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FFA Officers: Travel Blog

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Time Flies When You Have Fun!
Oct. 30, 2021
Isaac Hopke - Secretary
Spooner FFA Chapter
Section 1

We cried, we laughed, we sang, we yelled. Back and better than ever the 94th National FFA Convention was one for the history books. Not only did it have an attendance of about 60,000 members and guests, it also involved a hybrid aspect that thousands of members and guests watched from around the nation. During this event we attended all of the sessions where we cheered on our award winners and listened to retiring addresses from the national officers, walked through the expo and shopping mall, and met FFA members from all over the United States. It was definitely an experience of a lifetime, and it was gone too soon.

That week down in Indianapolis flew by. It felt like we weren't even there, but there at the same time. It was such a rich and fun experience. As I’ve reflected on the week it has made me realize a few things.

1. Time is precious. We don’t have all the time in the world to do what we want. Also we don’t have all the time in the world to be with the people we love. We must embrace and enjoy the time we have now with the people we have now. Remember, the time is now.

2. All experiences are not the same. Although you may attend the same session or read the same book, not every experience is going to be the same. Everyone has a different perspective which results in different opinions and experiences.

3. Remember to have fun. Even though it felt like we were moving around all the time, barely sleeping, and scrambling to find food. We still had fun the whole time because why wouldn’t you? Enjoying the experience is the best part of it all.

All in all the 94th National FFA Convention and Expo was amazing! I wouldn’t trade the experience for the world. Time definitely flies when you’re having fun!

Do you have any questions about the National FFA Convention? Are you excited for upcoming events? Feel free to contact me at kzimmer@wisconsinffa.org.

Yours Truly,
Katie Zimmer
Back and Better Than Ever
Oct. 27, 2021
Casey Denk - President
Mondovi FFA Chapter
President

From Alaska to the Virgin Islands and Maine to Hawaii, FFA members are flocking to Indianapolis for one of the most important agricultural events of the year. Filled with blue corduroy, enthusiastic students, and the occasional electric scooter, it is time for the 94th NATIONAL FFA CONVENTION AND EXPO! Between the infamous sea of blue that is so clearly seen at our National Convention, delicious Culver’s custard readily available in the expo hall, connections formed between members, excellence displayed by competitors, conversations had in passing, and memories made from this great event, the week of our National FFA Convention and Expo is without a doubt one of my most favorite weeks of the year.

And this year? Well, it is proving to be no exception! My teammates and I, accompanied by our wonderful national delegates, boarded a bus en route to Indianapolis in the early hours of the morning on Monday. We were fortunate enough to share the bus with fellow Wisconsinites from the Spencer, Edgerton, and Shullsburg FFA chapters. After one short stop at the Albanese Candy factory and another at a mall food court, we arrived in Indianapolis before we knew it!

Throughout Monday evening, Tuesday, and Wednesday, us Wisconsin delegates would go on to have delegate sessions, delegate committee meetings, and other large group meetings in preparation for our upcoming delegate business session the next day. For some of the delegates from other states, it is their first time attending our National FFA Convention and Expo. For some, like myself, this is our fourth or fifth time being part of the sea of blue in Indianapolis. However, for all 475 of us representing the more than 735,000 FFA members throughout our organization, we are all extremely grateful to be here.

It has been about two years since the most recent in-person National FFA Convention and Expo, so being able to set foot in the Indiana Convention Center, participate in delegate work with many of the same members I met in Washington D.C. just a couple months ago at the State Officer Summit, and hear the ever-so-sweet roar of thousands of FFA members has been absolutely incredible.

Last year, the incredible team of National FFA Officers and staff did everything they could to make the most of a virtual national convention. After being back for this event in-person though, it is clear the pure joy experienced was something we all needed. Being back together made me further realize how fortunate we are to have in-person FFA events, and I sure hope in-person events continue to take place for many years to come. This year, we are back and better than ever at the 94th National FFA Convention and Expo because we are more grateful for the event than ever before. Make the most of this experience and fully enjoy each aspect of our National FFA Convention!

Take some neat convention photos with my teammates and/or me or have any questions to chat about? Feel free to send them to me or shoot me an email @bstyer@wisconsinffa.org.

Best,
Ben Styer
Keep On Swinging
Oct. 20, 2021
Evan Mennen - Parliamentarian
Bay Port FFA Chapter
Section 9

These crisp fall days are known for a few things: picking apples, visiting a pumpkin patch, harvest season, goose hunting, leaves changing colors, and last but certainly not least, “Friday Night Lights.” As my teammates and I have trekked across the state during Fall Leadership Workshops (FLWs), we headed back home after each week’s FLWs to take time to unpack, relax, then repack.

On one of these weekends, I decided to attend my home school’s Homecoming football game. It was a great feeling to be back home and catch up with some friends I went to high school with, however that isn’t what stood out to me most. What I noticed was the football team’s motto for the year: “Pound the Rock.” I thought to myself, “what does ‘pound the rock’ have to do with football? Surely it can’t mean they literally swing at a rock, right?”

It turns out team members do take swings at a rock on their practice field; however that isn’t the point of their motto. It’s more metaphorical to them– everything leading up to now has helped them get to where they are. The first 99 swings at the rock, but if on that 100th swing it breaks, the 99 before the final actually broke the rock because that was the behind-the-scenes work for the rock to break.

Almost everyone sees the 100th swing as the only successful one. But in reality, the 100th is just a symbol that shows with work, we can succeed. Each swing got us closer to our goal– it may not have seemed successful, but it was a small accomplishment helping us towards our more significant achievements.

Pause to think about where you are right now; this can be within the FFA, a sports team you play on, a goal you have, etc. Who are those people and what have you done to get to your 99th swing and eventually the 100th? Whether you realize it or not, there have been many people and things that have helped you get to where you are today.

Take for example the soccer team that I was part of in high school, my role wasn’t out on the field but I did my part by refilling water bottles, handing out snacks, warming up players, catching stray soccer balls, and ensuring that the stats book was very accurate. Girls soccer had never won a state championship, conference title, or even made it beyond the second playoff game but they kept taking swings at their rock. As a freshman soccer manager, we did well but only made it to the first playoff game and the first regional, the following year the team they competed at the second regional playoff game; however that wasn’t their 100th swing. Finally, my senior year of high school came, from freshman to senior year there was only one player that remained. It might sound like this team was not destined to make history, but they worked hard, tried new things, got help when they needed it, and took their 100th swing. They received their first piece of hardware for the trophy case at the end of the season: the regional championship plaque. The previous seasons all added up to make this year their 100th swing.

Wisconsin FFA, you must keep on swinging at your rock even if you are only at your first swing because success takes work and the time is now to put in that work to get to the result you want. So I challenge you to keep on swinging and break your rock with the first 99 swings and realize what you have accomplished with the 100th!

If you ever need anything, please don’t hesitate to contact my teammates or me with your questions; you can reach me at lvogel@wisconsinffa.org or (920) 676-7717.

Keep on swinging,
Lashawna Vogel
Home Sweet Home
Oct. 16, 2021
Cole Hicken - Treasurer
Waupun FFA Chapter
Section 6

The past 3 weeks the state officer team has traveled over 1,000 miles from one corner of the state to the other. From industry tours to meeting members from across the state, Fall Leadership Workshops were a great success. So many memories were made and we wouldn’t trade these past few weeks on the road for anything.

A lot of people tell us “it's got to feel good to go home” and yes it's always great to get home to see family and friends, but home is where you make it. Being around amazing teammates and awesome FFA members makes the time away worth it.

When I arrived home I was greeted by one happy dog that wouldn’t leave my side, but he wasn’t much help unloading the car. I moved all of my belongings back into the house and proceeded to unpack and organize everything from the past 3 weeks. As I’m shuffling through my things I am reminded of all the amazing memories we had throughout FLWs such as all the tours we attended and the connections we made.

During our travels we got to stay at cabins, in hotels, and my personal favorite, with host families. Staying with host families was a great change up from the typical hotel stay. We were able to get to know and make connections with so many great families and the home cooked meals were also a great touch. They take you in and make you feel like part of the family even if it is only for one night.

Their hospitality and kindness makes me so grateful for the FFA organization. We have so many wonderful supporters that are willing to open their home for us and make us feel welcome. Home is where you make it and as long as you have people by your side that are willing to help and support, it makes it really easy to find home in any situation.

Walking into 9 unfamiliar schools feels like walking through a maze blindfolded, but once we get to the ag room everything seems to fall into place. Just like in our own chapters our ag room always seems to be home. It’s where many of us experience our highest of highs and our lowest of lows. Walking into an ag room brings a calming sense even if we are still 100 miles from home.

Our organization is so special in the sense that everywhere we go is a little different but our goals and aspirations to promote and teach agriculture are the same. Everywhere we go we are welcomed and we can only credit that reputation to the members that came before us. Home is where we make it and home is where the blue and gold flows. Surround yourself with people that support and welcome you and you will always be home.

My team and I are always here to help with whatever you need whether that is with an application or even finding your “home” within the FFA. Feel free to reach out at edahlke@wisconsinffa.org or (608)-369-0594. Travel, make memories, and find home anywhere.

Adventure is out there,
Emily Dahlke
Memories at Every Mile Traveled
Oct. 09, 2021
Jeremiah Ihm - Vice President
Lancaster FFA Chapter
Section 4

Memories at Every Mile Traveled

It is already October! My favorite time of the year, as I am sure it is many of yours too. Where the weather is just the perfect temperature and warm hot chocolate comes out of hibernation. During this time Wisconsin FFA members get to travel and prepare for various FFA events such as Fall Leadership Workshops that are held all over across the state. We can’t forget about the 94th National FFA Convention coming up in a few short weeks.

Traveling to FFA events has always been one of my favorite things as an FFA member, where we all hop into a small van or large bus, packed pretty full, to go to agriculture days, workshops, or farm tours. The time traveling to and from had always made the best memories. From playing loud songs such as International Harvester to begging your FFA Advisor to stop at the superior Kwik Trip or Culvers while traveling to events. The miles traveled to the events had always been the best memories as we had been so excited to attend and come home to share what we had learned.

State officers also have traveled many miles this Fall as we have been to seven schools putting on Fall Leadership workshops. As we traveled to the many schools across the state we also had opportunities to do industry visits learning about what Wisconsin Agriculture has to offer all over the state. We also had a chance to spend a day at FFA Day at the World Dairy Expo in Madison. We have a couple more workshops and the 94th National FFA Convention coming up to make more memories along with FFA members.

As we travel and make memories at each FFA event this year, make sure we thank all the volunteers, FFA Advisors, FFA Alumni and Supporters, and fellow FFA members who helped prepare and travel with you to the many events this year. FFA is an amazing organization that has so many people willing to help members learn and excel. Writing a note, letter, or simply saying thank you can go a long way for the many people who want each student to reach every goal.

With every mile traveled we have a memory through the FFA, share your memories and encourage those around you to experience the travel of an FFA member. You can reach me anytime via email at mhillebrand@wisconsinffa.org, or by phone at (608)459-0742. I am so excited to make memories with you this year.

Happy Fall,

Mia Hillebrand
To Ginseng and Beyond
Oct. 06, 2021
Kendra Goplin - Reporter
Whitehall FFA Chapter
Section 3

Well here we are in the midst of fall! I have never seen leaves more colorful and people more excited about pumpkin spice. Additionally, fall for the state officers and I has meant Fall Leadership Workshops. Right now we have five completed and five more to go.

Last Thursday, we ended our week in Denmark. Being that it was a trek back to my home on the far west side of the state, some of my teammates and I decided to stay the weekend and take the opportunity to see the beautiful eastern region of Wisconsin.

One of the stops we made was at the Farm Wisconsin Discovery Center in Manitowoc, WI. We had previously worked with Farm Wisconsin at the State Fair, so we wanted to stop by and see what they were really about. Boy, were we impressed!

We learned about almost everything in Wisconsin’s agriculture industry, from mink, to cranberries, to ginseng, and beyond, and to top it off we ended the day with good ole’ Cedar Crest ice cream.

Farm Wisconsin puts agriculture literacy lessons into action. Anyone from anywhere can come into the discovery center and learn more about where their food comes from. As agriculture advocates ourselves in the FFA organization, we can appreciate the mission of Farm Wisconsin. It is a true inspiration that the farming community in Manitowoc has been able to come together to narrow the disconnect between agriculture and the consumer.

As FFA members, let’s strive to do the same. Let’s work with diligence whenever we can to narrow the disconnect, whether that be through agriculture advocacy or literacy. Don’t be afraid to share your story on social media, help out with your chapters Food For America project, or center yourself in an Agriculture Education SAE.

Agriculture depends on people like us involved in FFA, agriculture, or Farm Wisconsin to narrow this disconnect. You can reach out to me anytime via email at alivingston@wisconsinffa.org, or by phone at (608)863-3990. I can’t wait to see how we become the agriculture advocates possible.

See you around,

Amara Livingston
Seize Every Moment
Oct. 01, 2021
Heidi Strey - Vice President
Osseo-Fairchild FFA Chapter
Section 2

As summer fades away and we roll into fall, our schedules don’t seem to get any slower. Farmers are getting ready to harvest their crops, Friday night football games are in full swing, and the leaves are finally turning color. All of this means one thing: it is the perfect time for FFA Open Houses.

Amara and I had the opportunity to travel to my home chapter, Mondovi, for their open house. We chatted with the chapter officers, ate a delicious meal complete with root beer floats, and talked with some alumni members. Once the evening approached, it was time for the activities, and anyone who knows Amara and I knows that nothing gets us more fired up than games and some friendly competition!

At Mondovi’s open house, the game of the night was cornhole. Quite honestly, cornhole is surely not our strong suit. We are more of the card game type of people, but we never turn down an opportunity for good clean competition. We started the night with a quick warm-up round against some of the Mondovi FFA members. Not to our surprise, we lost. All the skills I thought I gained in college participating in the cornhole intramural contest were nonexistent. I’ll be the first to admit our performance was not pretty. The final score was 21-3, but we were still adamant about competing in the evening tournament. When the tournament started, we stepped up to the challenge. Surprisingly, we beat the first team and couldn’t be happier. Next, we moved on to the second round of competition…not only to your surprise but also ours we won this game too. At this point, we couldn’t believe our eyes. We were moving on to the championship round. Quickly, we regrouped and decided that if we made it this far, we had to finish strong. During the final game, we were behind to start but pulled it together and ended up winning the championship.

Looking back on this event, I cannot help but think how the outcome could have been different. If Amara and I didn’t have an open mindset and were willing to try something outside of our comfort zone we wouldn’t have competed in the event. If we didn’t compete in this event, we wouldn’t have been able to create new memories or be able to engage in friendly competition with the Mondovi FFA members. Looking back on this epic cornhole competition, I realized the importance of trying new things. This year, I encourage everyone to get out of their comfort zone not only within the FFA organization but also in all aspects of life. Try out for a new sport, join a new club in school, go build new relationships with your peers, or try out for your school musical. Most importantly, keep an open mindset and positive outlook during all the different opportunities you encounter this year.

I am so excited to hear all your stories about trying new things this year. Throughout the year, feel free to reach out to me by phone at (715)-495-2899 or via email at cdenk@wisconsinffa.org. I am looking forward to seeing many of you at the upcoming FFA events!

Seize every moment,
Casey J. Denk
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