Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Together We...

In FFA, we often teach, learn, and stress the importance of teamwork. According to Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary, teamwork is, “the work done by people who work together as a team to do something.” The key part of that definition: work together. We all know that teamwork is vital for an effective group, but what about the success at the end? This is exactly what the 2015 Minnesota FFA State Theme is trying to envail!

Together we can accomplish great things. I know for my local FFA chapter, along with many other FFA chapters, we participate in an annual corn drive in the fall. Members who are able to participate come together to collect grain from farmers in our community. We go out and talk with numerous farmers about FFA and ask if they would like to donate grain with the proceeds being donated to True Friends, a camp for individuals with emotional, mental, and physical disabilities. This is a fantastic event where we get to connect with our local supporters and raise money for a good cause.

As we participate in the corn drive each year, it doesn’t seem like we are raising much, especially as a smaller chapter. However, we have to think about the entire picture. We are raising funds to provide individuals with an experience that may light up their world by attending camp. We are helping individuals learn skills that may never have been possible. We are potentially changing an individual's life.

When we sit and wonder how our small contributions are making a difference, I remember back to this past weekend when we had an FFA Board Meeting at True Friends in Annandale. One alarming fact was given to us: Since 1953, Minnesota FFA as donated 5.5 MILLION dollars to True Friends. Together we are providing thousands of individuals with an experience of lifetime! Together we are making a difference in the world. Together we are building a stronger community. Together we are serving those across the state of Minnesota. We all know teamwork is important, but more importantly, we need to know that TOGETHER WE can accomplish extraordinary things!

To learn more about True Friends, please visit their website at

Stationed by the Door,

Sam Johnson

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

November...A Season to Give Thanks

Wow, I can hardly believe it, November is here.  When I think of November, the first thought that usually comes to mind for many of us is the Thanksgiving holiday.  As you know, another major holiday that is celebrated in November is Veteran’s Day.  I think it is completely wonderful to be able to celebrate these two holidays in the same month, because we are all blessed with freedom and liberties in our lives, thanks to those who serve and protect our country.

Veteran’s Day has been established as a day of celebration to honor America's veterans for their patriotism, love of country, and willingness to serve and sacrifice for the common good.  All of these sacrifices are made for all of us so that we may continue to enjoy a life that is filled with opportunities to live in a world where we are able to get an education, join the workforce, and have a life filled with family and friends.  We are blessed with the opportunity and freedom to pursue our dreams. 

Wendell Gesme,
WWII Utilityman,
US Merchant Marines
Both of my grandfathers were Veterans.  My mom’s father, Wendell, served in World War II, as a Utilityman in the US Merchant Marines.  His duties were onboard a supply ship in the Pacific Ocean.  My dad’s father, Walter, served in the US Army during the Korean War.  Although they have both passed on, I am honored and thankful for their service.  I am grateful to all military veterans and for those currently serving in the military, so that we may enjoy our freedoms. It was wonderful to see so many schools in Minnesota and across the nation celebrating with Veteran’s Day programs. 

Celebrating the Thanksgiving holiday gives us another opportunity to give thanks for our bountiful lives.  We are not only blessed with freedom, but we are blessed by the grace of God with what comes with that freedom.  On Thanksgiving Day many of us “go home” to gather with family and friends to celebrate with intentional gratitude for our lives. We have amazing meals of turkey, gravy, stuffing, and all the fixings. It is a celebration of harvest, and to celebrate the bounty that nature has given us after our summer labors.  We get and give warm hugs, have lots of laughs, and maybe shed a tear for memories of those no longer present with us.   We are wrapped up in the magic of this special holiday, and all of its blessings. It is a time of peace. 

There are truly very few days each year as meaningful as Veteran’s Day or as wonderful as Thanksgiving Day.  But what if we took time more often in addition to these two special days to be grateful for our blessings and be and more intentional in our thankfulness?   What if we made time more often in this month, or this season to give thanks to God and show gratitude?  I think it’s possible we would find a life that is filled with more joy and happiness.  I think it’s possible that by giving thanks and showing gratitude, our lives will be richer and full of more peace.

I am going to make this month into a season filled with more times of giving thanks and showing gratitude.  I will thank God more often for my many blessings.  I will thank others and show my gratitude for service.  I will let my friends and family know how grateful I am to have them in my life.  Will you join me in making this a season of giving thanks? 

In closing, I want to say thank you for being the wonderful FFA members and Agricultural Education students you are.  I am truly blessed and grateful to have the opportunity to be part of the Minnesota FFA Association, and this amazing organization.  I wish each and every one of you a very blessed Thanksgiving and a wonderful season of giving thanks.

Stationed by the Flag,
Madison Taylor

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

A Different Perspective

The air is getting colder, the crops are out of the fields, the leaves are falling, and it is one of my favorite times of year. For me, these signs mean that it is deer season. I have been hunting with my family and friends since I was big enough to walk out to the stand with my dad. From that point to now I have accumulated countless memories and experienced many different situations through hunting. Today I am going to share some of my favorite memories.

Two years ago, I went out on the second day of the season. I woke up earlier than I normally would on a weekend to give myself time to dress appropriately, grab my supplies, drive to the field, walk to my stand, and do all of this before the sun  even shows signs of coming up over the horizon.  In a short time I started to see the outlines of the trees in the woods, hear the birds start singing, see the distinction between the harvested corn and alfalfa fields, hear a mouse scurry across the floor, and finally see those first rays of light come out from their deep slumber. After it hit that magical time of legal shooting hours, I waited under thirty minutes before I heard some crashing in the woods and three does stepped out into the field.

Doesn’t this sound like the perfect situation? Well it pretty much was. However, things rarely ever went that well when hunting.  For example, a year earlier, we decided to take a 40 minute drive to go hunt with our cousins, something we try to find the time to do every year. Again, I woke up early, got dressed in the appropriate clothing, loaded the truck with our lunches, snacks, binoculars, tags, knives, ammo, and ourselves, and hit the road. I was lucky enough to be able to sleep on the way there. After the 40 minutes had passed, we arrived, got out, and began getting everything ready. It was at this moment that we realized that we forgot to bring our guns. So back into the truck and to home and back it was. Eventually we did hunt for the rest of the day. We walked a lot, stood in the cold even more, and I saw zero deer that day.

Jump back to the first story, this time I was in the perfect situation. That is, until the three does turned and slowly began walking away from me. Knowing that there wasn’t much I could do at this point, I sat and watched as they meandered along. I now found myself in the position that I often did, sitting in a stand with no deer in sight. It is at these times where there wasn't much more to do than to sit and think and admire the nature surrounding me.

It is times like these that I am able to see the bigger picture when the troubles often grabbing my attention are gone. I think back to that day when it seemed that everything that could go wrong was. Was that really such a bad day? In the morning I was able to spend more time with my family as we drove home to get what we forgot. Throughout the day, I was able to fully experience new places and spend time with my cousins. At the end of the day, I didn’t have any extra cleaning or processing to do. Looking back to the day that started so perfectly in that deer stand, I saw how the little things during a day can get us down and hide the great things that are happening.

As we begin to near Thanksgiving and Christmas breaks, it seems that we dread those last days or weeks before we are able to have that free time, or perhaps that hunting time. I encourage you to join me while I try to recognize the times I am stuck on the little things and instead, let's take a step back and admire the great things that are out in front of us. This could be a field from a deer stand, a whiteboard from a desk, or a finish line in a race. 

Wherever you are, appreciate the good things in life.

Stationed at the emblem of Washington,

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

One More Rep

The sun grazed across the surface of the horizon at 6:15 A.M, as I walked into the high school. I saw
this view each day of the summer from my seventh grade year on. I forced myself into the dimly lit gymnasium for weight lifting and conditioning, not knowing what the next hour and a half would hold.

Not only was I waking up in the wee hours of the morning to drench myself in sweat, but I was doing so with varsity wrestlers, track & field athletes, football players, hockey players and other male athletes. Amidst the intimidation, I always seemed to find myself working out side-by-side with the only other girl at that morning session, who also happened to be my best friend, Rachael. Rachael and I gave each other the motivation to keep going. We knew we were working out with the best, so we pushed each other that much harder to perform at their level. 

I vividly remember one morning in the summer after 9th grade. This day, Rachael was gone. I was left… alone. Fortunately, I had a kind, compassionate and obligated brother going into his senior year that was lucky enough to receive the task of lifting with me. Nathan and I had gone through most of the day’s workout, but we each had one set left on the bench press. I reluctantly got under the bar and started my reps- down…up…down…up…down… “Nathan, help. I can’t.” 

His response? 

“If you have the energy to talk, you have the energy to finish.”

What? How could he know how I felt in that moment? I was completely exhausted and he comes back with that? 

But before I knew it, I had fully extended my arms, finishing that last repetition. Success.

He was right.

I was ready to give up, but Nathan? He knew I had it in me.
I thought I couldn’t do anymore, but Nathan? He knew I could.

How often in our lives do we give up because we think we “can’t do it”? We say we have given it everything we have, but how do we truly know how much “everything” is?

It is so easy to make up excuses. “I’m too busy.” “I am not good enough.” “I just can’t.” But just imagine everything we could accomplish if we pushed just a little bit more. What if we spent 5 more minutes on that math problem, went out of our way to talk to the new kid in school or tried out for the volleyball team we weren’t sure we could make?

Try this with me: hold your hand up and form a fist. Squeeze it as hard as you can.

Keep holding that and now squeeze your first harder.

One more time, even harder.

Each time you thought you were squeezing your fist as hard as you could, but you were able to squeeze it just a little bit more.

This is so true in our lives. There is always a little bit more in us to give. Just as my brother made me 
realize I was able to push harder and finish that full set on the bench press, so too can you…

Do one more rep.

Stationed by the ear of corn,