Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Just like Watermelon, Victory is Sweet!

There is a traditional phrase that reads, “Victory is Sweet.” Whenever I hear this phrase, I instantly feel more competitive or motivated to try harder. As FFA members, there are many opportunities for us to taste that victory;, we simply have to know how to get there.

At the State Leadership Conference for Chapter Leaders, I met a sophomore from Lakeview named Payton. On the night of the dance, we had a watermelon feed. After we learned “The Watermelon Crawl,” we all raced outside to claim the biggest piece of watermelon we could find. My friend Payton was as excited for the watermelon feed as I was, so we put our watermelon skills to the test. He was already at 19 slices, which was impressive in itself. However, I challenged Payton to eat 23 slices of watermelon. To put this into perspective, I was full after nine slices.

Before he started the 20th piece, he began to slow down. Each piece took a little bit longer, and he told me he was getting full. Being the competitive person I am, I told him he couldn’t quit now. “You are so close – you can do it!” After this small encouragement, his pace picked back up again. I saw a grin on his face, and his effort skyrocketed.

Soon enough, he had devoured 23 slices of watermelon. He made the goal I set for him! But Payton did not stop there. He kept eating, faster than he had finished the first 23 pieces! He pushed himself to his limit and came out a champion.

Payton’s success reminds me of my own experience starting a Dairy Cattle Evaluation Career Development Event team. When I was a freshman in high school, I made a goal to establish a Dairy Cattle Evaluation team my sophomore year. I was so excited; I love dairy cattle and have shown them for years. Nothing would be better than if I could start a dairy team in my chapter! Despite my excitement, I soon found that it was not going to be an easy thing to achieve.

For five months, I struggled making a complete team. Some of the team members didn’t want to practice, while others had obligations elsewhere. One week before the region event, one of the team members decided not to compete. When each of these challenges came up, I felt as though my goal wasn’t going to be reached. Much like Payton, I thought I had all I could handle. I wasn’t eating watermelon, but I was full. Full of disappointment.

After a lot of work and encouragement from my advisor, I found an eager member to join the team. We studied as much as we could that week, and ended up qualifying for the state convention! I not only achieved my goal of starting a dairy team, but surpassed it by qualifying for state. Much like Payton, I tasted the sweetness that came with the victory of exceeding my goal.

Within the next month, many of us will be starting school again. For FFA members, this means studying for Career Development Events, recording hours for our Supervised Agricultural Experiences, or recruiting new members. What is that one thing that you want to accomplish in school or FFA? No matter the task, there are a few things to keep in mind as we reach for that sweet taste of victory.

In order to be successful, we must set goals. No matter what we want to achieve, it is important to have our eyes set on the prize. When we clearly see the end result we desire, it is that much easier to navigate towards. Goals can originate from all different sources too. For Payton, it came in the form of encouragement from those around him. For me, it was a personal drive that pushed me to start something new.

In the process of achieving our goals, we are going to experience low spots, or challenges. Much like Payton and I faced trials on our journey to reaching our goals, each one of us will be forced to deal with uncontrollable circumstances. This is often referred to as life. Think about the end goal and what it will feel like once you reach that destination. Keep that feeling close as you endure each challenge that might come your way.

Last but not least, remember the struggle will be worth it. When it’s all said and done, the destination is what we were aiming for. The challenges we went through to reach that point no longer matter. Here’s the bonus: if we work hard enough, we won’t simply reach our goals, we will exceed them. Just as Payton and I surpassed our goals, working through low spots with all of our effort gives us the ability to reach new heights with our goals.

Now think back to that one thing that you want to accomplish. As we begin another year, let’s try to focus on our goal by reminding ourselves of it daily. What will help you keep your focus on that goal? Remember to embrace the low spots and more importantly, allow them to encourage us to exceed our goals. How can you take your challenges and turn them into positives? What extra steps will you take to surpass your goal? My challenge to you is that by the end of the year, we will each be able to say that “just like watermelon, victory is sweet.”

Stationed by the Flag,

Rebekka Paskewitz
Minnesota FFA Reporter

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

How FFA Helped Me

We have been busy these past few weeks! We enjoyed an amazing State Officer Professional Development day (SOPD) with GNP Company and Jennie-O. A huge thanks goes out to them for opening their doors to us and teaching us so much about the poultry industry. It was fun touring their facilities and hearing from professionals about how chickens and turkeys move from farm to the grocery store.


This SOPD was really interesting to me because if you don’t already know, I am a meat geek. I’ve participated in the Meats judging Career Development Event (CDE) for six years and loved every second of it. That CDE is the reason why I was able to finally decide on a major, or so I thought. I had decided I wanted to major in animal science and minor in meat science while I attended South Dakota State University. I was all set and proud of myself for finally making that decision. Then this SOPD comes along and screws up my great and wonderful plan.Cm4oeTAUEAA5ACU.jpg-large.jpeg
Just ask any State Officer if you see them; I was like a kid in a candy store as we toured both facilities. However, it was while we were touring the Research and Development side of the Jennie-O facility that I really went crazy. I was the one always asking the woman who showed us around questions like: what degree she got; to if they have a smoker for their turkey; and what she does on a daily basis.
This SOPD made me decide to add another major, food science. Along with making my college education harder, it also gave me some clarity as to what I want to do with my life. If I haven’t already said it I will say it again, I am a meat geek. I love to just randomly decide I want to smoke a pork loin or brisket and always change up the marinade and rub I make myself to see what works and tastes best. My ultimate goal is to open my own meat locker so that I can do this at every single day. I knew I wanted to open my own meat locker , but it was what I wanted to do until I can open my own meat locker that stumped me. Thanks to the trip to Jennie-O I have figured out that I want to work in the Research and Development side of meat processing.
Thanks to FFA I have found my passion and a career for my future, and I know I’m not the only one who has felt this way. FFA is amazing in the way that it can help any member find something they are passionate about and give them the skill and knowledge to turn it into a career. FFA not only gives you the desire to set a goal, but the confidence and determination to accomplish it. Stay active in your chapter. Don’t just do the bare minimum, go out and be the person that your friends call an “over achiever” and take it as a compliment because that is exactly what it is. Try different CDEs. Once you find one that you like, do anything and everything you can to do your best in it and it just may turn into a career that is filled with fun and not work.

Clay Newton
Stationed by the Emblem of Washington

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Here by the Owl

Everyone has a different story of how they began their FFA journey. Mine began when my advisor talked to me for the first time at our county fair. “Wendy,” she said, “I know you don't know me, but you should come make an arrangement at the floral design contest.” I had no idea who this crazy lady was, but I knew my sister thought she was sort of cool, so I went to the contest not knowing what to expect. As it turned out, I wasn’t very good at making arrangements, but Mrs. Williamson was an expert at teaching everyone how to make one.

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My advisor, Mrs. Williamson, and I
For many of us, our advisors are the reason why we joined FFA; whether it is because they said something that convinced us, or maybe they twisted our arms just enough to finally make us say, “Okay, okay! I’ll join FFA.” Regardless of the reason, all advisors have something in common: they care about their students.

This past week my teammates and I had the opportunity to experience the Minnesota Association of Agricultural Educator’s conference. It made me realize that a lot of times, we only see our advisors when they are in action: teaching us in the front of a classroom, loading us onto a bus to send us to a CDE, or working with us to help them develop our SAE. We don’t always realize all of the behind the scenes work that goes into serving as an agriculture teacher: the countless hours spent preparing curriculum, developing their leadership and teaching skills at various conferences and workshops, and committing themselves to learning more about agriculture by being involved firsthand with agricultural practices.

As a student, FFA member, and human being, I know I often forget to say thank you to all those around me who help and serve me on a regular basis. One of those often forgotten individuals is my agriculture teacher. Mrs. Williamson helped me break out of my comfort zone, taught me about agriculture, encouraged me to become involved in leadership, and told me I am capable of achieving my dreams. I can’t even begin to imagine what kind of person I would be if I wouldn’t have met her. If you are a student, you may have a similar story about your agriculture teacher. If you are an agriculture teacher, you may have had this impact on many students throughout your career.

I believe the first step to changing the world is having an attitude of gratitude. We, as FFA members and agriculture education students, are enabled with the tools we need to change the world, thanks to our advisors and agriculture teachers. We should take time to thank them for the impact they have made in our lives. Let’s start changing the world by expressing our gratitude to those around us. Let’s start changing the world by being thankful for everything we have. A great place to start is saying thank you to our agriculture teachers.

For all of those stationed by the owl, on behalf of the Minnesota FFA Association, thank you for everything you do.

Stationed by the ear of corn,
Wendy Bauman

Minnesota FFA Secretary

Saturday, July 9, 2016


“Ohana—it means family & family means no one gets left behind.”

This is my absolute favorite quote from the movie, Lilo and Stitch. You see, this movie is all about accepting and loving one another despite differences or weaknesses. Lilo does not care that Stitch is not a “regular” dog nor does she dwell on his mistakes. Lilo and Stitch are family.

This past week, I had the amazing opportunity to spend five days with 154 Minnesota FFA members from across the state at the State Greenhand Leadership Conference, or SGLC. At this conference, we engaged in group
discussions to better get to know one another, pushed each other past our limits on the rock wall and while climbing the tower, and made life-long friendships with people we had never
met before.

One day during recreation time, a few friends joined me on a walk up to a tower that stands 150 feet high. As we started the trek up, my friends, Katrina and Joshua, suddenly stopped. The tower was higher than expected, and they didn’t really want to continue the hike.

In most instances, many people                                                                                      would let them stay where                                                                                                          they were and continue on but                                                                                                   not the friends I was with. I                                                                                                         watched as fellow members                                                                                                        pushed their friends to                                                                                                                  conquer their fears and                                                                                                                continue on up. As words of                                                                                                         encouragement filled my                                                                                                      ears, I experienced the true meaning of family. Our trek up may not have been the fastest, but we all made it: no one was left behind.

My teammate and friend, Wendy, really made that thought stick as she touched on this during her reflections on the Wednesday night of camp. She talked about how each of us have something to give. Each of us are have unique talents, strengths, loves, and dreams, but together we have it all. On Monday of SGLC, we arrived as individuals ready to find ourselves. As we left Friday, we left as Ohana, or family: “As Family We Go.”

During the week, we grew from strangers to family. We not only found ourselves in the blue but found each other. As I left Deep Portage that Friday, I knew that this would not be the last time I saw these members and friends.  You see, as family we will succeed. As family we will impact. As family we will go. As family no one gets left behind.

Thank you greenhands for a week of a lifetime. I can’t wait to see you all again.

Stationed by the Plow,

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

My fellow state officers and I have had such an amazing and hectic few months. Our journey started with Blast Off in Eagan, Minnesota with all of the region presidents where we learned how to risk boldly, seize the day, seek improvement, and support honesty along with the five pillars of leadership!

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We put on our thinking Sweat Bands to Get down to work!

Our next event was at the Minnesota Farm Bureau for a State Officer Professional Development day. There, we had the privilege to talk to Kevin Paap (Minnesota Farm Bureau President), and several others who gave us all great insight into what an amazing partner the Farm Bureau is to FFA and valuable tips to having a successful year such as how to have a successful interview in a few short seconds.
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In front of Farm Bureau with Kevin Paap

Later that day, we headed straight north to Deep Portage for facilitation bootcamp. There all six of us brainstormed to plan, write and finalize the curriculum that we would use for the State Greenhand Leadership Conference (SGLC). Throughout the week at Deep Portage, we were able to meet and talk to all of the region officers while they attended POWER, and I was thoroughly impressed with their skills and passion for FFA.

After planning an exciting SGLC, we had a few days at home before we got to head to Nebraska for the National Leadership Conference of State Officers (NLCSO). While at NLCSO, we had the great privilege to get to know other state officers from Iowa, Nebraska, South Dakota, Colorado, and Kansas. During our time in Nebraska, we learned from three great facilitators, Sydney Snider, Alicia Hodnik, and Eric Nelson who taught us amazing techniques for facilitating and how to help our members realize their full potential. As we were cramming information into our brains, our State Leadership Conference for Chapter Leaders (SLCCL) had to be planned. Thus, we cracked down during some free time and wrote the curriculum for SLCCL.
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All six states at NLCSO
When the Conference was over, we had a fun filled SLCCL planned, and some incredible friends from the surrounding states. Overall the conference was phenomenal and I foraged relationships, along with my fellow officers, that we will have for years to come. As excited as we were from the past couple of conference, we were just building up to facilitating SGLC! We hope to see you all at SGLC or SLCCL this summer!

Spencer Wolter

Stationed Beneath the Rising Sun