Tuesday, August 26, 2014

The Great Minnesota Get Together!

Do you know what state is ranked number one in having the best fair? You guessed it... Minnesota! Many attend Minnesota's largest gathering for the live entertainment, livestock exhibits, and of course the famous foods! Who doesn't love Sweet Martha Cookies, All You Can Drink Milk, and Turkey to Go? The Minnesota State Fair is known for so many things, but the fair's most visited free site is is the CHS Miracle of Birth Center which happens to be a huge part of FFA!

 The CHS Miracle of Birth Center (MOBC) has been a highlight of the state fair since 2001. In this exhibit, fair goers are given the opportunity to learn about animal agriculture, veterinary science, and of course witness the miracle of birth. Over the course of the 12 days of the fair, over 200 calves, lambs, piglets, and chicks are born in front of the eyes of millions of people. MOBC is made possible because of the tremendous amount of supporters, members, and veterinarians from across Minnesota. This year 31 FFA members are given an amazing opportunity to educate people of all ages about the importance of animal agriculture. 

"It was amazing to be able to talk to people about agriculture."
-Marissa Oakland, Albert Lea FFA Member

"My favorite part was definitely being able to advocate and converse with many types of people! I was able to make an impact in peoples lives and made a difference in their views of farming and agriculture."
-Abbey Weninger, Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted FFA Member

Attached to MOBC is the FFA Chapter House and Leadership Center. This building is designed to help fair goers learn more about FFA and agriculture education. This site is lead by the state officers and region presidents. 

MOCB and the FFA Chapter House and Leadership Center are not the only thing FFA members have been up to during the fair. At the beginning of the fair members were given the chance to compete against one another in dairy and livestock evaluation. At county fairs across the state there is a tractor and skid steer driving contest. If members placed high enough at the county fair, they can compete at state fair. This contest allows students to enhance their knowledge and skills of different farm equipment. This weekend is considered "FFA Weekend" here at the fair. Dairy, beef, goats, sheep, and swine will have their shows this weekend on Saturday and Sunday. Come and watch FFA members from across the state show off some of their Supervised Agricultural Experiences. 

FFA is a crucial and exciting part of the state fair. There is still plenty of time to get yourself to the state fair. Come enjoy great food, amazing people, and of course all that FFA has to offer! Can't wait to see you at The Great Minnesota Get Together!

Stationed by the Plow, 

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Changing Seasons

Today I had the opportunity to witness a beautiful field of wheat being harvested near my house.  As I gazed at the farmer harvesting his crop, it made me think about the change that was to come rather soon.  Many people instantly jump to the changing of seasons from summer to fall.  This is not the only change to soon come however.  In each of our lives there will be a change as we begin to transition into the fall.  This transition for some may look like starting school in a new grade that is filled with new chances to learn, see old friends, while making new ones and so many more that cannot even be numbered.  While for others, the upcoming months may look like harvest.  Farmers get to see their years’ work pay off as they begin another year of taking their crops from the fields.  One thing is for certain though, all of us agriculturalists know that the new season will bring a change to our own lives as well as bringing a new atmosphere to Minnesota agriculture.
               Ever since I was in middle school I had wanted to be an engineer.  It fit perfectly because I was so fascinated by the way things worked but more importantly, how to improve on them.  As I progressed through school however, I had another interest, and of course that was agriculture.  It took me awhile to realize that the two worked hand in hand and that I had an opportunity to go to school to become an Agriculture and Biosystems Engineer.  I was so excited to be able to make a difference in agriculture and be a part of feeding the world’s ever growing population.  Although I am still excited about those things, I am nervous to see what college has in store for me.  I know that I will have amazing opportunities in college, and that I have the chance to be independent and do everything myself.  However, I have to be independent and do everything myself.  This is kind of a contradiction because there are so many things that scare me about college like if I am doing the right thing or even if I’ll make it, but also I know that there are things waiting for me that I would never get the opportunity to encounter anywhere else. 

               I know that the contradiction of being scared and excited is inside each one of us as we come into a changing of the seasons and a changing of our environment.  Take the farmer who I saw harvesting his wheat today.  He put so much into growing a good crop whether its money, time or just flat out faith and hope that everything will turn out okay.  He has no idea that when he plants the seeds in the ground if they will even sprout, but he has to believe that what he is doing is the right thing.  I know without a doubt that not only him, but every farmer in Minnesota is worried about what yield they may get or if prices will make it worth all of their hard work, but they also are excited for harvest.  They are excited to see what they will get and what Mother Nature will do for Minnesota’s fields this year.  So as we approach this change in season, although you and I know there is risk, know that there will always be opportunities where there is fear.  We must remember that we make the most from these opportunities, when we take action despite our fears.  "Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgment that something else is more important than fear." Ambrose Redmoon

Stationed by the door,

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Are You Aware of Your Surroundings?

A couple weeks ago I was scrolling through Facebook when a photo caught my attention. It was a photo of a guy that was in my class up until 10th grade. The photo was attached to a link with a police report. I opened the link and read the words that reported his crime. My heart began to sink the more I read. I thought to myself, “How can someone my age cause so much trouble with the law that a majority of his or her life is spent in jail?” I flashed back to the times I sat near him in a classroom or walked by him in the hallway.  Sure, I knew he was in my class but how many times did I hold a conversation with him? I could barely count the number of times on one hand.

            Last year at State Greenhand Leadership Conference I had the opportunity to make a connection with a member after reflections. It was a simple conversation but something that meant a lot to this member and me. Following SGLC, I followed up by maintaining various conversations with them and saw this member at a variety of events, including state fair, National FFA Convention and MN FFA State Convention.

            What is the difference between my relations with these two people? I maintained a friendship with the FFA member and not so much with my classmate. I was aware of my surroundings and the people that were involved at that FFA event compared to people in my own class.  I was aware of who I was with and what was going on.

            “What if…” questions began to flood my head about my classmate. “What if I would have helped him study for that biology test?”… "What if I would have been more involved in conversation him?” … “Could I have changed his life, just a little bit?” 
          Surely, I cannot go back to 9th grade, but I can learn from the situation. I ask you to help me with this. We can become proactive about these situations and become aware of who we are encountering in our surroundings. Take the time to get to know others around you and show that you care about them. Maybe it's a kid in your class, a member in your 4-H Club, a chapter officer, or a friend that has been feeling a little bit down. Showing that you care is step #1. Be that person to make Step #1 happen. 

             Now ask yourself: What will it take for me to show appreciation to those I am around and help those that need me most?

Stationed by the Flag,