Kansas FFA Blog

Enjoy the Process

A while back, the team and I helped at the Kansas State Fair. I spent my time in the sheep barn. For me, it was a new experience. Honestly, that was intimidating as everyone around me seemed to have had been around for years. In fact, one day, I overheard someone say in their conversation “After fair last year, the kids said it just wasn’t fun anymore.”

We’ve all been there before, haven’t we? You do something so many times that you don’t see the point in it anymore. Even something as important as state fair can get here. What do you do to bring back the novelty and excitement of an event?

What if we didn’t weigh our happiness on our placing? Each success is a chance to celebrate everything we worked hard to achieve. Our failures teach us what to improve on for next time. Either way, we figure out what works, so why don’t we take a moment to relax for a little?  At state fair, there’s always a ride to go on or some other adventure to be had.  If you have been studying for hours, what is the harm in watching a single Netflix episode?

The results of this day weren’t exactly what I wanted them to be but having fun with a friend made up for this.

Keep the rivalries in the competition.  Fellowship is easily one of the most important parts of life.  We know we can’t always be first or best of the best.  With these things in mind, should we really choose who to socialize with based on whether they do better than us or not?  Focus on spending time with an individual who utilizes a different strategy than you.  Who knows, maybe we would be able to learn a new thing or two.

Keep moving forward.  These types of opportunities are all about growth.  Repeating the same exact process each year won’t do much for us in terms of our growth.  Trying new things won’t be the end of you, I promise.

Never forget the purpose of an event.  With that in mind, don’t let it become monotonous; it shouldn’t be something that you dread doing.  Find the fun in everything you do.

Living to serve,

Skyler Denio
State Sentinel

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

How am I possibly going to find all the time for this?

Now that school’s in full swing, most of us are probably feeling swamped with all the activities that come with school. There’s tons of things competing for our attention. Classes, football, volleyball, cross country, cheer, band, choir, FFA, Art Club, family, and places of worship–just to name a few. For those high school juniors and seniors out there, worrying about career choices and post-secondary plans are another big stressor. With more and more responsibility that piles on, the less amount of time we seem to have.

Like most of us, I have been struggling with time management lately. Just the other night, I was thinking about all the things on my To-Do list wondering: “How am I possibly going to find all the time for this?” To help relieve some stress I decided to conduct my routine check of my Twitter feed. As I was scrolling through all the tweets, I came across a helpful quote from Florence Kennedy: “Don’t agonize, organize.”

Though I have no relation to Florence Kennedy (or the former president for that matter), I found this quote very inspiring. Rather than spending all this time worrying about how I was to complete items on my To-Do list, I could be spending that time setting a schedule and prioritizing. To help those of you who may be struggling like I was last week, here’s a list of four essential time management tips:

  1. Use a calendar and keep it up to date: This is the first step to taking control of our time. By keeping a calendar, agenda, or journal of some sort, we can remember important dates and deadlines. Also, be sure to check your calendar. Obviously there’s no point in keeping one unless you check it regularly. Personally, I like to use Google Calendar since I always have my smartphone with me. Plus, I can program it to set reminders for deadlines that are approaching. What kind of time organizer will you use?
  2. Don’t just mark events on your calendar, use it to set habits! This was a helpful tip that I received from a friend. Not only is it important to keep track of events on your calendar, but it is equally important to set aside time to study, practice for CDEs, or other events. When we set specific times to finish our homework, for instance, we hold ourselves accountable and avoid procrastination. What is something that you need to set aside time for?
  3. Eliminate distractions! It’s one thing to set aside time to work on a project, it’s a completely new task to try to follow through with that! Sometimes we get distracted and don’t get the best use of our time. For me, a big distraction is my smartphone. Beforelong, I’ll find myself checking Snapchat and Twitter rather than writing a paper! To solve this issue, Isilence my phone and place it out of sight until my work is finished. How can you avoid distractions during work?
  4. Reward yourself! If we were to work one hundred percent of the time, we would miss out on the things that really matter in life. Once you get your tasks completed, take a deep breath and relax. This could be through hanging out with friends, spending time with your family, doing your favorite hobby, or binge-watching Netflix. How will you reward yourself?

Time management can be tricky, and overwhelming. With these tips, time management is a lot less stressful and you’ll find more time to do the things you enjoy.

Living to serve,

John Kennedy
State Vice President

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

Trusting in Dillon

Prologue: For this story to make sense, we must understand that although I poured my heart into bettering myself for sports, my mediocre athletic abilities never allowed me to excel at the varsity level.

During my junior year I had the opportunity to be the All-Star 2nd baseman and pitcher for the Abilene High School baseball team. The North Central Kansas League was not ready for Riley Sleichter’s blazing fastball that only hit the strike zone part of the time or his routine fly-out at bats. I was looking forward to my year being the only Junior on the Junior Varsity squad, which automatically made me the team captain.

I knew that the incoming freshman had talent in their class, so when practice started I was on the lookout for other star athletes that could propel our JV squad to victory. We got into practice and one freshman stood out to me because he had something special. This younger player simply had something about him that intrigued me; I could never define what is was, but I knew that I wanted to develop this member into a close friend of mine. As the year went on, I learned his name was Dillon, and I must have been right with the special feeling because he turned into my copartner as Dillon played shortstop. Dillon and I turned into the deadly duo, and no one wanted to hit a grounder up the middle because it was a guaranteed out or double play.

Dillon developed into a friend that I knew I could trust on the diamond and off the diamond.

This past spring I received a text message stating that Dillon had been in an accident and was currently being flown to the nearest Intensive Care Unit (ICU). That night Dillon began fighting for his life. After some time spent in the ICU, he was transferred to Kansas City and began rehab, but with one major change: Dillon was blinded by the accident.

Upon his return home, I went to visit Dillon because I had not been with him for a few months. Dillon and I went to a local restaurant for dinner, and I was quickly amazed that not much had changed: Dillon and I were able to talk just as we did before the accident. The trust that Dillon and I developed on the diamond had become even greater, as Dillon trusted me with leading and counting out his money. I quickly realized that Dillon pours his trust out to others and I am astonished that Dillon trusts everyone that he comes across, and the amount of trust he grants them with is a goal that I strive to achieve.

I have learned much from Dillon, and one of the greatest things I have taken from him is the idea of trust. Dillon’s life revolves around the trust that others will help him along the way. I now strive to trust others more, and encourage others to trust as Dillon does. How can you begin to live your life like Dillon and place your trust in those around you?

Riley Sleichter

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

The Name on the Front

What’s more fun than spending five hours in a suburban playing road trips games, holding our bladders, and ignoring our rumbling stomachs? Well when it’s phrased that way… just about anything. However, when I arrived in Iowa, all these small things fade into the background. Recently, my fellow team members and I had the opportunity to attend National Leadership Conference for State Officers. Besides the knowledge gained at this conference, the people and relationships we built surpassed everything.

DeShawn Blanding, the 2016-2017 National Southern Region Vice President, was one of the facilitators at this conference. Talk, about inspiring! He brought the life, energy, and excitement each and every day. I soon found myself invigorated by his words and actions.

One evening he sat us down for our reflections. As normal, I grabbed my moleskin, pen, and let my mind wander through his words and stories. Then, something he said caught my attention. DeShawn was telling us a story about a time when his family could only afford one FFA jacket. Since his brother was older than him, his name went on the jacket. Once his brother graduated, Deshawn was handed down the coveted blue jacket. However, DeShawn felt like he was living in the shadow of his brother. It was his brother’s name on the jacket after all. It wasn’t until DeShawn received his own jacket with his name on it that he realized, it’s about who’s in the jacket…not the name on the jacket.

I remember when I received my first chapter FFA jacket. I wore that jacket during some of my proudest moments…and some of my toughest. While I was so proud of my name on the front, and my chapter or district on the back, I never thought to think…. it’s who’s inside this jacket that I am proud of. Our name’s on our jacket’s will only mean as much as the person inside of them. Maybe we are wearing our older brother’s or sister’s jacket. Maybe we are borrowing a jacket from our FFA Chapter. Or Maybe we have a jacket with our own name on it. It will always be the person inside the jacket that defines us, not the name on the front.

Living to Serve,
Marie Reveles

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

The Golden Years

When I was about seven years old, my great uncle provided me with something that I cherish to this day; a family tree. It’s not an extensive one, as it simply traces the history of a single predecessor, in most cases the father. The family tree doesn’t branch off and reveal that I’m a distant cousin of one of our nation’s presidents. No, this tree offers something much more valuable (who isn’t distantly related to someone famous), a narrative. I can see where my 8th great grandparents were born in Germany and where they passed on in the United States. I learn in which generation the Borger family moved from Pennsylvania to Northwest Kansas.  My favorite part of the family tree is the listings of my 3rd great grandpa, Valentine “VP” Borger and my great grandpa, Oscar Valentine Borger. It’s from these two men who lived before me that I get my middle name, Valentina.

This past June Kansas concluded its 89th State Convention.  Next year will be the 90th and before long, we will be celebrating our 100th State Convention.  Eighty-nine years of recognizing FFA members and students enrolled in agriculture education.  Without a doubt, the FFA you and I now enjoy is not quite the same as members past have.  This is the exact reason our state association has launched the 2028 project.  The project hopes to compile and preserve a collection of documents, including personal interviews with past members, that will help in telling the history of our association.

Thankfully our association has done an excellent job of compiling this data as we’ve gone.  Over the past several months I’ve browsed the state website countless time.  I’ve looked through the past National and State Officer and American and State Degree lists more times than I can count.  Each time it seems I discover something new; for example the father of my best friend (who encouraged me to enroll in my first ag class) earned his American degree as a member.

As I explored the website further, I stumbled upon something that is as important to me as my family tree; Kansas FFA’s Golden Years 1929-1982.  It lists things from what year each chapter was chartered, Kansas Sweethearts, and even who won State CDEs.  While all of this is quite interesting, the publication recognizes “the real history can be found in the lives of present and past members.”

From these compilations, we can learn that Rick Malir and Gov. Sam Brownback served as both State and National Officers.  What it doesn’t teach us is how this association and organization impacted their lives or why they continue to support the organization.  It’s only from listening to these individuals that we can learn from them.  Many of our Alumni lived through those “Golden Years” of the Kansas FFA.  While many things were different during their time as a member, do we not gain some of the same experiences?

It may have been called the Golden Years because when something is new, it is shiny.  However, to this day, FFA members continue to grow in their Blue Jackets, living out GOLD Standards. We’re told that highschool is the best time of our lives.  How can we maximize our time as members so that our golden years are remembered for years to come?

Living to Serve,
Skyler Denio
2017-2018 State Sentinel

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

The Lasting Impact and Legacy of a True Champion

I don’t know about you, but if you are anything like me you have your favorite tunes. I love to jam out any chance I can. I have been instructed to turn my music down more than a few times. I love country music and although I cannot play an instrument, or sing any pleasant sound, I still like to rock out. Most of my favorite songs come from what has commonly been referred to as “Red Dirt” music. It is mostly bands from Texas and Oklahoma that are not commonly played on our local radio stations. One of these songs is by Aaron Watson and it is titled “July in Cheyenne.” It is a tribute song to the late Lane Frost. Lane Frost was a legendary bull rider whose life was portrayed in the infamous movie 8 Seconds. The movie shows a glimpse of the life that he lived and it shows some of his greatness. Take a minute to understand some of the reasons why this incredible cowboy was able to make such an impact on so many.

Lane Frost began riding at a young age. He knew that he didn’t just want to be a cowboy, but a rodeo cowboy. He started riding dairy calves on the family ranch around the age of 5. From there his passion flourished and he began his quest to achieve what every rodeo cowboy aspires to be, a World Champion. While he experienced success in nearly every event of rodeo he wanted to be a bull rider. Lane was about five foot eleven inches in height, which is relatively tall for a bull rider. But, his hard work helped him make it to the top of the ranks quickly as he won high school rodeos all over the country. His career continued to take off as he was named 1983 Rookie of the Year for the PRCA (Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association). He and his close friends Tuff Hedeman and Cody Lambert, continued down the rodeo trail for the next few years qualifying for the NFR (National Finals Rodeo) multiple times. Eventually in 1987, Lane finally achieved his goal of becoming a World Champion Bull Rider. He continued to be a successful rider and cowboy. In 1989, he was once again on track to another successful season when on July 30th his life was cut short after an accident following his dismount.

As you can see Lane lived what many would say a “successful” life. Considering he only lived to twenty-five years old, it is impressive that he could accomplish so much. Rodeo has existed for many years, and there have been many world champions. The NFR has existed since 1958 and has continually crowned w

orld champions in each of rodeos 7 primary events every year. That said we now must evaluate why this cowboy was so special as to have songs and movies created in tribute to him and why he is one of the most legendary and well-known cowboys to this day. I truly believe it is because there is more to his story than his accomplishments in the arena. Those that were closest to him would lead you to believing that he was not just a rodeo champion, but a champion at life. Lane was genuine and sincere. These are qualities that many of the leaders we look up to in history, and in our lives, possess.

When Lane was young and starting to ride competitively he twice got the opportunity to meet his bull riding hero, 8 Time World Champion Donnie Gay. When young Lane went back behind the chutes to meet his hero he was disappointed and hurt by his encounter. What was expected to be a dream come true became a nightmare as Lane witnessed his hero wearing tennis shoes, smoking a cigarette, and said he didn’t have time for him. The other time they met Lane was about to ride and asked him for advice only to be told he had drawn a bull too difficult for him to ride. These two instances made a significant impact on Lane as it taught him the importance of being genuine. As a result, Lane always wore cowboy boots and wrangler jeans with long sleeved shirts, the way he believed cowboys should dress. He also would hang around to sign every autograph. Fellow cowboy and close friend Jim Sharp would say “He was always smiling. When we were signing autographs, he would stay until the last kid. He enjoyed everybody. He was there for everybody and it wasn’t just an act. He’d set and talk to a guy and get to know him.”

That sincerity carried over when he met a 12-year-old J.W. Hart who aspired to be like Lane and was riding in a youth rodeo in San A

ntonio, Texas. He was the only boy in the steer riding not from Texas and as a result had been outcast by the others all week. They were waiting in a line when someone smacked him on the chest from behind when he turned around it was his hero Lane Frost standing there smiling. J.W. had been to Lanes riding school the year before and Lane remembered his name and later helped him in the chute as he prepared to ride. Eventually J.W. Hart did achieve his dreams and like Lane also became a World Champion Bull Rider. He also inspired another young boy he met at age 11 named Mike White who also was encouraged from meeting Lan and too became a World Champion.

Genuine and sincere, those are two of the many qualities that our cowboy had. Lane was truly a champion, and he carried that with a charisma that few have ever before or since have possessed. If we take these qualities and truly apply them to our lives we too will be able to bring out the best in those around us. We will be able to create an impact. Perhaps even a lasting one. To this day people that knew Lane can still tell you about how he impacted them. Lane has helped to inspire many to follow in his steps. Every day we have that opportunity to lead those around us andto encourage them to grow and aspire to achieve more. Lane Frost was able to leave a legacy that has, and will continue to impact people for years. He built those around him up. Now it is time for all of us to create our impact and build the legacy that we will leave behind, in our homes, our chapters, and our world.

Living to serve,

Quentin Umphenour,
State Treasurer

Posted in 2017-2018 | Leave a comment

Relevance Over Time

One of my favorite things on the farm is the equipment. Tractors of all sizes, combines, grain carts, planters, drills, air seeders, and so much more! I would even like to pursue a career involving agricultural machinery. Recently, I have spent some time with local John Deere dealership, Concordia Tractor Incorporated, or CTI. It has been an awesome experience! During this experience, I learned about the many different aspects and functions of the dealership, from looking at the big picture with management, to the parts and service where the nitty, and gritty details are worked through.

While pulling up to the dealership, a piece of equipment caught my eye.  Along the row of massive, beautiful combines, there was one that looked out of place.  The paint had faded to a moldy green, and just by looking at it from a distance I could tell it was a machine from days gone by.

As much as I love talking and learning about equipment, I had never stopped to wonder where that equipment goes when the farmers of the area no longer have a use for it.  I mean, it still functions (although it might need some work!) and scrap yards taking on vast amounts of retired agricultural machines are few and far between.  So I asked, “Where will that combine end up?”

Most machines that are no longer useful in the area are shipped off to another country.  Usually they end up in South America or parts of eastern Europe.  Why?  While these implements have been used and are considered too old or obsolete for the farmers of the U.S., the equipment still has relevance.  In the many different countries the equipment is shipped to, the agriculture companies (if there are any) do not produce equipment of the quality or quantity of what is manufactured here in the United States.  Not all the equipment is as old as the machine pictured, more and more of the equipment that is leaving the country was manufactured in the 90s.

At SCCL, chapters created their vision; one component of  vision is establishing 2-3 year time frame.  Of all the components of vision, to me this was the most interesting.  The vision that was created and will be carried out will last much longer than your year service.  It may last longer than two years, and in many cases past three.  As officers, this means that we will not be the only officers or members to carry out our vision.

The fact that our vision will last longer than our time as officers cannot be overlooked.  If we get bored with our vision, or lose enthusiasm with it, the new leaders of our chapter may not take on the vision.  If this happens, our chapter will lose its vision and the progress that your team has made.  Just like I saw no use left in that old combine, we can’t look at our vision and decide that it is irrelevant.  However, for our new members and officers, our “old” vision will still be extremely relevant and provide them with a sense of direction.  That old combine can still do good work for another operation.

Living to serve,

Eli Ohlde
State President

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

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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