Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Supporting Supporters

This past week a handful of FFA members and I had the great opportunity to volunteer at the 11th Annual Minnesota FFA Foundation golf tournament. At this event we got to interact with some great sponsors and supporters of the FFA organization! As the day went on I got to thinking about different supporters that we have, not only in FFA but also in our personal life. According to the dictionary supporter is someone who approves and encourages someone or something. To me a supporter is a lot more than that, they are a rock that keeps us grounded, someone who helps us be a better person, someone we can always fall back on when we need help, they provide resources to help us accomplish our goals, and most of all they are always there to SUPPORT us.
We all have an array of different supporters in our lives. They might be family members, mentors, friends, teachers, coaches, advisors, or a pastor. Throughout my FFA career I have got to know a great lady who has supported me a lot over the past few months. She had faith in me and told me last year at national convention that she thought I could run for state officer and if I did she would be glad to help. I was always intimidated by Leah so this meant a lot to me. When I was preparing for interviews I asked for her help. The day we got together we learned about each other and she was always there for me, pushing me to do better, and encouraging me through the whole process. Now I am honored to have Leah as a mentor through my year of service.  Leah has been a huge supporter in my life, as well as many others, and will continue to be for years to come.
In my home chapter of Morris we have wonderful support for the FFA program through our community and alumni chapter. The support we receive from our alumni is outstanding; they help us with a large amount of financials, such as our banquet, Ag in the Classroom project, conventions, our barn at the fair, and much more. There is something unique though about their support to our FFA chapter. They support us because we support them. Every year members from the chapter donate a few hours of work that gets auctioned off to local farmers. We then go work for the farmer who bought our hours and he pays the alumni. Every year our alumni have made over $12,000 at this auction and then our chapter and members receive money and support back from the alumni. This is one example of how a group supports us better because we support them.
Another great example of supporting a supporter in our personal lives is friends. Our true friends seem to always be there for us through anything. Why are the always there to lean on? Because we are always there for them, for a good long lasting friendship we are there for our friends when they need us then they return the favor.
Who are some supporters in our lives or chapters? How can we thank them? Take it to the next step, how can we support them? Who do we have in our lives or community that needs support? How can we be a supporter to someone else?

Stationed by the Emblem of Washington

Brady Wulf

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

The Real Reason

Happy 4th of July! I’m sure most of us were yelling and screaming this to our friends and family just three short days ago. The 4th of July is meant to commemorate the day when the American colonists declared independence from Great Britain. Let’s be real… how many of us actually celebrate the real meaning of the 4th of July? Prior to this year, to me, the 4th of July meant being on the lake, town parades, and fireworks. This year I began to realize the real reason why we celebrate the 4th of July.

Quick Story: In 6th grade I met my best friend in the entire world. Ever since then, Ryan and I have been inseparable. We went to movies and sporting events, helped each other with homework, and we were even chapter and region FFA officers together. High school and FFA would not have been the same without Ryan by my side. Just two short weeks ago Ryan left all his friends and family in Minnesota to begin basic training at the United States Air Force Academy. Ryan committed himself to serving our great country just as the brave men and women did 238 years ago. Having to celebrate the 4th of July without Ryan this year helped me understand what this great holiday was all about. 

This 4th of July I went to my teammate Dalton’s grad party and ranch rodeo. Just like before the start of every sporting event, the National Anthem was played before the rodeo. All of the cowboys and cowgirls lined up in the center of the arena and an older gentlemen rode his horse around the arena with a giant American flag. As I was watching ol’ glory fly around the arena I instantly thought of Ryan. It made me think, how blessed and lucky am I to have the freedom to be here on this beautiful day. If those revolutionists would have decided to not fight the British I would not have had the freedom to be in that very place.

That same idea can be applied to FFA. If America did not declare their independence and not succeeded would we still have FFA? I am very thankful that since then American soldiers have continued to fight to protect the freedoms our country has and that has allowed our great organization to grow and prosper. Thanks to our soldiers FFA members are able to attend leadership conferences, show livestock, and participant in activities that they chose!

The old saying “freedom isn’t really free” rang true to me this 4th of July. Next 4th of July, as well as, in our everyday lives, do not forget to thank a veteran and today’s service men and women for all that they do. Without their bravery and sacrifices we would not be able to be members of The National FFA Organization. Remember the real reason for the celebration. Thank you servicemen and women! Happy Birthday America! 

Stationed by the Plow,

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

As the Green Fades Away

There comes a point in everyone’s life where we finally get past the struggles of being new and things finally start to click. It could be having the first successful run down the slopes on a new pair of skis or finally getting an A on a test in a new class. Everything seems to fall into place and we feel a lot more confident with each new attempt in that area. For 129 Minnesota FFA Members things started to click this last week while they attended the State Greenhand Leadership Conference (SGLC). Throughout the week they washed the green off their hands pretty quickly.

At the start things were a little rough, not going to lie. The first 24 hours of camp are by far the most awkward. For the most part people don’t know each other and you could almost smell the regret of coming to camp in the air. I was immediately reminded of my time at SGLC as a camper.  I was the only one from my chapter to go and couldn't believe that I let my advisor talk me into coming to this camp. I had no friends there and was not looking forward to wasting five days of my summer deep in the woods of northern Minnesota. Even though things were different for me this time at SGLC it wasn't much different for the campers. I heard from many different members later in the week that their first day of camp followed a similar theme.

As the week progressed, things took a turn for the better and everyone started to warm up to one another. Each day campers were more and more willing to open up, branch out and even ask other members to swing dance (a camp tradition). Naturally there was a big pick up in energy, even on the second day. Sitting in our officer meeting Tuesday night we couldn’t believe that this was the same group of campers that walked in Monday morning. It was fantastic to see the members become more comfortable with themselves and other people.

However, learning how to socialize was not the only thing that clicked this week for this group of members. During multiple sessions at SGLC there were breakout workshops that allowed members to explore possibilities within the FFA. Each member was able to go to multiple workshops on SAE, CDE, and career pathways topics that interested them. Christina Smith, the Region II President, and I facilitated the Agriculture Education career pathway and SAE workshop. It was such a great opportunity to introduce the idea of being an Ag teacher for the first time to many of these members. Mya Wadena, from the Mahnomen FFA Chapter, said the Ag Ed “SAE breakout helped me realize there is more to SAE’s than just farm work”. Many members along with Mya expressed an interest in doing Ag Ed as an SAE project.

Something that was even more rewarding than potentially creating a future advisor was the growth that happened Wednesday night, our third day at cap. That night was all about stereotypes and diversity. We discussed how toxic and hurtful stereotyping can be. For many members this was an eye opening experience, I know that it was for me when I attended SGLC as a camper. This workshop was so impactful I could tell you exactly where I sat during it. During this workshop we gave the members a chance to share a time they had been stereotyped or hurt by people judging them. It’s amazing to see so many members share and to know that they feel safe to share in a room with over 140 people, most in which they just met. After that night I saw a change in how the members interacted with each other. They talked and made friendships with ease (especially compared to the first day). 

Sadly, all good things come to an end. After the Banquet and dance on Thursday night, it only left a few short hours Friday morning. We held our final session that challenged every member to take what they learned at camp and bring back to their chapters. A few campers shared what they planned to bring back to their hometowns and it warmed my heart to know that these members were truly impacted by this week. The next part of camp is something I along with everyone else dreads, the goodbye circle. This is the last time we are going to be seeing some of these people until state convention so we want to savor every minute we have together.

Even though this week was possibly the fastest five days of my life I can walk away with confidence that the future of the MN FFA is in good hands. This group of members walked away with a deeper understanding of not only what the FFA is and represents, but a deeper understanding of themselves. They understand the importance of friendship and valuing others as well as themselves. I wish I had time to have a real conversation with every single one of the members that attended but with the ones that I did I can say for certainty that this week changed their lives as it did mine. I can't wait to see everything these members accomplish as their green fades away and they start working towards their full potential as FFA members and individuals!

Stationed by the Rising Sun,
Jack Roessler