Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Four FFA Members, a Kind Heart and a 1958 Farmall Tractor


By: Guest Blogger Halle Hough of the Luverne-Adrian FFA Chapter
  
With one of 877 ever made, Jesse Wise of Virginia made the decision to donate his 1958 International Harvester Farmall 350 High-Utility tractor to an FFA Chapter or a 4-H club that was willing to restore it. Levi Wicks, president of the Albert Lea FFA Chapter, received word of Wise’s generous offer and contacted him.
When Wise originally posted the tractor to Facebook, he expected to hear from a teacher or FFA advisor, not a 17-year-old. Without knowing the tractor was in Virginia, Wicks agreed to take on the project while thinking, “We’d probably drive a couple hours to go get something like that.”
Instead, Wicks , along with Jaydon Weigel, Kevin Smeby and Coltan Uthke, embarked on a 50-hour trip to the state of Virginia in mid-October.
“We determined it was worth it for a free tractor,” said Wicks. That’s when the Albert Lea FFA Tractor Restoration Project began.
The team of four young men began work on the old Farmall in December in Smeby’s workshop. They started with a complete tear down — not one bolt was left unturned. The team then cleaned and sandblasted every part of the tractor. The motor was completely gone through, the torque amplifier was professionally rebuilt, the entire rear end was rebuilt, and the hydraulics were redone.
The team also had to repair the front axle knee to its original angle because it had been broken and repaired. At first, they weren’t sure how they were going to fix the knee. It is intentionally angled, but a previous repair had welded it straight. The boys solved this challenge.
The project tallied approximately 1,500 hours of labor and $6,000 in parts.
Wise was very impressed as he followed the boys on their journey of this restoration.
“I was very impressed with Levi and the rest of the group,” said Wise. “They gave me a new hope in their generation, the younger generation.”
Local businesses and community members in the Albert Lea sponsored the team, providing generous donations to make the restoration possible. The biggest donation, of course, was the tractor itself, with no strings attached.
The FFA members plan on raffling off the tractor this summer at the Freeborn County Fair. It will be on display at the food stand August 4. With the raffle, the FFA members are hoping to earn back their investment in the restoration project.
“I’m happy to see that they did what they said they were going to do, and I hope it helps their organization in some small way,” said Wise.

Friday, April 27, 2018

National Talent Finalists Shares a How to “Go Beyond”


By Guest Blogger Bodie Bice – Waseca FFA
            For Britton Fuglseth of the Fertile Beltrami FFA chapter, the FFA talent competition was a great way for her to “Go Beyond” dipping her toes in FFA. Fuglseth, a junior at Fertile Beltrami High School, only recently started performing in public before becoming a finalist for the National FFA Talent Competition.
“I really didn’t expect it to go as far as it did,” she said.
At the 88th Minnesota FFA Convention, Fuglseth gave a very compelling performance. She remembers the lights of everyone’s cell phones as a highlight. Fuglseth auditioned for the national competition after state convention, and successfully entered the contest.
With only six months until the 90th National FFA Convention in Indianapolis, Indiana, Fuglseth started to practice daily. When asked about her practice habits, she said: “Practice consisted of me 24 hours a day, seven days a week. I would be doing homework and singing. A lot of nights were spent at my church practicing the songs with the sound system.”
Practice wasn’t all great, however, as Fuglseth faced challenges. She cited vocal tiredness and memorization as the hardest things she faced on her road to Indy. Fuglseth credits her determination and drive to succeed as the key factors to her success.
On October 25, 2017, the 90th National FFA Convention opened for the public and Fuglseth was prepared. Clearing the first round, Fuglseth sang a riveting performance of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” during the second round. She earned a spot within the final three acts. Going into the final round, she was ready to have fun and nail her performance, and that she did finishing as a finalist with a very thrilling rendition of Adele’s, “When We Were Young.” The winner of the competition, Noah Davis, went on to compete on ABC’s American Idol this past winter.
Fuglseth’s last performance of the convention was in front of her biggest audience and venue to date as she performed at the American Degree Ceremony inside Lucas Oil Stadium. Fuglseth said she was tired and nervous to be in front of the giant audience, but she did great on her performance, with the exception of what she calls “a mess up on the lyrics.”
Throughout her journey of performing, she shared one of her favorite experiences was representing her home state. “I was proud to represent Minnesota!” she said. “I loved announcing proudly that I represented the state of Minnesota and then hearing everyone cheer.”
Today, Fuglseth is preparing for the talent competition at the 89th Minnesota State FFA Convention. A repeat trip to nationals is on the line. Fuglseth also says that doing this competition has also greatly impacted her FFA experience. Fuglseth is the 2018 - 2019 Minnesota Region I Reporter and has become more active in her own chapter. She credits FFA with bringing her friends that have become her second family and says: “FFA will forever hold a special place in my heart.”
Looking forward after FFA, Fuglseth plans on becoming an agricultural educator with her sights set on the University of Minnesota-Crookston as a possible place of enrollment. She plans on forever singing at church, local choirs, weddings and perhaps concerts of her own one day. She also loves to sing for pleasure as she says it is a stress reliever.
Fuglseth encourages her fellow FFA members to try the talent competition. She believes it helps improve public speaking ability and confidence, and is an eye-opening experience to the world of performing at the state and national levels.


Monday, April 9, 2018

The End... Or the Beginning?

The twinkle of a lightbulb as it dies out.
A high school graduate walking across the stage, accepting her diploma.
Sitting on the beach in Florida for one last time, soaking in the rays.
Feeling a tear form in your eye as you watch your dog take its last breath.
Watching the last second tick away from the football game.
An FFA member unzipping their jacket for the final time.
All of these signify an end, something that might change forever, or just a brief moment. I’m sure we can all think of a time in our lives where we had to leave something we loved. For me, I will never forget moving schools in 8th grade. I was so scared to leave everything I knew to pursue agricultural education classes and participation in FFA at a new school. All of my friends, teachers, classrooms, and everything I knew was gone. These are familiar feelings to many students who move schools: uncertainty and fear for the future.
The change was very difficult at first. I found a couple friends to show me around and teach me about the school, but I was still resistant. I couldn’t help but be stuck in the past remembering what my friends were like and all the fun we had. Luckily, a few weeks in I met someone who would stick with me throughout my high school experience and teach me the ropes of Howard Lake Waverly Winsted. At my new school, I have met some of my best friends, been taught by teachers who helped me decide my true passions, and participated in activities that have helped me build character. I consider the community and school my home.
None of that would have been possible if I would have continued to stay stuck instead of switching schools. We always have the opportunity to look at each ending as a beginning, and that’s what kept me from truly embracing the move. Did I grow while at my first school? Of course I did. From preschool all the way to 7th grade, I was always learning and growing. However, without that change, I wouldn’t have been able to experience an agriculture program and FFA chapter to discover my true passions. I certainly wouldn’t be where I am today.
Everything is happening in our lives for a reason, exactly when it needs to happen. I came across a quote that I think accurately puts into words how we can all transition from an ending. It says:
“Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.”
For some of us this ending might be as simple as that lightbulb dying out that has to be replaced. Or, for many of us, the end we see will be when our time in FFA concludes. That beginning moment of putting on your FFA jacket or attending an event unsure of what might happen led you to memories upon memories. Taking off that jacket may seem so hard now, but being a supporter of the organization has its rewards and memories as well. We might be saying goodbye to being an active high school member, but the skills we have learned along the way will help make us successful in the future. We can succeed and start that new beginning because those that support us decided to invest in our futures.
The time of the year is coming where graduations, spring conventions, and many more endings are coming. How are you going to do to use what you have learned in your growing experience to plunge forward in a positive light to a new beginning? You can leave that light bulb burnt out and wait around for someone to change it, OR you can replace it with something brighter and cherish the change that has occurred. You decide what’s possible.

Stationed by the Door,




Maddie Weninger

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

I place this class...

Banquet season is upon us. Celebrating the year’s accomplishments with fellow chapter members, parents, mentors, sponsors, teachers, coaches and so many more is a highly anticipated event for any FFA member. Blue jackets are zipped up one final time for the school year. Senior FFA members say their final words, accomplishments are celebrated, and awards are given to those deserving.

A couple of weeks ago, I was invited to share a few words with the Pipestone Area FFA chapter at their banquet. After hearing a wonderfully recited creed, celebrating the awards won by state-advancing teams and individuals, and saying my short piece, I helped the chapter clean up the space. During this, I was pulled aside by one of the member’s parents. He thanked me for coming and for sharing a few words with the chapter. He asked what events I competed in and what my role looks like as an officer. I explained to him I was my chapter’s creed speaker, prepared public speaker, and tried my hand at general livestock judging a few times.

Then he said something that will stick with me forever: “You know how you give reasons for judging? There will always be reasons for everything you do in life - from the significant other you choose to spend the rest of your life with to placing a class of market hogs. You do it for a reason. There is a reason you are here tonight. You might not have touched the lives of everyone in this room, but you impacted a few and that’s why you’re here.”

While we may not have to explain why we placed the number four gilt over the number two every day of our lives, there is a reason for every decision we make and for every result that comes our way. Maybe being a leader with a title isn’t our thing, but taking the opportunity to attend a summer conference to learn more might be a good opportunity to stretch ourselves. Maybe it’s sitting at a lunch table with the classmate who sits alone everyday and having a conversation with them. Maybe it’s studying for that history test a little more so we get the GPA we need to be accepted into our dream college. Maybe it’s not winning a contest or game, but accepting other opportunities instead.

In 9th grade, I set a goal of only attending National Convention if I earned a trip. During my junior year, I competed in the prepared public speaking event for the second time at state convention. I was confident in my speech and my presentation and was feeling really good after finals. I got to the stage only to be handed the second place plaque. Leaving convention, I was really disappointed in myself. For weeks, I thought about what I could have done differently or how I could have answered certain questions better.

In July, I applied to serve Minnesota as a voting delegate for National Convention. Blessed with the opportunity to do this, I later learned that I would not have had this experience if I had won prepared public speaking back in April. During my first National Convention, I met some of the most incredible people, learned how the FFA truly is a student led organization and how we as members have an influence, and realized how much of a blessing it is to wear the blue jacket alongside over 600,000 members from across this great nation.

I’ve learned life isn’t about the grand moments that only happen every once in a while; it’s about how we reason with ourselves to embrace the little sentiments and treasures hidden in each day. Good days and bad, there is a reason you experience the joy, disappointment, fear, anger, surprise, and sadness placed in our lives. One of my favorite Bible verses is Esther 4:14: “Perhaps this is the moment for which you have been created.”

This is your moment. Your time is now. You are perfectly imperfect and made for this day. What is your reason? Why are you here? What actions are you taking? How will they affect others? How will you ensure you find your reason? How can you be a genuine reason in someone else’s life? What actions will you take?      

Minnesota FFA, you have given me a reason - a reason to smile, to laugh and to cry, to challenge myself and to step out of my comfort zone. I am forever grateful for all of the laughs, tears, challenges, opportunities, and memories you have brought into my life. From the bottom of my heart, thank you for accepting me with open arms and joyful hearts. I cannot imagine my life without y’all in it - thank you for giving me a reason.

For the final time - stationed by the ear of corn,