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FFA Officers: Travel Blog

April Archives

Clear Your Path
Apr. 27, 2022
Casey Denk - Vice President
Mondovi FFA Chapter
Section 2

With the school year coming to a close, my college friend group decided to spend one more weekend together before summer. The weather was gorgeous, so we spent most of our time outside. Together we enjoyed helping with farm chores, trap shooting, 4-wheeling, playing basketball and badminton, and taking in the beautiful countryside. We spent our evenings playing ping pong, cards, and Catch Phrase; between the abundance of outdoor activities and our competitive game nights- we created the perfect weekend!

Our afternoon was going smoothly; we ate a delicious lunch and started cruising the hillsides. All of a sudden, we came across a “small” roadblock. Well, I guess, in retrospect I can call this roadblock small, but at the time, I thought our adventures were coming to an abrupt stop. Quickly, we all got off our machines to assess the situation. My first thought was that we should turn around and find a different trail to take. Luckily, the rest of my friend group did not think the same way. The rest of the group started to navigate a plan, and in unison, I heard “one, two, three,” the queue for everyone to start-exerting all our force to move the very-large tree. This pattern continues for a few more tries with no movement. I was ready to give up; there had to be another way. Again, my friends are some of the most determined people I know, and they were not going to back down from this challenge. We devised a new plan of attack and decided to give it one more heave. Suddenly, the tree started to move. After a few more lifts, we cleared the tree from our path. Soon our friend group was consumed with cheering, high fives, and endless smiles. After admiring our work and trying to guess how much the tree weighed, we made our way back to our 4-wheelers and continued our farm tour.

When we made our way back to the house, we were all talking about the afternoon: the beautiful scenery, the steep Buffalo County hills, and the muddy trails, but the main topic of discussion was how, together, we were able to move the massive tree.

In life, there will be obstacles that come out of nowhere along with obstacles that are not easily avoided. It’s not about what the challenge is; or why it’s there; it’s about how we react and respond to each obstacle life throws at us. Looking back, moving the tree, and achieving the act I first deemed impossible soon became the highlight of our afternoon ride. The end of the school year is consumed with FFA banquets, graduations, and convention preparation. While we are met with busy times, it is easy to get lost in our never-ending to-do lists but it is essential to remember the tasks at hand and continue to clear your paths to success.

FFA members, as the year starts to wrap up, please continue to reach out to me anytime at (715)-495-2899 or at cdenk@wisconsinffa.org.

Keep clearing your path,
Casey J. Denk
Appreciate The Little Moments
Apr. 23, 2022
Katie Zimmer - Vice President
Flambeau FFA Chapter
Section 1

To be completely honest with you all, my life has been pretty boring. Hold up, Katie! You are a State FFA Officer, how can your life be boring? Okay, Okay, well it's not boring, but it has been pretty routine.

I haven’t been traveling around as much as I have earlier in the year, and I have the opportunity to get plenty of sleep every night. I also have been attending college pretty normally, except for the occasional walk around campus in FFA official dress for an event. And there haven’t been any super crazy experiences such as visiting a dairy goat farm or walking through a lumberyard.

As humans we like routines. I have my typical routine: wake up, go to classes, eat a loaded quesadilla for lunch (yum), work on some homework, class again, work on homework, dinner, homework again, hang out with friends, go to bed and repeat. Now this does seem pretty busy, but it's mostly the same thing everyday.

But there are many things throughout the days that make the seemingly boring routines memorable, from buying plants, watching my friends come up with crazy ideas (well maybe me too), making guacamole late at night, to laughing until you’re crying, my days are nothing short of entertaining.

Recently one of the out of the routine events I had was attending the UW - River Falls Ag Day on Campus. This is an event put on in the spring by the UW - River Falls Collegiate Farm Bureau. At this event, all of the College of Agriculture Food and Environmental Sciences student organizations, local agricultural businesses, and representatives of Wisconsin and Minnesota agriculture are there to help spread the good word of agriculture. There were many booths set up, a scavenger hunt, bingo game, free t-shirts, and more. We were also able to hear speeches from Alice in Dairyland, Princess Kay of the Milky Way, and Wisconsin Fairest of the Fair focused around the event’s theme “Let the Good Times Grow.”

Casey, Ben, and I had the opportunity to answer questions related to FFA, interact with students and faculty, and help host a milk chugging contest and potato relay. Later that evening we were able to attend a free dinner and listen to keynote speaker Kim Bremmer from Ag Inspirations.

Overall it was a great day! It was so much fun and overall experience that I will never forget. But what made it so amazing was all the little pieces that worked together to make it amazing. I was able to watch my sorority sisters in Sigma Alpha get pied in the face by students answering agricultural trivia, watch Ben start a chainsaw, get plenty of Culver’s free custard tokens, and get pictures with the all famous giant cow Colleen the Dream.

From amazing events to even the most routine days, it's the little moments that make it up. Something that Kim Bremmer talked about in her speech was the idea of changing our perspective to advocate for agriculture. In this situation too, I changed my perspective. Instead of thinking of my overall days as boring or very routine, I chose to think about those little interesting moments in them; because those little moments truly aren’t little, they are a part of something greater.

I encourage you to change your perspective and be in the present so you can truly appreciate the little moments. Such as those moments where you laugh until you cry, feel happy, question what you’re doing, and remember as the “good times.” Those little moments are what makes big memories.

If you have a little moment or a big memory you want to talk about, feel free to contact me at kzimmer@wisconsinffa.org or 715-567-0610.
The Season of Growth
Apr. 20, 2022
Ben Styer - President
Menomonie FFA Chapter
President

Birds are chirping outside, rye cover crops are poking through the soil, it is (sometimes) sunny outside, and slowly but surely, temperatures will increase. Spring is making its 2022 debut!

Growing up, my favorite season was always spring for a few reasons. First, spring symbolizes an end to winter and the beginning of warmer weather. This allowed me and my siblings to begin working with show heifers and pigs outside and start dairy judging practice. Second, spring is a season of growth. Between new animal life and sprouting crops, growth is ubiquitous every spring, and that is inspiring to witness. In FFA, we celebrate growth of a different kind each spring - personal growth. Growth in leadership abilities, industry knowledge, and service towards others attribute to the personal growth FFA members experience, and spring provides plentiful opportunities to experience growth of this kind.

Leadership abilities are developed through many areas of the FFA, one of which being competitive events like Leadership Development Events, or LDEs, and Career Development Events, or CDEs. Both of these competitive events have been happening throughout the spring, and the state level of competition will be here soon! Achievements in both LDEs and CDEs, as well as many other areas, will be recognized at local FFA chapter banquets all throughout the state. While every banquet is slightly different, each one offers a great celebration of growth over the previous year. Personally, I’ve been able to visit banquets at the Sauk Prairie, Randolph-Cambria-Friesland, and Slinger FFA chapters, and each has been a blast as we've celebrated members' growth! I look forward to attending more throughout this spring. One of my favorite parts of every banquet I attend is being able to witness one team retire and the new team installed. Being part of an officer team is without a doubt one of the most influential ways FFA members can grow as a leader, and a banquet’s display of this leadership is always something special to be a part of.

Recently a couple of my teammates and I had the opportunity to participate in another event that recognized growth: the University of Wisconsin - River Falls’ Ag Day on Campus. Fittingly, this year’s theme was “Let the Good Times Grow.” With over 20 booths representing student and community groups, appearances from Alice in Dairyland, the Wisconsin Fairest of the Fairs, and Princess Kay of the Milkyway, and time built in for mingling with other attendees, we indeed had a “good time” participating in this event.

From attending this Ag Day on Campus, FFA chapter banquets, and Career and Leadership Development Events, one thing is clear; growth is all around us! Just as crops will soon sprout and grow this spring, FFA members, too, experience great growth that is celebrated. As this spring is rather cold and damp thus far, I don’t know that spring is still my favorite season. Nonetheless, FFA members’ effort, determination, and well-deserved accomplishments define spring as a season of growth. There are now under two months left until the gavel drops at the 93rd Wisconsin FFA Convention, and the time is now for growth!

Folks, as always, if you’d ever like to shoot the breeze, don’t hesitate to reach me at (715)505-8900 or bstyer@wisconsinffa.org.

Best,
Ben Styer
Share Your Story
Apr. 13, 2022
Lashawna Vogel - Reporter
Denmark FFA Chapter
Section 9

Think of a time when you did something that was normal to you, but it might have seemed a bit strange to others. I have a few things that come to mind, like how I won’t put ice in my lemonade or water at restaurants, or when I pull up directions on my phone to places I know how to get to, or even throwing a toy for my dog, Buddy, one more time even though earlier I told him that was the last time. All of these ‘strange’ things that I do fit under one common theme: something I do that others might not understand.

Agriculture. One of the most significant things that might look strange to people not in our shoes. No matter how much we hope, dream, and wish that everyone will be on the team ag train the next day when we wake up, and there will be no misunderstandings- we will still receive questions. Questions about what we do and why we do it. While it might not seem worth it, in the wise words of the first US President, George Washington, “Agriculture is the most healthful, most useful and most noble employment.” So take a step back and look at some of those things you do and how others not from an agriculture background would perceive them. I know I still have many questions about agriculture because it is such a large industry, and I can’t wait to learn more about it, but what about those who are not already involved? How do we help them understand our whys?

“If you don’t tell your story, then someone else will” is my biggest takeaway from the National FFA’s #SpeakAg Pioneer program that I am a member of this year with Amara and Katie. We have learned many methods to get out our messages and truths, but the first quote I shared is what has further inspired me. Telling your story is essential because you have first-hand knowledge of the industry. At first, telling others about your life can be very difficult because it is personal. But, in the end, it is crucial to spread the word about agriculture from the inside versus letting others pick and choose what is said about agriculture.

Last year, as a senior in high school, one of my teachers was teaching our class about food and agriculture words in another language; she mentioned that the tiny hutches you see when driving past farms are only for calves raised for veal. Hearing this, I knew it was my opportunity to step in and share agriculture’s truth. Those hutches are to protect the calves from everything Mother Nature throws at them; whether it be rain, sun, snow, or even wind, they keep the calves safe and comfortable. After my teacher and I talked about this, she appreciated the learning opportunity. When approaching situations like this, we need to remember to be kind and courteous because if we are not, the individual may not listen to a thing we say and will go on to spread more information that isn’t necessarily true. If you are ever faced with a similar situation, I challenge you to take the opportunity to teach by sharing your story and what you know about agriculture. It is okay if you aren’t familiar with the topic in question, don’t be afraid to say I don’t know right now, but I will get back to you.

Sharing our stories in any way is one of the most important things we can do both as FFA members and agriculturalists. Another golden opportunity for you is at county and state fairs happing each summer; while you celebrate agriculture, you can educate others about its importance. To slow the spread of misconceptions in agriculture, the time is now to help others learn more about agriculture.

Wisconsin FFA, share your stories and experiences because I know you each have unique perspectives and a lot to add to the conversation about agriculture. If you need anything, please reach out to me via email at lvogel@wisconsinffa.org or text/call (920)676-7717.

Forever #SpeakAg,
Lashawna
Hide and Seek
Apr. 09, 2022
Emily Dahlke - Treasurer
Adams-Friendship FFA Chapter
Section 6

Who is the hide and seek champion? Not me- I’m not the greatest at this game, but you know who is the ultimate hide and seek champion, beef calves.
My favorite time of year is calving season and the hunt for new calves in the spring. A day doesn’t go by during calving season that I can’t be found wandering around the pasture checking cows, making sure calves are being taken care of, and looking for signs of new arrivals.
When you come across those signs the game is on. The game begins with binoculars from a distance to try to watch the cow and see where she goes to find her calf. The cow then gets smart and takes you in the completely wrong direction to try to throw you off the scent. She keeps an eye on you and fails to give you even a hint as to where the calf is hiding. Then it becomes a foot race to speed run the pasture, not leaving any long grass unsearched. And just when you think that you’ve lost hope, that little ear gives a wiggle to let you know it's right in front of your face in a place you could’ve sworn you've checked 4 times already. Finding a strong, healthy calf at the end of the hunt makes for a good day.
As soon as you begin to creep closer to the calf to vaccinate and tag it, the game changes from hide and seek to TAG. Now that strong healthy calf is darting away and you question if you will ever be able to catch it. You then work for a while hoping that little calf will tire itself out, but you get tired faster than the calf. Sometimes you can catch the calf and sometimes that calf stays tagless until weaning. Either way, we are happy with an energetic calf.
One thing that makes this time of year even better is doing it with friends and family. I am lucky enough to share an interest in the beef cattle industry with my siblings and cousins. They are always ready to come along for this intense game of hide and seek. The cows and calves won't be around forever but the laughs and memories we have made in the pasture will be forever.
No matter what you are doing, give it your all and surround yourself with people that will make a lasting impact on you. Whether that be a person or a herd of cows there is always something to learn and grow from. Whether you are good at hide and seek or could use some improvements, practice makes perfect and who you surround yourself with will make that practice perfect.
If you ever need anything feel free to reach out! My inbox is always open, 608-369-0594 or edahlke@wisconsinffa.org.

Happy Hunting,

Emily Dahlke
Learn to Fly
Apr. 06, 2022
Aubrey Schlimgen - Sentinel
Marshall FFA Chapter
Section 5

This past week I had the wonderful privilege and opportunity to attend the Tennessee FFA State Convention down in Gatlinburg. Now this may come as a shock to some people but besides going to the National FFA convention, this was my first time traveling ever. To also top that it was my first time flying in an airplane, more or less the first time leaving the ground. To say I was nervous was an understatement.

My grandma drove me to the Chicago airport where she dropped me off for my flight, and when I walked into the giant airport I was overwhelmed with the hustle and bustle of people walking to get checked in and go through security. I was just determined to get to where I needed to go and just hoped that it all went smoothly and I didn’t look too out of place. Sure enough it wouldn't be a trip without a little bit of delay. The people to check us in didn’t show up until an hour later after I got there. Others happened to line up behind me and to pass time (and to help loosen some nerves) I engaged in some small talk with the people around me planning to board the same flight as me to Asheville, North Carolina.

There was an older couple behind me that happened to be from North Carolina but were headed to Florida behind me, so I chatted with them about how it was going to be my first time flying ever and if they could give me some advice. At this point I was taking anything I could get. Turns out this couple Larry and Shawna had flown multiple times. Larry even served as a paratrooper for the Army, even serving as he also fought overseas in Desert Storm. I thanked him for his service and then joked that I really don’t have an excuse to be nervous! But after that conversation with them I definitely became way more comfortable with flying.

I then got checkin in, went through security, and waited to board the plane. When we started to board and take our seats you’ll never guess who I was seated next to, you guessed it Larry and Shawna, and man was I relieved! As we got to talking about our lives and chatting away some more it was almost like all of that anxiety if stress disappeared. Funny enough they gave me their number to contact them when all was said and done and I deemed them as my plane parents.

See if I didn’t muster up the courage to go on that plane I would never have been able to make it to Gatlinburg TN and see amazing Tennessee FFA members for their state Convention. Or even see mountains and waterfalls for the first time hiking North Carolina with my aunt. But I know one things for sure, and that is that one small conversation made my trip so worthwhile.

If there is one thing you take from this story of my recent travels let it be this, significant people will show up in times when you need it the most. You just never know who or when they will appear. So don’t lose hope and have courage to try, you never know what will happen!
You can hear more stories from me at 608-422-0649 or aschlimgen@wisconsinffa.org

Wishing you the best always,
Aubrey Schlimgen
Spring Break
Apr. 04, 2022
Mia Hillebrand - Secretary
River Valley FFA Chapter
Section 4

It is that time of year when the world seems to never slow down. The sun stays up a little longer each day and the weather get a little nicer. We have so many things piling up on are plate to complete before the school year is over. (Egar for summer even with this weather we have going on.) So many more FFA activities to participate in before Wisconsin FFA State Convention.

Currently it is Spring Break time, you know the little summer teaser. Where we get a whole week off of school and maybe have vacation plans with your family or simply have an FFA event you are looking forward to. Now when I think back as far as I can remember I have never really had a “Spring Break” I was always busy with helping on the farm, attending the UW- Platteville Career Development Event judging livestock, or working at meat shop. I could never give myself a break.

This past week, I had been reminded of something, taking a break from the world will not make you any less of athlete, student, leader, FFA member, ect. It reminds us to live in the present moment, take it all in when we can, and come back refreshed to work harder. I know Wisconsin FFA members love to speed up and work hard to do the next event they have planned. Remember a day or maybe even a week break can help push through and come back working harder.

Reminder a break can help refocus and energize you for the next coming part of the year. I look forward to seeing the amazing work Wisconsin FFA members are doing leading up to our Wisconsin FFA State Convention. 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.

Have a great spring break,
Mia
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