FFA Officers: Travel Blog
This past Tuesday, I had the opportunity to attend the 2020 Wisconsin Agribusiness Classic at the Alliant Energy Center in Madison hosted in partnership by the Wisconsin Agribusiness Association, UW-Extension, and UW- Madison. The event that attracts nearly 1,500 agribusiness people includes a massive trade show, several breakout sessions, multiple keynote speakers, and a whole bunch of networking opportunities.
As part of the program, I was invited to speak at the event’s opening session. While it was certainly one of the most nerve-racking speeches I’ve ever given, it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that I will be forever grateful for. Afterall, it’s not everyday you get the opportunity to speak directly to hundreds of agriculture industry professionals!
That experience was extremely rewarding in itself, but what was even more rewarding was to look out over the crowd while I was speaking and have it sink in just who I was speaking to-agronomists, seed sales people, pest management applicators, soil researchers, co-op managers, CEO’s, and so many more. Members from all aspects of the agriculture industry had come together to collaborate, reflect, celebrate, learn, and grow as businesspeople.
It was at that moment when I was reminded just how dedicated our industry is. It is inspiring to know that we as FFA members represent and will one day become a part of an industry that is robust, dynamic, and forward-thinking. I was reminded first-hand that our industry is in good hands and from my time wearing the blue corduroy jacket, I know it will be in good hands for a long time to come.
Of course, anytime I walk into the Alliant Energy Center, memories from State FFA Convention start pouring through my mind. When it hit me that 5 months from now, we’ll be back in that building for the 91st Wisconsin FFA Convention, goose bumps covered my body! In 5 short months, 3,500 FFA members and supporters will have that place rocking! Can you believe it?!?
But we have plenty of business to take care of before then! District Leadership Development Events are up next on the agenda. Best of luck to everyone competing! Let all of your hard work shine! Keep doing great things and I look forward to when our paths cross again!
See You Soon,
Alumni Pep Band Night was always the same but 2020 was a little different as I was part of the alumni now. As many of my high school classmates were back from college, I had a blast with them playing what we enjoyed. Even though I had to tune the good ole trumpet during practice, that didn’t stop me from giving it my all. Oddly enough, I still experienced the same chills that I usually did at every alumni pep band when we started off our pre-game entertainment this year. A feeling that is hard to explain but makes one think, “Holy cow! This is AMAZING!”
That was when I realized that being a part of a band is really just like another family. Knowing that 100 other people are all here playing the same thing and are wanting you to stay with them along the way throughout the song. Similarly, this past weekend Half-Time Conference’s theme was “Rock On!” In fact, our skit at the conference featured the team as a rock band. While my high school band never “broke up” like “The Pebbles” rock band in our skit, we still experienced the same thing in the end. And that’s everyone giving it their all. Knowing that everyone in the band is trying their best to sound the best so we ALL can be successful. That was when I realized that being a part of a band is something I could not be more thankful for.
We are more than halfway done with the school year and I do not know of a better time to remind ourselves of the support system we have every day as FFA members. Whether you are a chapter officer or an active member, you have friends that are here for you along the way to make you enjoy the time you have in high school.
Could you say I miss playing in the pep band? You sure could! And I wouldn’t disagree. Those were the prime times in my high school band. However, that didn’t stop me from forgetting those memories.
Our prime time for all of us should be right now! Our prime time for all of us should be all year round! We as FFA members are always on the go and that is what creates the strong organization we have. FFA members don’t stop grinding away on what needs to be done next. Keep doing what you enjoy as members and you will never forget it!
Spring will be here before you know it and we will all be crazy busy with LDEs and CDEs. Let me know if you want help with anything!
Keep on working,
1. Hold a frog. (I am terrified of them!)
2. Sing karaoke! (Other than in the shower to my dogs.)
3. Begin writing a book. (It has always been a dream of mine!)
4. Learn how to ski or snowboard. (I do not want to fall!)
5. Let a friend plan a trip for me/us. (I usually like to do all of the planning…)
I hope everyone tries to do something to get out of their comfort zone this year! Please keep me updated on your progress. If you do, I will send you a picture of me with a frog. I am sure my face will be priceless!
“Success begins when you become comfortable with being uncomfortable.”
So far at Halftime Workdays, the state officers have spent many hours developing, planning, and organizing the weekend. The weekend will be filled with two FFA members from each chapter and they will be exploring new FFA events, listening to speakers, and growing through leadership development. This was by far my favorite FFA Conference I ever went too. When I went to the Halftime Conference, I was a junior in high which was over four years ago. Now, I am excited to get to go back and help put on the conference with my fellow teammates.
While we were down in Madison for our work time, the state officers also had a little time to kick back and relax. What do state officers do to relax? Well, we go out to eat… A Lot! We ordered pizza, went to Buffalo Wild Wings, Chick-Fil-A, the Mall, and Monk’s. At night we also brought a Wii and had many “competitions” between each other. Our favorite game was Family Feud where the guys ended up winning over the girls 2-1. This game may have even caused a small Feud between some officers! We also built in time to watch the Badgers Football Team play in the Rose Bowl.
With FFA Week coming up, we also had a special media training session led by Jill Makovec. She showed us how to have successful interviews with newspapers, radio, and TV stations. Near the end of the lesson we practiced asking each other our own questions which got a little crazy!
The week had a lot of work for us all to accomplish, but it was all worth it. Work times can get a little dull at moments, but to make them fun the state officers added fun and made the most of the workdays. We cannot wait until next week when over 300 FFA members will be meeting in Stevens Point for the Halftime Conference. If you’re going, get ready because it’s going to be a rockin’ weekend!
Wisconsin FFA State Secretary
IT’S CHRISTMAS TIME Y’ALL!!! However you all celebrate this holiday season, I hope it was filled with family, friends, fun, food, games, smiles, and laughter. I celebrated this year with my family by my side. For those of you that don’t know, I have a really big family but I wouldn’t trade it for anything. I love getting together with all of them because it is just plain crazy all of the time! But crazy is our normal, from wrangling the 6 kids that are 5 and under to sit for a picture to trying to find space for all 19 of us to sleep over for an early morning Christmas!
This year was extra special though because we made new stockings for everyone! A few of my siblings had cute handmade stockings with fun pictures on them but the youngest ones never got those and since our family has grown so much so fast we finally decided it was time for new ones. My mom and my Aunt Kathy made 25 red and white stockings (a couple extra for when I get more nieces and nephews) and we brought them all to thanksgiving and decorated them with puffy paint! All 19 of us made a different stocking, some have Santa, reindeer, snowmen, elves, and anything else imaginable!
We were all given the same exact stockings and the same exact paint but all of our stockings turned out so differently. I was looking at everyone’s stocking trying to come up with what to put on my own. I was a little nervous because a lot of my siblings are way more artistically talented than me but then realized that it didn’t matter what they did because mine was going to be unique and personal to me. We often get caught comparing ourselves to other people whether that is family, friends, teammates, classmates, or even some random person you see at the store but you have to remember that it doesn’t matter what other people because you are writing your own story. While I was making my stocking ideas and doubt flooded into my head but in the end I ultimately decided to write “JOY” on mine with some snowflakes. When I look at my stocking which doesn’t look like anyone else's, it brings me joy because I know that I put my own hard work into making it. No matter the task at hand, when you are comparing yourself to others in your head remember the satisfaction that will come afterwards when you can look at the finished product as solely your own. No one can be YOU as well as YOU can.
With so much joy,
I think about that concept often; blink of an eye. Usually when we use that phrase it can have a negative connotation. It can leave you feeling as if you have missed out on something important or that you will never be able to get that moment back in time. The most common time I would hear this phrase is when my family and friends that have already graduated from high school would give me advice.
They would say, “Make sure you get involved in everything! Before you know it, it will be over in the blink of an eye.”
To some extent, that is true. Most of the time life flies by and I am just here for the ride. However, in the blink of an eye I can change that. In one split second decision I can peel away from the status quo and do something different. I can make a difference. There is a quote by Meg Cabot that fits this ideal perfectly.
“Anything can happen in the blink of an eye. Anything at all. One. Two. Three. Blink.”
In the blink of an eye I can finally do something that I have always wanted to do. Something that scares me. Something that inspires me. Something that will impact those around me. In the blink of an eye I can do anything. So instead of never blinking in fear of missing out, BLINK! Blink and make that decision you have always wanted to. Because after all, anything can happen.
So, let’s do it together. One. Two. Three. Blink.
Until next time,
You’ve got to love this time of year! Chapter visits are in the books, snow is on the ground, the holiday season in full swing, and winter sports are in action, it doesn’t get much better than this. Plus we have the NFL playoffs coming around the corner!
The other day, while we were waiting to meet up with Ryan and Lindsey for our carpool to travel to the Farm Bureau annual meeting, Collin and I were in Stockman’s Farm Supply shopping around. We were looking at different things, when a lady came up to us and said she has a challenge for us. She said, “There is a elderly man out in the parking lot having some difficulty changing a flat tire. Could you go and help him?” So, we checked out and ventured out to the scene.
When we get out to the car, we ran into a slight problem. The man’s jack had busted and the car fell off the jack. We couldn’t fit another jack underneath without lifting up the front end, and all we had to work with was a floor jack. Luckily enough, we knew Ryan and Lindsey were just on the other side of the highway waiting to meet us for the carpool. So, we gave them a call and as luck would have it, Ryan had a spare jack and we were able to use it to get the front end jacked back up. We slipped the spare tire on, tightened up the lug nuts, and before we long, we were all on our separate ways. The man was beyond grateful for our small act of service.
So what can we learn from this? Well, it goes to show that service doesn’t need to take a lot of time or energy. It doesn’t take much to make somebody’s day or lend a helping hand. Sometimes, all it takes is being in the right place at the right time. But it still takes the selfless courage to make the decision to step in. I’m sure glad we made the decision we did that day, and I have no doubts you’ll be feeling the same way the next time an opportunity to serve stumbles in front of you. After all, it is a magical time of year- what better time to start serving others?
Until next time, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. Enjoy time spent with family and friends and eat lots of treats! Always know that I am available at firstname.lastname@example.org or 608-863-6402 if you have any questions, concerns, or comments.
One of the activities that we had done yesterday at our Checkpoint #2 training had to do with the legendary flipcharts that every state officer adores. The flipchart was titled, “Where are we going in the Future?” Our task was to take a marker and each one of us write down where we will be going/doing in the second half of the year in our state officer position. When we were finished scribbling down our thoughts on the flipchart, we gathered around to read what our fellow teammates had written.
Here are some of the things that we jotted down; banquets, chapter visits, Half-Time Conference, 212/EDGE, Leadership Development Events, Career Development Events, state convention, and so much more. But there is one thing that stuck out to me the most. Now, this was not something that someone had written, rather they drew it. It was a green arrow that was pointed up.
How can an up arrow be significant with where we are going in the future? Let me tell you what it symbolizes to me.
To me, the arrow symbolizes growth. You must start from somewhere and the only way that you can grow, “go upwards,” is to keep pushing yourself. If you do not challenge yourself to grow in a skill, you will never be able to develop those skills that you did not have before.
For example, four years ago, when I was a freshman in high school, I would not have been able to stand up in front of people and give a speech. Do you know what the number one phobia is in America? That’s right, public speaking. I had fit right in with that statistic. I was scared and anxious to talk to adults, teachers, and even my fellow classmates. That all changed when my advisor, Mrs. Christenson, told me that there was one more spot left on our parliamentary procedure team and that I would be joining it. I had no choice and the decision was made for me. I went through that year practicing before and after school with my teammates to bring me up to speed with this leadership development event. District contest came and we moved on to sectionals. After competing at sectionals, we realized that we were heading to the state competition. While at state we ended up on stage with a plaque.
My arrow started when I was voluntold that I would be on my chapter’s parliamentary procedure team. Would I have been able to do this before? Absolutely not. Each year I gained confidence in my speaking abilities and the things that I could do if I put my mind to it.
My arrow continues to skyrocket up to the clouds. You can always grow in your skills. Mastering a skill is hogwash. No one is perfect and improvement is always possible if that person is coachable. My public speaking abilities continue to grow on a daily basis and know that that is okay. Growth is great! It means that you are striving to better yourself and your abilities.
As we enter the second half of the school year, it is your turn to start your arrow. Grow in a skill that you want to develop and know that the only direction is up.
See ya on the flipside,
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