Monday, August 27, 2018

Rooting for the Home Team

Summer has come and gone, the Great Minnesota Get-Together has started and that means school is right around the corner. As a student at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities, that also means it’s almost time for football season, specifically Gopher Game Day. Just 3 days, 6 hours, and 47 minutes before the first kick. But, who’s counting?

When it’s Gopher Game Day, you can find my friends and I in the front row of section 129 cheering on our beloved gophers. But in order to get that front row seat, we get in line about two hours before the gate opens. Now that’s dedication. Dressed in our gopheralls, we are ready to sing that rouser as loud and proud as possible.

“Minnesota, Hats off to thee!
To thy colors, true we shall ever be,
Firm and strong, united are we.
Rah! Rah! Rah! For Ski-U-Mah,
Rah! Rah! Rah! Rah! Rah for the U of M.
Yeaaaaaaah Gophers!”

As one big student body, each of us in the student section shares a common passion for the Minnesota Gophers.

But the University of Minnesota Gophers are not the only “home team” I cheer for. Another “home team” I stand for is the agriculture community. The same passion I have when it’s Gopher Game Day comes out each day as I live out the positive message of agriculture.

As agriculturalists, we need to share our stories, or our “hometown pride,” with others. The agriculture community I am proud to be part of has so many stories to share. Each of us has a unique perspective and a different way of sharing that perspective with others. This may look like sharing our love of FFA or 4-H through social media. It may also look like engaging in conversations with fairgoers who may not get the opportunity to experience agriculture in the same way we do. No matter how we go about sharing our “hometown pride,” at the end of the day we circle back to the same messages. As stewards of the land or caretakers of livestock, we value the importance of producing a wholesome and nutritious product for consumers.

Within this agriculture community, we may not live nearby or own the same kind of livestock, but we are one team. In the Minnesota Rouser, we hear, “Firm and strong, united are we.” In my opinion, this could not be any more true in agriculture. Through the pleasures and challenges farmers face, we still remain strong and united. Together, we are able to get through those difficult times in agriculture. We have each other to build us up, bring us hope, and keep the faith in what is to come. Faith in the future of agriculture, together as one team.

Just like my friends and I share our love for the Minnesota Gophers, let’s share that same love for the agriculture community. We may not be wearing our gopheralls, but we do wear our passion, our pride, and our dedication for the industry the feeds America.

What “home team” are you rooting for? How do you spread that “hometown pride” with others each day?

Stationed by the Ear of Corn,
Laura Church

Sunday, August 19, 2018

Courage, Dear Heart

The word courage, often associated with being brave, strong, or taking 
chances, hasn’t always been thought of that way. When the word courage was first brought into the english language, it came from the latin word ‘cor’ meaningheart, and the original definition of courage was: to tell the story of who you arewith your whole heart.

I was given this knowledge by my friends at Lutheran Campus Ministry at the 
University of Minnesota about six months ago. At first I was confused as to 
what it means to tell the story of who you are with your whole heart.

I learned about this in a faith setting, so I began to apply my thinking on this to my faith. I have always felt that being in community with others was an important part of my journey. My community at church knows I will show up for service on Wednesday nights and usually on Sunday mornings. They know my favorite hymns to sing, and they even know what it is I’m doing when I feel closest to the Lord.

What most of them don’t know is why I feel drawn to certain hymns, 
what it is I am most afraid of, and when it is I feel farthest from the Lord. 
These are the things I carry around in my heart. Realizing the 
community around me knew me but didn’t actually know my heart was
a bit of an ‘aha’ moment. I think to have courage in terms of the 
original definition is to begin aligning how you know yourself with how 
those around you know you.

To make this change I didn’t  just walk up to my friends at lunch and share
every late night thought, day dream, or question I’d ever had that I never 
got an answer for. Instead I took my everyday routines and used them 
as an opportunity to be more authentic, transparent and loving.

When we sang my favorite song on Wednesday night, instead of smiling at 
the thumbs up they gave me, I took fellowship time to tell them why it was I 
connected well with that song. When I was struggling with a message I 
didn’t understand or a prayer I thought had gone unanswered I would knock
on a door or send a message to someone I trusted. It opened up new 
conversations, new insight and deeper relationships. Not only did those 
around me begin to know my heart, but I began to know theirs.

We might think we need to have everything in place. That in order to share 
our story, it has to be perfect, the way others think our story should be or
even the way others think our story is being lived out. The truth is, if we
wait around until we feel comfortable to share what's on our hearts, we 
may never share.

I learned that we all have doubts, we all have concerns and we don’t always 
share these with those around us. For me it was my faith, but for you it could 
be uncertainty about your future, it could be struggles at home or a struggle 
with mental health.

Another thing I realized - perhaps the most important thing - is that for this 
concept to work, we must embrace each other. We must meet each 
other where we are at, recognizing each of us are only the rough drafts 
of the people we are striving to become.

Today the definition of courage is: mental or moral strength to venture, 
persevere, and withstand danger, fear, or difficulty. At first glance, this may 
seem pretty far off from the original definition. At second glance, perhaps
it relates more than we think. If we are going to live our lives in a way that 
tells the story of who we are becoming and shares what is on our hearts, 
we must learn to meet people where they are at in their journey and accept 
what is on their hearts.

When we encourage others to be themselves, when we build them up from 
where they started, they in turn start to believe in themselves and trust 
themselves to be brave enough to share and live their story. One might say 
they are courageous enough to share and live their story.  

Let’s commit to bettering ourselves, to living in the journey of who we are 
becoming rather than who we are at any given moment.

How will you embrace others? How will you live your life in a way that shows 
others who you are? How can we commit to becoming a better version of 
ourselves and encourage others to do the same?

Stationed Beneath the Rising Sun,

Grace Taylor

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Make It A Habit

This summer has been a wild and crazy ride. Beginning in June with SGLC and SLCCL, going into July with inTENse and the State Officer Summit, and now in August with FarmFest and my first ever officer retreat, I have been on the road a lot! One thing hasn’t changed, no matter where I may be sleeping; my habits. No matter what, when I wake up, the first thing I do is think of the day ahead and make a plan of the items I need to accomplish. Then I brush my teeth, take a shower, and get dressed. Again, at night, I sit down and go through my mind, asking myself if I accomplished the things I set out when I woke up. These are things I do every day, no matter how early I get up or how tired I am, they are habits.

While I was on the inTENse conference in July, traveling the state and exploring colleges and careers with some of my favorite 10th and 11th graders, I ran into a bit of trouble. On the first and second day of the trip, Sunday and Monday, I had hyped up the fact that I had taco tuesday socks, and I would wear them on Tuesday. Almost all of the students on the bus were excited for me to walk out of my room in the morning and be showing off my socks. Well… when I got to my room Monday night and looked to take my taco socks out of my luggage, I was met with a realization that I had forgotten them at home. As Tuesday morning rolled around and I came out of my room, I was asked to show off my socks. I tried to come up with an excuse, but couldn’t. We ate tacos for three of our next four meals, and it became common knowledge that I had cursed the bus by promising to wearing taco socks and then not following through with that promise.

Habits are like promises we make to ourselves, good or bad. When we follow through, everything works as it should. When we don’t, however, we get cursed (or so I’ve been told). I began the summer with a couple projects that I wanted to become daily habits. Every night, I would sit down with my journal and some pens and write a journal page, and I would post it on Instagram the next day. As the summer went on, however, it became easier and easier to forget to do it or make an excuse for the day. “I’ll do it tomorrow for sure” became an almost daily saying. Each time I broke the promise to myself, when I didn’t follow through on the habit I wanted to create, I felt like I was hurting myself.

I’ve continued to struggle with maintaining some of these newly formed habits, but I always feel better while I am doing it and after. I know that I’ve upheld the promise I made myself and it will be easier to do again the next day. Habits are a way for us to get better at something every day. Even for those of us who seem to not have much time, a five minute habit every day can make a world of difference. I will challenge you with the same challenge I am trying to hold myself to: Promise to do something to improve yourself every night for 5 minutes before you go to sleep. Make it a habit.

Sunday, August 5, 2018

Scraped Knees and Gut Feelings...

I am not a track star by any means. Was I good at it? No. Did I do it? Yes. I love everything track and field has to offer; running as part of a team is spectacular. I was in track from 7th to 12th grade except, for my year off for golf. For those five years, I was always in one event -the 100 meter hurdles. This is everyone’s favorite event to watch because people usually fall.

 During my first outdoor track meet of my senior season, I was determined to run the fastest I had ever run. I spent my time warming up my legs with an endless amount of hurdle drills. As I checked in, a part of me was so scared I was not going to get the time I wanted. The other part of me worried  I was going to fall. This second part of me grew into the only thing I was thinking about!

It was my time to warm up on the blocks. I got down, counted in my head, and took off! One hurdle, two hurd-- Woah! My foot got snagged on the back of the hurdle and I scraped my knees on the track. Now embarrassed I quickly went back to the start hoping no one noticed me warming up. I would have been fine falling, but now I have to run them for real. By this time, all I could think about is falling again and not beating my person record.

I set myself up in my block and got ready for the real race. On your marks! Set! Bang! We were off, and it was painful to say the least, but I did not fall. When I got back to my bag and cleaned up my knees, I started thinking about what went wrong. Deep down I had this feeling - I did not trust my gut. I let the fear of falling cloud my judgments. I have run the race hundreds of times, but I did not trust myself to trust I could do it once more.

The next race was very important, but even with my knees still scraped ,I began to warm up. I knew I could run this race the way I wanted. I checked in and warmed up on the blocks without falling, so I was already going better than before. I focused on the my gut saying, “I have and I will” instead of the one saying I couldn’t. On your marks! Get Set! Bang! One hurdle, two hurdles, and so on I eventually finished. Upon checking my time, I was astonished I beat my personal record by a full second. Because I trusted my gut, I was able to accomplish my goal. This way of thinking transformed my way of running, so I started being confident in myself on tests and in my actions since it had worked with running.
My coach Mr. Hawkins and I

My poultry coach, Mr Hawkins, once said, “nine out of ten times your gut answer is the right answer.” He told us this three weeks before the regional poultry evaluation event. On the day of the event, I crammed through notes and tests as we drove to Austin to compete. I was reminded of the statement through each part of the event. My first section of the event was the exam that was worth a hundred points. My knees were shaking as I flipped through each question. I remembered to trust my gut response and not second guess myself as I selected each answer. I ended up with few errors on my test and scored highest individual that day. I trusted myself and had confidence in what I was doing.

What Mr. Hawkins said to me applies not only to test taking and running hurdles but to life. I follow my gut when hanging out with my friends and planning my schedule. I know it’s hard to hear it, but school is just around the corner and trusting our guts will come in handy. Whether it’s the choice to study for a test or take a nap, sitting at lunch with the “cool kids” or being there for someone who needs us, we can trust ourselves to make the right decision.  Deep down in our gut, we know what we should do. So many times I see people who are not confident in who they are, and then it gets in the way of what they can accomplish. Just like those poultry test questions, we can trust our gut one question at a time. My challenge to you is to trust your gut; we will never know where it will take us.

Stationed by the flag,
Lauralee Eaton