Tuesday, September 30, 2014


Fall has got to be one of my favorite parts of the year. The temperature starts to cool off, deer hunting is just around the corner, and there is football every week. All of these great things, plus many more, come around each and every fall. However, there was something brand new to me this fall: college. It was nerve wracking to go and live on my own without my family or friends I’ve had for most of my life. I’d have to build a new social circle from the ground up.

At first it was hard. I was meeting lots of new people, but I didn’t quite hit it off with anyone and was struggling to find a solid group of friends. I was about ready to accept the fact that I would be friendless for the next four years of my life. Things started to change though about a week and a half into college. I started to get the hang of things friends wise. I figured out who had the same classes as me, where people’s rooms where, and what they were involved in during high school. Slowly a core group of friends was forming, and we all got along really well.

When making those first few friends, a common theme arose. They all were in FFA. Somehow we knew each other or had heard of each other at one point or another. It was something we could all relate to. Also because most of us were very active in the FFA, we had similar work ethics. We wanted to be successful in school which made it easy to study and to have positive peer pressure. Never would I have thought these individuals I had met briefly at State Convention or Ag Policy Bootcamp would now be my new best friends.

Now the moral of this story isn’t to only make friends and talk with FFA people for the rest of your life (even though FFA people are crazy awesome). I just want to stress how important it is to make connections with people, because you never know when or where those connections are going to be useful. While in this instance these connections helped me make friends in a new environment, that’s only one case. I’ve heard plenty of times how someone got their job because they knew someone who worked there or how they met their spouse through a mutual friend.

There’s the common saying of, “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.” While there is a lot of truth in that, Kevin Paap, Minnesota Farm Bureau President, taught me to take it one step farther by saying, “It’s not what you know or who you know but who knows you.” That last part is key. If a memorable impression isn’t made on the person, then they won’t remember to contact you when that job opportunity opens up or to invite you out for pizza. Whenever there’s the chance to meet someone new and make a lasting connection, take it because who knows when that acquaintance will become your best friend.

Stationed by the Rising Sun,
Jack Roessler

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Duck Opener

         This upcoming Saturday, I, along with many others across the state, will be participating in something we have been waiting all year for.  On Saturday morning, I will be awake before five o’clock.  I will take very few minutes getting ready because all I need on is my camouflage.  My friends and I will be loading in the truck and gone before most people even consider waking up.  We will travel south for twenty minutes, get off back on an old gravel road, and drive until we see a beautiful little pond.  Before too long, we have to pond speckled with decoys, and we, we get to sit and wait.  Even though I will be facing west, at about 7:20, I will turn my head to see an amazing sunrise fall over the landscape.  To me, this is what duck opener is all about.

         Now duck opener is an activity that for some is everything, but now all of us are duck hunters.  Some don’t agree that there is all that much to duck hunting and that this is a senseless hobby.  No matter what your thoughts are about duck hunting, one can definitely see that bonuses of the picture I just illustrated.  To start off, one must think about passion.  I am definitely passionate about hunting, but I am also passionate about agriculture and my family.  Whether it’s getting up early to go to a pond or to feed our cattle, my passion is shown through my actions.  Also, it’s easy to see the beauty all around us.  I have never seen such beauty as a flock of Mallards flying low, landing within the decoys right as the sun rises over my back.  This isn’t a picture everybody gets to see in person, but a picture that is seen by most is a golden field of wheat or the picturesque rainfall of the landscape.  Duck hunting has shown me that it is important to stop and take a minute to realize what I actually have. 
         Every day we are given the opportunity to live in communities that are beautiful in their own way.  Whether that is in the northern part of Minnesota with large forests and beautiful wildlife, or the forever stretching crop lands of the south west, we are surrounded by beauty, especially the agricultural kind.  So whether you are out duck hunting this Saturday, or just going for a drive around the countryside, always remember to take a moment and realize the amazing things that surround you.

Stationed by the door,

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Got Compliments?

I’m going to tell you something straight from the heart… I love compliments, and to be honest, I think it’s a habit that has diminished over the years. Maybe it is the busy-ness of our schedules that we forget to take the time to tell someone that their shoes are cool, their hair cut is stylish, or that their personality really made you smile today. I think we a forgetting about a simple thing that can brighten basically anyone’s day.

I’ll be one to admit … I do enjoy surfing for funny videos on YouTube. I’m not all that interested in cat videos like my teammate, but I do find time to watch videos produced by SoulPancake. These creators feature different videos for diverse people. From Kid President to the Science of Happiness, these videos will tug at your heartstrings. I have inserted here one of my favorite videos produced by SoulPancake. Take a minute to watch it…

A microphone and speakers set up in the middle of the city so people can express compliments might be a little out of the ordinary but it definitely got these people to express their feelings towards another individual whether it was their child, parent, friend, spouse, or coworker. 

It shouldn't take a mega headphone set and microphone to assert our gratitude towards the people we care about. Let's be frank... I don't always express my gratitude towards people like I should. I'm putting a challenge out there for both you and me. 

The challenge is: Compliment 3 people a day

That's it.

 T-H-R-E-E people. 

I'm up for the challenge... are YOU? 

Tuesday, September 9, 2014


Roots…branches, leaves, vines… or morals, background, values? Roots can mean two different things, first being a part of a plant that attaches it to the ground or to support it, second meaning the basic cause, source or origin of something or someone. The two have totally different meanings, one
you can physically see and the other you cannot. Yet when thinking about your own roots it easily relates to the roots of a plant, they both keep you and the plant supported. Just like the root system of a plant shapes what’s above the surface your roots shape who you have become.

What would happen if a tree didn’t have roots? It would topple over right away; as a matter of fact it wouldn’t have even grown. The tree needs its root system to survive and the bigger the web of roots are underneath the bigger and stronger the tree will be.

My own roots started where I grew up as a kid on a highly rated seedstock beef operation that has sold cattle across the globe. My grandpa Leonard started the farm from scratch in 1951 and with the help of my grandma raised 11 healthy children that yielded 51 grandchildren. I learned many
valuable lessons from my big family; they taught me things like honesty and work ethic. The cattle that I grew up around have taught me a lot about patience, and has developed my passion for the beef industry and agriculture. Three years ago I moved away from the farm and my dad, brother and I started our own family beef operation. My roots branched out and expanded. As they did it made me a stronger person, learning more skills and life lessons through this unusual change in my life. My roots are still growing to this day through changes like starting college this fall and are making me a stronger person with each challenge and opportunity I face.

We all have different roots, not one of us is the same. However, it’s not as much what your roots are or what you have been born into, it’s what you make out of each situation in your life. I have been blessed with being born into an amazing family but if I hadn’t realized the great opportunities that came with it my roots would have stayed shallow. We continue to be presented with new opportunities every day and as that happens our roots keep getting deeper. But are they growing as deep as they can? Every minute that goes by transforms into your history and your history is a good representation of what you will be in the future, just like the roots of a tree determine how big and strong it will be. Are you taking advantage of your opportunities? Better yet, how are you facing your challenges? We can all make it a goal to take advantage of everyday opportunities and face our challenges with a positive attitude. Build your web of roots.

Expand Your Roots,

Brady Wulf

Minnesota FFA State Treasurer

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

1-2-3 It Just Takes Me

Carnival rides, animals, people, an endless supply of food on a stick, and of course, the fireworks lighting up the sky each night are some of the very best part of the Great Minnesota Get Together, otherwise known as the Minnesota State Fair.
1,824,830 people visited the Minnesota State Fair this year. Almost two million people and each of them all have one thing in common: agriculture. Agriculture surrounds each individual and the choices they make everyday. And whether you are an FFA member, parent, friend or alumni member, agriculture is a huge part of your life. From the clothes we wear, to the medicine our moms give us when we are sick, to the the cereal in our bowls, agriculture plays a huge role. Makes sense, right?

For farmers it is easy to see this huge impact agriculture has on all people because it is their way of life. But for the general public it is more difficult because only two percent of the United States’ population lives on a farm or ranch. That leaves 98 percent of Americans who are not fully emerged in agriculture. 1,824,830 people visited the Minnesota State Fair who all had a different background and understanding of agriculture.  

31 barnyard technicians, 10 vets, 100 vet students, 16 staff members and 14 Minnesota State Officers and Region Presidents helped to show over one million people what agriculture looked like when these fair-goers visited the CHS Miracle of Birth Center. This is a awesome opportunity to start the conversation about agriculture with as many people as possible.
While working in the Leadership Center and Chapter House, I walked up to a woman helping her children with the Agriculture Explorer Badge. First, I asked how her day at the fair was and our conversation continued from that one small question. As she responded, I noticed she was wearing some rocking sandals. In the next few minutes, we found ourselves in conversation about her shoes, where she got them and what kind of shoes each of us prefer. It was a genuine conversation about a topic that both of us were interested in. But we didn’t talk about shoes forever. As this woman with the great shoes sat at the children’s size picnic table watching her children, we had a great conversation about agriculture and why diversity, education and advocacy is so important. We talked about conventional and organic food, the lack of agricultural education in urban schools, and what FFA does for students. Although I may have been able to explain questions she had about agriculture, she also showed me a new perspective on agricultural issues. But wait… this all started with just one pair shoes. How did this happen?

1. I found a topic both of us enjoyed, shoes, and opened this topic up for discussion.
2. I related this topic to agriculture and let her know I wanted to hear her opinion and point of view first.
3. I asked questions and truly listened to what she was saying.

Three simple steps to a great conversation about agriculture that started with one pair of shoes.

Whether you know it or not, you are an advocate for agriculture because agriculture surrounds each one of us. Whether you aspire to create an Urban Ag in the Classroom day, a PALS program or are simply seeking out people to have conversations with in the grocery store, while walking down the street, or on social media, take these opportunities to TALK and LISTEN about agriculture. It doesn’t take a huge, intricate plan to be an advocate. It does, however, take a passion for agriculture and a genuine conversation.

For Rhonda Ross, magic is something her and her audience have in common and she uses magic in her Thank a Farmer Magic Show to draw people in and then educate them about agriculture while giving them a great show. For me, shoes were a great way to begin a simple, genuine conversation about such an important topic.

Try out the three simple steps on a family member or friend and begin to develop your own way of opening up the conversation about agriculture. Whether you are a farmer, FFA member, parent or live in the middle of a huge city, agriculture will continue to play a huge role in your life and the lives of everyone around us. Together let’s stop informing about agriculture but instead start the conversation about agriculture.

Stationed by the ear of corn,

Valerie Earley