Kansas FFA Blog

Follow Through

If you asked me what my favorite season was, without a doubt I would say summertime. There are so many fun things to do during the summer: swimming at the pool, bustin’ a move at street dances, showing livestock at county fairs, and going on Sonic runs with your friends. However, my favorite summertime event out of all of these is easily baseball games.

Believe it or not, I actually used to be a baseball star. Check it out.

Okay, maybe I wasn’t a pro, but my Pee Wee baseball career was pretty awesome. I was the star first baseman for the Soldier Chargers. I could catch and tag bases better than anyone else on the team. To the contrary, my throwing arm certainly wasn’t the best, which was probably why I played first base a lot.

Unfortunately, we didn’t have very many players on our team. We had exactly nine–just enough for a team. For that reason almost everyone played pitcher at some point in the season, including me. Pitching was a challenge for me. I practiced and practiced with Coach and eventually got better. However, I always made a key mistake: I would forget to follow through.

For those of you who aren’t baseball fans, following through on a pitch is fairly simple. As you throw the ball, you lift up your back leg and carry it forward and plant it in front of you. This way, you carry more energy into your pitch and it remains accurate. Regardless, I had trouble following through with my pitches. Without following through, I couldn’t deliver a strike. Even if my initial form was perfect, the ball would end up way outside of the strike zone if I didn’t follow through.

With SCCL wrapped up, those of us who attended have a new vision that we plan to implement within our chapters. Some of us have attended or plan to attend our chapter retreat where we can brainstorm new activities to start in the upcoming year. Maybe even some of us planned to revise some of our existing chapter events while at State Convention. In order to make these plans come to life, we should learn from my flaw as a baseball pitcher: following through.

As members we create goals to improve our chapters. Too often, though, we forget about these goals and fail to follow through on them. As the school year approaches and we begin to wind up to pitch our newfound chapter plans, it is essential to take that step and plant our feet firmly into the delivery. When we carry those plans forward, we’re sure to land a perfect strike.

Living to serve,

John Kennedy
State Vice-President

Posted in 2017-2018 | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Break Your Bridge

Every year, a handful of students at Cherryvale High School are given the seemingly simple task of building a bridge that spans a four feet gap; I was one of those students. After completion, the bridge faces a test of strength by hanging masses in the center of the bridge and 12 inches in either direction of the center until it breaks. The bridge project begins with a few simple directions. The bridge being constructed must be built out of nothing but 1/8 inch balsa wood and the constructor’s choice of glue. No members of the bridge can be glued together alongside one another, but a 1/2 inch overlapping of members on each side of a joint is acceptable. Lastly, the final structure must not exceed 70 grams in weight. With these few constraints, construction begins with the daunting task of choosing an attractive, but sturdy design.

The idea is simple, but the work is hard. After doing research and consulting my grandpa (who was a construction foreman with a specialty in bridges) it took me hours to come up with the design I wanted. Even then, there came times throughout the process that I had to revise my design because I realized there was a better way to build this bridge.

Spending weeks measuring, cutting, gluing pieces of balsa wood together and waiting for that glue to dry was not always a fun task. There were several late nights and plenty of early mornings. Two months after the project was assigned, it was time to see just how much weight this bridge could hold.

Just like every other bridge, my hard work was eventually destroyed–snapped in half. After everything I put into this bridge, it was a little heartbreaking, but I appreciate this project. Other than the fundamental design of bridges and the role of forces, I learned three valuable lessons about leadership.

LESSON 1: Build it.

Bridge Blog 1

You can never get anywhere until you start. You learn as you go, so go ahead and start building even if you aren’t 100% sure how to do it.

LESSON 2: Perfect it.

Bridge Blog

Since you learn as you go, this is your chance to stop, evaluate what you are doing and make changes. Then finish it! Why start something if you don’t plan to complete it?

LESSON 3: Break it.

Bridge Blog 2You’ll only be able to measure your progress, your growth if you put it to the test. Break the bridge. No matter how perfect you think it is, this is how you will learn where you can improve and make it better.

Build it; perfect it; break it whether it be in sports, the classroom, leadership or even just a new interest you have.

Living To Serve,

Trenton Smedley

Posted in 2016-2017 | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

You Can’t Recycle Wasted Time

Earth Day was celebrated this Saturday the 22nd, and my social media was flooded with posts and comments about how we can be more ecologically friendly. I saw countless pictures of friends planting trees, picking up litter, and taking out recycling. While Earth Day is a valuable time to think about our planet, I saw a tweet from my friend Haden that I considered to be of equal importance, “You can’t recycle wasted time.”you-cant-recycle-wasted-time-poster

I will admit, I am often one to put the “pro” in procrastination. I felt the full effects of this unfortunate habit today as I took a Chemistry test — a bit unprepared. Yes, things get busy towards the spring semester. However, I had plenty of opportunities throughout the last week to study, when instead I chose to work on other classes, check Snapchat, do my laundry, or watch Netflix. In the three hours prior to my test this evening I attempted to cram four lectures’ worth of material into my studying. At this point, I wished that my past self had been more conscious of the time I had been wasting on pointless tasks. I left the exam disappointed, because I know that if I had studied, I would have performed much better. Try as I might, those hours are gone, and my grade must now face the consequences.

How many minutes do we spend each day idle? Think about the amount of times we look at our phone in the span of an hour. Perhaps we enjoy sleeping in just a bit too much. Regardless of how we choose to kill time, the fact remains that we will never have that time back. As I read Haden’s tweet, I realized that I had been scrolling through Twitter for twenty minutes, and would now be late to meet another friend for coffee. I was wasting not only my own time, but hers as well. Appalled at myself, I closed the app and then scrambled to meet my (forgiving) friend.

Each and every minute of our lives could be invested productively in the betterment of ourselves or others, whether it be showing up early to complete our group project, waking up early to grab breakfast with an old friend, volunteering in our communities, or choosing to make a new memory in our lifespan rather than compose a new tweet for our timeline.

It’s okay to treat ourselves once in a while, but my GPA and I will feel the impact of my wasted time. We need not all face these negative consequences. We can live a life with without regrets. How will you choose to invest your time?


Forever blue,

Grace Luebcke

Kansas FFA Secretary

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Disney Life Lessons

Classic Disney movies have inspired people for generations with their positive messages. To this day, I am a genuine Disney fanatic and can probably quote every line or sing every song perfectly. Lately, I began to think of the deeper meaning behind these entertaining stories. Each has lessons we can apply to our own lives. Here are 10 of the most impactful ones to my life:
1. Cinderella – Stay kind.


In the pursuit of her dreams, Cinderella always kept a kind heart. Despite the many setbacks, she never lost sight of her big dreams. It can be easy for us to become so focused on our own dreams and goals that we forget to stay kind to those around us.
2. Tangled – Don’t be afraid to venture outside of your comfort zone.


Speaking of dreams, Rapunzel had one that required her to leave the comforts of her tower. She left all she had ever known in order to have her questions answered. Would you be willing to go to these same depths?
3. Peter Pan – Positive thoughts can produce positive results

Peter Pan

Peter Pan may be best known negatively for his refusal to grow up, but there can be certain lessons to take from this. His unwavering faith in his friends helped them to reach new heights – figuratively and literally. He inspired them to think positively and it ended up helping them soar above their wildest imaginations.
4. Pocahontas – It may not always be easy to stick to your beliefs, but it is important.


The warrior princess faces a difficult decision throughout this film. It takes her a whole lot of courage, wits, and faith to defy the status quo and do what she feels is right. This decision leads her to saving the lives of many. Where can you bring more bravery to stick to your values?
5. Moana — Find your purpose and follow it.

Moana believed in her purpose and that the ocean chose her to save it for a reason. Plenty of people told her she was wrong or not good enough, but she did not let that stop her determination for doing what she loved. Similarly, we have a purpose to fulfill. We should not let the opinions of others keep us from that if it truly is something we believe in and love.
6. Beauty and the Beast – Always look for the best in others.

B&B 1

Quite possibly my favorite Disney movie, this classic tale tells of the courage and huge heart Belle possesses. Where others saw a hideous beast, she saw a creature worthy of love and affection. Do you ever let people’s opinions of another person alter your own? How can you choose to see the best in everyone you meet?

7. Frozen – Friendships can take sacrifice.


Each character in this great story brings about a different perspective, but one fan favorite is definitely Olaf the snowman. His constant positivity radiates joy and keeps everyone laughing. At every turn, Olaf is ready to make whatever sacrifices necessary to help his friends. Though we may not face a situation quite this dire, we can still find areas in our lives where we can devote more time to those we care about. This may mean spending time with one friend who has had a rough day instead of watching a movie with a group of friends. What sacrifices can you make to strengthen your friendships?
8. Finding Nemo – Just keep swimming!


One of the most iconic lines from Dory is to “just keep swimming”. She encourages and comforts her friend Marlin who has begun to lose hope of finding his son. Whether we are the ones providing the encouragement or the ones needing it, this concept serves a crucial role. Some days may be tough, but we need to be persistent and keep focusing to make progress.
9. Princess and the Frog – Hard work will take you far.

Princess and the Frog

Tiana works tirelessly to achieve her goal of owning her own restaurant. Where others may simply wish on that lucky star, Tiana takes matters into her own hands by providing her hard work ethic. When we set goals, it will take many months or years of dedication to seeing them through. Don’t give up on yourself or your aspiration. Keep working hard and good things will come!
10. Lion King – Our past can teach us valuable lessons.

Lion King

Again, this movie has a plethora of life lessons. One of my favorites comes from the baboon Rafiki. He teaches Simba the importance of learning from the past and using it to propel his future. Every lesson we learn in life has a purpose to helping us grow. Don’t let past mistakes hold you back, rather let them make you better than before.
While there are plenty of other Disney movies that we can learn from, each lesson has an equally important value for our lives. Even if you do not particularly enjoy them as much as I do, when we decide to add these lessons into our daily routine, it can help us grow and have fun doing it. Let’s live lives that reflect the lessons Disney teaches us!

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You Are Enough

It is April, which means that the end of this school year is within reach. It also means that the busiest time of year is here and in full force. Spring sports have begun, classes are demanding, and the FFA banquet season is upon us. If any of you are like me, I have the tendency to feel a bit overwhelmed during this crazy but wonderful month. Before I go any further, I want to just tell you that you are enough.

Now, let me explain. A few times this spring I have felt as though I haven’t been enough. I’m not studying enough for my classes, I am not devoting enough of myself to my faith, I haven’t been a good enough friend, I haven’t fulfilled my responsibility in that club, the list goes on. The thing is, life is busy and sometimes we may feel like we are drowning in it and that is okay. The way I see it, is that If we feel we aren’t giving, doing, or being enough, that just means we care, and caring is GOOD. Earlier this week, a friend reminded me that as long as my heart is still in it, then I am enough.

Simply put, if you are feeling as though you aren’t enough or you don’t have anything else to give, please remember that you are enough. The people around you want to see you succeed. You have others who are looking up to you and who believe in you. As long as your heart is still in all your actions and words, then you, my friend, are going to make it through. I know this month’s blog was short, but sometimes the most important lessons to learn are short and simple. For me this month, it was learning that I am enough.  So please, please know that YOU are ENOUGH.

Forever Blue,

Katelyn Bohnenblust

Kansas FFA Treasurer


“If our hearts condemn us, we know that God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything.”  -1 John 3:20

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It’s No Joke – My Greatest Lessons Were Learned in the Blue Jacket

It may be April Fool’s Day, but I can assure you that this is no joke – I’ve learned some of my greatest lessons while wearing my blue corduroy jacket. While it would be impossible to include all of the lessons I’ve learned from my time as an FFA member in just one blog post, here are 8 of the most valuable lessons I’ve learned in the blue jacket:

1. Be Fearlessly Authentic
Be Yourself - Emma Stone

There isn’t a “perfect” style of leadership. As an article from the Harvard Business Review points out, this is good news! If there was one cookie-cutter style of “ideal” leadership, we would spend forever trying to imitate it. And no one would trust us, because people don’t trust “fake” people.

As a result of my years as an FFA member, I have come to appreciate people who are real. People who are fearlessly authentic. At times, I struggled with this myself. I tried to imitate the leadership of others, incorrectly believing that I would be a better leader if I were less like myself and more like the leaders I looked up to. Eventually, I stopped trying to be someone else and became more comfortable with being my authentic self. As W.G. Bennis once said:

“Leadership without perspective and point of view isn’t leadership – and of course it must be your own perspective, your own point of view. You cannot borrow a point of view any more than you can borrow someone else’s eyes. It must be authentic, and if it is, it will be original, because you are original.”

Instead of spending so much time working to be exactly like other leaders, I wish I had worked to become more authentic from the start by asking myself the following questions from that Harvard Business Review article:

  • Which people and experiences in your early life had the greatest impact on you?
  • What are the moments when you say to yourself, this is the real me?
  • What are your most deeply held values? Where did they come from? How do your values inform your actions?
  • What kind of support team do you have? How can your support team make you a more authentic leader? How should you diversify your team to broaden your perspective?
  • Is your life integrated? Are you able to be the same person in all aspects of your life – personal, work, family, and community? If not, what is holding you back?
  • What does being authentic mean in your life?
  • What steps can you take today, tomorrow, and over the next year to develop your authentic leadership?

2. It’s About PEOPLE

In Relationships 101, John C. Maxwell writes:

A Short Course in Human Relations

The least important word: I.

The most important word: We.

The two most important words: Thank you.

The three most important words: All is forgiven.

The four most important words: What is your opinion?

The five most important words: You did a good job.

The six most important words: I want to understand you better.

I love this quote, because it’s a really neat way of explaining what leadership is all about: connecting with other people. Too many times, I’ve forgotten about this part of the equation. But every single time I have interacted with Kansas FFA members over the past year, I have realized that it’s all about PEOPLE. Real people with real lives and real struggles and real dreams. At the end of the day, they’re what it’s all about.

3. Don’t Forget to Take Care of Yourself

You Can't Pour From an Empty Cup

I’ve always been a perfectionist. I’m a huge fan of making lists (and even lists of lists) and working through those lists without ever taking a break. Last month, I finally broke down under the weight of it all. I had put far too much pressure on myself, and I hadn’t taken any time to relieve this pressure by actually taking care of myself.

I learned that it’s important to take care of yourself first. Take time to feed your soul. Not sure how? Here are just a few ideas:

  • Take a nice, long bubble bath.
  • Get up early to watch the sunrise.
  • Meditate for ten minutes after you wake up each morning. (There are plenty of apps that can help you meditate! Here’s one example.)
  • Cuddle with a kitten (or perhaps a puppy).
  • Start a journal.
  • Listen to music you love.
  • Try yoga.
  • Get a pedicure.

4. Focus on the Circle of Influence


In The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, author Stephen R. Covey explains the difference between the Circle of Concern and the Circle of Influence. According to Covey:

We each have a wide range of concerns – our health, our children, problems at work, the national debt, nuclear war. We could separate those from things in which we have no particular mental or emotional involvement by creating a “Circle of Concern.” As we look at those things within our Circle of Concern, it becomes apparent that there are some things over which we have no real control and others that we can do something about. We could identify those concerns in the latter group by circumscribing them within a smaller Circle of Influence… Proactive people focus their efforts in the Circle of Influence. They work on the things they can do something about.

This is a lesson that I learned as an FFA member before I even knew what terms like “Circle of Influence” or “Circle of Concern” meant) Even though I wanted to be able to control everything (from the outcome of contests to the success of fundraisers to the smoothness of banquets), I came to learn that there were things I had no control over. Instead, I had to focus on what I could control. For example, I couldn’t control the outcome of an FFA contest, but I could spend as much time studying for that contest as possible. And I couldn’t ensure that a banquet would be flawless, but I could prepare as much as possible. All I could do was work on the things that I could do something about.

5. There’s No Growth in the Comfort Zone

In The 5 Levels of Leadership, John C. Maxwell writes:

In order to do anything new in life, we must be willing to leave our comfort zone. That involves taking risks, which can be frightening. However, each time we leave our comfort zone and conquer new territory, it not only expands our comfort zone but also enlarges us. If you want to grow as a leader, be prepared to be uncomfortable. But know this: the risks are well worth the rewards.

Almost all of my growth as an FFA member has occurred outside of my comfort zone. From competing in my first public speaking event as a freshman (the creed speaking contest) to speaking with the Governor during National FFA Week, there have definitely been moments where I was nervous to be outside of my comfort zone. But each of those moments helped me move forward and grow as a leader. As the saying goes: there is no growth in the comfort zone, and no comfort in the growth zone.

6. Everything Speaks

Everything - Jennifer Lawrence

Over the last 303 days, I’ve had the incredible opportunity to serve as a Kansas FFA State Officer. During this time, I’ve worked with Ms. Mary Kane, the Kansas FFA Executive Secretary. One of the things that Ms. Kane has said frequently over the past year is that “everything speaks.” Ms. Kane has showed me that every little detail counts, and every little detail can make a difference in leadership. One example of this involves the wording of e-mails and documents. While it’s always important to proofread before hitting send, the words we use matter. Using inclusive language, and striving to make sure that no one is excluded, is important. Everything speaks.

7. Always Carry a Sewing Kit

Cat Sewing

One of my most embarrassing moments of all time occurred when I was running for a State FFA Office. The seam in the back of my black dress skirt ripped all the way up the middle. As you might imagine, this was not a look that I wanted the nominating committee to see. Luckily, I had packed a small sewing kit in my bag that morning. Sitting there with my skirt on backwards, I sewed the seam in the holding room. While this wasn’t necessarily a leadership lesson, it was an important lesson nonetheless: always carry a sewing kit with you. You’ll never know when you might need it.

8. This Is Water

This video speaks for itself, but I’d like to highlight one of the quotes from the end:

You get to consciously decide what has meaning and what doesn’t. That is real freedom.

As an FFA member, I’ve learned that this (right here, right now) truly is water.

Posted in 2016-2017 | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Pen v. Pencil–The Great Debate

It is a GREAT feeling when we have it all together! We know exactly what we want to be when we grow up, who our best friends are and the exact time we have to get up in the morning in order to be ready on time. We create plans for ourselves and our futures and these plans become so concrete, we dismiss any thought about altering our plans; we will not change. We write our plans in pen because we have no intention of ever erasing them to write new ones.

Until recently, my goals and the process I was going to use to achieve them had been written in pen. I knew since I was a freshman in high school that I wanted to go to Kansas State University, Major in Agribusiness and eventually work as a loan officer with Farm Credit. That was that. Less than a month ago, as I sat down to figure out the classes I wanted to enroll in for the next semester, I threw away the plans I had written in pen and traded them for a new blueprint–making sure to use pencil. Realizing that maybe I was not quite sure of what I wanted to do, I struggled to get rid of the plan I had written in pen.  It was easy to be satisfied with my path because it was familiar. With the help of some friends and a mentor or two, I rewrote my plan by changing my major and accepting the fact that things change and my new plan may also need a few revisions in the future.

The pencil is better than the pen. This isn’t because the pencil allows you to make mistakes, but because the pencil allows you to make necessary changes–the pencil is flexible; the pen is rigid.

As young adults, we make decisions everyday that affect our future. We are deciding where we want to go to college, who we want to spend our time with and (the most horrifying) what we want to do in our careers. It is important to remember that no matter how solid of a plan we have, we need to be open to change. Things happen and our plans WILL change! That does not mean that our plans were not good, it just means that they are no longer right for us. So, plan your future and dream big, but write in pencil.

Jon Bon Jovi says it this way:

“Map out your future, but do it in pencil. The road ahead is as long as you make it. Make it worth the trip.

Change is scary, but change is good!  Be open and be accepting.

Living To Serve,

Trenton Smedley

Posted in 2016-2017 | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Thriving at Your Next Interview: 10 Tips

The spring semester brings a feeling of rejuvenation for many of us. School is almost over, State Convention is approaching, holidays are celebrated, jackpot shows are starting up, track season begins…the list goes on and on. There are so many things to be excited about! Spring also brings something that we might not look forward to as much—interviews. Whether they be for scholarships, FFA or club offices, or summer jobs, we try our hardest to market ourselves for whatever position we are seeking. This can be incredibly stressful! From one student to another, I have sat on both sides of the table as interviewer and interviewee, and have learned much from the process. Here are ten tips to ease the apprehension and be prepared for your next big interview.


1. Dress for success. Plan your outfit the day before the interview. Generally, it is better to be overdressed than underdressed.
If you are interviewing in Official Dress, here are a few extra pointers:
• Make sure your shirt is tucked in!
• Before the interview, stop in the restroom and check your scarf/tie. Make sure your shirt is buttoned to the top.
• Ladies: Pantyhose are your best friend and worst enemy. To avoid runs, spray your pantyhose lightly with hairspray BEFORE you put them on.
Gentlemen: Wear dark socks. When you walk or sit, your ankles will naturally show a little, and white or colorful socks can be distracting against your black pants and shoes.
• For additional Official Dress hacks, check out this video:

2. Arrive at least ten minutes early. Regardless of how quickly or slowly things are running, you will have enough time to find the room and prepare yourself. Plus, arriving early shows the interviewers that you are punctual and you CARE.
3. Your name is called! Before you enter the room, take a deep breath and release slowly. It sounds simple, but it works wonders to calm anxious nerves. Remind yourself of how awesome you are and open the door.
4. When you walk into the room, make eye contact with your interviewer(s) and introduce yourself. It is generally appropriate to shake hands with your interviewer in a one-on-one or small group setting.
5. If there is a chair, wait for the interviewer to invite you to sit. Or, take initiative and simply ask, “May I sit?” Sit slightly forward in your chair and plant your feet on the ground. This puts you in position to listen attentively to questions.
6. Be confident in your responses. It’s okay to take a few seconds to think about your answer before you reply to a question. Giving specific EXAMPLES from your own life shows the interviewer when and how you have performed in the past. Tie this into how you will perform in the position you are applying for. A method for using examples in your answers is outlined in the STAR format.
For a list of interview question topics and STAR format resources, see the notes at the bottom of this page.
7. Remember, the interviewer on the other side of the table is a person, just like you. Be honest and be yourself. Most interviewers can tell when someone is trying to play themselves up. Aside from technical know-how, allow your responses to reflect your character and what is important to you. Skills can be taught, but reliability and trust are built upon your actions alone. (Again, see STAR formatting resources)
8. The final question. “Do you have any questions for me?” You may hear this one as the interview draws to a close. Try to ask the interviewer at least one probing question. Instead of asking “What is your favorite part about being ______…”, try “What does a typical day look like in your position?” This shows that you have a genuine interest in the position. Do not be afraid to ask when you can expect to hear about the results of the interview.
9. Thank the interviewer for their time. Remember that this person has given up a part of their day for you. A simple “Thank you for your time today” and a brief but firm handshake on the way out leave a good impression.
10. FEEDBACK. I was once told, “You have only failed if you have not learned something.” As a college freshman looking for summer internships, I have been turned away more times than I can count. But, with each interview, I learn what I can do to better myself to apply again in the future. It stings a little to be told “no”, but it is not the end of the world. Regardless of whether or not you gain a position as a result of an interview, you will walk away with experience. Reflect on the things that went well, and the areas where you need to practice. After the interview has concluded, ask if the interviewer has any notes or feedback for you to review. The great thing about FFA interviews is that your advisor will be happy to help you collect feedback from your interviews. Practicing interviews beforehand with your advisor or other experienced people will give you the feedback that you can use to be ready for your next interview opportunity.


STAR (Situation, Task, Assessment, Response) Interview Resources

Behavioral Job Interviewing Strategies for Job-Seekers

STAR Interviewing Response Technique for Success in Behavioral Job Interviews

• Think of specific roles where you have shown leadership. This may be a club officer, being responsible for your siblings or family members, or maybe at a job you hold.
• Consider a time when you have failed. What did you do to grow from this mistake?
• If asked about weaknesses, be sure to share what you are doing to overcome them.
• Think of specific times that you have been on a team. It could be something as simple as a class project or sports team. What was your role? How did you contribute to group success?
• What is your Supervised Agricultural Experience (SAE)? What is one goal you are working towards through your SAE?
• Give an example of a time when you worked with a difficult person to accomplish a task. What did you do to overcome your differences?
• As students, we get very busy managing school, clubs, work, family, friends, etc. How have you prioritized these things? How will you manage your time to meet the demands of this position?
• Why do you want to serve in this position?


Living to Serve,

*insert handshake here*

Grace Luebcke

State FFA Secretary


Posted in 2016-2017 | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

In the Midst of the Storm

It’s no secret that wildfires have spanned across parts of Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas. Though these fires aren’t exactly “storms” they certainly had the same disastrous affect. They left scorched pastures, dead livestock, and destroyed homes in their wake. While many were spared, others were not as lucky. As my heart hurt for these families – some complete strangers to me, others friends and family – I was reminded of a similar incident just last year. Massive flames engulfed Kansas and Oklahoma and created large amounts of suffering. I had known even more of these families affected. In both instances, all that I wanted to do was help but I was not for sure how to do so. After further evaluating the situations, I have been able to find outlets to help provide aid. Every time I heard from these families, I found the same hope they all chose to focus on. Instead of dwelling on their circumstances, they chose to find what they could do to bounce back and respond to a negative event in a positive way.

As I reflected and processed all of this, I began to wonder: would I have responded the same way?

Picture from CNN of one of the most recent wildfires in Kansas.

Picture from CNN of one of the most recent wildfires in Kansas.

We each have our own storms in various forms. For some of us, our storm revolves around a relationship while others have a storm that swirls when we are at school. Several other examples of storms can occur throughout everyday life. It can become so frustrating, but we have to remember the choice we have. Though we cannot always prevent these storms from happening, we can choose how we respond to them. We can feel bad for those who have been hurt, or we can choose to turn that compassion into action and find ways to help. Especially as we endure these different storms in our own lives, we can either feel sorry for ourselves or accept what has happened and learn how to bounce back from it. While in the midst of the storm, it can be incredibly difficult to make this decision. I have found it helpful to find an anchor to help me through the worst parts. This can be something to focus on, keep you grounded, or motivate you during these times. For me, this would be my faith and family.

A great song by Christian artist Ryan Stevenson called “Eye of the Storm” has a part in the chorus that says, “You alone are the anchor when my sails are torn, your love surrounds me in the eye of the storm”. What is your anchor? When times get tough and the storms shake you more than ever before, how are you going to respond?


Maybe you are sailing through clear waters right now or maybe your boat has been rocking for quite some time. Find comfort in remembering no storm lasts forever and they can even be followed by a rainbow.

With hope,

Elizabeth Meyer
Kansas FFA State President

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African Time

Quick review of the day: I woke up a little late, discovered the nearly-Antarctic temperature as I ventured forth to Ag Econ 315, drove out to the Stout Center to feed Noodles the Rope Horse, came back to my dorm to work on Macroeconomics homework, finished an assignment for the speech class that had been canceled, went to the Derb to eat, and capped it all off by visiting the place a friend was boarding her horse at so I could help her when she left for Spring Break. Spring Break. I’ve done a decent amount of things today, but I’ve also spent the whole day thinking about Spring Break. It’s only a week away! But it’s also a whole. Week. Away.
As I got back from my evening feeding of Noodles, I realized just how much time I’d spent thinking about Spring Break. I wasn’t as engaged as I could be class, doing my homework, or even interacting with people, because Spring Break and my plans stayed in the back of my mind. The worst part is that not one second of thinking about Spring Break is going to help it come any faster. I tend to think about the future pretty frequently, and that’s not always a bad thing. But when I stress and obsess about the future I lose focus of what’s in front of me.
Another thing that’s been on my mind recently is the past. I’ve been talking to a lot of friends who worry that because they made questionable decisions in the past, they can’t really move past that point in their lives. I think we all have our own baggage that we struggle to move past. When we spend time thinking about all the things we’ve done wrong in the past it becomes pretty easy to miss what we’re doing in the moment.
My teammate Katelyn likes the quote “wherever you are, be all there”. For me, our time in South Africa really showed me what it meant to live in the moment. One South African professor who visited with us started a little late, and took the opportunity to say he was on “African Time”. After we asked what that meant, he explained that in African philosophy, the idea of living in the moment was highly valued. “African Time” referred to the tendency of people with this train of thought to be a little early, or a little late, but mostly to never make time a huge deal. This was because they placed such a huge value on the moment they were experiencing at the time.
I think we all need to be a little more comfortable living on “African Time”. We should each value the experiences that happen around us rather than worrying about what’s ahead of us and letting our pasts weigh us down. Whether it means trying not to be so focused on what’s coming or not letting our past experiences hold us back, we should seek to maximize our potential to experience a moment.

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