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FFA Officers: Travel Blog

January Archives

Taking the Time
Jan. 29, 2022
Mary Schrieber - Sentinel
East Troy FFA Chapter
Section 10

Each year the Big Foot FFA hosts its annual Winter Retreat. FFA members ranging from grades seventh through graduates gather for this weekend retreat which holds several traditions. From spending late nights playing sheephead, spoons, or any card game we can think of to going on hilarious adventures. All of this ajoined with further developing our leadership skills through workshops facilitated by state officers invited to retreat. As an FFA member, this was one of my favorite times of the year. It offered the opportunity for Big Foot FFA members, whether they are new to the chapter or going on their last year, to bond and build relationships for the second half of the year.

This year the Big Foot Winter Retreat was held January 28-30 in Wautoma, Wisconsin. Although I was extremely excited to attend and create workshops, this weekend came after the start of classes, the continuation of district leadership development events, and the preparation of the Wisconsin FFA Alumni Convention. It appeared that my to-do list was continuously growing, and I began to think about how I would balance the retreat and completion of all my tasks.

After making the three-hour trip up to the cabin in Wautoma, I began to meet and catch up with FFA members. Before I knew it we had played games from mafia and euchre to several rounds of kahoot and air hockey. Being able to relax, take a breath from the everyday stresses of life, and catch up with those I grew up with within FFA was by far the best way to spend my weekend.

Wisconsin FFA, as we continue through our busy year, whether it is preparing for career development events, basketball practice, or keeping up with school work, take the time to reconnect and relax. Spend time with friends and family. Take a few minutes to enjoy the little things that are going on around you.

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

Taking the Time,
Sydney
Fearlessly Authentic
Jan. 26, 2022
Evan Mennen - Parliamentarian
Bay Port 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
Cole Hicken - Treasurer
Waupun 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
Rhylie Gough - Vice President
Albany 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
Jeremiah Ihm - Vice President
Lancaster 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
Kendra Goplin - Reporter
Whitehall 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
Heidi Strey - Vice President
Osseo-Fairchild 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
Isaac Hopke - Secretary
Spooner 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
Casey Denk - President
Mondovi 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
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