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FFA Officers: Travel Blog

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The Road Less Traveled
Sep. 25, 2021
Katie Zimmer - Vice President
Flambeau FFA Chapter
Section 1

I have traveled more in the last three months than I have in the last year. After being elected, it has been go, go, go. But I wouldn’t trade it for anything. All of the long trips have taken me to great experiences, such as the Wisconsin State Fair, chapter events, and all the trainings that I have attended with my team.

As I’ve said, I have taken many long trips. Sometimes these involve driving the same road over and over and over again. Although these roads are often along the fastest route, they can get boring. So, instead of getting bored, I have found alternative routes to take that have made my travels much more interesting.

Now these alternative routes are not always ideal. They may be two lane highways, back country roads, or bumpy gravel roads. Oftentimes not many people are traveling on these roads, you probably won't have cellphone service on them, and they could make your trip take a little longer. It could be a sticky situation if something were to happen while driving on these roads, but the risk is definitely worth the reward.

The reward of driving these alternative routes are the views. I have driven along and across rivers and lakes, such as the Wisconsin River, Lake Mendota, and the Mississippi River; through valleys and hills of the state; and through farmland with corn for miles and miles. I have also driven through state and national recreational areas such as the Flambeau River State Forest, Roche-A-Cri State Park, Brunet Island State Park and the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest. The views throughout these areas and across the entire state are amazing. As the leaves have begun to change gorgeous shades of red, orange, and yellow, the views have gotten even better.

On my most recent journey on the way home from New Auburn, I decided to drive through the Chippewa Moraine State Recreation Area. This road was curvy and it was hard to see what was ahead, but I was able to see many beautiful fall views along the way. As I neared the end of my journey through the Chippewa Moraine State Recreation Area, I came upon a scene that left me speechless. It was the area where the Flambeau River flows into the Chippewa River. I could see the Blue Hills of northern Rusk County in the distance and all the fall colors involved with it. To say the least this view took my breath away. It made me realize why all these travels and taking the longer route are worth it.

Just like in life, we have the option to take the more common route or the alternative route. Taking the common route may get us to our destination, but we might not get anything more than that out if it. But if we decide to take the alternative route, or the road less traveled, we can still get to our destination with even more great experiences along the way.

In FFA this might mean trying a Career Development Event that no one else in your chapter is doing, or volunteering for a community service project that no one else has done before. Taking the road less traveled may be riskier, but it can provide you with a reward greater than you can imagine.

Sadly I wasn't able to take a picture of the view that left me speechless, but I stopped a few miles down the road along the Chippewa River to capture the view. If you ever need anything, or want to know about more cool places in Wisconsin, feel free to reach out to me at 715-567-0610 or kzimmer@wisconsinffa.org. Go and travel your own path and enjoy the views along the way!

Yours Truly,
Katie Zimmer
The Time is Now
Sep. 22, 2021
Ben Styer - President
Menomonie FFA Chapter
President

After about 2,500 cobs of corn and 14 hours later, the job was finally done! My family and I had just finished processing sweet corn to freeze for the year, and I could not have been more relieved to have the job behind us.

Nearly every year, my family decides to freeze some sweet corn to be able to enjoy delicious corn all throughout the year. First, we shuck the cobs to remove the husks and silk, then cut the kernels off of the cob, boil the corn kernels with butter, salt, sugar, and a little water, and finally, let the corn cool before bagging and freezing it. While the process stayed the same this year, the amount of corn we froze was by far the most corn we have ever processed in one year.

Starting at nine in the morning, right after calf chores were done, I helped pick two truck bed loads of sweet corn. After that, it was off to the races shucking, cutting, cooking, and bagging. My family members and I would go on to spend a total of 14 hours processing hundreds of cobs of sweet corn this day. Needless to say, I was pretty happy when we finally finished bagging the last of the corn around 11 pm. You may be thinking to yourself, “Ben, why go through all the trouble of freezing your own sweet corn?” If I am being honest, I asked myself this question many times as we processed corn and the day seemed to be going on forever. However, in a few months, when the weather is brutally cold, it will be awfully nice to be able to grab corn out of the freezer and have tasty sweet corn with supper.

Many times in agriculture and FFA, we must invest effort before we see the end result. We plant crops in the spring in hopes of harvesting a bountiful crop in the fall. Dairy farmers raise heifer calves for two years before that heifer has a calf and begins producing milk. Newly planted cranberry bogs mature for about four years before a good crop can be harvested. In FFA, we invest in students now, knowing that today’s FFA members will be our leaders, innovators, and advocates in the future.

Wisconsin FFA members, the time is now to invest in your future! I encourage you to attend our 2021 Fall Leadership Workshops, compete in a couple Leadership Development Events this year, ask your advisor about opportunities in FFA, and make the most of every opportunity in the blue corduroy jacket. Not only will you have a blast being involved in FFA, but your future self will thank you for realizing that the time is now.

My teammates and I recently announced that the 2021-2022 Wisconsin FFA theme is “The Time in Now.” The time is now to take advantage of opportunities. The time is now to make someone else’s day. The time is now to live every day without regret because if not now, then when?

Best,
Ben Styer
Are There Any Questions?
Sep. 18, 2021
Sydney Bender - Vice President
Big Foot FFA Chapter
Section 10

This week began the first of my chapter visits with Beaver Dam and Hartford! Both schools had students that were enrolled in agricultural education classes that were willing to participate in the workshops and understand what the FFA organization had to offer. During both chapter visits, there was a time before the end of the class to have students ask me any question they wanted. Whether that be about where I was attending school, what I was involved in when I was in an FFA, or where Big Foot High School was located. During this Q&A time, one question was guaranteed to be asked: "Why did you decide to join FFA?" Throughout my time in the organization, as most FFA members can agree this question is asked several times but after these chapter visits, I took the time to reflect on how this impacts our organization.

Each time you ask that question to an FFA member, the answer will always be different or unique. Whether it be you decided to join because of an agricultural education class you chose to take during your time in high school, or FFA is a family tradition that goes back so many generations in your family. No matter what reason we may have had to join this organization we now as FFA members work to achieve a goal for ourselves. To grow and become the next innovators and leaders for our generation.

Wisconsin FFA, our organization, is unique. Unique in the terms that every member has their own individual story as to why they decided to become a part of this organization and why they continue to advocate for those to become involved. No matter what reason we chose to become an FFA member we can all now work towards our goal of becoming the next leaders for our chapters, our communities, and our generation.

If you have any questions or want to talk about what your story is and why you decided to become a member, feel free to reach out to me either through email at sbender@wisconsinffa.org or my cell phone number (262) 745-8280.

In Service to you,
Sydney Bender
Can I have candy?
Sep. 15, 2021
Lashawna Vogel - Reporter
Denmark FFA Chapter
Section 9

My first week of chapter visits came very quickly. I traveled to three different schools throughout the Northeastern Wisconsin area, and it was interesting to me seeing the difference between each and the community surrounding them. This experience was indeed one of my all-time favorites, and one specific moment stands out the most to me.

As I was preparing for the next class, a student approached me, and he saw I had candy sitting out on the table. He asked me, “Can I have a piece of candy?” I responded with, “Only if you can answer the question I ask you.” He then proceeded to tell me that he knew absolutely nothing about agriculture except the fact that a cow is an animal because he was a “city kid.” However, despite his fears, I would ask him a question that would really challenge him; he was insistent on answering so he could receive a piece of candy. He didn’t realize that I helped him set a goal and his persistence showed just how much he cared about accomplishing that one simple goal.

Each of us sets goals for ourselves on a daily basis; while sometimes we might not realize it, the importance of these goals we create is enormous. Our goals are essential to us for four main reasons: 1. They keep us focused and accountable. 2. They help organize our time. 3. They motivate us. And 4. They help us build ourselves. Starting with the first reason, we each have countless distractions, and through our goals, they point out what we must focus on to get to where we want to be. Secondly, organization is seen as the key to success by many; if we manage our time efficiently, we will be able to accomplish more. Third, the motivation through our goals comes because these goals are something we each deeply care about. Finally, the last main reason, our goals can all be smaller goals that will help us work towards a larger goal because each of those “smaller” accomplishments builds up to a much more significant achievement.

As the new school year is well underway, I am confident that FFA members will continue to set amazing and unique goals for themselves and achieve these goals. If you ever need anything, I’m only a call, text, or email away; feel free to contact me at 920-676-7717 or lvogel@wisconsinffa.org.

Keep achieving your goals,
Lashawna Vogel
All you need is boots...
Sep. 08, 2021
Emily Dahlke - Treasurer
Adams-Friendship FFA Chapter
Section 6

“All you need is a pair of boots and a positive attitude” is what I told my teammates before they made the trek to Adams-Friendship to partake in our annual Barnyard Ball/Back to School Picnic.

As we pulled into the High School parking lot we saw the Adams-Friendship FFA members unloading the supplies to play this interesting game. Casey, Amara, and Lashawna began questioning whether or not they should have agreed to come. We walked to the field and saw cones in the shape of a baseball diamond, wheelbarrows, stick horses, stuffed chickens, and shovels. Confusion swept across their faces and then directions began.

Barnyard Ball is like kickball with a twist (or a lot of twists). There are two teams, a FFA member team and an alumni team, and their goal is to get on base, advance around the bases and make it home just like kickball, but it's not as simple as it seems. The pitcher tosses the kick ball to the batter like a softball and the batter has to hit it with a shovel. The fielders are all equipped with a 5 gallon bucket that they have to use to retrieve the ball in the outfield, like a glove. Now, when you are batting you have a partner to run with. One of you will hit and then you will both run to first base. If you or your partner is not wearing boots you have to carry a bag of feed with you to 1st base. Once you are at 1st base in order to get to 2nd you have to grab 2 stuffed chickens and 11 eggs between you and your partner and carry them to 2nd base. To get to 3rd base you and your partner have to decide who gets to ride in the wheelbarrow and who is going to push it. Then to get home you have to ride the stick horse. Simple, right?

This event is a chapter favorite because all the skill you thought you had in sports goes out the window and everyone is at an even playing field. Some of my favorite memories have come from Barnyard Ball and it was so fun to be on the other side as an alumni. Seeing the smiles on members' faces and watching the new interactions between members that might not talk in school reminded me of why this organization is so important in aiding the next generation of agriculturalists.

FFA is such a great place for people from all walks of life because there truly is something for everyone. From different “sporting events” such as Barnyard Ball to the countless speaking opportunities, FFA grows its members without them even knowing. Take every opportunity, even if it seems strange at first, because every opportunity in FFA has a purpose.

I am so excited to take on this year with all of you and do some things that might take us a little out of our comfort zones. Please feel free to reach out to me with any questions or if you just need to chat via email:edahlke@wisconsinffa.org, or phone: (608)-369-0594. I can’t wait to meet you all!

If you got a chance take it,

Emily Dahlke
"Can you hear me now?"
Sep. 07, 2021
Aubrey Schlimgen - Sentinel
Marshall FFA Chapter
Section 5

Doing things virtually was definitely by far one of the biggest obstacles we faced last year. I’m sure many of us can recall the many virtual meetings we had whether it was on Zoom, over google meet, or other platforms that we didn’t even know existed until we had to use them. But those calls also came with lots of trouble mostly including the spotty internet or WIFI. Phrases like “Now is it working?” or “Hey I didn’t catch that you froze again” were things we heard probably way too often. The most frustrating thing I know was definitely getting kicked off the meeting as well, let alone it happening multiple times.

Virtual Learning alone was difficult on many levels as well. From a student's end some struggled not having that in-person connection along with not having as many resources, and the focus unfortunately sometimes was just not there. Then from an Educators perspective it was also frustrating looking at a computer at a bunch of blank boxes while it seemed like you were talking to yourself. Some schools might still have to face this struggle this year in the virtual Learning world. This struggle is also still very prominent in the FFA world as well. As we try to adapt to the obstacle in front of us, FFA events are still held virtually to try and stay connected to its members and still give them the opportunity to be a part of the FFA experience.

However we did find success in the dark as well. With technology and these new ways to connect with others we have now been able to reach others at times and places that we have never been able to before. Keeping our worlds still connected, just virtually. Social Media especially played a huge role in keeping people in touch in a time where we couldn't do that face to face. Therefore helping spread activities, news, and accomplishments to more people than ever before.

Recently I competed in the Preliminary round for the National FFA Extemporaneous Competition. I’ll admit it was hard to compete virtually from districts, sectionals, and for other state associations their state level was virtual as well. But seeing other contenders' reactions when they’re names were announced for advancement to Semifinals, it reminded me of the resilience FFA members truly do have. Even though we were faced with a challenge of the virtual world, FFA members persevered, overcame, and pushed themselves to still be the best they can be. This year I know that FFA members will choose to break through the obstacles that may come their way no matter what, and to say I am a witness of their achievements, is truly the biggest blessing of them all. But as people of service we choose to also help others during this time as well, I am always here to be a listening ear with the struggles and maybe we can even learn and struggle with technology together!

Wisconsin FFA, when times get hard and we don’t know where to turn (and the zoom call won’t start) remember panicking is the last thing you should do. Remember to stop, breathe, and things will be okay! Feel free to reach out at any point via email aschlimgen@wisconsinffa.org or by my cell (608) 422-0649. We all need a helping hand sometimes, and now is the time to reach out.

Wishing you the best always,
Aubrey Schlimgen
Down to Your Roots
Sep. 01, 2021
Mia Hillebrand - Secretary
River Valley FFA Chapter
Section 4

Hello Wisconsin FFA,

I have stepped into the position that I have dreamed of being in, the black heels and the corduroy jacket of a Wisconsin FFA State Officer. Serving from yours truly, Section 4. Now I do say this is a dream come true and one thing I would like to tell you is I am all about dreams, inspirations, and goals. None of those are too big or too small that cannot be accomplished. Steps that take you to your dreams all start from the roots of where you came from.

I came from a small town, in the River Valley School District called Lone Rock, population around 700. I did not grow up on a farm, but my grandfather is a third -generation farmer about seven miles away from my home. Growing up, I loved spending time with the dairy cattle, horses, donkeys, pigs, goats, rabbits, and about every animal we could have on a farm. Now picturing the crazy Dolan Family Farm, something that has stuck with me is the passion, love, and dedication to the future of agriculture that my grandparents had. As I continue to grow from the roots that run richly in the Dolan family, I plan to continue the dreams they had. My grandpa was the first River Valley FFA President and the first to participate in the annual River Valley School Fair, which will be celebrating 58 years this year.

When I talk about my roots and about my love for agriculture, I did not know how important they were and how much they have truly impacted my life. I grew up with little knowledge of the connection between agriculture and the world of education. I felt that my experiences growing up with an agriculture background had not interested my friends, community members, and teachers. Therefore, I spoke little about it and did not know the opportunities that had been available.

My roots got me involved in FFA. They sparked my passion for education and creating opportunities for students who may have never thought about being involved in the FFA organization or agriculture. Just as students exhibited projects at the River Valley School Fair 58 years ago with my grandpa, today I have the opportunity to learn with students as they work with their projects for the school fair. In reflection on my roots, I have dug deep into learning more about who I am as a person, leader, and a student and how that will be utilized to grow.

This year, Wisconsin FFA has dug deep to their roots in so many amazing ways to accomplish the goals, the dreams, and passions. Dig deeper, find your roots, and grow like crazy this year. Work on being a positive impact in your chapter as you achieve chapter and personal goals. Reach out to another student who may not know about FFA, reach out to FFA members who may not know what opportunities they can be a part of, and most of all grow as an individual through every opportunity that FFA has to offer.

Wisconsin FFA, when you look back on your roots, know that your family, friends, advisors, chapter, foundation, alumni, and Wisconsin FFA Association will always help you grow. Please let me know if you need anything to help you grow and reach your goals this year. You can reach me anytime at mhillebrand@wisconsinffa.org or by phone (608) 459-0742. I can’t wait to work with Wisconsin FFA members this year!

Have a great school year!
-Mia Hillebrand
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