Kansas FFA Blog

Holiday Traditions

Does your family have any interesting traditions? Well I’ll tell you mine does.

The holiday season is an exciting time of year, the music changes, the clothing changes, and the weather changes, which some of us enjoy more than others. Most of all, many of us are excited to get a break off school or work to relax and recuperate.

All my time growing up I have always loved this time of year, first the leaves change, then they fall. Then the weather gets colder, and suddenly it’s Thanksgiving and I’m watching the Macy’s Parade on my couch at home. Finally, we make it past Thanksgiving and we are on the last push to Christmas time.

I absolutely love Christmas, and firmly believe that no Christmas music should be played before Thanksgiving. Both of these holidays have always been a huge occasion for both sides of my family, but Christmas on my mom’s side gets quite interesting.

For several generations my mom’s family has had the tradition that the whole family would gather, eat a large meal, each member of the family performs a “talent.” Only after everyone has performed their talent would they begin opening presents. The talent can be anything from singing, playing an instrument, saying a few words of thanks, reading a poem, or reading a verse from the bible. The talent can take a great many forms and that is kind of the beauty of it.

When the tradition started years ago it was partially because money wasn’t always easy to come by and at in that time, they didn’t have all the incredible forms of entertainment that we have today, they only had each other to connect with. It was a way for my ancestors to give a gift to those they loved even if they couldn’t afford a physical object.

This holiday season start your own tradition, it doesn’t have to be elaborate. Maybe it’s as simple as thanking all those that are important in your life by spending intentional time with them. Meaningful actions can mean much more that physical gifts.

Happy Holidays,

 

Logan Elliott

State President

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Investing

The running joke for FFA members has always been that our organization allows you to meet and become friends with incredible people from across the nation. People who make you better, accept you, and inspire you. Then, you have to go home without knowing when you will see them again. Whether you meet them at Washington Leadership Conference, National Convention, State Conference for Chapter Leaders, or even a district event. Ever since my junior year of high school, I’ve known the struggle of long distance friendships.

I’ve had the opportunity to make amazing friendships with members from across Kansas, like Ali, Chris, Kyler, Gracie and others. I’ve been so blessed with the opportunity to meet others who inspire me and remind me of my purpose. Yet, it’s hard to keep up when distance & schedules separate us. We all have the incredible opportunity to meet and connect with so many yet the opportunities to continue and build those connections are difficult to find.

I’ve found myself wishing recently that there was some sort of way to live off of simply being a full-time friend. I’ve dreamed up an entire scenario- I’d spend my time travelling from place to place: grabbing coffee, going on late night sonic runs, and having deep life chats. Imagine! I would have enough time to invest in all of the incredible people I’ve encountered. From Kansas, to Germany, to South Korea, and beyond. These day dreams quickly vanish, however, when I remember that isn’t quite how the world works.

It’s frustrating to be gifted with so many incredible people, yet not be able to invest in them how I want to.

That’s when I realized that in this season, with these friendships, investing might look a little bit different. Though we like to connect with others by being with each other in person, what’s important is the intentional time you give them. That can be writing letters, sharing a song, or sending up a quick prayer. The thought and time you give them is what strengthens those relationships and will sustain them until you can be together again.

I was reminded of how impactful those small moments of intentional time can be when my friend Josiah Cruikshank took time out of his day to invest in me. It wasn’t a big, extravagant gesture. It was the simple act of picking up the phone for a quick facetime and taking a moment to share something we both love- snow! Being thoughtful and intentional creates special moments that leaves a positive impact on the other person.

We all have someone, or a few someones, that deserve a few moments of our intentional time. Whether they live 12 hours away or 12 blocks.

How can you take a moment out of your day to leave that positive impact?

With intention,

Abby

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The End Credits

A huge benefit of college compared to high school is that there is a lot more free time. A way I have been keeping myself busy, besides the overwhelming amount of homework, is diving deep into Spider-Man media. I’ve always been a fan of Spider-Man; I grew up with the Sam Raimi trilogy, a majority of my PS2 games were Spider-Man, and when I was little I had a Spider-Man Halloween costume that I wore underneath a collared shirt and I would run around the house ripping my shirt off yelling “I’M SPIDER-MAN”. (In fact, I am currently borrowing my roommate’s PS4 to play Marvel’s Spider-Man)

Last Monday after I returned to my fraternity after several quizzes and an exam; I decided to watch Spider-Man 2. This was not my first time watching the movie, but for the first time – it inspired me to do something that I have never done before.

I decided to read the end credits.

At that moment: for one reason or another, I wanted to know the names of the people who worked to produce my childhood movie. I wanted to know exactly how many people followed their passion to create this amazing piece of art that has impacted millions of viewers. A couple of days later I found myself knowing exactly why I wanted to read those credits. It was because to me, those people who came together to make Spider-Man 2 reminded me of the people who came together, in a variety of ways, to help me achieve my goals.

I saw my ag teachers: all the Suburban rides to and from speech contests in spring, all the chaotic stock show memories, all the inspirational messages. I saw my parents: all the ups and downs, all the cheesy jokes, all the times that I needed someone to vent to.

In our lives, we have amazing people that help us get to where we want to go. Much like my upbringing; the people who help you succeed could be your family, FFA advisor, teachers, etc. Take some to think about the people who have helped you reach where you are at.

Take time out of your day to thank those people.

Multam Gratiam,

J.W. Wells

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Always Remain Persistent

There is one thing I dreaded about going off to college—and that would be the parking lot situation. Now, I am very grateful for the parking lots, but actually parking my car can be an experience.

The very first time I tried parking my car in this lot was something I thought would not be so difficult. As I entered the parking lot, I expected for a spot to be waiting for me in what I call “the front lot.” I placed a lot of hope into that thought. Row by row, and spot by spot, I persistently kept thinking I would find the spot. However, eventually, the parking spots ran out to where I had to go to the “back lot”, where I would finally find a parking spot for my beloved Chevy Impala.

Now, I have moved my car and have found multiple different parking spots since then, but there is one thing I always have to tell myself. “Persistence is key.” With patience and persistence, I always know I will be able to find my spot, whether if there is one in the “front lot” or not. I realized that we must remain patient and not expect for things to come immediately.

Scholars Bowl in high school tested every little bit of persistence I had. We would practice every Wednesday at lunch, going over questions preparing for us for all of our meets. But there was always one question that I could never get right. We would be asked the same question every practice, but I could just never answer it correctly. However, I never gave up. I always would write down the answer, ask myself the question every day, and understand the question when asked differently. Through it all, I remained persistent because I wanted to know the answer. I knew in order to be successful, I could not expect it to come to me, I had to have the persistence to go find it.

Always remain persistent. Whatever you set your mind to, fight for it. Long for it. Simply, do it. We can be persistent in our schoolwork, in our passions and interests, and in our struggles. It may not be easy, and it will take time, but if we allow ourselves to keep persevering, we will reach to what we are hoping for.

Let’s always walk each day with Persistence.

When something stands in your way, be persistent. When you face failure, be persistent. When we set our mind to something big, be persistent.

Never give up. Keep your head held high.

Always be Persistent.

Elizabeth Wright

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To The High School Senior

This past Friday I returned to my hometown of Wilson, Kansas for the annual homecoming ceremony. It was much needed time to reconnect with teachers, friends, family, and members of the community I had not seen in a while. While I enjoyed watching my Alma mater play some pretty good football, I started thinking.

A year ago, I was in the same spot as those seniors. Going through their final year of high school and about to enter the big world of college and life. Thinking about being in that position there was lots of stuff I wanted to say to them and show them, but I didn’t know how to put it. How could I explain that when it’s over its over? High School isn’t always the best or greatest time of our lives, but there are many things that happen in high school that won’t happen anywhere else.

To the high school senior going throughout this year, don’t freak out, this year is a tough one. You may be trying to figure out what you want to do in life, what you want to do after high school, and many more of those big questions. All of that is okay, life is a journey, a marathon not a sprint. You only have one year of high school left, go to the football game and pep rally, go out to sonic with your friends, and dance like no other at the winter homecoming. You may be counting down the days to graduation and trust me it will come soon enough. I have some regrets, and chances are that you will too. Set a goal and be intentional about having as few regrets as possible

Also, as you go through those final days, say thank you to those teachers and staff that helped you. They greatly appreciate those kind words. Make amends with those people you make not be on the best terms, make new friends with the younger classes, and make memories one last time with those life-long friends. Never ever forget to tell your parents for helping you to make it this far and that you love them. When you walk across the stage for the final time and grab that diploma, it’s over. You may take the last class photo together and not know it. Afterward, everyone will move on to the next great adventure, some together and some not. So, enjoy every moment left of high school.

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Sitting on Every Seat

What is the first thing as a kid you remembered when you entered the state fair? Was it the loud noise? Bright lights? Powerful messages from every single vendor trying to sell you something? When I was a little kid holding on to my mom’s hand, there was only one thing I wanted to do, and best of all it didn’t cost any money for my parents. Sitting on tractor seats.

I could not wait to climb up the three or four steps to what I thought was a throne. I was on top of the world (when in reality I probably only was ten feet above everyone in the dealer display). The wonder of how big I would have to grow to reach the petals and operate all these big machines. After five minutes I would have to climb down and take mom or dads hand and move on down the line. Then at the next farm equipment dealer I would want to try out every single machine again. After a few hours of looking through displays that probably should have only taken about an hour I finally finished. Then it was off to the other parts of the fair.

The last time I did this was around the time that I began showing sheep at the Kansas State Fair. So now my State Fair Days were taken up in the Sheep, Goat and Swine Barn at the opposite end of Kansas State Fair Grounds. The focus of my State Fair became about the competition and being on top to the throne in a different way. After many years of showing at the Kansas State Fair it wrapped up this year on the green chips of the Grand Drive and Gala.

But what causes this… many of us wonder what happened to the “GOOD OLD DAYS”. Basically, as we get older, we start to focus on the reward and not the excitement about just existing. In this we lose ourselves in the rat race of life. We move to a point where we and wondering what happened and question why we don’t do “IT” anymore. Soon though we are caught back up in the rat race and we lose these thoughts.

Working Spongebob Squarepants GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

The second weekend I when back to the State Fair to help with the FFA Barn. I had a little bit of time to look around again. As I walked down the road, I decided to climb on a couple tractors. This was a moment of great reflection as I looked down on the fairgoers that did not seem quite as small as I remember. I was able to rediscover why I was excited about the state fair originally not the ribbons, the food, or the attractions. The simple thing of just sitting on a tractor and looking around.

In school, work or life do you ever find yourself going through the motions and not putting your full effort into why or what you are doing? Is there times that you need is something you cannot define?  But then you remember it and forget it. Have you always looked toward the sunset or the sunrise and wondered what “IT” was?

Now pull out your phone……

Set a reminder for six months from now….

Tell yourself …… rediscover “IT”

Living to Serve,
-Lukas Sebesta

 

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Who am I?

Who am I?

 

People often ask, “What was it like running for a State FFA Office?” And the typical response is, “Well it was pretty tough, but overall very worthwhile.” What most people don’t realize, however, is that some State Officers, including myself, have thought about dropping out of the running.

It never crossed my mind I wanted to run for an office position until the end of my junior year of high school. I had just been elected to my position on the Southeast District officer team and it briefly flickered across my mind, maybe I could run for a state office? Then just as quick as it was there it was gone as I began working on other events and activities.

Several months later, I was halfway through my senior year of high school and it was time to fill out the Intent to Run forms for all those that wished to apply for the candidacy. The form was quite simple, so I filled it out and sent it in. After I sent in that form the doubts came. “Should I go through with this? Is this what I want? Am I worthy of even being a State FFA Officer?” But it was still early in the process and I pushed aside the doubts and moved forward.

Then the first Growth Interviews came. They didn’t count toward the process “scoring,” they were just an opportunity to get a taste of what the process at state convention would be like. The interviews went okay and after everyone finished their interview, we all gathered together for feedback. I looked around at the very prominent and well-known faces and the doubts came rushing back.

Over the next several months I would have more doubts and internal questions. Twice I talked with my Advisor about dropping out. Twice I talked to my family about dropping out. They supported me 110%, so I decided to stick with it.

The week before convention and the beginning of the final stages of the process were the last time that these doubts and insecurities came to me.

“Is this the right thing to do?”

“Am I deserving of this opportunity?”

“Am I capable?”

“Who am I to do this?”

Convention came and went. 13 candidates completed the process. Six were selected and elected to their respective offices. I was one of those six. I was so happy and excited, but after a few days the adrenaline wore off, as did the new, and the doubts came rushing back.

 

“Can I do this?”

“I’m not prepared.”

“What are those I serve going to think of me?”

It took weeks of training for me to answer a question so simple. The morning after we were elected, we did a reflection. I said during that time, “I am me, and we are we.” I didn’t truly understand what it was that I said at that time.

We all have different strengths, abilities, beliefs, aspirations, connections, and relationships.

Who am I?

I am ME.

You are YOU.

And we, are WE.

We all bring something to the table, and we are all stronger than we realize. It takes time to hone these things and be the best that we can be.

Dig deep. Answer the doubts that you might have with strength. And call upon those you care about to help you when you are struggling.

Who are you?

Dig deep,

Logan Elliott, President

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Free of Fear

I’ve been thinking about fear a lot recently.

I’ve been known to, more than once, turn down an opportunity because I was afraid I would fail.

My 8th grade year my piano teacher signed me up for the Pitt State Music Contest. I had to memorize a piece, then play it for a judge. I started to learn the piece Für Elise around Christmas time. By April, it was memorized, polished, and played to perfection. Competition day came and I sat at the piano in front of a crowd of peers and a judge who had her pencil poised over the score card. I froze for a moment, then began to play. My hands moved effortlessly in the right pattern… sadly I had started on the wrong note so I was in a totally different key. Deep breathe. I started again. This time, it was right. Until I messed up again.

Without the music in front of me, I totally blanked on my piece. I tried to find it, then I sat in defeat as tears came to my eyes. Eventually, the judge brought my book to me and I finished the piece by reading the notes. I cried a lot that day. All I wanted was to go home and pretend that it had never happened.

The next year, my teacher wanted to sign me up again. I was once again living in that moment of embarrassment, and I refused. She signed me up anyway, thinking I would come around. I put my foot down and made excuses and deals until finally she let me off the hook.

I was petrified of being in that situation again, but I told her that I simply didn’t want to. I said I was over competitions; music is to be shared, not judged. Instead of facing it head on and addressing what held me back, I hid.

Why do we do this? Ignore the fear as if that makes it non existent? I’m no better off today because I didn’t compete again. In fact, I have anxiety every time I play for someone because I didn’t overcome my fear. I robbed myself of the opportunity to improve because I hid.

Today, I will stop hiding from my fear.

I fear failure.

           commitment

           being yelled at

           snakes

           disappointing others

           people not liking me

           forgetting people’s birthdays

           chemistry exams

The point is, I fear a lot. Maybe announcing my fear won’t change anything; but now I have nothing to lose. There’s no point in hiding what I’m afraid of, because now the world knows.

My fear may never go away but by acknowledging it, I break free from its hold on me.

Acknowledging the fear is the first step, but sometimes it takes more. Every day requires me to grow and adapt to the new fears that sprout. Here are some ways I try to continue to let go of fear:

  • Know your purpose. In life, school, and relationships.
  • Make goals to stay true to those purposes.
  • Know what you value.
  • Understand that fear can compromise you holding true to those values. (I value honesty, but I fear people not liking me. Sometimes, I have to say the truth even when it isn’t easy)
  • Ask a friend to hold you accountable to acting even when fear hits. Be vulnerable with them.

These may seem easy at first, but if we are dedicated to a fear free life, it takes commitment and vulnerability to get there. We have to work towards it everyday, and sometimes that requires reminders. One of the ways I remember to use these hacks is by listening to powerful music.

One of my favorite songs is “Live it Well” by Switchfoot. In the song it says,

“I wanna sing with all my heart a lifelong song
Even if some notes come out right and some come out wrong
‘Cause I can’t take none of that through the door
Yeah, I’m living for more than just a funeral
I wanna burn brighter than the dawn

Life is short; I wanna live it well”

Today, I choose to break free from my fear. Whether the path ahead holds failure or success, by choosing to take the step I know growth is not far away. I’ve got one shot at this life, so why let myself be held back by something as pointless as fear?

What fears have you been hiding?

Will you choose to break free?

This is your life.

                  Live it well,

                  Abby Goins, Vice President

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The Day Is Uncertain

I’m sure we can all remember the Pocahontas movie scene where she is singing “Just around the River Bend”.  Life is a lot like that river with many twists and turns. At times just around the bend, there is a calm moment in life that is peaceful and allows one to feel motivated for what is to come. Other days just around the bend is a series of rapids and every time you struggle to overcome one you are hit by another before you can even recuperate. Sometimes you will get lost in the current and your life will flip upside down like a canoe. That’s when you decide, “Do I allow myself to be lost in a current or do I right my canoe and push on?”. I hope you choose to push on, because just around the river bend is another surprise. There is always a chance that it will be more rapids, but life will never give you more than you can take. There is also a chance that just around the river bend is a calm stretch of water and warm sun rays to warm your overworked muscles.

In South Africa there are many rivers, and one is called the river of Joy and another is called the river of Sadness. There was an expedition to see if a railroad could be built from a city all the way out to the Atlantic Ocean.  A man took his wife on this expedition and the more they traveled, the unrulier the terrain became. He decided that it would be faster if he and the men traveled on horseback while his wife stayed with the wagon on a river bank. He told her if he did not return in ten days she was to assume he had perished and head back to the city. After ten days he did not return, and his wife assumed he had perished. She mourned as she packed the wagon and decided to call the river she had been living on, the river of Sadness as she had lost everything she cared about while staying there. On her way back to civilization, she took camp at a different river. As she began to lay down for rest she heard rustling in the bushes. Then out of the brush came her husband and the other men. They had not perished at all and were just simply late returning! She decided then to name that river she was camping on, the river of Joy. Little did she know that the two rivers she had named eventually joined together as one further downstream. The river of Sadness is larger than the river of Joy, yet after they join, the river is still called the river of Joy.

There are many struggles in life, and many surprises around each bend. There’s a chance you will go through many bad days before you reach a good day, but the good days always outweigh the bad. Use the promise of better days as motivation to find better ways even through the challenges that life will give you.

Living to serve

-Krissy

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Thanksgiving in April

Take a moment and examine the screen that you’re viewing this blog through. If you happen to be particularly clumsy like myself, that screen might have a few cracks and chips on it…or maybe an entire spiderweb of broken glass.Image result for photo of broken iphone screen

Sometimes these broken screens show up without our realization, but most of the time it happens after a tragic drop. For me, this drop happened after my hand slipped while opening a door. The phone flew and hit the ground face down with a sickening *splat*. Naturally, my reaction was just like this

This unfortunate series of events has led to plenty of blurry selfies, glass cuts on my fingers, and no more Apple facial recognition. But I realized something very important during all of this. For the first time in a long time, I had an unblemished phone screen for 3 months (which is truly a miracle for me) and when it finally cracked, I realized I had taken that luxury for granted. I never appreciated the screen when it was here, I only missed it when the screen finally became broken. Far too often, we take for granted the goodness around us. Maybe it’s in the people who support us or the individuals who make our lives easier. It’s essential for all of us to appreciate those individuals especially when we’re not in a season of gratitude.  My challenge to readers today is this:

Find 5 people who deserve your gratitude. Write each of their names down, and make an effort to thank them verbally in person or through a phone call.

I hope you’ll find that taking a moment to appreciate that goodness will foster more gratitude and help later on.

“Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it.”

William Arthur Ward

Living to Serve,

-Michael Dowd

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