Tuesday, October 28, 2014

National Convention Tips and Tricks

“You have to witness the Sea of Blue!” one older FFA member yelled at me trying to convince me to go to National FFA Convention when I was in 10th grade. Confused by what they meant, I managed to wipe the strange look off my face and replied with a long, “Sure…”. That next month I did witness the Sea of Blue and all of it’s glory while walking down the streets of Indianapolis, Indiana. I found myself often times looking around to see the name of the state on the nearby jackets. I returned from the National FFA Convention that year with a brand new perspective of the National FFA Organization and was energized from what I heard during the sessions and what I saw from the Expo center. Since that first year, I have made my way to National FFA Convention a few more times. So I have created 10 tips for you about National FFA Convention…

1. Go to the First General Session. I promise, you won’t regret it! Imagine 60,000 members and guests gather in one building. The energy level is crazy!

2.   Do the signature page challenge at the back of the Convention Handbooks. It’s a great way to meet new friends and members from all over the nation!

3.  Get some sleep. Wither it’s in the bus/car beforehand or while convention is going on, sleep is very important. Convention is constant ‘high energy’ and you’ll want to not be tired for the experiences of a lifetime!

4. Have a buddy! Everything is always better when you experience it with someone else. Plus, you won’t get lost! 

5. Communication! It’s important that you stay connected with your advisor or whoever is liable for you. Have a game play with your advisor and try to keep your phone charged!

6. Expo! Take advantage of the National FFA Expo. You’ll get the chance to network and explore opportunities with over 450 industry-leading exhibitors. Bring a drawstring bag/backpack to collect all the awesome stuff they give away!

7.  Stay alert! The sessions are a great time to be inspired by the National FFA Officers or Session Speakers! Take notes and get ready to take action.

8.  Got Social Media? Post about your adventures of the day to keep those at home informed. Does your FFA chapter have Facebook or Twitter? Great! Post on the chapter page as well. It’s great to get updates from the National FFA Convention and Expo!

9. Branch out. National FFA Convention is a great time to know others wither they’re from your home state or not. Some of the best friendships are FFA friendships.

10. Have fun! It’s all around you. Not only are there multiple concerts and dances, but you’re with the future leaders of agriculture and people with the same PASSION as you! Celebrate!

How you use your time at National FFA Convention & Expo is up to you. Be sure to bring ideas back to your chapter and get ready to make a difference and GO ALL OUT!

Grow Always, Serve Endlessly,

Erin Larson
MN FFA State Reporter 

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Like Water, Like Life

Sometimes life breaks against the rocks but it will always return to calm water.

This past weekend I got the wonderful opportunity to go and visit the picturesque city of Duluth in what some may argue the most beautiful time of the year, fall. The leaves where all turning bight fall colors and there was a slight chill in the air as the waves swept against the rocky shore. I stopped to admire the scene and God’s creation and captured this amazing picture.

The first thing a lot of us want to do when we get a great picture, at least me, is post it on social media! I got ready to post the picture but decided that this picture can’t go without a good quote.  I sat and thought about all the things water can mean, we hear analogies all the time with water and water breaking against rocks, so I decided to compare this picture to life with my own original quote, “Sometimes life breaks against the rocks but it will always return to calm water.”

In life there are events and periods of time that can really get us down, everything around us just seems to be falling apart and nothing is going the way we want it to. I know I have had these times and have definitely been discouraged by them. When comparing it to the picture, our life is the water, moving freely always going somewhere and then at any moment we can hit a rock. That rock may look different in each of our lives; it could be failing a test, losing a loved one, or a fight with your best friend. After we hit that rock we feel there is nothing we can do and everything is just chaos, just like that water is being sprayed everywhere.

There is good news, although this picture doesn’t show it, two seconds later the water was falling off the rock and going back out to the calm Lake Superior. Just like in our lives, the chaos will fade and life will move one. It may take more than a few seconds like the water but it will eventually return to the calm. We need to do our best at looking forward and keeping a positive mind set because in the moment everything may feel disoriented but it will soon return to the calm that we are familiar with.

Just like the water wears down on the shore by breaking against it, we can learn and grow from the rocks and tough times in our lives.
Brady Wulf
Minnesota State FFA Treasurer 

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

It's More About Growth

As the leaves begin to float to the ground and beautiful colors emerge, new opportunities for success seem to buzz around us. Success comes only by taking advantage of opportunities that come our way. It is not measured only by awards, but also by growth.
Throughout high school, I was involved in activities ranging from FFA to Key Club to drumline. I enjoyed each one because of the fun people and the challenges they provided. However, as you probably noticed, besides being a Knights fan, sports were not included in my series of extracurricular activities. If you have ever played sports of any kind with me, you have most likely discovered my lack of experience and coordination. If you haven’t had this great privilege, I can confidently describe my huge lack of athleticism. As a result, FFA and 4-H became the activities I found opportunities for success in. I discovered my pass
ion for agriculture, leadership and working with people through my experiences in 4-H and FFA.

In my sophomore year of high school, I received a call from the leader of the Minnesota Youth Beef Experience Program that would bring unexpected excitement and growth to my life. She informed me I would receive the Angus heifer at Beef Expo in less than a month after hours of hard work on an application, essay and letters of recommendation. As a second year applicant, I worked harder than ever to show the passion I had for my participation in this program that connects youth to a family donating a beef heifer to raise, show and keep records of.

Just a few weeks ago, Derek Stehr, a member of the Zumbrota-Mazeppa FFA Chapter received a similar call. After snapping me pictures of hours and hours of work on his application, Derek was informed he would also receive the Angus heifer this weekend at the Minnesota Beef Expo!
Serving as a State Officer has many positive aspects, but my absolute favorite part has been meeting members with a passion and drive so evident they cannot hide it. When I met Derek as a Region VIII Officer, I knew he would accomplish awesome things. So, as I waited impatiently for the results of Derek’s application, I was overjoyed when I heard he would receive the Angus heifer too!

But as a sophomore receiving my heifer, I could hardly contain my excitement for what was to come and the potential for success I saw.

I thought “Hard work + Passion = Success.”

However, I would compete in Creed Speaking just days before receiving my heifer and discover the contrary. After weeks of practice with my advisor and English teachers, I was prepared to recite the FFA Creed with excitement and passion (to the point that I once woke up in the third paragraph of the creed in my sleep). As I entered the room, I was more nervous than expected and made a mistake. I started the paragraph again, answered questions, shook the judges hands and walked out of the room relived I was still alive, but disappointed the event I spent hours preparing for seemed to be destroyed in just minutes.

Results were posted and I hadn’t made it on to the next round. Although I knew I hadn’t accomplished the goal I had worked so hard for, I discovered something more important than an award-winning Creed Speaker.

I discovered “Hard Work + Passion = Growth.”

Although my disappointment quickly vanished as I rushed to Beef Expo, this equation would lead me through my high school career.

The beautiful fall season brings opportunities ranging from football and volleyball to National Convention to One Act and concerts. No matter what goal or aspiration you may be working towards, hard work and passion are the key to success. However, this success may not always come in the form of an award or a winning game. This success may come in the form of growth, growth that could spring from disappointment or an unreached goal, much like my Creed Speaking CDE. Growth is carried from one goal to another and no matter how or when, the growth we gain through experiences will help us in the future.

My high school experience was full of stress, excitement and goals that were both reached and unreached. By deciding I was no good at sports of any kind, I missed out on an opportunity to try new things and left no chance for this growth to take place. No matter what you’re focused on, try things you believed you were not good at because PASSION + HARD WORK = GROWTH, growth that could bring you personal success and inspire those around you to also step outside their comfort zone and achieve.

Do more of what you love, try what you think you hate and find your passion and dedication for growth, no matter what success looks like. 

Stationed by the ear of corn,

Valerie Earley

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

How Will You Refuel?

I do not know if everyone knows this, but... I LOVE COUNTRY MUSIC. There is not a day that goes by where I am not jamming to George Strait, Tim McGraw, Miranda Lambert, or so many more of my favorite artists.  I would like to think I am notorious for finding original music that is not played on the radio and then making my friends like it. Some might say that I am obsessed... that would be 100% accurate. There are many reasons that I love country music, but the main reason I enjoy it so much, is it is a way for me to escape. For four short minutes, the problems and stresses I have in my life disappear, and I am submerged into lyrics that tell a story.

Starting college has been a change for me, it definitely has its goods and bads. Between going to class, homework, working, clubs and organizations, and FFA I have kept a very exciting, busy schedule! One thing that always helps me take care of the stress I am feeling is listening to a good song. Country music is my time to refuel myself to ensure that I striving to be the best that I can be. This theme of refueling myself can be related to one of my favorite Habitutes, "The Starving Baker".

Habitutes are leadership based books that take an image and relate it to leaders and leadership. "The Starving Baker" talks about crucial it is to take time to refuel yourself so you can continually serve yourself and others to the best of your ability. "It's the baker that spends so much time baking bread for others, he forgets to feed himself." Sometimes in life, we spend all of our time serving others or working towards achieving our goals and we begin to forget about the well-being of ourselves. We start to do so many tasks that we begin to actually hurt ourselves by not allowing time to refuel.

With FFA, school, extracurricular activities, and chores our lives begin to fill up quite quickly. How will you take time for yourself to refuel? Do you take a nap, go for a walk, watch the sunset, or listen to music? I encourage all of you to take sometime for yourself. To be able to serve endlessly and be the best you can be you have to make sure to refuel. Feed yourself, unlike the starving baker. Listening to  music is how I refuel and make myself ready for the upcoming days. Need some suggestions on what to listen to? Here are some of my favorites!

Dirt Road Diary - Luke Bryan
What You Wanna Hear - Dustin Lynch
Blue Clear Sky - George Strait (ALL Songs by the "King")
It's Your Life - Francesca Battistelli
I Lived - One Republic


Find what makes you happy and take time to refuel! You deserve it!

Stationed by the Plow,