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FFA Officers: Travel Blog

April Archives

Deal Me In
Apr. 27, 2023
Rhylie Gough - Vice President
Albany FFA Chapter
Section 5

If there’s one down-time activity that I associate with FFA, it’s playing cards. I vividly remember learning to play Euchre on a rainy day in 7th Grade that kept all of our school greenhouse customers away, and the hotel lobbies in Indianapolis were practically made for multi-chapter games of Slapjack or Cheat. I mean, if there’s one thing I’ve learned after all of these years, it’s that you can substitute almost ANYTHING in for a game of Spoons when you’re desperate - whether it’s markers, candy, or a bunch of “Living to Serve” wristbands that are just a bit too stretched out now. But even with all the time I’ve spent getting to know a trusty 52-deck of cards and my fellow members, I’ve learned there’s always another game that I don’t know yet.

This spring, I was able to visit high school students in Waunakee’s second semester classes. We spent the day competing in different activities, exploring the greenhouse and members' projects inside, venturing out to the student-run cafĂ© for breakfast, and more. Aside from all of these moments, one of my favorite parts of the day was when the last class was joined by any interested students who had lunch that hour. While members ate nachos, played games, and caught up with friends, I chatted with them about their interests and hobbies, and even heard all about a group of friends’ upcoming country music concert plans. Eventually, I found myself over at the card table, watching students play a card game I had never tried before. Once they realized I didn’t know how to play, the group decided it was crucial that I be dealt in immediately to learn firsthand. I’m always up to try something new, so I pulled over a seat and listened intently as I looked at the cards they laid out in front of me.

Waunakee’s members reminded me of what it feels like to be invited in and encouraged to try new things that others are passionate about. I might not have won many rounds (aside from a few lucky hands in the beginning), but we laughed and joked along the way as I figured it out. After all was said and done, I realized that this card game serves as the perfect reminder of why I love chapter visits; while it’s technically my role to facilitate about FFA and leadership when I’m visiting, I often find myself learning from the students just as much. Sometimes it’s a new skill, like playing a card game. Other times, I’m able to hear about the projects and areas in agriculture that students are passionate about, like a member’s aquaponics project.

Growing ourselves and our skills is a two way street. When we’re working with others, it’s important that we be both the student willing to learn and the teacher eager to share - just like how learning a new card game requires someone offering to deal new players in and a beginner who’s willing to play a few open-hand rounds to learn the strategies. Let’s be willing to deal other people in on our fun experiences, our knowledge of agriculture, and what FFA means to us. That way, when they return the favor, we’re able to look at the new perspective or opportunity they’re offering up and wholeheartedly respond by asking them to deal us in.

Here’s to going all in on new opportunities,

Rhylie K. Gough
Smile. It's good for you.
Apr. 24, 2023
Cole Hicken - Treasurer
Waupun FFA Chapter
Section 6

Well, it’s that time of the year when Wisconsin weather gets goofy. We get one scorcher of a week, just to give us a taste of the summer upcoming, before the cold returns and snow bombards us once again. I’ve felt the true definition of spring fever these past few weeks, and I know that many of you have felt the same. Hand in hand with spring comes banquet season, and I’m fortunate enough to have been able to attend 8 chapter banquets up to this point for their end of the year celebration of success.
A bittersweet feeling for many with the joys and thrill of receiving awards, scholarships, proficiencies, recognition, etc. paired with the saddened feeling of the end to another year of FFA. Oftentimes, I view the banquet as a mini spring fever within itself. It’s an exhilarating feeling to prepare for and then receive recognition for all the hard work that you have put in over the past year. The absolute highest of highs, where you get the feeling that any cloud is within reach.
The tricky part comes when that night ends, when the lights go off, and tomorrow comes like a freight train lifting you back to reality. Following banquet, it can be difficult to see what direction is going to be best for you. Like the lull after that riveting week of 70-degree temperature, the grind to keep moving forward strikes and leaves many, like me, confused and questioning what the next steps towards success are. For seniors this comes paired with the feeling of graduation and that final push until the new chapter begins. For others, this means becoming an officer, entering high school, or show season, all amazing new opportunities for success.
When on the stage at a banquet it’s very easy to smile and be proud of everything that you have accomplished because of the award in your hand. But what I’ve found even more rewarding is continuously being proud of the hard work that leads up to any award. I’m challenging each of you to take on the lull after spring fever head on, and smile, work hard, and be proud of everything that you put your full effort into. No award or title will give you the same feeling that a smile on a cold day or laugh in the pouring rain does knowing that you’re doing something you truly love.

Keep pushing. Do your best. And ride this spring fever year-round.

I’m proud of you all,

Cole Hicken
State Treasurer
Section 6
Memories That Last a Lifetime
Apr. 19, 2023
Devani Hinkelmann - Vice President
Loyal FFA Chapter
Section 7

Here we are, the final stretch of the 2022-2023 FFA year. With less than two months left until State Convention, I can’t help but think back on everything that has happened this year. It’s so easy to get caught up in the moment and forget what has been happening. However, with the help of photos and videos, I’ve been able to go back and reflect on the year. Now, it would only be fair if I shared a couple of my favorite (or at least entertaining) memories from the year.

Back in September, our team traveled to the glorious Jag Lake FFA Camp. If you’ve ever been to Jag Lake, you know staying there is an experience of its own. However, this was not your ordinary retreat. Our time spent at Jag Lake consisted of more rain than sun. But, in our true team style, we did not let that stop us. Each night we were there, you could find us playing sand volleyball in the rain… with Mrs. Zimmerman! She was definitely the MVP by the way.

Flash forward to a few weeks ago when Heidi, Casey, and myself were able to attend the UW-River Falls Regional Career Development Event. For those that did not see the weather for that day, we were bombarded with a lot of snow the night before. But, that didn’t stop the contest from running. Before I knew it, I found myself ankle deep in the snow… with official dress on. That’s right, ankle deep in snow with heels and nylons on. To top things off, we even took time to have a “photoshoot” in the parlor at UW-River Falls! Never thought I would find myself posing for photos in official dress in a parlor.

As members, we all have our own “highlight reels” of memories that we make during our FFA career. We all have that one photo or video that will always make us laugh. We always have that one “remember when” story that sticks with us for years and years. In these moments, remember to both capture the moment and soak it all in. Our time as an FFA member is limited, but the number of memories we can make within the organization are unlimited.

Wisconsin FFA, we are in our final stretch of the year. Remember to soak in and capture every single moment and enjoy the rest of the year!

See you all soon,
Devani A. Hinkelmann
End = New Beginning
Apr. 17, 2023
Brooke Casey - Vice President
New London FFA Chapter
Section 8

Wow it’s already mid-april! There are only less than two months until we will be in Madison for the 94th Wisconsin FFA State Convention! As the year has been wrapping up, there has been a lot to reflect on. Looking back on all the awesome conference that I was able to atten and be a part of, the leadership development events and career development events I have been able to attend, and now banquets that show a reflection of members achievements! It is so cool to be able to have watched so many people including myself grow so much over these last 10 months. One thing we need to remember is that although this school year and FFA year are coming to an end maybe until August or maybe forever, that just because this is end only means that we have new beginnings ahead.

Whether you’re moving up a grade, heading into high school, going off to college, or starting in the workforce, we all have so much ahead of us. Our year is quickly wrapping up but there is so much we can still accomplish as well! We can be a part of a community service project, host a chapter activity, or attend state convention where there are countless opportunities. We can all branch out before a new chapter starts whether that is running of chapter office, volunteering to compete in a different contest, or attending a new chapter event.

In these last two months, there is so much to be accomplished and I am looking forward to seeing a sea of blue soon! I am so fortunate to have had this opportunity and time with Wisconsin FFA and I am grateful for you all. Keep being amazing!

See you soon,

Brooke Casey
Wisconsin FFA State Vice President 2022-2023
In today’s fast-paced and cons
Apr. 13, 2023
Evan Mennen - Parliamentarian
Bay Port FFA Chapter
Section 9

In today’s fast-paced and constantly evolving world, being competitive has become more crucial than ever. Competition is not just about winning; it is about continuously striving to become better and achieve excellence. Being competitive can drive us to improve our skills and knowledge. For example, when we compete in Leadership or Career Development Events, it allows us to gather an assortment of skills that will not only benefit us in the specific competition, but we can also use these throughout our life. When we are competing with others, we are constantly pushed to do better and work harder. We are forced to step out of our comfort zones and take risks to stay ahead of the competition. This mindset of continuous improvement can lead to personal growth and development.

Competition can also help us to identify our strengths and weaknesses. When we compete with others, we get a clear picture of where we stand in comparison to our peers. This allows us to identify where we need to improve and work on them to become better. It also helps us leverage our strengths.

Being competitive can teach us important life skills such as resilience, perseverance, and determination. When we face setbacks and failures, it is our competitive spirit that keeps us going. We learn to bounce back from setbacks and stay motivated to never give up.

FFA members, being competitive is not just about winning; it is about striving to become the best version of ourselves that we can be. Competition drives us to improve our skills, identify our strengths and weaknesses, and teaches us important life skills that are essential for success. Let us embrace competition, not as a threat, but as an opportunity to grow, learn, and achieve our full potential!
Shooting for New Experiences
Apr. 09, 2023
Mary Schrieber - Sentinel
East Troy FFA Chapter
Section 10

It seems like spring has sprung here in Wisconsin! The weather is finally turning around, signaling new beginnings. The flowers are starting to bloom, the trees are growing back their green leaves, and Wisconsin’s wildlife is emerging.

To embrace the warmer weather, I traveled down to Nashville, Tennessee. While there, I participated in some of my favorite activities like line dancing, going out to eat with family, visiting museums, and listening to country music.

But, in the spirit of new beginnings, I also had the chance to try something new this week. On Saturday night, I attended a Nashville Soccer Club match! Despite knowing next to nothing about Major League Soccer, I channeled my inner “Ted Lasso” to watch ninety minutes of a sport I hadn’t played since middle school.

If I am being honest, I was initially a bit skeptical about this new experience. I was worried that my lack of knowledge would make the game much less enjoyable. As I walked into the stadium surrounded by 27,000 Nashville SC fans, I started to panic that I was in a bit over my head. All of these other people probably knew way more about the players, strategies, and rules that would make the game successful. Despite my hesitation, I decided to try my best to enjoy something new.

As it turned out, I didn’t have to try very hard to enjoy this new experience. The fans were full of energy and excitement which was boosted even further by a drum line, team chants, and fireworks. The game was fast-paced but surprisingly easy to follow after I had asked a few clarifying questions. I learned the rules along the way and by the end of the game, I was cheering loudly for Nashville (and booing the referees when necessary) alongside 27,000 other fans. I was quickly sucked into the excitement of it all and forgot my skepticism. I was so thankful that I chose not to let my fear prevent me from learning more about a brand-new opportunity and having an absolute blast.

Throughout my years of FFA membership, I tended to carry that same fear around with me. As a non-traditional agricultural education student, I worried that I wasn't knowledgeable enough about agriculture and FFA. I was always careful to not embarrass myself by asking questions that I assumed everyone else already knew the answers to. I was sure that my lack of experience would prevent me from ever being successful in the industry.

However, just like I did at the soccer game, I eventually chose to buy into the new opportunity in front of me, allowing me to experience and learn more than I ever thought possible. I took more ag classes, tried every Leadership Development Event, asked lots of questions, and worked on a Supervised Agricultural Experience I had no previous experience in. By embracing new beginnings, each of us has the chance to grow our real-world skills and knowledge.

Through the rest of this school year, don’t let your fear of inadequacy prevent you from growing as an FFA member and student. While the last few months of school might not feel like a new beginning, every day is an opportunity to start shooting for new experiences. Try attending State Convention this year, run for a chapter officer position, or start an unfamiliar SAE. When we overcome our fears, infinite opportunities await us, all we have to do is take a shot at the goal.
Embrace It
Apr. 05, 2023
Casey Denk - President
Mondovi FFA Chapter

The first week of April is often marked with April Fools' pranks, muddy farming conditions, rain showers, warmer temperatures, and…snow? By living in Wisconsin, we automatically sign up for the season-long, all-inclusive pass for the roller coaster ride of various weather conditions. This year, Wisconsin weather told us to buckle up and hold on for one more ride to help kick off April.

This past Saturday, the University of Wisconsin-River Falls hosted our final Career Development Event of the spring. Normally, April means we are finally free of the snow or so we thought. Anyone who knows me could agree that I enjoy a good prank and often classify myself as an elite prankster. According to the weather on Saturday, Wisconsin has earned the "prankster" title as well and decided to participate in April Fool’s Day. Wisconsin started April with inches upon inches of snow and chilly temperatures. These conditions wouldn't stop our competition and couldn't hinder the optimism of our competitors or volunteers.

On Saturday, Heidi, Devani, and I decided to fight the treacherous winter conditions and head to the lab farm to inspect the poultry, livestock, and dairy competitions. While waiting for the competitions to start we found ourselves joshing with FFA members, advisors, and UWRF professors and students. There was one common trend, everyone was just happy to be there. The students didn’t mind waking up earlier than expected, the advisors didn’t mind that their commute doubled in time, and the college volunteers were fine with adding an extra jacket or pair of socks to their outfit to stay warm

One quote that has stuck with me from Saturday was from a UWRF student, who was volunteering with the dairy cattle CDE. As we were shooting the breeze, talking about how this was not how we expected the day to go, she laughed and said, “Ahhh, we’re just embracing it.” At that moment, I realized this mindset was how all our competitors, teachers, and volunteers felt. This was how everyone was able to find optimism and joy during these unpredictable conditions. Throughout the rest of our year, let's work to embrace the opportunities we are presented with. They might not all come to us in the same way or at the best time, but if we work to find the light in all the situations we are presented with, we will experience better outcomes because of it.

Let’s embrace the rest of our year,
Casey J. Denk

A Good Time to Reset
Apr. 04, 2023
Isaac Hopke - Secretary
Spooner FFA Chapter
Section 1

As we continue through the spring with chaotic weather and busy FFA, sports, and outdoor lives, it is quite easy to get into a groove of a somewhat pessimistic lifestyle. Things start to get a little too normal, and the glamor begins to fade as spring starts teasing us for the novelty of summer. Oftentimes, we begin to fall into the trap of just wanting to be done with another school year, to get the summer tan, or simply to just live our own lives. Although everything we are looking forward to is great, this is not quite the best example of living in the moment.

Throughout this year so far, several of the state officer’s travel blogs have described the importance of living in the moment. Although we preach this fact, we are all still human and sometimes we also fall into similar situations of the absolute desire of novelty. However, if we start to understand this better and remember the importance of the present, it's possible to become a bit overwhelmed with the difficulty to enter into a healthier mindset and lifestyle. But, I’d like to propose that it might not be as difficult as it may appear to get into our good mindset.

For a better mindset, we must understand how to do a sort of “reset” with our life. For every person this will be different. To reset, one could do a variety of things. As long as these actions break our current habits and provide us with some sort of mind clearing, they can help break the trap we fall into. Personally, things like a cold shower, putting my phone away for a day, or reflecting for a longer period of time help me to start a little process of resetting my mindset.

After allowing our minds to reset and seeing what we want to change, we can then begin to take the necessary steps to becoming more optimistic, positive, healthy, and productive. We have to then take a look at ourselves and come up with some specific and well thought out goals in order to continue to stay in a present mindset.

As our busy year starts to wrap up and the exciting summer approaches, I challenge you to discover your own resetting mechanism so that you can finish this year out just as strong, if not stronger, as you started it. Remember, we’re all human and all in this together including the people we look up to!
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