Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Venturing West

This past Friday, a pickup truck packed with 3 guys, a tent, 20 pounds of trail mix, and a map bumped along Hwy 96 headed for Colorado.  For the first time in my life, I was headed out to the mountains.  This was a new experience for me, and sometimes I imagined myself as a pioneer venturing westward toward a new chapter of life.  However, the cold A/C and the speedometer reading 65 miles per hour brought me back to reality.  For this three-day getaway we had no concrete plan, just the goal to visit Pike’s Peak and camp out under the pines.
We passed through nearly a dozen small towns as the elevation rose up toward Colorado Springs.  However, one stuck out to me specifically.  Before entering Eads, Colorado, I noticed a sign along the highway painted a familiar blue and gold.  “Eads FFA Welcomes You,” it stated.  It was just a sign, but it made a connection to me and gave me a sense of belonging even though I was 400 miles from home. 
As August and the beginning of a new school year rolls around, we will all have the opportunity to welcome new members into our FFA chapters.  Just as pioneers venturing west, students entering high school are creating a new chapter in their lives.  It is vitally important that as an organization we welcome those new students. They may have a general idea of where they want to go in their life, but we must be there to help fill in the gaps and develop their skills.  As FFA members and leaders, we have the great opportunity to help fellow members unlock their potential and discover their passion for agriculture. 

After a few days of exploring the Rocky Mountains, my dad, brother, and I headed back east on Hwy 96.  We had survived a surprised hailstorm, explored numerous miles of logging roads, and made a lot of memories.  And once again, I saw a familiar blue and gold sign outside of Eads, Colorado.  “Eads FFA Welcomes You.” 
I believe that we need to remember to welcome not just new FFA members, but also those community and past FFA members who impact our organization.  Our communities provide an amazing amount of support for our organization, and without them we would not be able to accomplish nearly as much.  This year, let’s make sure to show our true appreciation for those around us and also welcome in a new group of members who will help us venture to new heights. 

But before I end my first blog post, here are some quick facts about myself. 

1.  My family consists of an older brother and my two parents. (They are quite amazing!)

2.  Our family enjoys building vehicles to thrash at the off-road vehicle park (This one didn't survive very long).

3.  I have a lot of fun showing hogs at the county fair.

4.  The Meats Evaluation CDE was definitely my favorite.

5. I love FFA!!! and my great teammates! 

Kansas FFA, how will you welcome others this year?

Sunday, March 2, 2014

The Power of Words

Have you ever sat back and thought about words? I mean really just thought about what they are and what they do. Go ahead and take a second to do that. Impressive, right? In case it hasn't dawned on you let me elaborate. The English language has a total of twenty-six letters that make up every word used in any conversation, every word ever written, and every thought you have probably uses words comprised up of those very same letters.
Here's some more perspective. The Harry Potter series has over 1,000,000 words in it, but only twenty-six letters. It blows my mind that such an elaborate story can be told by simply rearranging such a limited number of letters.  
It's quite possible I have an awkward obsession with words. Not only do I love books, speaking, and poetry, but I want to write, speak, and be poetic. My heart definitely falls prey to the ability of quotes to portray emotion and thought. I keep an inspirational quote written on my mirror to see every morning to kick start my day. Five quotes are written on my pawn shop acoustic guitar to show my love for music. Four documents on my computer are full of quotes to inspire, provoke thought, and motivate. However there is one quote written on a piece of paper that I've never lost. It currently hangs above my desk so that I can look at it anytime. It reads as follows.

"You will have many careers during your lifetime, so don't be pressured into thinking you have to decide what you want to do for the rest of your life. Just decide what you want to do first."

Now I do not who originally said these words but the man they came to me from makes them all the more special. My dad found this quote and wrote it down to give to me my senior year of high school. When he gave it to me I was at a point where I hadn't a clue what I wanted to do with my life. These words really set in my mind not to worry and just work towards what comes first.
FFA has been one of the biggest guides for my working towards a career. Through Career Development Events I have learned about many jobs I would love to have, and even more about ones I hope to never have. Through public speaking I can now better express myself through words. From the socialization in FFA I have great friends to share words with. Simply FFA has me feeling comfortable that whatever career I start in I will be successful.
I encourage all of you reading this to find some words that comfort you and give you motivation. Whether it's the motivational story of Oh the Places You'll Go by Dr. Suess or a quote by a revolutionary mind such as Ralph Waldo Emerson or Henry Ford, even song lyrics can be your choice for comforting words. Just take a moment to marvel at the power of  words made up of only twenty-six little letters.

I'm proud to say that this post uses all twenty-six letter (I checked) and has a total of 561 words (thanks word count!). Now I'm going to get myself a cup of coffee, read a bit, and maybe even start writing some poetry. It e quote written o

Friday, January 31, 2014

Decide with Confidence!

           Every day we are faced with at least a few decisions. According to studies the average human makes about 612 decisions in a single day. This adds up to 4284 decisions a week and 223,380 decisions a year. I'm awake for somewhere around 16 hours every day. Assuming I make the same amount of decisions in a day as the average person and those decisions are equally spread out over time then I am making a decision once every minute and 34 seconds. That seems quite frequent to me.
            I don't like to think of myself as "average" and I hope you don't think of yourself as "average" either. Everyone is a unique individual with knowledge and talents specific to them and them only. I have noticed many people don't seem confident in who they are. This worries me. Every decision you make defines who you are so make them with some confidence! Be proud of yourself and your uniqueness. If you do something that seems weird to the "average" person but it makes you happy then why should you hide it? Next time you make a decision make it with some confidence and be happy with yourself for doing so.
            Yes I know being "different" can be scary. Very few people want to be the one who sticks out in a crowd. However is it not a leaders responsibility to stick out? A leader cannot simply blend in with a crowd or they will not be noticed and will therefore have a difficult time leading.
            Here's the kicker though. I find oftentimes the first follower is the greatest leader of all. Without that first follower the leader is accomplishing nothing. The first person to follow sets the tone that what the leader is doing is acceptable. Every additional follower just ratifies this until the amazing moment when the act being done by the leader is completely acceptable.
            While this may all sound a little crazy take travel into space for example. Originally the people that tried were considered downright crazy. Many people thought that strapping some rockets to a chair would do the trick. Honestly as a little kid I probably wondered why that wouldn't work. Nevertheless the idea of travel into space was not abandoned. Eventually the space race ensued and later people even have had the opportunity to walk on the moon. Now there is even a private program that will send individuals to Mars on a one way trip starting in 2025. The entire plan is to start colonizing it. All it takes to be considered is an application (with some qualifications) and a small fee. By September last year 2782 people had sent in their application.
            At this point in time you will not be seeing me send in an application but by the time I have gone through the work force and then retired who knows. There might be an awesome retirement center on Mars. By that time it might even be commonplace to consider leaving Earth.

            Basically the whole idea is that being confident in an idea or decision can make great things happen. At the time you may seem crazy or out of place, but as more people agree and follow the idea becomes more acceptable and maybe even common. I challenge you to make decisions with confidence! You never know what it may mean down the road to yourself and others. I can personally guarantee that at least 598 of the decisions I make today I will make confidently and if I see someone trying something different I won't judge them. Their actions today may be the normal of tomorrow. Now excuse me as I go start building a time machine...

Sunday, April 21, 2013

It's Banquet Season Folks!

Starting as early as the beginning of February and ending around the end of May, chapters across the state of Kansas are having their chapter banquets. At these banquets, the chapters award their FFA members, local community, and school faculty on their successes throughout the year. Many chapter banquets also give out scholarships to the senior members to either continue their education or begin their college career. Finally, chapters also elect new leadership to serve as chapter officers.

I have had the opportunity to attend quite a few banquets so far and get to experience all the successes that these chapters have had. Each one has been amazing and I can’t wait to visit more! 

This is the Logan FFA Chapter and myself! Such a positive, motivated, and caring chapter with tons of potential! Truly enjoyed every second spent with them.

This was my first chapter banquet of the year, Fairfield FFA Chapter! They were very welcoming, enthusiastic, charismatic! Can't wait to hear and see all the accomplishments they will have in the future!

Here are two seniors from the South Barber FFA Chapter, Ciera Houlton and Micaela Kirkwood. Both were recipients of FFA Scholarships that will go towards their college education! 

Here is the instillation of new chapter officers at the Marais Des Cygnes Valley FFA Chapter Banquet. The new team has got some great potential and really excited to see where they will go from here! 

Banquets are an exciting time of the year! If you're an FFA Member, enjoy your banquet. If you're a community member or high school faculty ask your local FFA chapter or area chapter when their banquet is and I encourage you to attend it to support the FFA chapter! Happy banquet season everyone! :)

Monday, March 4, 2013

Collecting Your Passion

Some people love to hunt and are completely obsessed with it, some are the same way with Justin Bieber, and Starbucks coffee. It has taken me quite awhile to discover what I’m completely obsessed with and love, but I’ve now discovered it.  I’m obsessed with the Wizard of Oz, but more importantly, Dorothy. Ever since Black Friday shopping with a friend of mine, Tres Short, and purchasing my first Wizard of Oz memorabilia (a life size Dorothy cut out), the addiction has grown, and grown a lot. I’ve now accumulated two large posters and will be receiving in the mail (thanks to eBay) a 100-piece puzzle, a Tin Man trashcan, and a Dorothy Pillow. Who knows where my collection will go from there.

In life, we have the opportunity to participate in many different activities. We can play on sports teams, join clubs and organizations, or even have an after-school job. If you were like me, you wanted to participate in any and everything. You wanted to run cross-country, go to every Career Development Event and activity the FFA has to offer, and have an after-school job. In college, you wanted to sign up for every campus activity, apply for all the clubs and organizations, and be involved in all the intramurals.

It’s taken me awhile to discover this, but my mom called me up the other night and goes, “Honey, (yes my mom still calls me honey) you are running yourself crazy. You need to just find a few things you really like and focus your time and energy on them.” At that point it just clicked. I don’t need to do everything. I need to find the things I’m truly passionate about and focus on them. Just like my Wizard of Collection, I discovered what I truly cared about and loved and started my collection. I look at it like this, why put my time and energy into collecting Justin Bieber stuff when I really could care less about him. We need to focus on the things in life that we enjoy.

How can we discover what we love and are passionate about? I challenge you all to find that one thing that you are truly passionate about and dedicate your time towards it; whether that be your sports team, FFA Chapter, or after school job. Put your time into it and maybe you’ll find what you really love, just like I did with my Wizard of Oz collection!

If you want to fly and move on to better things, you have to give up the things that weigh you down – which is not always as obvious and easy as it sounds.” Unknown

“Do what your heart desires, never hold back a thing, and don’t worry so much about what the others think, because at the end of the day, what makes you happy is what really matters the most.” Unknown

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Who Would've Thought?

We all know the saying, “Dogs are a man’s best friend,” right? Well that is true, but since I'm at college I can't bring my dog; therefore, I've resulted into purchasing two of the most ornery, wild, and enthusiastic Betta fish in the world, Marty and Martha. They are quite the characters. I purchased Marty and Martha November first at the aquarium here in Manhattan, Kansas and it was one of the best days of my life, but seriously. 

I have surprisingly gained and learned quite a bit from my two fish. I've learned that I can't feed them too much or they'll die (no brainer), they can't be put into the same bowl or they'll try and kill each other (found that out the hard way), and that they prefer clean water rather than month long dirty water (pretty obvious). Besides how fish act and behave, I've gained a couple valuable life lessons. I've gained responsibility and discipline simply from owning two Betta fish. Who would have thought that owning these fish could be so beneficial. 

One thing in the FFA that I think is overlooked sometimes is our Supervised Agricultural Experiences. We can gain so many skills and so much knowledge from working with our programs. I started my Supervised Agricultural Experience my Freshman year in high school and to this day I am still very involved in it. My SAE is Wildlife Production and Management where I help out with my family's hunting operation. I have gained so much from my SAE. I've obtained communication skills, responsibility, and time management. I encourage everyone, in or out of the FFA, to start some sort of program wether it be purchasing your own livestock, helping out with a fruit stand, or even purchasing yourself a couple of fish because in the end you will leave with much more than you put in! 

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Peanut Butter and Jelly

“We go to together like peanut butter and jelly”. “We’re like two peas in a pod”. “I’m stuck on you like white on rice”. Okay so maybe you haven’t heard of the last one but the first two phrases, I hope, are pretty familiar. Now these great food analogies are most of the time used when describing friends that are pretty close. Many times these are the friends that are inseparable on the playground, eat lunch together on a daily basis, or regularly make some form of communication to keep in touch. These friends are the lifelong ones that you know, through hell and high water, will be there for you because they care about you. But the real question is are you reciprocating that feeling?

Think about it, we have been blessed with some truly incredible people in our lives that care so much about us! Our best friends, family members, coaches, mentors and so many more are all part of our support team. These are the people that have continued to help us achieve our goals, been there for us when we are down, and helped us to pick ourselves up and keep moving! They are our biggest cheerleaders, best motivators and sometimes our own personal therapists. But do we do the same for them?

I know that I would love to say yes to being there every time for those people I care but I know that there are times in my life that I have not held up my end of the deal when it comes to relationships. Looking back I can pinpoint times in my life when I could have done a better job at being a friend, role model, or teammate and I am sure that there are numerous times when I have not held up my end of the deal and totally didn’t even realize it. Let’s be honest we are all guilty of it, maybe it was forgetting a friends birthday, not taking the time out to give a few pointers to the kid playing on the basketball team we are coaching or not trying to reach a compromise and instead just storming out. The key is to try and remember that we are supposed to hold up our end of the bargain in every relationship and to continue to not just take, take, take but to give in return.

A quote that I have used to help me to keep this in perspective is by Scott Stratten. Scott was in a TED talk that I was advised to watch and had some very interesting and key points that were interesting to think on. The big message he had to share however was this. “Being a big deal, isn’t a big deal, especially if we don’t remember to be a bigger deal to the people we care about.”

Take some time and think on that. If we aren’t a bigger deal to those around us that helped let us become a “big deal” than we aren’t really a big deal. Our accomplishments, our successes all become worth nothing if we don’t take the time to give back to those who took the time and effort to support us and helped us to become successful. These friends, family members, coaches and mentors have helped you achieve the status of “big deal” and because of that they deserve a little pat on the back. So think back to those few people you consider the peanut butter to your jelly, the next pea in your pod; are you showing them the support that they have shown you?

“If you go looking for a friend, you’re going to find they’re very scarce. If you go out to be a friend, you’ll find them everywhere.”- Zig Ziglar