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FFA Officers: Travel Blog

Fearlessly Authentic
Jan. 26, 2022
Lashawna Vogel - Reporter
Denmark FFA Chapter
Section 9

We hear so much every day about if something is real vs. fake, authentic or not. With about 23% of Americans, according to the Pew Research Center, saying they have shared a story that wasn’t entirely authentic, how do we know who we should believe? This is probably a common thought crossing many of our minds but, after a long day of working on some assignments, I found this quote written on the inside of a Dove chocolate wrapper: “Be fearlessly authentic.” Only a few words delivered such a powerful message. So many of us fear being ourselves to the point we pretend to be someone or something we are not. It is easy to just stay on the same path as everyone else, just following suit, especially when we have accepted the fact that not everything we see is true.

As I read this quote, I realized that I had met some of the most authentic people through my many travels across Wisconsin this year. These individuals get ideas, set their goals, and get after them, no matter the circumstances. For example, I recently attended the District 28 Leadership Development Events (LDEs) at Horicon High School, where I met Maddie. I talked with her about the night ahead when I learned that she wanted to participate in an LDE not because someone told her to but because she genuinely wanted to. She said that she was in forensics and her speaking season was well underway and these contests are probably her favorite time of the year because they allow her to be herself. Now she is just one example of so many FFA members who want to participate in these activities because they enjoy them.

In 2022, becoming the same as everyone else seems like the simplest thing to do: you don’t need to worry about judgment, there’s no fear of not fitting in, and especially no confrontation about differences. However, I have learned over the years that no matter how much you try to fill the “mold” set out for each of us, you can’t because we aren’t all meant to be the same. The “new norm” of being someone who we are not just for the impression of others is something that doesn’t sit well with me. Imagine if agriculturists across all industries decided to switch to the same practices just because they wanted to conform with the “normal,” luckily in agriculture, we do not have this problem, but many believe it’s best for them to be the same as everyone else.

Why do I not want to be the same as everyone else? I’d like you to ask yourself this: what I am doing that I enjoy? Then think for a moment about why you enjoy this. It might sound just shy of crazy, but when you stop and think about it, these things you do that you can enjoy are formed from your interests. Even if you have a friend that enjoys the same things for fun, that’s great, but you both discovered you enjoy this on your own. Don’t get me wrong; I know there will be fun things you do with your friends that you enjoy, but it’s probably not one of your absolute favorites. Take me for example; I especially enjoy traveling, taking photos, exploring new places, and advocating for agriculture. Still, many of my friends and I share similar interests in these things, but for one, their favorite thing is to be very active, another to go shopping, and the list goes on. Just because you are friends with one person does not mean you must be identical in everything you do.

This all brings me to a challenge I have for you; no matter what, always be fearlessly and authentically you! Take that trip you wanted to go on, tour a college campus you’ve always been interested in, pick up a new hobby that seems like fun, try a new LDE, earn your State FFA Degree, along with many other things. I want you to each worry less about fitting in and more about fitting yourself.

Authentically yours,

Lashawna Vogel
Team On 3
Jan. 22, 2022
Emily Dahlke - Treasurer
Adams-Friendship FFA Chapter
Section 6

Basketball: that round, orange ball that you get to bounce on the ground and throw into a metal ring with strings hanging from it. Simple. I have played basketball since 4th grade and since high school I have been given the opportunity to craft the next generation of little ballers through the art of coaching. Coaching a herd of 5th grade girls seems like a good idea until they are cartwheeling through the gym and dropping into the splits as we are trying to run drills. They don’t teach how to handle that in high school. Yes, I have tried to help these young minds understand basketball, but if we are being honest I have learned way more from each one of them.

Have you ever seen a basketball team smiling as they left the court after losing 35-8? No? Well, it happened. At the beginning of the season in our very first huddle we asked the girls what the number one rule of basketball was and as you could imagine we had a variety of answers, but our favorite one was, have fun. A very simple phrase, but one that we sometimes forget. In any situation, find the fun. Those girls went out on that court and gave it their all and that's all we could ask for.

The second life lesson from 5th graders is to celebrate little successes. When we scored our first basket in that game you would have thought that time stood still. They were so excited and all ran together to congratulate the girl, and forgot that the game continues after you make a basket. The other team inbounded the ball and ran down the court for a layup before our girls realized what was going on. It is those little successes that they are going to remember for the rest of their basketball career or maybe even their life.

Lesson number 3: don’t take yourself too seriously. These girls are silly and you never know what they are going to say or do. Like I mentioned before, sometimes they just drop into the splits and you just have to laugh. Basketball can be a very elegant sport when it is played correctly, but when we are first starting it is not so pretty. Basketballs are flying everywhere, girls are on the ground, and shots are going everywhere but in the basket. Laughs echo through the gym and it's the sweetest sound. I am guilty of putting too much pressure on myself and being afraid to fail, but life is so much more enjoyable when you are able to laugh at yourself.

5th grade seems like such a long time ago, but sometimes we need to rekindle that childhood flame inside of us and remember the important things in life. Sit back and think back to a time in your life when all you cared about was laughing and hanging out with your friends. There, you are on your way to embracing your inner 5th grader. Through COVID, masks, and loses nothing can stop those girls from coming to practice and games and having the time of their lives with their friends. Find your inner 5th grader.

If you ever need anything feel free to reach out! My inbox is always open, 608-369-0594 or edahlke@wisconsinffa.org.

Give it your all,

Emily Dahlke
Brrrrrr
Jan. 19, 2022
Aubrey Schlimgen - Sentinel
Marshall FFA Chapter
Section 5

As the seasons change, we know it's winter time when the temperatures drop, the cold air hurts your face, and the ground is either very slick or very hard. There are days when the weather is absolutely horrible and it's better to stay inside, or the weather could be sunny, warm and no snow in sight. If that doesn’t sum up winter time in Wisconsin, then I don’t know what does.

Some of the best parts of winter are the activities that are in season. Like skiing, snowboarding, ice skating, sledding, snowmobiling, and so much more. No wonder why some people, including myself, love this time of the year. With it also being very frigid, you can stay inside where it’s warm with a nice cup of hot chocolate and sit by the fireplace or curl up with some blankets.

Most people can say that when the weather gets bad or really cold they can just stay inside. That’s not the case though for our farmers here in Wisconsin. Anyone who is a farmer knows that winter time on the farm isn’t all sunshine and rainbows. Waters and pipes freeze up, cattle and other animals get sick easier, and working out in the cold isn’t the most fun either.

With the temperatures being extremely cold this week keep all the farmers of Wisconsin in your thoughts. It is very stressful already with all of the chores on their to do list, but with frigid temperatures it really affects that to do list and even adds to it.

A few years ago I remember being hit with the polar vortex where the temperatures dropped immensely and people were advised not to go outside. Schools were shutting down, work was being canceled and everyone was staying home. But not our local farmers, they had to keep going even though it was extremely cold. I remember stepping outside for a couple minutes to chase cows into the barn and my eyelashes had already been coated with ice and frost, despite being bundled up as best as I could.

Luckily to our surprise we had a whole bunch of family friends that showed up to help us out that night to chase cows to make sure they were safe, help milk cows to get that done as soon as possible and to be on deck in case things froze up. If it wasn't for them showing up, chores would not have gone as smooth as they did and our family would have struggled through the process.

This just goes to show that in times like these with our local farmers here in Wisconsin even a little bit of help can go a long way. So Wisconsin FFA members, when it gets cold and you're all warm inside, think about someone you know that could use the help. Whether that's a family friend, a neighbor, or even if it's someone you hardly know. Just remember a little support and help can go such a long way.

If you have any crazy snow storm tories on the farm or had a time when someone helped you out during the cold feel free to reach out to me at (608)422-0649 or aschlimgen@wisconsinffa.org

Wishing you the best always,
Aubrey Schlimgen
FFA ASSEMBLE
Jan. 16, 2022
Mia Hillebrand - Secretary
River Valley FFA Chapter
Section 4

What an awesome weekend Wisconsin FFA members had at the 2022 Half-Time Conference. This year's theme was “FFA Assemble” inspired by the world-renowned series of Marvel’s Avengers. Two chapter leaders attend this conference to learn about personal growth and chapter development.

When Wisconsin FFA State Officers had been planning the Hal-Time Conference, the idea of a Marvel’s Avengers theme had come to the table. I had totally geeked out as I am a huge Marvel Series fan. While planning the conference skit, we talked about the famous Infinity Stones and how the Avengers had to get the Stones before the villains.

There is one particular stone that stuck out to me the most, the Soul Stone. A line from the skit says, “The Soul Stone gravitates to those with the strongest and most positive values.”. Wisconsin FFA members have the strongest and most positive values spending time to develop their leadership skills and chapters. FFA leaders know the value of spending time developing personal leadership skills and ideas to take back to their chapters.

Wisconsin FFA members as we enter the second half of our year, I encourage you to find your superpower values and utilize those as you compete in Leadership Development Events and develop chapter events. If you are a superhero in training find your chapter leaders and follow in their footsteps to reach your dreams.

I am very honored to have worked with such awesome chapter leaders this past weekend. I am so excited to see where Wisconsin FFA Chapters go as they have some amazing superheroes taking home some of the awesome gems of knowledge to share with their chapters.

I am very excited to see what the next half of the year has in store. Please reach out to me if you have any questions or need someone to talk to at any time. You can reach me at mhillebrand@wisconsinffa.org or (608)459-0742.
Happy New Year,

Mia Hillebrand
Trust the Chaos
Jan. 12, 2022
Amara Livingston - Parliamentarian
Cochrane-Fountain City FFA Chapter
Section 3

Boy, oh boy! What a wild ride it has been so far! District LDEs are right around the corner, Halftime Conference is this weekend, and chapter visits are going strong. Speaking of chapter visits, let’s take a look at this photo.

What you see here is a classroom made into complete chaos. It’s always fun to see how creative we can get creating these obstacles. Sometimes, as students we can find ourselves in what feels like complete chaos. We have so many responsibilities between managing our schoolwork, sports, extra-curriculars, after school jobs, supporting our families, and making time for our friends. Not to mention, simultaneously we are putting effort into planning our futures and what life will look like after high school.

In this classroom activity, in order to make it through the obstacle course, one student is blindfolded and the other partner guides them using only their voice. It goes without saying that there has to be a lot of trust between the two partners. When we find ourselves in what feels like chaos, we have to find that same trust, whether it be in ourselves or the people around us.

There can be a lot of pressure in secondary school to make so many life decisions. What am I going to do after high school? What college do I go to? What should I major in? The list goes on. Being somebody who just graduated from high school last May, I understand what it is like to be in this situation. Take this as a sign of assurance that wherever your path takes you, you will be ok. The key is to give yourself direction, and if you need to turn, you can. Sometimes we have to trust that the chaos we are experiencing will bring us to where we need to be.

I cannot wait to see where your path takes you! Remember to trust the chaos. You can reach out to me anytime via email at alivingston@wisconsinffa.org, or by phone at (608)863-3990.
Be in the Present
Jan. 08, 2022
Casey Denk - Vice President
Mondovi FFA Chapter
Section 2

Everyone knows it's the beginning of the new year when the gym is full of first-timers and the fresh produce section is empty. It is officially the time of year again when we all start making New Year's resolutions about eating healthier, hitting the gym, managing our online shopping, and budgeting our money better. Now, it is very important to have good health and shopping habits, but my resolution this year is to start budgeting time for all the amazing people I am surrounded by.

This past year at college I was blessed with some of the best friends I could have ever imagined. Last year I was a freshman in college and was nervous about what the year was going to look like. Fast forward to the end of second semester, I couldn’t believe the friendships I had formed. We spent everyday together, competing in intramural sports, playing cards, and having movie nights. I couldn't believe all the fun had to end at the start of a busy spring and summer. Our group collectively decided we shouldn’t go the entire summer without at least one reunion despite our busy schedules. In June we decided to spend a weekend in eastern Wisconsin. We spent the weekend touring our friend's farm, swimming, eating s’mores, visiting Lambeau field, and enjoying each other's company. During our time in Denmark, I realized how much each of these individuals means to me and how thankful I was to have all of them in my life.

Between going to college, serving as a state officer, and continuing to stay involved in my family’s farm I realized the important role quality time plays in relationships. Over the past year, I have learned the importance of being present while spending time with the people I surround myself with. Whether it’s baking cookies, playing cards, having movie nights, or even taking a quick road trip, I have learned it’s not what I am doing but who I am doing it with.

What’s your New Year's resolution? What do you want to work on this year? This year is going to be busier than ever, but I am working towards continuing to foster new friendships while strengthening my current relationships. Please feel free to reach out at any time at cdenk@wisconsinffa.org or by phone at 715.495.2899.


Make memories,

Casey J. Denk
It Just Might Surprise You
Jan. 05, 2022
Katie Zimmer - Vice President
Flambeau FFA Chapter
Section 1

“Oreo McFlurry from McDonald’s, can’t get much better than this.”

For those of you who are avid Tik Tok scrollers, this is probably a sound you heard for the last few months. Now most of you have probably had an Oreo McFlurry before or something else from McDonald’s, at least. But truthfully there is one thing that is better than the food…. working at McDonald’s.

When I am not performing State FFA Officer duties, I spend most of my time working as a manager at McDonald’s. I have been working at McDonald’s in Ladysmith for the past three years now and have enjoyed every minute of it. I have worked shifts anywhere from 11 am - 2 am and have spent more than my share of time cleaning up spilled soda and fixing the ice cream machine.

Working at McDonald’s was my primary supervised agricultural experience during my time in FFA. Originally I had not taken the job with the idea of it being an SAE. I needed a job that was flexible with my crazy hours involving school, extracurriculars, family, friends, and livestock. One of my friends from high school worked there, convinced me to apply, and the rest is history.

Once I began to get more involved in FFA, I realized that working in Food Service was one of the best SAEs I could have. I have learned about proper cooking temperatures, storage of food, and am now ServSafe Food Safety Certified. I also learned how to provide quality customer service, manage employees, and handle whatever is thrown my way.

Over the Holiday break I have spent many hours working at good ol’ McDonald’s, making sandwiches, frying fries, and whipping up iced coffees. I have also spent some of the best time with coworkers of mine. Remember me mentioning that I have to manage employees when I am working? Well that is one of the most challenging yet rewarding parts of my job. I work with employees that range in age from 14-74 and all have different skills they bring to the table.

For example my coworker Ethan is 15 years old. He spends most of the time working with me in the front, making fries, drinks, and ice cream products. He just recently completed his training to become a manager and inspires me everyday with his humor and excitement.

My other coworker Kathy brings an energy that lights up the room. She is 74 years old and never fails to put a smile on my face. She is the best with customers. She will most likely be found in the back window cashing out cars and talking with everyone that comes through the drive thru.

Never in a million years did I think I would love working at McDonald’s, or that I would have a 74 year old coworker, or that I would laugh about spilling soda with a young manager. It definitely surprised me.

FFA surprised me as well. When I joined in 7th grade, I had no idea what I was getting myself into. I thought it sounded fun. It surprised me the opportunities that it would open up to me later in life. I would have never thought that sitting at my first Sectional Leadership Workshop in Amery would one day lead me to putting on one. I also never thought that I would be able to connect something I thought was just a job into a supervised agricultural experience that would one day give me the opportunity to receive my State FFA Degree.

Everyday I keep getting surprised by the things I experience. I learn something new everyday from everyone that surprises me. An FFA member I recently met had their pilot’s license! Cool right! Another FFA member I met is going to be going to tech school full time as a senior in high school! Amazing!

All of this is truly surprising. No matter what you do, or where you go, you will probably learn something new and do some cool things! Go, try something new, get that job, or talk to that person because it just might surprise you.

If you ever need anything or want to talk about McDonald’s, feel free to contact me at kzimmer@wisconsinffa.org or 715-567-0610.

Yours Truly,

Katie Zimmer
Looking Back and Pushing Forward
Jan. 01, 2022
Ben Styer - President
Menomonie FFA Chapter
President

Happy New Year, Wisconsin FFA!

Hopefully you are well rested on this exciting first day of the year if you stayed up to ring in the new year last night. As 2022 begins, we have the opportunity to look back on another unique year and recognize the progress that has been made. Over the last three months, FFA members have kept pushing forward, and our organization ended the year on a high note because of it.

We certainly can be proud of students’ hard work throughout 2021, some of which was recognized at the 94th National FFA Convention and Expo. Spencer FFA member and former State Vice President, Cortney Zimmerman, was elected to be the National FFA Central Region Vice President! Cortney is the eighth National FFA Officer from Wisconsin and first since Alicia Hodnik who served in 2011-2012. Additionally, Wisconsin saw great success in proficiency award areas. Lashawna Vogel of Denmark, Kendra Goplin of Whitehall, and Tristan Wirkus of Stratford were all named national proficiency winners in the areas of Agricultural Communication, Agricultural Education, and Environmental Science and Natural Resources, respectively. Another highlight of the 94th National FFA Convention was seeing Lake Mills member Olivia Olson be named the national runner-up in the Creed Speaking Leadership Development Event. Besides the dozens of other impressive accomplishments, the Wisconsin FFA Alumni & Supporters were named the Outstanding FFA Alumni & Supporters State Association. We can look back and be proud and grateful for all that Wisconsin FFA members have accomplished, and our state’s achievements from the National FFA Convention are a clear indication of that.

As 2021 concluded, FFA members continued to do their part in closing out this year in the best way possible - by making a difference in the lives of others. Over November 12 and 13, approximately 800 FFA members attended the Mission and Impact Conferences in Stevens Point. These conferences culminated with students creating either a personal mission statement or an impact plan to be implemented in their community. 51 Wisconsin FFA members each recently received $1,000 grants through the National FFA Organization which will help them grow their Supervised Agricultural Experiences. The mission statements, impact plans, and SAE grants all have the potential to have a ripple effect and can create a positive difference in the lives of FFA members, consumers, and other community members.

Similarly, FFA chapters and members of the agricultural community helped to make a difference in the lives of others through one of the most well-known aspects of FFA, the delicious FFA fruit, of course! All throughout the state, FFA fruit made its way into family’s homes and spread some joy this season. I was able to experience this firsthand when helping with fruit distribution at my local FFA chapter a couple weeks ago. Between parents of FFA members, business owners, and community leaders, several good samaritans purchased dozens of FFA fruit boxes to gift them to neighbors, customers, and friends in the spirit of giving this season. Many FFA chapters donate their extra FFA fruit to local food pantries too.

Beyond giving food, chapters also spread joy to FFA members. Hundreds of FFA members have participated in chapter gift exchanges and enjoyed celebrations at their schools. I had the opportunity to join Menomonie FFA recently for a night of tie blanket making, and every student who made a blanket was able to take it home free of charge. It is awfully inspiring to see so much good happening in our organization. All throughout the year, but especially during this season, it is safe to say the agricultural community is an incredibly supportive group that I and so many others feel blessed to be a part of.

As the new year arrives, we look back on how far we have come in order to have a more impactful 2022 focused on developing FFA members’ potential for premier leadership, personal growth, and career success. My teammates and I look forward to carrying forward this momentum with the statewide Half-Time Conference taking place January 14 and 15 and District level Leadership Development Events to follow soon after.

As always, my teammates and I are here to serve you, so do not hesitate to reach out as this new year begins. May you and your loved ones have a Happy 2022! Thank you for making 2021 a remarkable year and helping to end it the best way possible - by making a difference. Now, let’s make 2022 our best year yet!

Best,
Ben Styer
Chasing Banners
Dec. 29, 2021
Sydney Bender - Vice President
Big Foot FFA Chapter
Section 10

Hello Wisconsin FFA! Can you believe that in less than four days, we will be jumping into the year 2022? It feels like just yesterday we were anticipating the start of 2021. As the year comes to an end, I take the time to reflect on what has made this one by far the most memorable. Some of these moments included working in the Walworth County Grill n' Chill, where I meet Riley, from the Elkhorn FFA, who aspires to help those around her in any way she can. Or while conducting a chapter visit at Union Grove was able to meet Natalie, whose unconditional love for a class tortoise remains quite fascinating. All of these moments from meeting members from across the state to experiencing some of life's greatest adventures have been what I call the banner moments of 2021.

Now "Chasing banners" is a term used widely throughout the livestock world. "Chasing banners" is when you are working towards the goal of receiving a banner at a livestock show that reads “Grand or Reserve Champion”. These banners not only recognize structural sound animals in the ring but also acknowledge the dedication of the showmen. The early mornings and late nights spent in the barn, making time to work with your animal and going out in the middle of winter or heat of a July afternoon to check on them has all paid off. Achieving that goal of that banner and being able to hang it up with pride is what chasing banners are all about.

Now chasing banners does not only have to be used when talking about livestock. Every day we have the opportunity to go out and chase banner moments. These banner moments are spent after school laughing with our officer team and advisor or just going bowling with some of your greatest friends. Those moments are the banners in life, ones we can look back on and smile.

Wisconsin FFA, as we look towards a new year I challenge you to go and make those banner moments. Find who and what makes you happy, and spend as much time as you can laughing, smiling, and enjoying the year 2022! And remember to keep chasing banners.

If you need anything throughout the year, feel free to reach out to me at my email, sbender@wisconsinffa.org, or my cell phone (262) 745-8280.

Always Chasing,
Sydney

Success Is Possible
Dec. 22, 2021
Lashawna Vogel - Reporter
Denmark FFA Chapter
Section 9

There is only one place you will find the word “success” before the word “work,” which is in the dictionary. I wish it were as easy as a snap of your fingers and then SUCCESS, but unfortunately, it doesn’t work no matter how many times you snap your fingers. When I was in 8th grade, I was able to talk with a state FFA officer for the first time. I thought this was one of the best things ever, and I am still grateful for this interaction to this day. I might not quite remember what was said or the activities we did, but it was at that moment I knew I wanted to serve Wisconsin FFA. This thought took the backburner as I completed middle school, but I kept working toward more experience in FFA. Finally, as I reached high school, this idea I had once set to the side seemed to be possible, and realizing this, I worked even harder so I could fulfill my dream. I didn’t focus on the big picture the entire time, which allowed the goal at hand to appear more achievable.

Do you have a goal for yourself? Is it one that seems like you won’t be able to accomplish it? Don’t give up on it because it seems impossible; keep going after it because success is possible with a little hard work. For example, if your goal is to be the state winner of the Employment Skills Leadership Development Event, that’s great, but to get there, you need to be willing to put in some extra time and effort into practicing. Let’s jump back into my story; my senior year of high school came along, and I had officially decided I wanted to run for state office, so I filled out the application, wrote my candidate’s statement, and updated my resume. After submitting these materials, I began practicing for interviews and learning even more about FFA to prepare myself. The steps between creating your goal or the initial thought of your idea and achieving your goal aren’t always the most fun, but when it’s something you know you want, it makes you that much more determined to keep working hard.

When you are working at accomplishing your goal, always have the end in sight, so you remember what exactly it is that you are working towards. Take it from Sophocles, an ancient Greek playwright, “Success is dependent on effort.” Even in the days of ancient Greeks, they knew that success is possible only if you work for it. After working hard, I am now reflecting on a moment that happened about six months ago. Six months seems like a very long time, but that is the length of time my teammates and I have been serving Wisconsin FFA. It seems like just yesterday I heard the 2020-2021 Wisconsin FFA President, Joe Schlies, call my name along with my fellow teammates. Serving Wisconsin FFA has been a very rewarding experience because I have lived out one of my dreams.

Wisconsin FFA, chase your ideas, dreams, and goals but don’t be afraid to work hard to achieve it because your success is possible! Reach out to me at lvogel@wisconsinffa.org or (920)676-7717 if you ever need anything, have a question, or would like to talk to someone!

It’s possible,

Lashawna Vogel
I Just Like To Smile
Dec. 18, 2021
Emily Dahlke - Treasurer
Adams-Friendship FFA Chapter
Section 6

We have had a whole month, or some of us longer than a month, to sing those notorious songs, eat delicious treats, and watch some of the best movies ever created all in preparation for one special day of giving.

Christmas is one week away and I certainly can’t wrap my head around the fact that that means 2021 is coming to a close. This truly has been a year to remember from new friendships to new opportunities, and I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way. Speaking of Christmas, it is my favorite time of year! From December 1st to December 25th you could just about call me Buddy the Elf because I’m treating everyday like Christmas. From the decorations to picking out gifts I love every second of it and you’ll always catch me with a smile on my face because smiling is my favorite.

Smiling: noun. A facial expression characterized by turning up the corners of the mouth; usually showing amusement or happiness. Now I love smiling, but if you ask my teammates I love to make other people smile even more. Since we are almost to winter break I figured you needed something new to study, so here are some facts…

1. Smiling is more contagious than the flu! It can't be resisted.
2. It's easier to smile than it is to frown.
3. Smiling boost's your immune system.
4. There are 19 different types of smiles.
5. Smiling uses 43 muscles.
6. Humans can detect smiles from more than 300 feet away!
7. Smiling is a form of exercise! Work those facial muscles!
8. 47% of people notice your smile first.
9. Smiling helps you live longer.
10. Around 50% of people will smile back if you smile at them.

What makes you smile? Hanging out with friends, playing a game, cracking a joke? Whatever it is that makes you smile, hold on to it. Whenever you are in a pinch and feel like you haven't smiled in ages, pull that thing out of your pocket and let that smile come on naturally. Light up the room and maybe your smile is just what someone else needed to see. While traveling around to different chapters, I can’t help but smile when I’m greeted with a smile. Just like the holiday season brings smiles to peoples faces, we too can be the friendly face that helps make someone else's day just a little brighter. Embrace your inner Buddy the Elf and sing in a store, travel through the seven levels of the candy cane forest, and smile because smiling is your favorite!

If you ever need anything feel free to reach out! My inbox is always open, 608-369-0594 or edahlke@wisconsinffa.org.

Smile,

Emily Dahlke
Come Together
Dec. 15, 2021
Aubrey Schlimgen - Sentinel
Marshall FFA Chapter
Section 5

The Wisconsin Farm Bureau Conference and Young Farmer and Agriculturist Conference took place on December 3-6th. The Wisconsin State FFA officer team had the opportunity to attend and enjoy all that we endured during that time. The State FFA officers and I also got the chance to be timekeepers during the YFA Discussion meet contests. When you first hear that it doesn’t sound like the most fun, but let me tell you we had so much fun!

We spent a good portion of our time attending workshops, discussion meets, the trade show, banquet meals, and talking to many farm bureau members and attendees. Along with being timekeepers the team enjoyed sitting in on the YFA and collegiate discussion meets where they discussed various topics such as farmers mental health, safety, recruitment, and other topics. Sitting in on those discussion meets was by far my most favorite part of the conference because hearing others take on these topics helped me learn a lot about how other farmers deal with serious issues. Along with seeing how a discussion meet plays out was super cool.

Another thing the team did was work at our very own booth that the Wisconsin FFA had at the Trade show. And we just so happened to be placed right next to the Wisconsin 4-H booth. There we got to meet 2 of the premier leaders of Wisconsin 4-H Maddie and Ben. I grew up in 4-H but found my love in the FFA organization so it was nice to have a conversation about what we both have to offer. It was also so fascinating to hear what they do to impact the future generation and how they found their place in 4-H.

I know that the 4-H and FFA have deep roots and agriculture and leadership and how they help shape individuals. But after that conversation it also helped me realize we could do a much better job at bridging that gap, because in the end both organizations are working towards the same goal.

I’m so thankful for being able to attend this conference, because I was able to see good friends, have great conversations, and have new outlooks on life thanks to all the people and experiences we got to see. Quite honestly I had never even heard of it before until I was told that we were invited.

So Wisconsin FFA members, I Challenge you this year to embrace everything that may come your way this year. Whether it's an event or a conversation. Because you never know what may come out of it in the end. And remember I’m only a conversation away and can contact me aschlimgen@wisonsinffa.org or (608)422-0649.

Happy Holidays!
Wishing you the best always
Aubrey Schlimgen
Be The Light
Dec. 11, 2021
Mia Hillebrand - Secretary
River Valley FFA Chapter
Section 4

This past week Wisconsin State FFA Officers headed back to our home in Marshfield, Wisconsin after the Young Farmers and Agriculturist Conference at the Annual Farm Bauru Conference. Half of our week we spent at Check Point 2 and preparing for all of the amazing events coming up for the next part of our year.

Aside from all the training and preparing, we as a team got to celebrate the holidays by participating in many different activities. The holiday season is my favorite time of the year as it has a special feeling especially visiting rotary lights.

The State Officer team had visited Marshfield’s Rotary Winter Wonderland located at Wildwood Zoo. As pictured, the team was all bundled up for the crazy snow that Northern Wisconsin was receiving. The feeling of lights reminded us how grateful we are to be together as a team this year.

The lights reminded me of a deeper meaning. In the song Be A Light by Thomas Rhett one line sticks out to me, “Don't hide in the dark, you were born to shine”. I was reminded of this line as I was walking through the beautiful Rotary Lights with my team. Each one of us has experienced a pretty crazy ride the past two years and is trying our best to come back from the crazy.

Just like in the rotary lights, there were many different colors, shapes, and designs throughout the show. Each FFA member is born to shine in their own way whether it be from participating in a speaking contest or organizing a service project. We come together and make the world shine brighter with all the different lights we bring.

Wisconsin FFA members remember “you were born to shine” in your best and brightest way. I am so excited to see how each FFA member shines bright in the next half of the year. I hope each of you has a great holiday season and if you have any questions or need a listening ear, you can always reach out to me at Mhillebrand@wiconsinffa.org or (608)459-0742.

Happy Holidays,

Mia Hillebrand
Catch Up Over Coffee
Dec. 08, 2021
Amara Livingston - Parliamentarian
Cochrane-Fountain City FFA Chapter
Section 3

After sending out one routine weekly update, I received a message from my high school FFA advisor that read, “Sounds like a good plan for staying on top of things. If you want to get together sometime to catch up over coffee let me know.”

I could not put into words how glad I was to hear this from my advisor. I immediately took her up on the offer and we met for breakfast the next day. Her and I chatted at the same table in the corner of the local restaurant for three hours, hashing over everything: state office, my schoolwork at the University of Minnesota, all that she was up to, what my former classmates are doing, and so much more. Even though this is a seemingly small connection, that day I needed to feel supported, and that is exactly what Ms. J was able to do for me.

The power of conversation is often underestimated. In a time where I felt sluggish and lost, Ms. J helped me through a conversation that left me feeling heard, seen, refreshed, and motivated. This conversation and many others serve a purpose to keep people connected, remind us of our value, and make us feel important.

Think of somebody in your life that may be feeling sluggish or lost...

This person that comes to mind may need us to reach out, just as Ms. J had to me. Ask yourself, “What can I do to make this person feel heard?” Maybe they need to talk over some recent events, maybe they need a good laugh, maybe they need to talk about their future, or maybe they simply want to chat. If you are like me, maybe it is all of the above. Whatever it is, be the person to touch base with those who need us.

We need to support just as much as we need others to support ourselves. Keep in mind who that person is that you can check in with. Be kind, listen, and let them know you care and you can completely change the trajectory of somebody’s day, week, month, or even year. I cannot wait to see how we can better each other with our support. You can reach out to me anytime via email at alivingston@wisconsinffa.org, or by phone at (608)863-3990.
Win Some, Lose Some
Dec. 05, 2021
Casey Denk - Vice President
Mondovi FFA Chapter
Section 2

Paul Bunyans’ axe, the one-simple thing that will make any Badger or Gopher football player, fan, or spectator cheer a little louder, celebrate a little longer, and honor their team a little more. For those of you that don’t know, every year when the Minnesota Golden Gophers and the Wisconsin Badgers go head-to-head under the lights, they aren’t just playing for an ordinary season win. They are battling for the title of the Paul Bunyan axe, a long-lasting tradition dating back to 1948.

This year's rivalry game took place on November 27th at the Huntington Bank Stadium, the Golden Gophers home territory. Minnesota and Wisconsin fans flocked the stadium ready to cheer on their home team. This was my first Big 10 football game and it was one for the books. I was there as a Wisconsin fan but somehow found myself sitting in the Minnesota student section, storming the field for the opposing team, taking in all of the Gophers chants and cheers, and cheering on Wisconsin with some of my best friends. In one way or another, these moments helped create a Saturday afternoon I will never forget. Unfortunately, Wisconsin came up short at the end of the game and lost 23-13.

While watching the game and cheering on the Badgers- one thing became evident to me- in life, you can’t always win. There will be times when we try as hard as we can and give as much effort as we think possible but will still come up short in the long run. The important thing is, even when we do come up short or feel like we aren’t making any progress, we have to keep an optimistic outlook and stay motivated for the next situation that arises. We can’t always control our outcomes, but we can control how hard we try and how much effort we give- that is what matters. Loses aren’t always bad; sometimes they can even be beneficial if we learn to use them as an opportunity to learn and grow.

Now, don’t get me wrong...I am not saying it is a good thing the Badgers lost in the border battle. I like to win as much as anybody, but just because the Badgers lost doesn’t change the fact that my friends and I had a great time cheering on the team we respect and appreciate. I am hoping to be back cheering on Wisconsin next year as they regain triumph!

If you ever need anything or just want to chat, feel free to reach out! Give me a call at 715-495-2899 or email me at cdenk@wisconsinffa.org.

See you next year Gophers,

Casey J. Denk
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