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FFA Officers: Travel Blog

December Archives

Chasing Banners
Dec. 29, 2021
Sydney Bender - Vice President
Big Foot FFA Chapter
Section 10

Hello Wisconsin FFA! Can you believe that in less than four days, we will be jumping into the year 2022? It feels like just yesterday we were anticipating the start of 2021. As the year comes to an end, I take the time to reflect on what has made this one by far the most memorable. Some of these moments included working in the Walworth County Grill n' Chill, where I meet Riley, from the Elkhorn FFA, who aspires to help those around her in any way she can. Or while conducting a chapter visit at Union Grove was able to meet Natalie, whose unconditional love for a class tortoise remains quite fascinating. All of these moments from meeting members from across the state to experiencing some of life's greatest adventures have been what I call the banner moments of 2021.

Now "Chasing banners" is a term used widely throughout the livestock world. "Chasing banners" is when you are working towards the goal of receiving a banner at a livestock show that reads “Grand or Reserve Champion”. These banners not only recognize structural sound animals in the ring but also acknowledge the dedication of the showmen. The early mornings and late nights spent in the barn, making time to work with your animal and going out in the middle of winter or heat of a July afternoon to check on them has all paid off. Achieving that goal of that banner and being able to hang it up with pride is what chasing banners are all about.

Now chasing banners does not only have to be used when talking about livestock. Every day we have the opportunity to go out and chase banner moments. These banner moments are spent after school laughing with our officer team and advisor or just going bowling with some of your greatest friends. Those moments are the banners in life, ones we can look back on and smile.

Wisconsin FFA, as we look towards a new year I challenge you to go and make those banner moments. Find who and what makes you happy, and spend as much time as you can laughing, smiling, and enjoying the year 2022! And remember to keep chasing banners.

If you need anything throughout the year, feel free to reach out to me at my email, sbender@wisconsinffa.org, or my cell phone (262) 745-8280.

Always Chasing,
Sydney

Success Is Possible
Dec. 22, 2021
Lashawna Vogel - Reporter
Denmark FFA Chapter
Section 9

There is only one place you will find the word “success” before the word “work,” which is in the dictionary. I wish it were as easy as a snap of your fingers and then SUCCESS, but unfortunately, it doesn’t work no matter how many times you snap your fingers. When I was in 8th grade, I was able to talk with a state FFA officer for the first time. I thought this was one of the best things ever, and I am still grateful for this interaction to this day. I might not quite remember what was said or the activities we did, but it was at that moment I knew I wanted to serve Wisconsin FFA. This thought took the backburner as I completed middle school, but I kept working toward more experience in FFA. Finally, as I reached high school, this idea I had once set to the side seemed to be possible, and realizing this, I worked even harder so I could fulfill my dream. I didn’t focus on the big picture the entire time, which allowed the goal at hand to appear more achievable.

Do you have a goal for yourself? Is it one that seems like you won’t be able to accomplish it? Don’t give up on it because it seems impossible; keep going after it because success is possible with a little hard work. For example, if your goal is to be the state winner of the Employment Skills Leadership Development Event, that’s great, but to get there, you need to be willing to put in some extra time and effort into practicing. Let’s jump back into my story; my senior year of high school came along, and I had officially decided I wanted to run for state office, so I filled out the application, wrote my candidate’s statement, and updated my resume. After submitting these materials, I began practicing for interviews and learning even more about FFA to prepare myself. The steps between creating your goal or the initial thought of your idea and achieving your goal aren’t always the most fun, but when it’s something you know you want, it makes you that much more determined to keep working hard.

When you are working at accomplishing your goal, always have the end in sight, so you remember what exactly it is that you are working towards. Take it from Sophocles, an ancient Greek playwright, “Success is dependent on effort.” Even in the days of ancient Greeks, they knew that success is possible only if you work for it. After working hard, I am now reflecting on a moment that happened about six months ago. Six months seems like a very long time, but that is the length of time my teammates and I have been serving Wisconsin FFA. It seems like just yesterday I heard the 2020-2021 Wisconsin FFA President, Joe Schlies, call my name along with my fellow teammates. Serving Wisconsin FFA has been a very rewarding experience because I have lived out one of my dreams.

Wisconsin FFA, chase your ideas, dreams, and goals but don’t be afraid to work hard to achieve it because your success is possible! Reach out to me at lvogel@wisconsinffa.org or (920)676-7717 if you ever need anything, have a question, or would like to talk to someone!

It’s possible,

Lashawna Vogel
I Just Like To Smile
Dec. 18, 2021
Emily Dahlke - Treasurer
Adams-Friendship FFA Chapter
Section 6

We have had a whole month, or some of us longer than a month, to sing those notorious songs, eat delicious treats, and watch some of the best movies ever created all in preparation for one special day of giving.

Christmas is one week away and I certainly can’t wrap my head around the fact that that means 2021 is coming to a close. This truly has been a year to remember from new friendships to new opportunities, and I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way. Speaking of Christmas, it is my favorite time of year! From December 1st to December 25th you could just about call me Buddy the Elf because I’m treating everyday like Christmas. From the decorations to picking out gifts I love every second of it and you’ll always catch me with a smile on my face because smiling is my favorite.

Smiling: noun. A facial expression characterized by turning up the corners of the mouth; usually showing amusement or happiness. Now I love smiling, but if you ask my teammates I love to make other people smile even more. Since we are almost to winter break I figured you needed something new to study, so here are some facts…

1. Smiling is more contagious than the flu! It can't be resisted.
2. It's easier to smile than it is to frown.
3. Smiling boost's your immune system.
4. There are 19 different types of smiles.
5. Smiling uses 43 muscles.
6. Humans can detect smiles from more than 300 feet away!
7. Smiling is a form of exercise! Work those facial muscles!
8. 47% of people notice your smile first.
9. Smiling helps you live longer.
10. Around 50% of people will smile back if you smile at them.

What makes you smile? Hanging out with friends, playing a game, cracking a joke? Whatever it is that makes you smile, hold on to it. Whenever you are in a pinch and feel like you haven't smiled in ages, pull that thing out of your pocket and let that smile come on naturally. Light up the room and maybe your smile is just what someone else needed to see. While traveling around to different chapters, I can’t help but smile when I’m greeted with a smile. Just like the holiday season brings smiles to peoples faces, we too can be the friendly face that helps make someone else's day just a little brighter. Embrace your inner Buddy the Elf and sing in a store, travel through the seven levels of the candy cane forest, and smile because smiling is your favorite!

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

Smile,

Emily Dahlke
Come Together
Dec. 15, 2021
Aubrey Schlimgen - Sentinel
Marshall FFA Chapter
Section 5

The Wisconsin Farm Bureau Conference and Young Farmer and Agriculturist Conference took place on December 3-6th. The Wisconsin State FFA officer team had the opportunity to attend and enjoy all that we endured during that time. The State FFA officers and I also got the chance to be timekeepers during the YFA Discussion meet contests. When you first hear that it doesn’t sound like the most fun, but let me tell you we had so much fun!

We spent a good portion of our time attending workshops, discussion meets, the trade show, banquet meals, and talking to many farm bureau members and attendees. Along with being timekeepers the team enjoyed sitting in on the YFA and collegiate discussion meets where they discussed various topics such as farmers mental health, safety, recruitment, and other topics. Sitting in on those discussion meets was by far my most favorite part of the conference because hearing others take on these topics helped me learn a lot about how other farmers deal with serious issues. Along with seeing how a discussion meet plays out was super cool.

Another thing the team did was work at our very own booth that the Wisconsin FFA had at the Trade show. And we just so happened to be placed right next to the Wisconsin 4-H booth. There we got to meet 2 of the premier leaders of Wisconsin 4-H Maddie and Ben. I grew up in 4-H but found my love in the FFA organization so it was nice to have a conversation about what we both have to offer. It was also so fascinating to hear what they do to impact the future generation and how they found their place in 4-H.

I know that the 4-H and FFA have deep roots and agriculture and leadership and how they help shape individuals. But after that conversation it also helped me realize we could do a much better job at bridging that gap, because in the end both organizations are working towards the same goal.

I’m so thankful for being able to attend this conference, because I was able to see good friends, have great conversations, and have new outlooks on life thanks to all the people and experiences we got to see. Quite honestly I had never even heard of it before until I was told that we were invited.

So Wisconsin FFA members, I Challenge you this year to embrace everything that may come your way this year. Whether it's an event or a conversation. Because you never know what may come out of it in the end. And remember I’m only a conversation away and can contact me aschlimgen@wisonsinffa.org or (608)422-0649.

Happy Holidays!
Wishing you the best always
Aubrey Schlimgen
Be The Light
Dec. 11, 2021
Mia Hillebrand - Secretary
River Valley FFA Chapter
Section 4

This past week Wisconsin State FFA Officers headed back to our home in Marshfield, Wisconsin after the Young Farmers and Agriculturist Conference at the Annual Farm Bauru Conference. Half of our week we spent at Check Point 2 and preparing for all of the amazing events coming up for the next part of our year.

Aside from all the training and preparing, we as a team got to celebrate the holidays by participating in many different activities. The holiday season is my favorite time of the year as it has a special feeling especially visiting rotary lights.

The State Officer team had visited Marshfield’s Rotary Winter Wonderland located at Wildwood Zoo. As pictured, the team was all bundled up for the crazy snow that Northern Wisconsin was receiving. The feeling of lights reminded us how grateful we are to be together as a team this year.

The lights reminded me of a deeper meaning. In the song Be A Light by Thomas Rhett one line sticks out to me, “Don't hide in the dark, you were born to shine”. I was reminded of this line as I was walking through the beautiful Rotary Lights with my team. Each one of us has experienced a pretty crazy ride the past two years and is trying our best to come back from the crazy.

Just like in the rotary lights, there were many different colors, shapes, and designs throughout the show. Each FFA member is born to shine in their own way whether it be from participating in a speaking contest or organizing a service project. We come together and make the world shine brighter with all the different lights we bring.

Wisconsin FFA members remember “you were born to shine” in your best and brightest way. I am so excited to see how each FFA member shines bright in the next half of the year. I hope each of you has a great holiday season and if you have any questions or need a listening ear, you can always reach out to me at Mhillebrand@wiconsinffa.org or (608)459-0742.

Happy Holidays,

Mia Hillebrand
Catch Up Over Coffee
Dec. 08, 2021
Amara Livingston - Parliamentarian
Cochrane-Fountain City FFA Chapter
Section 3

After sending out one routine weekly update, I received a message from my high school FFA advisor that read, “Sounds like a good plan for staying on top of things. If you want to get together sometime to catch up over coffee let me know.”

I could not put into words how glad I was to hear this from my advisor. I immediately took her up on the offer and we met for breakfast the next day. Her and I chatted at the same table in the corner of the local restaurant for three hours, hashing over everything: state office, my schoolwork at the University of Minnesota, all that she was up to, what my former classmates are doing, and so much more. Even though this is a seemingly small connection, that day I needed to feel supported, and that is exactly what Ms. J was able to do for me.

The power of conversation is often underestimated. In a time where I felt sluggish and lost, Ms. J helped me through a conversation that left me feeling heard, seen, refreshed, and motivated. This conversation and many others serve a purpose to keep people connected, remind us of our value, and make us feel important.

Think of somebody in your life that may be feeling sluggish or lost...

This person that comes to mind may need us to reach out, just as Ms. J had to me. Ask yourself, “What can I do to make this person feel heard?” Maybe they need to talk over some recent events, maybe they need a good laugh, maybe they need to talk about their future, or maybe they simply want to chat. If you are like me, maybe it is all of the above. Whatever it is, be the person to touch base with those who need us.

We need to support just as much as we need others to support ourselves. Keep in mind who that person is that you can check in with. Be kind, listen, and let them know you care and you can completely change the trajectory of somebody’s day, week, month, or even year. I cannot wait to see how we can better each other with our support. You can reach out to me anytime via email at alivingston@wisconsinffa.org, or by phone at (608)863-3990.
Win Some, Lose Some
Dec. 05, 2021
Casey Denk - Vice President
Mondovi FFA Chapter
Section 2

Paul Bunyans’ axe, the one-simple thing that will make any Badger or Gopher football player, fan, or spectator cheer a little louder, celebrate a little longer, and honor their team a little more. For those of you that don’t know, every year when the Minnesota Golden Gophers and the Wisconsin Badgers go head-to-head under the lights, they aren’t just playing for an ordinary season win. They are battling for the title of the Paul Bunyan axe, a long-lasting tradition dating back to 1948.

This year's rivalry game took place on November 27th at the Huntington Bank Stadium, the Golden Gophers home territory. Minnesota and Wisconsin fans flocked the stadium ready to cheer on their home team. This was my first Big 10 football game and it was one for the books. I was there as a Wisconsin fan but somehow found myself sitting in the Minnesota student section, storming the field for the opposing team, taking in all of the Gophers chants and cheers, and cheering on Wisconsin with some of my best friends. In one way or another, these moments helped create a Saturday afternoon I will never forget. Unfortunately, Wisconsin came up short at the end of the game and lost 23-13.

While watching the game and cheering on the Badgers- one thing became evident to me- in life, you can’t always win. There will be times when we try as hard as we can and give as much effort as we think possible but will still come up short in the long run. The important thing is, even when we do come up short or feel like we aren’t making any progress, we have to keep an optimistic outlook and stay motivated for the next situation that arises. We can’t always control our outcomes, but we can control how hard we try and how much effort we give- that is what matters. Loses aren’t always bad; sometimes they can even be beneficial if we learn to use them as an opportunity to learn and grow.

Now, don’t get me wrong...I am not saying it is a good thing the Badgers lost in the border battle. I like to win as much as anybody, but just because the Badgers lost doesn’t change the fact that my friends and I had a great time cheering on the team we respect and appreciate. I am hoping to be back cheering on Wisconsin next year as they regain triumph!

If you ever need anything or just want to chat, feel free to reach out! Give me a call at 715-495-2899 or email me at cdenk@wisconsinffa.org.

See you next year Gophers,

Casey J. Denk
Perfectly Unique
Dec. 01, 2021
Katie Zimmer - Vice President
Flambeau FFA Chapter
Section 1

Throughout the month of November I had the privilege of visiting many FFA chapters throughout Section 1 to talk with them about leadership, agriculture, FFA, and more. Each place I went I was met by something that helped make each FFA chapter unique and interesting.

Some chapters had a greenhouse and some had an animal lab; some had a welding shop and some a woods shop; some had a garden and some had a hydroponics system. Along with the unique facilities each program had I was also able to learn about unique events each chapter participates in. Some things I learned about were the Tri-County Land Judging Contest, different Food for America Events, tractor restoration projects, Christie Mountain trips, and tractor pulls.
I also was able to participate in some unique activities during my visits, such as giving chinchillas dust baths, trying to make straws out of sugar, and eating baby food snacks.

A unique FFA event in Section 1, is the annual volleyball tournament put on by the Amery FFA chapter. Surrounding FFA chapters are invited to this event and can bring as many teams as they want. The rules are simple: basic volleyball etiquette, rally to 21, and a double elimination bracket.

The most unique part of this event is the trophy. The trophy is a lovely taxidermic raccoon that is older than most of us and our FFA advisors. The team that wins gets to bring the trophy back home to their agriculture classroom until the next year. The last team to have won the trophy was the Bloomer FFA and this year the Boyceville FFA took home the trophy!

Now why is this important? Although we are all FFA members, we are all perfectly unique. Like I mentioned, each chapter has different facilities, different teachers, and different members. These attributes allow each chapter to thrive in different areas of agriculture or FFA. This is important because it is what makes FFA so amazing. We are able to have members who all have different interests, different skills, and different abilities to help make our organization diverse and encompass every area of agriculture.

If we were all the same, or all liked the same exact thing, the world would be pretty boring, and FFA would not be the amazing organization it is today. At my chapter visits I like to remind students that they are all perfectly unique and that there are opportunities in FFA for each and every one of them.

Do not be afraid to be yourself (like the raccoon) and do some unique and maybe unusual things along the way. I am always here to hear about the interesting things you have done in your chapter or the crazy ideas you may have. Feel free to reach out at kzimmer@wisconsinffa.org or (715) 567-0610.

Yours Truly,
Katie Zimmer
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