Tuesday, October 27, 2015


Where is your favorite place in the world?
Some might say Jamaica or Italy or the Grand Canyon, but my answer is home.  Home is where my cows are, where my belongings are and most importantly, home is where my family is.  My home is surrounded by beautiful hills, fields of crops and filled with people who love and care for me.  So, needless to say, I love being home. 

This past summer was one of the best summers of my life.
I was able to meet so many incredible people and travel to amazing places.  However, when I was away, I felt myself missing my family. I missed having my support system with me.

One of the biggest things I realized this summer is family isn’t always blood.  It’s the people in your life who want you in theirs and are the ones who accept you for who you are. On April 28th 2015, I was elected into an office position but it was so much more than that; I was put into a family with five caring and loving individuals.

Sam (Michigan), Me, Riely (Idaho), and Nicole (Arizona)
During the summer I had the opportunity to go to Washington D.C. to attend State Presidents Conference.  I was roomed with girls from Idaho, Arizona, and Michigan.  Little did I know that these girls would become a huge part of my life.  The week I spent with them was one of the best weeks of my life but our friendships 
didn’t end when we left D.C.  After finishing the summer and moving to college, we still remained friends.  

Think about the relationships you have made through FFA.  Who are those people who you have remained friends with?  Who support you?  Who want you to succeed? These people are known as our FFAmily.

This week is the National FFA Convention in Louisville, Kentucky and I am so excited for a million different reasons.  One of the biggest reasons is because I get to see my FFAmily from D.C.  Although convention is 12 hours from where I live, I feel like I’m heading home for a reunion of my FFAmily. 

As we arrive in Kentucky for National Convention, don’t be afraid to step out and meet new people.  Attend a workshop and sit by people you don’t know.  Try to collect signatures from members from all 50 states and the islands.  Listen to others stories and be sure to share your own, because you never know, someone you meet now could end up becoming a new member of your FFAmily.

Stationed by the plow,

Thursday, October 22, 2015

The Time I Sped

So I have a fun fact for everyone.
Going 60 miles per hour in a 55 miles per hour zone saves you a whopping 5 seconds per mile.
I find this fact funny because I’ve always heard people tell me that it is “ok” to go 5 mph over the speed limit. “The cops don’t care,” “It’s fine, you won’t be pulled you over.” This was what my friends would tell me whenever I was not driving over the speed limit.
But I repeatedly refused to go over the speed limit, because when I got my license, I decided I would not speed.
Yes.  I was “that guy” on the road, only going 54 mph in a 55 mph zone.
Despite being called Granny PJ by everyone, including my English teacher, I was always ok with it, because I had decided not to break the legal limit and logistically, 5 seconds per mile did not seem worth it.
Well one day earlier this year I was on my way to visit a school north of me.  I got in my car and started my navigator.  As soon as my navigator turned on, I panicked.  The estimated time of arrival was later than I expected.  Basically, I misjudged the distance, and I was going to be a little late.  As I started driving, I felt sick to my stomach, because I felt so bad and just wished I could get there on time.
I was driving up the interstate when I glanced over and saw some cars passing me.  They weren’t going “that” much faster than me; what if I just sped up a little to match them and blend in.
So I did.
Then soon after, another set of cars were going past me, and I thought about matching their speed.
So I did.
This pattern continued for several minutes, until finally I glanced at my speedometer. I was not going just 5 mph over the limit, I was going closer to 12 mph over the speed limit.
And then the craziest thing happened.
A car pulled in front of me, and I happened to read the letters on its license plate.
You know what they were? (This is absolutely true by the way.)
The license plate letters were…
Which I read as,
“PJ, why?”
Why was I going against my better judgement and values to be about 3 minutes less late?
Immediately, I slowed down, and drove the speed limit once again.  I arrived a few minutes late to the school, and guess what, it was ok.
My experience on that highway is a lot like one we face on the road of life.
There will be many times our values and principles will be tested and pushed.
Just like when I was going to be late, there will be circumstances in which it would seem easiest to go against our values.
“This is a really hard predicament, and let’s be honest, no one will ever know right?”
Just like I thought it would be ok to speed up “just a little,” we will be tempted to make exemptions from following our beliefs.
“I am not going to do anything that bad; I am just going to cut corners a little bit.”
Just like I thought I would be ok since I was only following what other people were doing, we will be faced with times that the actions of those around us do not align with our internal moral compass.
“But everyone else is doing it, and they seem just fine.”
Everyone will face these situations in our lives, and I certainly continue to face these situations. I certainly find myself asking these questions from time to time.
The best thing we can do is identify what we value and find a way to hold ourselves to it.  Decide what is truly important to you.  Take a night this week, and write down everything that is important to you.  Then cut the list in half.  Then cut it again.  Cut it down so you’re left with 4-6 things that are the absolute most important values to you.
Write these down somewhere: on a note card, a sheet of paper, anywhere.  Then put them somewhere where you can look at it; it is much harder to stray from your values when you are constantly reminded of them.
Values are important.  They are what makes us who we are.  When we share common values with people, we connect with them the best. My best friends are the ones who share those same values I do, which is why I work so hard to stay true to my values.
I’m not saying I’m perfect when it comes to holding strong to my values; I certainly am not.  I’m also not saying you’re a bad person if you go 5 mph over the speed limit; I don’t want to tell you how to drive.
All I’m saying is the people and beliefs we value are extremely important, and it’s important that we do not let situations or other people pull us from those values. True friends should be the ones encouraging us and helping us stick to those values, rather than pull us away from them.
I learned a lot on that highway. Driving the speed limit might not actually be one of my most dear values, but it was a great reminder to always show integrity and stay by my beliefs.
So if you need me, I’ll be “that guy” on the road, going 54 in a 55.
Stationed by the rising sun,

Granny PJ

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Finding Your Passion

“Find something you enjoy doing so much that you would do it for free. Then so it so well that people will pay you to do it.”
       - Orion Samuelson

I first heard this quote while the Minnesota FFA State Officer Team and I were watching the Minnesota Pork Ambassador elections. Orion Samuelson was one of the announcers and this quote was the piece of advice he wanted to leave with the candidates. At first, I thought it was just a typical cheesy quote, but after time, I have begun to realize this quote means more than just a job you will do in the future; it is the true passion that you hold within. It is the passion that, someday, we hope to show the world.

I realized my first exposure to true passion was with my grandfather, Odean. Even though I was only nine years old when he passed, he has left a legacy for himself. Throughout his entire life, he continued to strengthen his passion for agriculture. He lived on a farm his entire life, mainly raising beef cattle. He then became an avid business man within our community by working for Triple 'F' Feeds and starting a seed business with my uncle, Gary. During these experiences, he had the opportunity to partake in his favorite pass time, talking. He would engage in conversation with his customers, which were many of our neighbors. They would talk about anything and everything under the sun and often would lead to many hours of conversation. This helped him develop a deeper relationship with those around him, but also labeled him as a landmark in our community.

During his talks with his customers, he became well known by everyone and to this day I continue to hear stories about him. I hear about his true sense of humor, ability to carry on conversations that could last hours, and most often I heard about his passion for his cattle, crops, and the agricultural industry. When I think of the quote from Orion Samuelson, I think of my grandfather, because he truly would work in the agricultural industry for free, but people paid him to do it. He had a passion for agriculture which then struck my passion for agriculture. He cared for everyone he crossed paths with and was a true gentleman.

As you look at your life, what is it that you are passionate about? What do you enjoy doing that you would do it for free? Each of us are in control of our own lives. We are unique in our own way because we are all different for a reason. So take time to reflect on what you are passionate about; how are you going to live out that passion?

                                               Stationed by the Door,

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Superheroes Wanted!

Superheroes Wanted:  No Cape Necessary, 

Just Blue Corduroy…

When we think of the word “Superhero” we often think of the Merriam-Webster Dictionary meaning:  a fictional hero having extraordinary or superhuman powers, and in our minds we picture a leotard clad, cape-wearing, larger than life character such as Superman or Wonder Woman. 

However, the second part of this dictionary meaning defines superhero as: an exceptionally skillful or successful person.  I don’t know about you, but when I hear that, I picture an FFA Member dressed in their blue corduroy.  See…no capes necessary!

When I sat down to write this post, I did some reflection on my journey throughout my FFA career.   I couldn’t help but think of the way I felt the very first time I ever put on a blue corduroy FFA jacket.  It is the same exact way I still feel every single time I have the privilege of putting it on today…I feel joyous, proud, humbled and excited to be an FFA member.  And…I feel like I am empowered and supercharged with the ability to change the world through agricultural education and leadership. I FEEL LIKE A SUPERHERO. 

Now, please know that when I say change the world, I don’t mean having the ability to leap tall buildings in a single bound or single-handedly holding up 40-story buildings to prevent disaster.  I mean doing what we FFA members do best:  Learning to Do, Doing to Learn, Earning to Live, Living to Serve.  Wearing this blue corduroy and following this motto, we are all superheroes.

Now having said all that, I want to clarify another point about the likeness between the superheroes that wear capes and the kind of superheroes that wear blue corduroy.  While wearing our FFA jackets, we are empowered to do great things.  However, we are not empowered simply by wearing the blue jacket, we are empowered by the actions we take while wearing them!    Much like the fictional superhero saves the damsel in distress from the burning building.  He does it because it’s the right thing to do, not because of the cape, not because someone asked him to, and not for the recognition. It’s purely an act of leadership, service, and a way of making the world a better place.  

You too can be this kind of superhero just by letting your actions speak for you while proudly representing FFA.   Maybe you help with your chapter’s ditch clean up, corn drive, or farmer breakfast.  Maybe you help spread the word about FFA to new potential members.  Maybe you compete at the state or even national level with your Career Development Event.  Maybe you educate others through your Supervised Agricultural Experience project, or you are a member of the FFA band during convention. Whatever level, whatever your passion, feel proud and empowered that you are making a positive impact in this world.

As FFA members, we have the unique opportunity through agricultural education to make an impact and change the world through leadership and service.  It’s up to us to explore ideas and develop talents and skills to become part of the bright future we all hope for.  We are the future scientists, technology specialists, farmers, business owners, professionals, educators, leaders, tradesmen and tradeswomen. We are superheroes in blue corduroy.

I challenge all of you to be a superhero this year.  Put on your FFA jacket, chapter t-shirt, or polo shirt and be someone that is exceptionally skillful, successful and empowered.   Change the world through FFA…no cape necessary!

Stationed by the Flag,

 Madison Taylor