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FFA Officers: Travel Blog

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Valuing Tradition and Change
Nov. 27, 2021
Casey Denk - President
Mondovi FFA Chapter

Thanksgiving has come and gone, the deer hunting season is drawing to a close, and Christmas music is making its debut on nearly every radio station. It is safe to say “it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas!”

While I thoroughly enjoyed Thanksgiving festivities with my family, especially stuffing my face full of pie, I am quite excited for the Christmas season. In fact, today my family and I took our annual trip to Pleasant Valley Tree Farm to pick out our Christmas tree. Like every year, we arrived at the tree farm, enjoyed a wagon ride to the balsam firs, and scoured the area to find the perfect tree: tall, wide, void of gaps, symmetrical, and having a prominent top branch. Once we identify THE tree, it is time to cut it down with a hand saw before dragging the tree back to the wagon and riding back to the main lot. Here, the tree is trimmed and wrapped before being set on our vehicle. Then comes one of my favorite parts - eating popcorn and sipping on apple cider before heading home to decorate!

It is probably pretty clear that the process of getting our Christmas tree at the Styer household is down to a science. The tradition of getting a Christmas tree is one I am certainly fond of and look forward to every year. This year, however, the tradition had an addition. My sister and her husband who now live out of state joined us as we selected our tree. For my brother-in-law, this was his first time ever buying a live Christmas tree. Nonetheless, he did not skip a beat and seemed to enjoy the experience. This addition of a new family member to find our Christmas tree combines tradition and change to create progress.

As FFA members, we are in an organization founded on traditions. Some of these traditions include meeting annually for our National FFA Convention, putting on the good ol’ blue corduroy as part of our official dress, participating in community service activities, and likely celebrating our chapter’s successes at an awards banquet. At the same time, our organization is better because of change. The creation of FFA Alumni & Supporters, merging of FFA with NFA, allowance of females into the organization, and adoption of affiliated chapter dues all have made FFA better for the future. After all, I would be a team of one if it were not for female FFA members!

In all seriousness though, this year is very unique in the fact that we are continuing to strengthen the organization in a post-pandemic world. After a year of new methods and change in FFA as the result of COVID-19, this year we have the opportunity to redesign the organization moving forward, and this welcomes tough questions. To what extent do we incorporate virtual components into FFA events? Can we improve an event with what we have learned over the last 20 months? What does true progress look like?

While I am constantly learning about what is best for FFA moving forward, I may never know to what extent we should generate change. However, in the wise words of our 2020-2021 National FFA Eastern Region Vice President Miriam Hoffman in her retiring address, “Choose to make change that honors tradition.”

Creating progress, whether in the FFA organization or in our Christmas preparations is a complex task without a clear answer. Taking one step at a time and remembering the value in both change and tradition can guide us in that process.

I am here anytime to shoot the breeze or help out, so please reach out at or (715)505-8900. May you and your loved ones have a Merry Christmas and enjoy whatever traditions or changes are in store this season!

Ben Styer
Be Happy, Be Sad, Be Grateful
Nov. 20, 2021
Evan Mennen - Parliamentarian
Bay Port FFA Chapter
Section 9

Everything can change in the blink of an eye. What does this mean? No matter the situation, might it be good or bad, nothing should be expected, and it can always change. For example, I might have something planned for one week, but it doesn’t quite work out, so it changes. Or maybe there is a job, role in a musical, an award, honor, or position on a sports team that you have dreamed of for YEARS, you never thought it was possible, but you were able to pull it off.

For me, one of these happy moments happened about a month ago in Indianapolis: I was standing on stage at the 94th National FFA Convention & Expo with three other finalists standing to my left and my FFA advisor directly behind me. They congratulated each of us finalists, and we received our national finalist pins– the following announcement would be who the national winner was. Then, the announcer says, “...and your national winner in the area of agricultural communications is (pause) Las….” That was all I heard. After a quick blink of an eye, I was center stage, and another blink, I was being taken backstage for interviews along with the other national winners. It’s so crazy to think how a matter of moments can change so quickly.

Now for one more crazy moment, this time, it wasn’t so happy. After the final week of Fall Leadership Workshops, I was headed home from the Cochrane-Fountain City area, and I decided to stop at Chick-fil-A for a delicious lunch. About 45 minutes later, I had arrived home, and my mom and dog, Buddy, who were beyond excited to see me, greeted me with smiles stretching ear to ear. There was one who I hadn’t seen yet, but I didn’t think anything of it because it was pretty typical of them to hide from me. I ate my lunch, and after I went looking for my cat, Tink, when I found him, my heart sank, tears began rolling down my face, and I started shaking. I called for my mom; she was in total shock as well. One of my best friends was gone so quickly after only ten short years. Saddened by what had happened, I began to reflect on my time spent with Tink: there were goofy, serious, and happy moments, but I can’t forget the moments where I just needed a hug, and Tink was just the one for the job.

Both stories have different emotions tied to them, one happy and one sad, but in both: I was grateful. I was smiling so much when I was on stage at the National FFA Convention; I didn’t know if it would be possible to pull my face out of a smile because I was so lucky to have received this award. But after seeing that my cat had passed away, I couldn’t stop reflecting on the memories and being thankful for them. Not every situation will be perfect nor even the slightest bit ideal, but we have the power to overlook it all and just be grateful. We are in the season of being grateful for everything, with Thanksgiving approaching quickly. Whatever you do, don’t let this be the only time of the year where you are grateful for what you have and what you’ve had.

As I visit new chapters each day, being welcomed with open arms and hearts by kind students and kind advisors, I am reminded of just how grateful I am for those individuals. I was able to get a picture with three of these students, and they were beyond excited about FFA and about meeting a state FFA officer. So on the second day of their chapter visit, one of those students I met the day before saw me again, and I saw his eyes light up as he ran to me to give me a big hug. At that moment, I was grateful that I had the opportunity to meet new FFA members each day.

Wisconsin FFA, we must be grateful for everything and be kind, respectful, and caring towards each other because we do not know what is going on in the lives of others, and they might need something to help them be grateful. So if you ever just need help or even a listening ear, reach out to me at (920) 676-7717 or!

Lashawna Vogel
Pitbull Knows Best
Nov. 17, 2021
Cole Hicken - Treasurer
Waupun FFA Chapter
Section 6

And just like that chapter visits are in full swing. There’s just nothing like the feeling of putting on an official dress at 5 in the morning, heading out with a bubbl’r and cheese stick at hand, and jamming to some Kanye or Zach Bryan all the way to my destination. Wait, you don’t start your day EXACTLY like this?! Weird... or maybe I’m weird… Anyways no matter how you start your day we all have unique ways of getting ready for our big days ahead of us.

One thing I have learned throughout state office is how important it is to have a routine to make the most out of every day. I’m not saying that everyday has to be exactly the same because we all know how important it is to shake things up sometimes, but that first hour of your day can make or break the rest of your day. Think about your morning, your alarm goes off, what do you do? Hit snooze or roll out at the time that was intended? You could start your day off late and be rushed or you could be on schedule and take your day one step at a time. It’s all a choice.

As part of my chapter visits with older members we talk about how to use time productively and effectively. I give them $86,400 to spend and many can spend it very quickly and say that they need some more. Some use it in productive ways and others spend it on arbitrary things. We only have 86,400 seconds everyday and some wish we could get more to get everything we want accomplished. Use every second responsibly because time flies and it will be gone before you know it. Use that time to progress, achieve, grow, and succeed. Even if it is small steps at a time any progress is good progress.

I understand that some days it is hard to make that jump out of bed especially now that we are approaching winter, but keeping a routine and having something to do or look forward to everyday helps. Taking a shower, getting ready (even if you are staying in), listening to that hype playlist and making lists to help stay focused helps a bunch to make your day feel productive.

Find a routine that works for you and run with it. Try things and then try new things until you find a routine that works for you. Get hyped for everyday because we all have a place on this earth and we all have a reason to be here. From the wise words of Mr. Worldwide himself “Every day above ground is a great day, remember that.”

If you ever need anything feel free to reach out! My inbox is always open, 608-369-0594 or

Wake up and be awesome,

Emily Dahlke
Time To Fuel Up
Nov. 13, 2021
Rhylie Gough - Vice President
Albany FFA Chapter
Section 5

One of the craziest things I have experienced thus far into this journey of being a state FFA officer is the amount of miles I have traveled. Before I was elected I mostly stayed on the farm and helped with normal farm chores and milked cows. The only traveling I did was our many trips to Culver's for food when all the work was done. With the miles I have traveled I have been to and seen things just here in our home of Wisconsin that I have never experienced or seen in my life yet, until now. From the beautiful Bluffs by the Mississippi River in Fountain city, or to the lush forests of the northern woods, and I can’t forget the gorgeous leaves of the fall colors all around.

One venture I had the privilege to embark on was heading to southeast Wisconsin to the town of East Troy. There I was invited to their Packer Chili Dinner as a Fundraiser for the Alumni, and it was an absolute blast! Seeing a community come together and enjoy the company and support for an organization we all love. While watching a game that wasn’t the best (Packers lost to the Chief's) but it still showed me how much I enjoy the environment the FFA creates.

After my teammate Sydney Bender and I helped clean up the area and make sure they didn’t need additional help, we headed out on the road to make our ways back home. I happened to notice that my fuel tank was running low and I would have to make a tad detour to a near gas station to fill my gas tank back up. So I decided to stop at the near town of Milton at a kwik trip I had been to before after a Chapter visit. I filled up my gas rank and headed inside to pay. I grabbed out my Debit card and my heart sank when I read the words DECLINED at the cash register. I ended up not having enough money either. Luckily a kind Woman named Beth who was checking me out ending up paying for my gas all together.

See Beth didn't have to do that. But prior to seeing my card was declined and thought life was going to come crashing down, I had a wonderful conversation about FFA and what I do because she has noticed my jacket I had on the the well known emblem displayed on the front and struck up the conversation. She also knew someone that had been a past State FFA officer and appreciated the work we do.

Life works in the most mysterious ways and people come to play in times when we least expect it. Because of well known work in the FFA people see what we do and we impact so many lives with the service we contribute and the leadership we endure. You just never know when someone will step in when you need help the most, because of the things you do.

So FFA members, alumni, or whoever may read this remember what you do within this organization, people see that and who knows one day someone may fill your tank when you need it the most. If you have a story similarly I would love to hear it and can contact me or at (608)422-0649.

Wishing you the best always,
Aubrey Schlimgen
Stay Humble, Kind, and Thankful
Nov. 10, 2021
Jeremiah Ihm - Vice President
Lancaster FFA Chapter
Section 4

November frosty morning is one of my favorite ways to wake up while traveling to school, FFA events, and work. Breathing in that crisp cold air is what gets me excited for the season that I look forward to each year, the season of being humble, kind, and thankful.

As we approach the season of giving, stay humble. We as FFA members are living to serve those in need. We are servant leaders to strengthen our communities as we are the industry that provides food, clothing, and shelter to many. Stay humble and just, as we continue to serve not only in this season but throughout the year.

Choose to be kind always. One thing that I have found no matter what FFA event, chapter visit, or state I go to, kindness goes a long way. As you shift into the season of crisp cold air, as I am sure many do not like the cold, remember to always be kind because we do not always know what may be happening in our teammates, friends, teachers, or acquaintances' lives. Choose to be kind even if it is a simple good morning, a hello, or small words of encouragement.

I am very thankful to be a part of an organization that not only advocates for agriculture but for personal growth, friendships, community, and family. FFA members this year have many things to be thankful for as we are able to meet in person once again as we were able to attend state convention, workshops, chapter events, and national convention. Continue to be thankful for each and every moment in the blue corduroy jacket as this organization truly touches each heart with pride, love, and passion.

Wisconsin FFA members stay humble, kind, and thankful throughout this year. We are servant leaders to our communities and those who look to us. Continue your hard work this year as all of you are doing amazing things.

Always feel free to contact me if you have any questions or need a listening ear; or (608) 459-0742.

Stay kind,
Mia Hillebrand
The Good, The Bad, The Uglies
Nov. 09, 2021
Kendra Goplin - Reporter
Whitehall FFA Chapter
Section 3

It was an absolute pleasure to serve as a National Delegate at the 94th National FFA Convention, and, the best part, sit on the floor for all the sessions! It brought so many smiles to my face to see all of Wisconsin’s accomplishments: three proficiency winners, national band and choir members, American Degree recipients, and so much more. Although all these memories I will hold near and dear to my heart, I know I will never forget the closing session of the 94th National Convention, specifically the last 30 minutes.

You see, what happens in the last 30 minutes is the election of the new National FFA Officer Team, the six individuals that will come together to serve every state and we will see back in Indy exactly one year from that moment. We hear the infamous “Chicago Bulls’ Theme” begin to play. In a few short seconds we hear, “You’re Central Region Vice President, from the state of Wis…” That’s all we needed to hear to know that Wisconsin’s own Cortney Zimmerman had just been elected to National Office! Every single one of the state officers and I broke into tears of joy and excitement.

This past Saturday, Wisconsin FFA welcomed Cortney home to Spencer High School. A few of the state officers and I had the pleasure to attend this one of a kind celebration. They conducted a short program and Cortney did a live interview in which one of her stand out statements was, “The [National Officer Election] process requires you to know you: the good, the bad, the uglies...everything.”

It requires you to know you. For many of us, this concept is easier said than done, but that’s where FFA comes into play.

Think of the second phrase of the FFA Mission, “Personal Growth.” This concept of knowing yourself is exactly that and FFA helps us get there. You see, with all the FFA conferences, conventions, and events, we have this opportunity to strengthen our skills and better know exactly who we are and what we stand for.

This next weekend I will be heading to Mission/Impact Conference with my teammates. At the Mission Conference, over 800 other FFA members, my teammates, and I will be identifying our values and strengths, building self-confidence, and developing our own personal mission statement.

This is personal growth in action and I challenge you to take part. If not the Mission Conference, then take part in another conference, convention, or event down the road. Will you be brave enough to know you; the good, the bad, the uglies... everything? For information on how you can get involved or any other questions, please contact me at or at 608-863-3990.

Be brave,

Amara Livingston
Lifelong Organization
Nov. 08, 2021
Heidi Strey - Vice President
Osseo-Fairchild FFA Chapter
Section 2

Looking back and reminiscing on my time in Indianapolis at the National FFA Convention, there are a few things that stand out to me. The long bus ride spent watching movies and eating snacks, cruising the career expo searching for Culver’s custard, catching up with good friends, and listening to the national officers retiring addresses were all fantastic but nothing competes with the initial site of the colossal sea of blue jackets. Over 60,000 FFA members and guests from around the nation gather in Indianapolis to celebrate their passion for the FFA organization and agriculture industry. That’s a sight I will never forget. I am proud to have been a part of that sea of blue during five conventions throughout my FFA career.

This past convention will definitely go down as one of the most memorable. Serving as a national delegate, traveling to Indianapolis with my fellow teammates, participating in the presession dance parties, and receiving my American FFA degree all helped me create memories and make friendships that will last a lifetime. I could not think of a better way to spend my last National Convention in the honored blue corduroy.

Receiving my American FFA Degree and being able to wear my degree key has been a dream of mine since the beginning of my FFA career. I always saw it as an end goal, something to strive towards to help mark the grand finale of my FFA career. After receiving my degree and attending the 94th FFA Convention, I realized this is not the case. Receiving your American FFA Degree might mark the end of your time in the blue corduroy but doesn’t have to terminate your time supporting and growing from the FFA organization.

While buying some time waiting for Wisconsin to walk across the stage, members had the opportunity to converse. One common theme I noticed while getting to chat with a multitude of members receiving their degree was their drive to continue supporting the FFA organization. They talked to me about how they have stayed involved during their year of college, how they are planning to join their local alumni chapter, and their favorite memories from their years in FFA. From these conversations, I quickly realized our membership has really only just begun. Now, we are given the chance to become alumni members and help support the organization that helped shape us into the agriculture advocates, leaders, and people we are today. What will be the next step in your FFA journey?

If you ever need anything or have any questions about completing a degree application or upcoming events don’t hesitate to contact my teammates or me! Feel free to contact me via email at or by phone at (715)-495-2899.

Take the next step,

Casey J. Denk

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