Kansas FFA Blog

Don’t Worry

Call me crazy, deranged, or straight up insane, but international travel truly changes a person.

It’s only been the second day our team has reentered the United States of America again after having traveled first to New York for New Year’s Eve and secondly to South Africa on the 2019 adventure of the National FFA International Leadership Seminar for State Officers (ILSSO).

If only I could put this experience into words.

There was so much seen, felt, and learned, I couldn’t possibly write it all down and truly capture what this experience was like. So, for now, I’m mainly going to focus on the one thing I feel has truly changed my perception on life: the pursuit of happiness (not the movie, because that would be copyright).

I felt a LOT of emotions on this trip.

There was awe in absolute beauty of South Africa.

Frustration at the crowded streets of Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, etc.

Inquisition of the culture of South Africa.

Admiration of the steadfastness of a country still in turmoil.

Love and appreciation for my fellow travelers, group leaders, and friends.

But the thing that changed the most is where I find joy.

This may seem like a really cheesy, flowery thing to admit, but it is true. The people of South Africa, and those I experienced South Africa with, have taught me a new definition for the word. Joy, and happiness, come from everywhere around us. A lot of the time, we find them in the material things we receive like the new iPhone, more livestock, or the great meals we eat. At least, these were the things that I thought brought me happiness. After being disconnected from my phone for a while, being away from my livestock, and having to generate a new palate in a place that definitely was not like home, I was able to perceive South Africa in a completely different light.

South Africa defined happiness in a way that nothing else could. Happiness is making new friends from around the country that are doing and will continue to do great, amazing things. Happiness is learning from the earth around us and the people who inhabit it. Happiness is

listening to others’ opinions and respecting them even if they don’t align with your own. Happiness is finding a way to make others content with themselves even when you are not.

Happiness is doing for others what they cannot do for themselves. Happiness comes from what happens around us just as much as it comes from within ourselves. It may be hard at times to find that happiness. I get it, but we cannot fixate on the negatives in our lives. If we do, we create a toxic atmosphere around us that others recognize and feed on. When something bad happens, take a moment to process the moment, then place it to the side and continue on with your life.

Nothing positive comes from a negative attitude.

I have a huge amount of learning still left to do about how to find my inner happiness. The pursuit of happiness is an ongoing, continuous journey with many side roads and forks along the way. Follow your inner compass, trust your instincts, shed negative thoughts, and surround yourself with positive people.

Most of all, be willing to change in order to find joy in your life and be happy.

Forever Blue,

Scuyler Zenger

Kansas FFA Secretary

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Ooohhh We’re Halfway There….

It’s been almost 7 months since State Convention which means that we are halfway through our school year, and halfway through our year of service in FFA.

First off, congrats! We have survived some of the busiest months of the year. Whether it’s September with the State Fair, or October with National Convention, or sports and school throughout the entire semester, we’ve learned and grown through new opportunities and challenges. Second of all, here we go! The next 6 months will also be marked with business, dedication, and exciting new opportunities. This includes FFA week in February, spring break and Leader Lab inMarch, State CDEs in April, and lastly State Convention in May.

Sometimes it might seem like we’re “Livin on a Prayer” , pardon the Bon Jovi reference 😉

iheartradio music awards applause GIF by iHeartRadioBut between the craziness of life, It’s always a good idea to reflect on everything that’s happened during 2018. Now, I know it’s cheesy and might seem cliche, but taking steps to look back then look forward can help tremendously next year. As someone who frequently utilizes the Futuristic and Strategic Clifton strengths, I know how important it is to reflect before pressing onward. New Year’s resolutions are fun and all, but New Year’s goals can make a tremendous impact on what we accomplish this year.

One of my best friends, Caleb, keeps a list of all of his accomplishments. He adds on to this list every time something big happens and he uses this list for encouragement when he’s feeling challenged. We can implement the same type of reflection today. Grab a notecard and hop to it:

Let’s take a moment and write down our 5 best accomplishments in 2018.

Next, let’s jot out 5 moments in 2018 where we made a mistake. Think about how we can grow from this mistake in 2019.

Lastly, let’s brainstorm our 5 biggest goals for 2019. In order to optimize our goals, we should stick with the SMART model and keep our goals Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timely.

Each goal is nothing more than words written on paper. In order for these goals to become a reality (and an addition to our list of accomplishments), we have to be committed and make actions to press towards them. I challenge you to keep this notecard somewhere that you’ll see it frequently. Maybe tape it to your mirror or door or hang it on the wall by your desk. That little reminder will help you embrace the rest of the year with purpose. With planning and persistence, we can make the most out of the next months to come!

Happy New Years!

Living to Serve,

Michael Dowd

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For the Very First Time

I have made the drive between Manhattan and Washington a lot throughout my life. I know every turn I need to take, every bridge I cross, and every curve in the road between my house and my dorm. This time though, as I was driving home from my first semester at college, it was like I was driving it for the very first time. I knew that I should have been listening to my younger sister who was giving me an update on her life while riding in my passenger side seat, but I couldn’t help that my mind continued to wander while taking those curves I knew so well. During my period of reflection (and slight distraction—sorry Shai!), I asked myself if this is how my entire break was going to be? Would I see my town again for the very first time? Would I even remember anything, or had everything changed? I know I certainly am not the same person I was when I graduated, so why should Washington be the same town it was when I left?

On Monday, I went back to high school. I didn’t really have an agenda besides taking some store-bought cookies to the Ag room (you’re welcome 6th hour Agribusiness), but I ended up taking a trip down memory lane. In this case, however, the lane is my school’s hallway. I really only needed to pick something up for my mom from one of the teachers but ended up making many more stops than that. I visited with many of the teachers, said hello to a lot of the current students, and got plenty of strange looks from some people who probably didn’t know who I was. Although there was so much that I found familiar about the school in general, I came to realize it was the people who were different. Many of the people I thought of as “underclassmen” when I was a senior now occupied the roles I had. The bond between my old teachers and myself were not that of a student and teacher, but more of like old acquaintances. The entire dynamic of the people I once knew had changed. It was almost like the school had a certain glow around it. My old basketball team was playing phenomenally, my old FFA program was doing well, along with other organizations I was in. My old friends had become more of a leader than when I last saw them. The whole experience left me thinking about if I had done enough to leave an impact on the school…

As sad of a thought as it was, I knew I couldn’t, no shouldn’t, keep that mindset. I shouldn’t be feeling sad at the thought of people doing better without me. It means they have taken control of their own lives, grown into the great people I know them to be and are sharing that with their community and each other. I am happy to see this dynamic shift and will always be proud of the place I came from and the people who live there, and even if I leave, I know this place as home where it will always welcome me back with open arms and open prairies.

Forever Blue,

Scuyler Zenger                                                                                                                                          Kansas FFA Secretary

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On the 12th Day of Christmas, FFA Gave to Me…

Guess what time it is? It’s time for CHRISTMAS, which means our ears are filled with Christmas music on the daily. One of my personal favorites is the song 12 Days of Christmas, and I decided to put an FFA twist on the tune. I hope you enjoy!

On the 12th day of Christmas, FFA gave to me…


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TWELVE Pairs of Pantyhose and Dress Socks

-Every FFA member knows that feeling of frantically searching for an unripped pair of pantyhose or a pair of black dress socks (yes gentlemen, Nike socks just won’t cut it). Thankfully, some stores offer discounts (especially on Black Friday). The first step to success is to dress accordingly.  Might as well stock up while you can!


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ELEVEN Boxes of Fruit

-Around this time of year is when our favorite semi trucks make their rounds to Ag Ed programs across the state. I always remembered sorting through hundreds of boxes and having a nice afternoon snack of fruit all the way until New Years. Most importantly, these fundraisers help pay for FFA events throughout the year. Do your best to sell as much as you can!


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TEN Steno Notepads

-To the livestock judgers out there, this is “the gift that keeps on givin” But it’s also a handy gift for just about anyone. Steno pads can function as just about anything- notes for class, to-do list, cheap pad folio, name tent maker, fuel for a warm fire- really anything you put your mind to!


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NINE SAE Supplies

-Now here’s a gift that could literally be anything. Maybe it’s a new set of mower blades, maybe it’s a $500,000 tractor, maybe it’s feed bags, maybe its a new halter. Whatever it might be, make the ask, and the investment. Our SAEs are a vital part of the three circle model experience and they’re what makes FFA members unique in the workforce. SAEs allow us to gain real world experience and contribute to our communities.


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EIGHT Lint Rollers

-Dressing for success falls short when your Official Dress is covered in lint and fuzz. From pocket sized to XL to glow in the dark to scented, there are hundreds of options to suit your fancy. Never leave home without one!


boots dancing GIF by Sara Andreasson

SEVEN Pairs of Boots

-This year, I met a friend who happened to own a pair of boots for every situation. On Veterans Day, she wore her American Flag boots. On Homecoming, she sported a pair of KSU Wildcat boots. On 80s night for Quest, she busted out Disco boots fully equip with flashing lights. While we might have a slightly smaller collection of boots, we all have different talents we can use for certain occasions. Make sure those talents are polished for any occasion.


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SIX Officer Stations

-Symbolic as ever, these stations are well rooted in our traditions and have meaningful purpose in our organization. They exemplify the value of hard work, integrity, courtesy, leadership, and discipline. Whether you’re serving as an officer this year or not, don’t be afraid to reach out a helping hand!


tech microsoft GIF by AgriNovus Indiana


-Conventions and conferences are some of the best ways to meet new people, follow some amazing role models, and pick up new ideas for the year. Take full advantage of Leader Lab, WLC, SCCL, State Convention and National Convention this year!


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FOUR FFA Manuals

-if you’ve ever studied for an FFA information test, you know how important the Manual is. What’s more important is the rich history and tradition found inside. Even if you’re not competing, take a moment to flip though and revamp your passion for the FFA’s history.


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THREE Rubber Bands

-Those pesky degree chains always give me a headache when they break. For safekeeping, I pack an extra couple of rubber bands just in case the straps in my jacket break. Rubber bands are also extremely helpful in a variety of situation like an impromptu hair tie or a self defense mechanism. Flexibility is key to any situation.


TWO…Hundred Absences

-This number is probably close to my FFA related absences in high school. While attending events was sometimes challenging, it came with rewards like none other. I learned how to manage my time, stay up to date on school work, put new skills into practice, all while meeting excellent people from all over. Take advantage of the awesome opportunities FFA has to personally develop yourself.


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And a Jacket Full of Memories

-The experiences I’ve had in the Blue Jacket are comparable to none other. I’m so thankful to be apart of an organization that makes such an impressive impact on young people, the ag industry, and the world. I credit my FFA jacket for shaping who I am today.

Have an amazing holiday season!

Living to Serve,

~Michael Dowd

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The Days and Weeks After

It’s often said that the saddest day of the year is December 26th. The new gifts lose their luster and trees and garland are flung back into old boxes where they will sit until the next Christmas Season comes racing at us again. To me, that’s a sad day. But what about the Friday after Thanksgiving? The infamous “Black Friday.” I think this day rivals Dec. 26th in terms of sadness, and here’s why–

Thanksgiving. A day dedicated to gratitude and appreciation. A day where we spend time with others around us who we love, eating, sleeping, watching football, and expressing thanks for what we have. A day where we can see that all we have been blessed with is great and that we indeed are thankful for it. What a warm and fuzzy feeling this invokes, right? Full of turkey… watching our loved ones leave… stuffing leftovers in the fridge… getting ready to take it easy for the rest… of… the night…BAM. The clock strikes midnight. Welcome to Black Friday.

Black Friday. A day where the deals become more important than our ideals. A day where everything we thought about just yesterday flys out of our ears and our mind fixates on what we don’t have. The gratitude and appreciation is gone and what remains is the age-old, bank-account-ruining, urge to shop. We rush out into the early hours of the morning to find the best sales on what we so desire. Sometimes this rush extends past that Friday morning. It may extend on into December where we become focused on giving and getting gifts but never taking the time to appreciate what gifts we’ve already been given.

There’s nothing wrong with saving money at the Black Friday sales, but we can’t allow ourselves to get caught in a “Black Friday” mindset in the days and weeks leading up to Christmas. Remember to be thankful this year as we approach Christmas. Sing some carols, eat plenty of cookies, and enjoy the anticipation as we prepare to celebrate the greatest gift that could ever be given. Don’t let the hustle and bustle get in the way of your Christmas spirit. In the days and weeks after Thanksgiving, get ready to be merry and bright, be thankful for everything we have and hope that our Christmas is white.

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They say that change is inevitable. As much as we think we can avoid change, and no matter how hard we work to stop change from happening, in the end, it does anyway. When I was in high school, I thought my sleepy town would never have something new and that it would always be the same old same old. However, just from being back for a few days in the last month, I have seen some incredible changes. Changes in my school, in my old 4-H club, in my church. At first, I felt confused and honestly, a little upset. After the fast pace of college in a different, bigger town, I can truthfully say I was looking forward to the monotony of my hometown (which is something I thought I would NEVER say after graduation). Now that I think about it, the change I saw is probably for the better. I realized I was only viewing my town from my perspective, not from the perspective of the people enacting that change. I realized that they probably saw a chance to grow, a chance to improve what was already there, and a chance to make our town a better place.

When I think of myself and how much I have changed, I’m left with some whiplash. The amount of experiences, lessons, and memories I have gained since the summer have left me with a mound of “stuff” to sort through. Personal development. Who I surround myself with. What I want after college and after my year of service. My friendships. My coursework. A lot has changed from the plan I had in high school, and as a person who loves being as organized as possibly, this change absolutely terrifies me. If there’s one thing I have learned from these experiences is that being open to change and not ruling out possibilities right away will lead me to doors I had never consider or knew existed.

From now on, I am going to focus on positive change and progress to make life better for myself, my teammates, and everyone around me. If we can learn how to consider change in a manner that doesn’t necessitate any immediate action, we can discover paths that lead to the evolution of something great! So embrace the possibility of change, contemplate the effect of your actions, and live your life with intention and growth!

Living to Serve,

Scuyler Zenger

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Inspiration Reignition

               It’s been three weeks since our team and FFA members all over returned from a place of inspiration, fellowship, and purpose: the 91st
National FFA Convention and Expo. As the lights came on and the streamers fell on the closing session, we were bustling out, urgently trying to beat the crowd on our way back home. But as dusk fell on our home-ward bound suburban, I found myself grasping, as always, at ways to keep the convention empowerment going. As many of us might recognize, conferences and gatherings of our favorite organizations can challenge us to think bigger, grow ourselves, and pursue new goals. But on those car rides home and the weeks following, I inevitably find myself struggling to keep the expanded frame of mind. It was in the days following convention, that I may have found a helping hand.

               The retiring addresses of the National Officers have always been one of my favorite parts of convention. All have such unique and amazing stories that are shared exquisitely. They all share one catch, though. Just like almost every inspirational speaker anyone has ever heard, 99% of the speech is missing from our memories a week later. Parallel to the inspirational feelings that they help ignite, so too are these speeches rare to stick with us. I was reflecting on this point in the days following convention but circled back to one piece of a retiring address that has stuck with me over the years: HOME. The key point of past National President David Townsends RA was a memorable trigger that pushed me to relive that one experience (and I encourage others to do the same). I searched google and immediately was directed to National FFA’s YouTube page and David’s RA. After watching the address again, I was quickly left feeling the same inspired, motivated perspective shift that accompanies a convention or conference. This was a breakthrough.

               I’ve since discovered a treasure trove of past retiring addresses on the National FFA’s YouTube channel and have sampled another one or two when I’m feeling like procrastinating or lethargic. Talk about a bank of wisdom and passion. I want to use these nuggets of inspiration to keep that extraordinary post-convention drive going strong!

               What are the things in life that get you fired up? It may or may not be conventions. It could be time with loved ones, volunteering in your community, or dwelling on something larger than yourself. Whatever it is that gets us fired up for life, let’s harness that. Let’s spend more time inspired, and less time tired. Whether it’s retiring addresses, life chats with mentors, or consistent reflections, what can we do to take advantage of our capacity for change and change-making? Find your inspiration, and then find what reignites it. Keep great going!  

Living to Serve,

Max Harman

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Oh what a world

I am almost always listening to music: while working on homework, cleaning my house, or driving. The point is that I love listening to music!  When it comes to my jams it Is very diversified. Recently one of my teammates Garrett introduced me to Kacey Musgraves and I could not stop listening to her new album “Golden Hour.” All of the songs on that album are great, but “Oh what a world” spoke to me in particular. In the song Kacey says

“Oh, what a world, don’t wanna leave
All kinds of magic all around us, it’s hard to believe
Thank God it’s not too good to be true
Oh, what a world, and then there is you”

The first part of these lyrics “Oh what a world, don’t wanna leave. All kinds of magic all around us, it’s hard to believe,” made me realize all the many amazing things we have in our world. We may not think about them on a daily basis and we most definitely take them for granted.  There are real things all around us that are beautiful; like a rainbow after the sky clears from a spring rain shower or looking up at a night sky full of stars that go on and on forever. Some magic that I take for granted is the beautiful music that is created for you and I to enjoy.

The second part of the lyrics is “and then there is you.” The people we are close to and that mean the most to us are magical as well. It is magical to have a strong relationship with the people you care for the promises that are kept, and memories made are very magical things.

“Thank god it’s not too good to be true.” I couldn’t say it any better myself! I am so thankful for all the magic we have the opportunity to enjoy in our lives. What are some things you take for granted in your life? Who are some of the people in your life that display magic? What do you do for them to show your appreciation? You can find magic wherever you look in this amazing world.

Miranda Depenbusch


If you have not listened to Kacey Musgraves song “Oh what a world” here is a link:


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A Motivating Motto

Last month as I was checking my emails, I glanced at a subject line that caught my attention: “US Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Purdue to speak at Landon Lecture.” I excitedly opened that email, read the information, and quickly added the event to my calendar. This would be my 3rd time seeing Secretary Purdue present and let’s just say I was a little hopeful I might be able to take a better picture with the secretary.

But ultimately I was more excited to hear his message again. At the USDA they work by a simply motto: “Do good and feed the world.” The simplicity and value in this motto is resounding.

The first clause of the motto, “do good,” is probably the easiest for us to follow through every day. Now, doing good isn’t always about what score we get on the math test or how we place in a CDE. Doing good can look so different for each of us. On a large scale, doing good could mean organizing a food drive or helping a fellow member pay for their travel costs or official dress. To me, doing good can be found in simple tasks. This might mean asking your friends or family members if they need help or going out of your way to complete a task for someone or holding the door open before class or genuinely caring when you ask someone how their day is going. The simplicity of doing good is embodied by one of my favorite quotes from Mother Theresa,

“We can do small things with great love.”

Consider how different the world would be if everyone remembered to “do good” throughout the day. That call to change starts with us.

The second clause of this motto, “feed the world, is challenging yet incredibly practical. For some of us, this might mean commercially producing the fruit of our toil and marketing those products to the rest of the world. For others including myself, feeding the world looks a little different. Completing this call to action could mean hosting a Day on the Farm event or starting a conversation with a confused shopper at the grocery store. By making those small connections and advocating for agriculture, we open the door to better public perceptions of the work that we do. The better perceptions are essential since we cannot feed the world without the support of our consumers.

As I’ve had time to think about the USDA’s motto this week, I’ve realized that this motto has lead the department through a successful two years. There is great value in the idea of living my a personal motto to offer guidance during our days. I spent some time crafting one to represent myself, “Love freely and seize the moment.” It reminds me to be opportunistic when life presents chances for growth. It also reminds me to fully and freely love the people around me (even in times when it’s difficult to love them).

As a reader of this blog, I invite you to do the same. Spent 15 minutes pondering your values and your own call to action. Develop a short statement, no longer than a sentence, that will remind you of your purpose. And let that purpose lead us closer to doing good and feeding the world.

Love Freely,

Seize the Moment,

Live to Serve,

Michael Dowd

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Life’s Most Precious Commodity

In a day there are 24 hours which is equivalent 1,440 minutes or 86,400 seconds. Approximately six of those seconds passed just to read the last sentence. Time does not stop for anyone or anything, it is one of the few things on this world that we cannot influence in any way shape or form. But, what we can do is choose to live every one of those seconds wisely.

I’m sure everyone has those days where it’s hard to get out of bed or those days where procrastination is a huge battle that seems fit for another day, because I know I do. Sometimes I just want to lay on my couch and scroll through the internet. I’m not talking about using the internet for useful articles and researching projects, I’m referring to scrolling through Pinterest to find useless DIY projects that there is a 99.87% chance that I will never start. Then later when I look back at all the things I could have been doing in those moments, I realize that I am not using my time to its fullest potential. I think of all the homework I could have done in that moment, so I could finish early and spend more time with my friends.

This was a big struggle for me my first semester in college, I found myself always pushing off homework and always pushing off studying. This would cause me to have to rush to finish my homework and cram right before an exam. I am not going to lie, my grades were not stellar my first semester. If only I had used my time efficiently, then I could have done much better within my classwork. Beginning with my second semester, I was more intentional to buckle down and not do anything else until my homework was finished. Since then when school is in session, I rarely find myself turning on the TV. I find that almost eliminating TV has enabled me to enjoy the little things in life to a larger level. Now I have better grades, and more time to spend with the people around me.

When time is up, it’s not going to be the social media posts or TV we watched that’s going to matter. It’s going to be the time we used to spend with others we care about that’s going to matter most. Use your seconds wisely, because you’ll never get them back once they pass.

Living to Serve,

Krissy Isle

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