced to take a break, then use that break to refuel yourself and wait until you can keep on pushing once again.
Wisconsin Association of FFA State Secretary
212/360 was just the other day and if you guys didn’t know we celebrated my team mate Michelle’s birthday. It wasn’t her actual birthday but since we wouldn’t be together for her real birthday, on November 21st, we decided to make some cake and celebrate!! I talked to some of my other teammates and we got her birthday present and cake ready for the big reveal because of course this was all a surprise for Michelle.
We love celebrating birthdays on our team because it means we can all hang out and eat some pretty kickin' cake together! We’ve also celebrated our president, Collin’s, birthday at our Checkpoint #2 leadership training in Marshfield. We went out to dinner at a mexican restaurant and he got to wear this obnoxiously big, super fun, sombrero. Our national facilitator, Gracie Furnish, had her birthday around the same time as well so she wore a sweet sombrero and the whole team and the staff all sang happy birthday to Collin and Gracie.
I spent my birthday in Arcadia where I did my first practice facilitation with a class at the Arcadia High School. If I’m going to be honest with you all, it did not go well. I wasn’t feeling the best about myself at the time and I had a lot of questions about if I was really the right person for the job. But my teammates can always be counted on to make a rough day better. We all went to the Weltziens house where they had made taco’s for my birthday dinner! I wore a birthday hat and walked through the line while Collin made up a plate for me. We played games, went for a walk, hung out, and laughed a LOT! The power of celebration made my rough day so so much better.
Everybody loves to celebrate right? whether it’s birthdays, anniversaries, holidays, or just for no reason at all (that one is my favorite). But our national facilitator, Gracie Furnish, told us all something and she says it often “never stop celebrating each other” and I absolutely love that quote. I will always remember her saying that. At first I didn’t really understand what that meant or the importance of it but throughout our year there are times that we don’t see our team for awhile because we are working on our own for those weeks and the short times that we get together it is so much fun to celebrate. So no matter who you are or who your friends are, celebrate them. Celebrate the good times, the bad times and more importantly the times in between.
Every time I visit a new chapter one of the questions that I get asked very often is, “what is your favorite part of being a state officer?” At first my mind goes a thousand different directions because I love every part of it. But I can easily narrow it down to one thing in the end. It’s meeting members. Meeting FFA members has been the highlight of being a state officer for me this year. I love meeting members at conferences and at various events, but my favorite place to meet them is at chapter visits. It’s at these chapter visits that I get to witness these members be the most authentic version of themselves. And let me tell you… I’m here for it. But the funny thing is, at the beginning of the year after being elected as a state officer, chapter visits were what I was most scared for. Naturally, I have always been intimidated by people my own age. And for no logical reason, for that matter. So as you may guess, chapter visits were super intimidating to me at the start. However, I have learned very quickly that there is no reason to be. Every chapter has welcomed me with open arms and a great attitude, and I feel like I have a huge family that stretches across the state now.
If I were not in the role that I am right now, I never would have put myself in front of high school and middle school students. But I am so glad that I have. This experience has taught me to just do the things that scare me and live with no fear. You never know what you could be missing if you sit on the sidelines. My challenge to you, is if there is something that scares you and you think that you won’t be good at it, Just Do It. You won’t regret it.
Until next time,
Whew! What a start to the month of November! It has been a brisk couple of weeks with a few brief snowstorms. Mother Nature has been quite unpredictable this year to say the least. Despite these unfortunate turn of events, work is still being done, crops and deer are being harvested, and the 92nd National FFA Convention is in the rear-view mirror. These can be some long and exhausting weeks, especially when it is cold outside.
Perhaps the biggest upside during the winter months for us back home is to catch up on small projects on the farm. After a busy harvest season, it is nice to hang low and let life slow down. Whether it’s fixing a feeder that has been deteriorating, performing some equipment maintenance, making purchasing decisions for the upcoming planting season or making small improvements to the operation, the winter months can be a great time to catch up on our to-do list. These are the things that make the operation run more efficiently and ultimately sets us up for future success.
So, while it's cold outside, take this time to catch up on small projects in your life. These could include cleaning your room, preparing for that Leadership Development Event or applying for that FFA proficiency or scholarship. Taking time to get ahead on these projects now will save a lot of time and stress in the future. Then, when the weather turns around, you’ll be ready to hit the ground running!
With chapter visits winding down, that only means colder weather. Make sure to bundle up and take time to recuperate. As the rest of fall unfolds, don’t be afraid to contact at me at firstname.lastname@example.org or 608-863-6402 if you’re looking for someone to chew the fat with.
At the start of the week, Ryan and I went to Menomine to pick up Ben Styer, one of our national delegates at convention. Ben lives on a dairy farm with a 60 head rotary parlor. Ryan was mesmerized when he stepped out of his truck and it was obvious he needed a tour of the operation. My favorite part was, of course, the calves! I am a sucker for all and any livestock. Kaden Styer, Ben’s cousin, joined us later on for the tour and informed us about the crops that the farm harvests each year.
After the tour, Ryan, Ben, and I left Menomonie and drove to Marshfield, Wisconsin to spend the night. We had an early morning the next day. 4am came quicker than anybody could have imagined. We spent the day traveling to Indianapolis on the bus. Most of us were fast asleep, but I utilized this time to be able to work on homework and other miscellaneous things for FFA.
The first couple of days at National Convention were spent in committee meetings. The state officers and delegates discussed what we could do to leave our legacy, continue to make FFA more inclusive, and progress in the right direction. Let me tell you, within these meetings, Parliamentary Procedure was not always respected. Nevertheless, I know that the recommendations that were submitted are and will continue to make FFA an amazing organization for everyone to be apart of.
The thing that will be engraved in my mind forever is being able to see the sea of blue jackets once again. This national organization is made up of 700,170 members. I am just one of those people. In Luke O’Leary’s retiring address he mentioned that everyone is different, and what unites us is our FFA jackets. We are all unique and that is okay. Out of the 700,170 members within FFA, we all have our own experiences and that is who makes us who we are. Be you and be proud of it.
Until Next Time,
My junior year in high school was also the first year that I served as a chapter officer in the Barron FFA. I was a very active member at the local level for Barron FFA but had no interest in and state or national FFA events. That was until a couple of my buddies convinced me to apply for the trip to National FFA Convention and I was one of the members chosen to attend. I was excited to miss a week of school, but I had no idea that the week ahead would change my life forever.
“Amplify!” was the 2015-2016 National FFA theme and it was also an accurate description of what National FFA Convention did to my FFA career. After meeting lots of new friends, touring some very cool landmarks, listening to a many excellent speakers, and spending hours in the FFA mall and career fair, I was fired up for the future of FFA. National FFA Convention was amazing because it showed me just how huge the FFA really is but at the same time, I walked away knowing that I play an important role in the FFA and in the future of agriculture and that I really can make a difference.
It was a long drive home from Louisville Kentucky, the site of the 2015 National FFA Convention. But the drive felt even longer once a reality hit me. The Barron FFA had a policy that you could attend National Convention once but if you wanted to come again, you would have to be competing in an event. At the time, I saw competing at nationals as a long shot at best. So, the realty that I would most likely never attend National Convention again began to creep into my mind.
Now as to why this blog is titled, “Believe in Your Potential,” it turned out that 2015 was not the end of my National FFA Convention experience. And neither was 2016… or 2017…or 2018! Once I had experienced the energy and life that exists in the FFA at the 2015 convention, I became focused on earning my way back. One Food Science CDE Team, one Agriscience Project, and one American FFA Degree later, I would say I accomplished that goal! And now having the chance to attend my fifth convention and be a voting delegate for the state of Wisconsin is truly a dream come true. I would have never imagined that I wound attend four more conventions on that long bus ride home in 2015. But after that convention, I discovered potential inside of me that I never knew existed. I have pushed myself and grown in so many ways through the FFA over the years, and the ignition of that process was definitely the 2015 National Convention.
So as so many of us make the trek to the great city of Indianapolis over the next couple of days, please travel safe and enjoy your time together. But throughout your time at convention and as you reflect on your way home, I challenge you to discover the potential inside of you. Find something that you are passionate about and don’t let anything stop you from reaching that goal. Soak up every last moment of that National FFA Convention atmosphere and together, we can make a difference on the future of agriculture.
Hope to see you at convention!
Well, it’s official; fall is here! My favorite time of year. The leaves are dropping, and the crops are hitting the bins. That means one thing: National Convention is near! But the state officers have put on a few thousands miles prior to the “FFA Holiday”, and of course, a portion of those travels has come in the form of chapter visits.
Now, chapter visits were one of the highlights of my career serving as a state officer last year. Afterall, there’s nothing better than interacting with FFA members and ag students all day long. But unfortunately, my role this year as President doesn’t find me facilitating “official” chapter visits. Instead, I get the opportunity to observe each of the sectional officers at one of their chapter visits. I essentially sit in the back, take notes, and then offer feedback to my teammates on their facilitation strengths and opportunities for growth. Ideally, they can then use that feedback to improve their presentation as chapter visit season progresses.
Well let me tell you, I’ve learned there is only one thing that can rival the satisfaction of interacting with FFA members and students at a chapter visit: watching your teammate interact with and have a positive impact on FFA members and students at their chapter visit. Watching my teammates shine (and of course interacting with FFA members along the way) is perhaps the most rewarding experience of all. The view from the back seat is a beautiful sight.
So sure, am I missing not getting to facilitate my own chapter visits? Of course. But I couldn’t have asked for a better replacement job. I get to watch others bring the magic of FFA to life. And I don’t know what else one could ask for.
In our FFA careers, sometimes we may not always be in the “heat of the action.” Sometimes we may have more of a backseat position. But who’s to say we can’t still take a look around and appreciate the noble work of our peers? When you find yourself surrounded by the inspiring actions of others, take a step back, and soak in the view. I think you’ll find it just as rewarding as I have.
And speaking of being surrounded by the inspiring actions of others, what better place to find yourself in that position than at the National FFA Convention? I’ve yet to attend an event that sends me home as motivated, refueled, and reenergized as National Convention. If you’re lucky enough to find yourself amongst the blue sea of 70,000 FFA members in Indianapolis this week, soak in the view from the back seat. I’m sure you’ll find yourself in plenty “heat of the action” situations, but don’t forget to step back and enjoy watching FFA members succeed. It’s a beautiful view!
See you in Indy!
1) Motivation. The drive to be a part of something and answering the question, “Why should we put towards the effort in the competition?” The ending reason with anything we do always comes with a reason why? Maybe because we desire the reward from it, want to be recognized, or most likely – because we enjoy it! Aligning what we like to do with competitions and events will help us acquire skills that are needed to be the most successful.
2) Dedication. Setting aside time to prepare for the competition and have a willingness to learn. There are many other priorities to have such as work, sports, clubs, and family time, but putting in the time towards something you care about. Practices may seem long, but I remember studying for the Poultry Career Development Event and it was a blast because we had many fun activities we would participate in it to make the material we are learning more fun.
3) Stay classy. Whatever happens during or before the competition, just know it will be okay. Whether you win or lose, life will move on, but reflect to get something out of the experience, how can you continue to do great the next year in the same event or trying a different competition.
Those are only a few pointers of how we can continue to do great things and represent what is on the back of our FFA jacket!
Congratulations to all of the STARS who competed at the 92nd National FFA Convention, you will continue to do great things!
See you soon,
FIRE Conference 2019 is now history for us to look back at! The past three weeks of hosting this conference across the state flew by for my teammates and I, but we enjoyed every minute of it. Over 600, 7th, 8th, and 9th grade members attended FIRE this year and were able to experience the six different workshops our state team created. Topics for each of the workshops varied from learning about FFA basics to how members wear proper Official Dress. Grace and I’s workshop was “Mapping the Path to Success!” Members scavenged around the room, hunting down tokens to discover and learn more about S.M.A.R.T goals! Goal setting may not sound like the most exciting topic in the world, but when you put Grace and I together in a workshop room, it’s like putting Mountain Dew (Grace) and energy that comes out of nowhere (Me) together. What does that equal? A workshop with excessive energy you will probably never forget!
Whenever I hear Jump Around come on, I get wild. Well, Grace and I created a closing tradition where everyone would jump out of their seats when they heard that song. The song Jump Around and middle school members is the perfect formula for craziness, excitement, and...FUN!
Besides learning about FFA in general at FIRE, times like bouncing off the walls to Jump Around are moments when we get a chance to create the formula for our FFA Family. Stepping out of our comfort zone can be hard for many, including myself as a middle school member. But having the courage to be ourselves, regardless of how silly we might look during something as fun as dancing, allows us to have fun, make new friends, and have an awesome opportunity that we will never forget.
As the 600 plus members experienced jumping out of our workshop room with other students they probably never knew before the conference started, I challenge you to attend an FFA event this year that you have never attended before and make the most out of it. How will you write the formula for your FFA Family?
In less than a month, Wisconsin FFA is hosting the 212/360 Conference in Wisconsin Dells. Here is another great opportunity to have fun, develop your personal skills, and continue to build your FFA Family.
I cannot wait to see you at an event in the near future! We are one big FFA Family and want you to be a part of it! Jump Around a little and I bet you will never leave!
Keep jumping and see you soon!