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FFA Officers: Travel Blog

February Archives

Kiss the Animal
Feb. 26, 2022
Amara Livingston - Parliamentarian
Cochrane-Fountain City FFA Chapter
Section 3

Happy last day of National FFA Week! I hope you all have had a blast at all of the dress up days, milkshake making, and school assemblies happening all over the place. It was so fun to see a celebration of the National FFA Organization happening all over the state.

It is Summary Saturday today, so I figured I’d go through the rundown of what FFA week looked like for me. On Monday, I attended Baking with Bender, a virtual event put on by Section 10 Vice President, Sydney Bender. I spent the snow day on Tuesday at Are You Smarter Than a State Officer? with a handful of my teammates and some FFA members. On Wednesday I went tubing with the De Soto, La Farge, Kickapoo, Westby, Riverdale, and North Crawford FFA chapters at Whitetail Ridge Ski Area. Thursday consisted of a chapter visit with Black River Falls followed by a Pancake Supper in Tomah. Lastly, Friday was a more relaxed day that I could work on my state office duties and classwork.

During the Black River Falls chapter visit, they had their FFA week school assembly. This assembly was unlike any I have ever seen before. They hosted a “Kiss the Animal” competition! The FFA chapter had asked the school staff and teachers if they would like to accept the Kiss the Animal challenge. If they did, the students were able to put money towards each teacher and whichever teacher ended up raising the most money won the Kiss the Animal competition. The animal was Daryl the lamb who is pictured above.

In FFA, one of our famous lines of the FFA Motto is “Living to Serve.” We see this motto put into practice in some of the most simple and unexpected ways. I saw this line of the motto brought to life when I watched the teachers who accepted the Kiss the Animal challenge step forward. They were selfless enough to help their FFA chapter raise money for a local cause when they completely did not have to.

Truly, our teachers are going above and beyond for us students constantly. Take a second to think of a teacher who may have stayed after school to help a student, volunteered to chaperone a trip, or volunteered for some crazy activity. Our teachers are some of the most influential people in our lives, so the next time we see them, let’s give them a genuine thank you.

I hope you all had a wonderful FFA Week! As always if you ever need anything or have any questions, reach out to me at 608-863-3990 or at alivingston@wisconsinffa.org.
We're All in This Together
Feb. 24, 2022
Katie Zimmer - Vice President
Flambeau FFA Chapter
Section 1

Happy FFA Week! I hope all of you are having a great time serving your communities, participating in fun activities, sharing your story, and celebrating FFA!

February is Career and Technical Education (CTE) Month. In this month we celebrate our career and technical education programs along with our Career and Technical Student Organizations (CTSO). In Wisconsin we have six CTSOs that include: Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA), Family, Career and Community Leaders of America (FCCLA), FFA, DECA, HOSA - Future Health Professionals, and SkillsUSA. All of these CTSOs relate to a certain career and technical education area and also provide opportunities to develop leadership and career skills.

Last week I had the opportunity to celebrate FFA at Owen-Withee, but not for FFA week. February 13-19 was actually National FBLA Week. But wait a second, if it was FBLA week, why were you celebrating FFA? Owen-Withee decided to celebrate CTSO week last week, a joint effort between FFA and FBLA. They had dress up days, lunchtime competitions, a food drive, and money collection all leading up to their assembly on Thursday!

At their CTSO Week Assembly they had a keynote speaker from Kwik Trip come in, donated the money they raised to Ronald McDonald House Charities, and donated the food they collected to a local food pantry. Student’s were also able to hear remarks from Owen-Withee’s own Mason Gay, Region 2 FBLA State Vice President and myself about the importance of getting involved in organizations. The excitement of the assembly was the various games that were played such as tug-o-war, egg roulette, fear factor, and milk chugging. The ultimate goal was to win the CTSO Cup. Students in grades 6 - 12, along with the staff competed against each other, with the grade level with the most points winning the CTSO Cup. The juniors ended up winning and became the first ever Owen-Withee CTSO Cup Champions.

This CTSO assembly was one of the best things I have ever experienced. Two organizations with different missions coming together to create something amazing. They provided fun experiences for the students in their school, served others in their communities, all while promoting FBLA and FFA. Even though they are organizations rooted in different careers, they both help students grow their leadership skills and prepare for future careers.

There is definitely a lesson we can take away from this. Although we may have different interests, represent different organizations, or just be different, we can still find a way to get along. As quoted in High School Musical, “We’re all in this together.” As FFA members, we come from a variety of backgrounds. Some of us come from an agriculture background, some of us do not. Some of us have a great interest in plants, some in animals. And others truly enjoy the communication and education part of agriculture. All of us are different, but we all work together as FFA members to become the next leaders of the industry. The same can be said about our CTSO organizations. Although they are different they still all work to get students involved, grow their leadership skills, and prepare them for their future careers. We’re all in this together!

If you want to learn more about CTSOs and CTE in Wisconsin, feel free to reach out at 715-567-0610 or kzimmer@wisconsinffa.org!

Yours Truly,

Katie Zimmer
Accept the Unchangeable
Feb. 23, 2022
Ben Styer - President
Menomonie FFA Chapter
President

Snow as far as the eye can see - this was my view yesterday, on the ever infamous “Two’s Day,” February 22, 2022. I took this photo as I left my office to go feed beef calves after working on FFA to-do list items for most of the day. If I were to have taken a photo 24 hours earlier, we would see lots of brown grass and exposed gravel rather than a fluffy, white landscape.

In a perfect world, my view would’ve looked much different. I would see a gymnasium, a couple of my teammates, and many excited high schoolers for an FFA Week assembly. You see, Lashawna, Sydney, and I were supposed to be on our way to Random Lake on Tuesday to celebrate FFA and have fun with students. Obviously, this was not the case. Mother nature had other plans by dumping copious amounts of snow and freezing rain over most of Wisconsin, and travel across the state simply was not an option.

This sudden change of plans was saddening and a little frustrating, especially since it is National FFA Week. After all, it’s our time to celebrate! As the day went on though, it became a productive day of working on FFA items, which I learned to appreciate. Still, working on things could not compare to having fun with students for an FFA assembly. However, no one could control the weather, so being upset about it accomplished nothing. We must accept what we cannot control. Whether this is not obtaining an officer position we wanted, living through the strangest year of our lives, facing setbacks in the classroom or on the farm, or even having events canceled due to weather, acceptance is key to growth.

This FFA Week has required all of us to be flexible. At the end of the day though, all we can do is trust the process. I believe there is a reason behind every event in our lives, whether we know the reason or not. As we continue to celebrate National FFA Week, let’s remember to have fun and appreciate all that we have!

Happy National FFA Week!

Best,
Ben
Grow Your Seed
Feb. 21, 2022
Lashawna Vogel - Reporter
Denmark FFA Chapter
Section 9

The groundhog might have seen its shadow on February 2nd and the weather might be slightly less than desirable but it is almost March, meaning March Madness, warmer temperatures, and most of all spring! Every spring I look forward to seeing the tiniest plants begin to pop out of the ground and eventually grow taller and taller until those plants with flowers begin to bloom.

Seeing the process of a flower starting as a seed all the way through a fully grown version is rewarding. It recognizes you for the hard work, time, and money you put in. Today I was fortunate to visit Mishicot Middle School’s ag classes where we learned about different careers associated with agriculture, later on, I saw Mishicot FFA’s floral cooler that is a part of many students’ SAEs- leading a few students to want a career with floriculture or horticulture. Just like the flowers Mishicot FFA, we too must grow to reach our full potential.

I was invited to speak at Seymour FFA Alumni & Supporters Banquet during National FFA Week, where we were served an opportunity to listen. Listening to those at our tables share their stories, the speakers for the evening, and the congratulatory words to the evening’s award winners and newly elected board members. With all of these different things I listened to, one stood out the most: “We each have these little seeds of greatness inside of us.” Wow. A powerful statement with an impactful message that is only a few words. How is this possible that this speaker both summarized and defined part of our FFA Motto. What does the little seed inside of you have in-store for you?

Personal growth, we see this phrase in the FFA Motto, the pieces of the motto seem to echo louder during National FFA Week. We aim to grow our little seeds this week by serving our communities, developing our leadership, and promoting FFA/agricultural education during the week-long celebration. The topic of personal growth is often forgotten about especially during National FFA Week because our focus isn’t mainly there, it is on our communities, leadership, and FFA/agricultural education.

Jumping back to the Mishicot FFA, their floral business has become a staple in their community. These FFA members are growing their little seeds in floriculture, where they constantly grow their skill set. Choosing to grow our skills is a little difficult for some but it is a key component of the week. While FFA Week doesn’t look directly at personal growth it is a huge component of making National FFA Week the most enjoyable for FFA members!

Don’t forget the reason for FFA Week: celebrating accomplishments from throughout the year and making an impact! Let’s make this the best FFA week yet!

Growing the “seed,”

Lashawna
Pancakes, Pancakes, Pancakes
Feb. 20, 2022
Emily Dahlke - Treasurer
Adams-Friendship FFA Chapter
Section 6

National FFA Week is officially underway and we couldn’t be more excited for the events to come! Dress up days, school assemblies, and games are just a few things that I always loved about FFA week. One more event that was always a staple in my chapter and chapters across the state for FFA week are pancake breakfasts and suppers. What could be better than pancakes at any time of the day?

To kick off FFA week I traveled to Baraboo for their Flapjacks for Farmers event. Walking in and seeing all of the blue and gold tables, streamers, and balloons brought a smile to my face. All of the FFA members and supporters were working hard to put the final touches on their event before hungry customers arrived. It was amazing to see the doors open and a seemingly never ending line appear to get pancakes. Seeing the support and excitement from their community really helped me put into perspective the importance of community in our organization.

In agriculture we have so many different communities. We have an animal community, plant community, natural resource community and so many more, but what's amazing about the agriculture industry is that all those different communities come together as one to help and support each other. From there our community grows to everyone that eats, wears clothing, or drives cars because they too are a part of agriculture!

Getting to talk with people with all different backgrounds is one of the coolest experiences. You get to learn about their point of view and get to share yours for a more coherent understanding. Break the ice and knock down those barriers that prevent others from learning about the agriculture that you love.

Baraboo FFA brought in hundreds of people from the community to celebrate agriculture and all of their great supporters. They used this opportunity to use locally sourced food, had sponsors set up booths, had a raffle to raise money for the chapter and had a slideshow to share with the community about what FFA has to offer. If the community was unsure about why or how to support agriculture and FFA after this event it definitely was clear!

Throughout the week I have the opportunity to attend various other Pancake Suppers and I can not wait to see how each chapter puts their own twist on this FFA week tradition! Throughout this week remember to thank your communities and supporters because we would not be able to do what we do without them!

Make sure to get your fill of pancakes this week and once again if you ever need anything or have any questions please feel free to reach out at edahlke@wisconsinffa.org or 608-369-0594!

Bon Appetit,

Emily Dahlke
Stepping into the Spotlight
Feb. 19, 2022
Aubrey Schlimgen - Sentinel
Marshall FFA Chapter
Section 5

On Friday the State FFA Officer team got the chance to partake in the FFA Farm Forum! Now being that I had never been a part of Farm Forum in the past I knew I was in for a treat. I had heard from some friends and my teammates that it was one of their favorite conferences to attend. So I was pretty excited to not only see FFA members again but to see what workshops were being put on and to learn more about their respective areas.

Now this conference is a little different than most leadership conferences because it is put on by the Wisconsin Farm Bureau. They set up all of the workshops and the keynote speaker and ultimately touch about what the Wisconsin Farm Bureau has to offer.

My teammate Katie Zimmer and I started off the morning with some energizer activities to get the members active and ready to go for the rest of the day. We played some games and of course ended with some line dancing (which is always a fan favorite). Later on after the opening session and brunch the members attended workshops where they had the chance to learn about meat processing, potato farming, farm safety, and risk management.

Attendees even had the chance to hear from Kaitlyn Riley who was the keynote speaker for the conference. Kaitlyn may be a familiar name and face to many people in Wisconsin. She had the wonderful opportunity to serve as Wisconsin Fairest of the fair, Alice in Dairyland, and now is with the Wisconsin Beef Council. She loves to spread the message of Agriculture and has an immense passion for all of Wisconsin Agriculture.

The main message of Kaityln Riley’s keynote speech is that agriculture is our stage, and we need to step up on that stage and be the voice under the spotlight before someone else steals it from us.

She also shared facts about Wisconsin’s Agriculture. One in particular that stood out to me about the beef industry: 30% of our consumers say they are familiar with how cattle are raised, but nearly 75% consider how their food was grown. This fact came from a research project that was conducted by NCBA Consumer Beef Tracker. Then went on later to tie in how our industry is represented and how we can advocate on its behalf. Which is now relevant again being that an opinionated article was recently published by the New York Times talking about Farms and how they are ruining the planet. This just goes to show how we need to be that spotlight and advocate for agriculture and the truth about what we do, and why we do it.

That could be by sharing our ag story, on social media, newspapers etc. Sharing a fact or statistic about agriculture that will help bring awareness to the industry. But you too can play a role in being an advocate for the agriculture industry.

Which is now even more prominent going into National FFA week. This week not only celebrates all that FFA is and what we do, but to be an advocate for who we are and what we stand for. Be the voice for the agricultural industry and be proud of the organization that represents it. Wisconsin FFA have a great National FFA Week as it kicks off!

Wishing you the best always,

Aubrey Schlimgen
What is Accomplishment?
Feb. 18, 2022
Mia Hillebrand - Secretary
River Valley FFA Chapter
Section 4

Do you smell that? It’s the sweet smell of Leadership Development Event and Career Development Event season. Leadership Development Event Districts are fully on their way and practicing for the big competitions of Career Development Events.

Now talking a little bit about my home of Section 4, we live and breathe all competition. Traveling and visiting chapters they were fully underway preparing for their competitions and events. Nothing is wrong with a little competition, but what is the goal?

Students study, practice, and prepare for the competition to complete an accomplishment of a plaque or a trophy. What is an accomplishment? Is it achieving the goal you had set for yourself? Is it winning the competition that you wanted to win so bad? Accomplishment is something that is achieved successfully.

Traveling to District LDE’s FFA members were very excited to reach their goal of accomplishing their contest. Let me tell you there was one specific group that stuck out to me, Argyle #2 Quiz Bowl Team. Now this team was a very high-energy group of boys who stepped out of the judging room laughing about their competition in the Quiz Bowl room. I had visited the team later while they had been enjoying snacks and the fan-favorite drink, Bubbl’r. They were very happy with their accomplishment of being able to work as a team and participate in the speaking contest even though they did not continue on in the bracket.

Accomplishment is not always winning a plaque, a medal, or a competition, it's about trying your very best at something new. Through this competitive season please remember you are accomplishing great things by giving it your very best effort. 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.

Good Luck,

Mia Hillebrand

Honoring our Heritage
Feb. 09, 2022
Casey Denk - Vice President
Mondovi FFA Chapter
Section 2

This past weekend, the state officer team had the opportunity to attend the FFA Alumni and Supporters Convention in Wausau, Wisconsin. The weekend was complete with excellent company, good food, and a lot of laughter. Attending the alumni convention this year was special because we had the opportunity to help celebrate Wisconsin FFA Alumni’s 50th Anniversary.

Together, we celebrated 50 years of tremendous support and growth alongside our outstanding alumni members.
Throughout the convention, we had the opportunity to learn more about Wisconsin FFA’s history and the abundance of milestones the organization has accomplished over the past 50 years. As a team, we were also able to help with registration, the silent and live auction, facilitate workshops, and perform a reflections program for everyone in attendance. Although all of these opportunities were amazing, my favorite part of the convention was conversing with the alumni members. They shared stories from when they wore the blue corduroy jacket themselves, why they decided to join their local FFA alumni chapters, and how FFA has been a long-lived tradition within their families. While talking to each alumni member, they all shared personal stories, but they all had one thing in common: their love and passion for the FFA organization.

During the last session of the convention, Emily and I had the opportunity to eat dinner with some Oconto Falls FFA Alumni members. At dinner, we met Ken Harter; we chatted about what our team has been up to, discussed what activities their alumni chapter has coming up, dashed for desserts, and shared a great deal of laughter. While hearing Ken’s stories, this year's convention theme, “Honoring our Heritage, Cultivating the Future,” started to come alive. Thanks to our FFA alumni and supporters, we can honor Wisconsin FFA and Wisconsin FFA Alumni’s history while continuing to look for ways to improve the organization for years to come. Our alumni members are actively doing this in a variety of ways: They are donating hours of their time to help guarantee FFA members from around Wisconsin have as many opportunities to grow as possible; providing scholarships for post-secondary education; awarding grants for student’s Supervised Agricultural Experiences; funding the gift of blue for members who cannot afford their own FFA jacket; serving as coaches and judges for Leadership and Career Development Events.

After attending the Alumni and Supporters Convention, it is evident to me the large role alumni chapters play in the successes of the Wisconsin FFA Association. Without the support and wisdom from our alumni chapters, our FFA members would be missing a key component of their FFA experience. Alumni members, thank you for your continued support and drive for greatness within the FFA Organization.

Amid a busy second semester with classes starting, Leadership Development Events in full swing, and Career Development Events rounding the corner, please feel free to reach out at any time. I am looking forward to hearing from you!

Continue to cultivate the future,
Casey J. Denk
What is Leadership?
Feb. 05, 2022
Katie Zimmer - Vice President
Flambeau FFA Chapter
Section 1

Leadership. As FFA members we hear this word quite often. The most prominent place you will hear people quote it from is the FFA mission. “FFA makes a positive difference in the lives of students by developing their potential for premier leadership, personal growth and career success through agricultural education.”

Recently I returned to University of Wisconsin - River Falls for my second semester of classes for my sophomore year. One of my agricultural education courses is called “Leadership and Group Dynamics.” During the first day of class we did some basics: went over the syllabus, did class introductions, and covered any first day of class questions. There was still time left, so we dove head first into content.

This first topic we would cover in this class was: What is leadership? Now this question is completely open-ended. There are so many ways to define leadership. Leadership can be defined as a trait, an ability, a skill, a behavior, a relationship, and an influence process.

There is no single correct way to define leadership. Leadership can be defined as: A process of influencing others in identifying and working toward accomplishing the goals of the group. It can also be defined as: A process of influencing others in identifying and working toward accomplishing the goals of the group. But another definition was definitely my favorite: An influence relationship among leaders and followers who intend real changes and outcomes that reflect their shared purposes.

But enough with definitions. FFA members recently used their leadership skills at the District Leadership Development Events. I had the privilege of attending District #1, #2, and #3 in Section 1 and connecting with members between their competitions of Extemporaneous Speaking to Quiz Bowl and everything in between. I also had the opportunity to act as the Discussion Meet room moderator for two of the competitions. In this event I was able to listen to students discuss things they are doing in their chapters related to the topic. It was interesting to hear how each chapter had different events, and different ways of doing things, but they all held a common purpose. This purpose was once again found in that prominent FFA mission we all know, ”FFA makes a positive difference in the lives of students by developing their potential for premier leadership, personal growth and career success through agricultural education.” All of the events the chapters did were all to develop students’ potential for premier leadership, personal growth, and career success.

In tough times, these students were using their skills to make real change and create effective outcomes, that all reflected our shared purpose in FFA. Our FFA members make real change through community service projects and agriscience research. Our FFA members create effective outcomes through chapter meetings and FFA Leadership Development Events. Leadership is what our FFA members do everyday.

If you still have questions about leadership, or are interested in learning more about UW-River Falls, feel free to reach out to me at 715-567-0610 or kzimmer@wisconsinffa.org.

Yours Truly,

Katie Zimmer
Celebrate Farmers in Febru-dairy
Feb. 02, 2022
Ben Styer - President
Menomonie FFA Chapter
President

The busy month of February is here! Between District Leadership Development Events, chapter visits, and preparation for FFA Week, many FFA members have quite full schedules right now! The same is true for my teammates and me. In the past six days alone, I’ve put nearly 800 miles on the good ole Buick, and I wouldn’t want it any other way! This part of the year is thrilling, and seeing students all throughout the state is incredibly rewarding.

As travel has increased recently, I have been home less often. Growing up on my family’s dairy farm, this means I am not around as much to help with chores. While I am at home though, I am able to help feed calves, work with the veterinarians as they perform pregnancy checks, and sort cows. However, sometimes helping on the farm upon returning home catches me off guard. Don’t get me wrong, delivering speeches, brainstorming ideas, and facilitating workshops isn’t always a cake walk, but there is a physically-demanding aspect of dairy farming I am not often exposed to while traveling for FFA. I was not used to the physical labor of lifting heavy pails of milk, calmly working with many calves as they buck you for more milk, and as much as I hate to admit it, getting up early every day of the week.

However, to really understand the life of a farmer and the demanding labor that goes into producing our world’s food, fuel, and fiber, I am not the best source. As mentioned, I get to travel and as a result am often not found in the barn. What’s a better source though? Well, there are thousands of hardworking men and women who invest dozens of hours every week as farmers, and their job certainly isn’t easy.

While appreciating farmers and their hard work, I couldn’t help but think of Paul Harvey’s famous speech “So God Made a Farmer.” One of the later paragraphs reads, “God said, ‘I need somebody strong enough to clear trees and heave bails, yet gentle enough to tame lambs and wean pigs and tend the pink-combed pullets, who will stop his mower for an hour to splint the broken leg of a meadow lark. It had to be somebody who'd plow deep and straight and not cut corners. Somebody to seed, weed, feed, breed and rake and disc and plow and plant and tie the fleece and strain the milk and replenish the self-feeder and finish a hard week's work with a five-mile drive to church.’”

It is quite clear farming is a difficult profession not for the faint of heart. To add to this, the dairy industry and many of Wisconsin’s other agricultural industries lack optimism and hope, especially during difficult times. Nonetheless, this February, we can celebrate Wisconsin farmers. Whether it be by appreciating the pun “Febru-dairy” and loading up on all things dairy this month, sending handwritten thank you notes to farmers, or advocating for farmers when the opportunity arises, there are endless opportunities to support and celebrate our farmers.

After all, without agriculture, there is nothing. What better time than now to celebrate the incredible people who put food on our tables and clothes on our backs?

Have a unique idea to support farmers? Want to touch base about an LDE? Having an event I should attend? Whatever the case may be, never hesitate to reach out at bstyer@wisconsinffa.org or (715)505-8900.

Best,
Ben Styer
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