Kansas FFA Blog

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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Surprises. We’ve all had those moments in life that just sneak up on us. Ones we aren’t expecting or perhaps ones that we are expecting, but they still jump out at us no matter how much we prepare. We can find a lot of joy in surprises, but we can also lose ourselves in worrying about the unexpected. I learned a lesson this week which came to me through surprises.


I would like to think that I am a “tough guy,” but in actuality, when I get sick, I shrivel up into a shell of a man. The stereotypical image of a man who is worthless when he has an illness rings very true to me. When I woke up Monday morning and didn’t feel good, I told myself that I was fine and just needed to suck it up and that I had too much to do to be sick. It is safe to say that I was surprised when I walked into the doctor’s office only for them to tell me that I had a 102º fever. I immediately had to cancel my plans to travel to a Greenhand Conference, find a replacement, and explain to the rest of the state officers why I couldn’t fulfill my duties. Luckily my team is super understanding and bailed me out… but that left me to worry about National FFA Convention and all of my classes I needed to catch up on. I was surprised when my grandmother offered to take me home to rest, but I couldn’t refuse Grandma Donna’s TLC and went home.


I found that I missed my own bed and my family. My biggest surprise was how much I’d been neglecting my family and life at home while I’d been at college. I had become so caught up in keeping up and worrying about the unexpected that I forgot how much I missed just sitting with my family. This surprise snuck up on me while watching the KSU volleyball game. So what did I do? I relaxed and revisited life at home and caught up with my family. Before long, I was feeling better and able to come back to KSU. I think the opportunity to reconnect helped with a speedy recovery and it helped me learn the lesson I talked about. Don’t get too busy to slow down because you will be surprised by what you have been missing.

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Living in a Haze

I remember when I was younger there were so many days that were special. Of course, there were “big” holidays like Christmas, Easter, Thanksgiving, and of course, birthdays. But as a child, I recall finding the most insignificant days to celebrate. It’s your dog’s birthday? Let’s celebrate! You bought a new pack of mechanical pencils? Let’s celebrate! EVERY day could hold something special that led to the need for celebration. However, as I have gotten older, the days that pass by seem to be just that: another day. Christmas doesn’t quite feel like Christmas anymore, summer breaks just means more work that I get paid for instead of a grade for, and birthdays are just another Monday or Tuesday of the week.

The thing is: I hate it. I ask myself, what has changed in my mind that use to celebrate everything that now finds everything in a linear blur? Has the novelty of a “holiday” worn off? Is it truly that I have just “grown up”?

If I was fourteen or fifteen, I would have said that I’m “too cool to care”, but now, I’m not sure what the reason is.

Reflecting on this now, I have come to the conclusion that I may never know the exact date the “music died” but who says I can’t change the station? Who says I can’t reignite the fire that made every day special?

Where changing the station is concerned, I greatly believe that it’s a good representation of how we work. Throughout our lives, we change our interests, our hobbies, and our values. When it comes to holidays, I find that changing my music station included caring less about the materialistic gifts in perfectly wrapped boxes and caring more about the time I get to spend with my family, friends, and yes, even my dog!

This weekend I went home for the first time in a month, and it dawned on me that the reason my mom had been pestering me about what meal I wanted Sunday was that this was the first birthday I wouldn’t be home to celebrate. Although there were gifts presented, I found myself thinking more about how I wasn’t going to wake up that morning and be greeted by my parents, my sisters, and my dog all saying, “Happy Birthday!” That’s when I realized my radio station had changed.

I also realized that I have been living in a haze. I have merely been existing from one day to the next for a while now, trying to make it through without a mountain of homework and responsibilities falling down on top of me. I had lost the spark of excitement about every day a while ago.

Even though I may not be able to replenish that spark fully, I can still recreate it in small amounts. I can still celebrate my friends’ victories in life, I can still celebrate the time I am gifted with my family, and I can still cherish the moments I get to spend on this earth.

Every day is a great day; we only have to find the great in every day.

Forever Blue,

Scuyler Zenger

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Dear my Blue Corduroy Jacket

Dear my Blue Corduroy Jacket,

If I had never walked into Mrs. Van Allen’s classroom I would have never put you on. If I hadn’t realized your significance I wouldn’t have gotten the opportunity.  If my advisor had never made an impact on me I never would have loved you. Fortunately, I walked into that classroom with the wall lined with a few plaques, home to new champions, leaders, and achievers, because through the legacy it held I came to understand your history and importance with quiet reverence as I zip you up. I also remember the joys, tears, trials, and lessons experienced while breaking you in

You have seen some changes; like the emblem and words stitched on your back and chest. You have been replaced not just once or twice but five times. Occasionally change is good and sometimes we need a fresh start with bigger ambitions while surrounded by new people. We have both grown and changed, but it is because of you that I have the opportunity to do so.

The time I have left in you is running short but the things I have learned and experienced while proudly wearing you will always be cherished. When it finally comes time to hang you up for good, I pray you know that you’ll never be forgotten. As your color fades and dust gathers you will continue to have an impact on my life and I’ll pass on your story, traditions, and legacy to the next generation of Future Farmers.


Miranda Depenbusch

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In with the New

“Oh I already moved all your stuff out because I was planning on having a sleepover soon,” said my sister as she lead me through our house. It had only been a week since my last visit home from college, but as I opened the door to my room, I found things to be a little different than last time. Okay actually, a LOT different.

The walls were now painted grey. My sister’s bed, desk, and bookshelf replaced where my furniture once stood. I peered into the closet only to find her clothes, her bags, and her shoes in every single storage rack. The old hardwood floors and the popcorn ceiling were only two things that remained the same about that room. Everything else had changed. It was as if I had never lived there. And while this new layout was initially different, I couldn’t be happier!

Over the last 2 months, I’ve experienced my fair share of “newness”. Everywhere I look, new experiences surround me. Let’s throw it back to the beginning of the newness. The week before the start of school was finally upon me, and I still hadn’t purchase anything for my new room in college. After scavenging the local Bed Bath & Beyond and Target for hours, I finally went home with a new bed spread, shower caddy, notebooks, and storage bins (among other items). The shopping process was overwhelming and expensive, but necessary for preparation.

A few days later, I packed up all my bags and moved into the Alpha Gamma Rho fraternity. To my surprise, I spent the next 24 hours signing at the top of my lungs practicing for the highlight of recruitment week: Serenades. Every year, fraternities in Manhattan practice songs and dances, called Serenades, to preform to each of the 16 sororities on campus. We practiced non stop with jazz hands, leg kicks, and crazy dance moves to old and new songs like “Party for Two” by (our Queen) Shania, Dancing Queen by Abba!, and Raining Men by the Weather Girls. I sang and danced all afternoon with my soon to be Brothers. While we were all sore and voiceless on Sunday morning, the Serenade experience built up our excitement for the new school year.

That excitement was helpful on the first day of school as I trotted through the rain. Thankfully I made it to each of my classes without getting lost! But I was even more grateful to be surrounded by new friends in all my classes. As I went on about my day, I realized new teachers could make this year all the more interesting. Whether it was my Econ teacher proudly showing off his toe shoes or my Chem teacher wearing a shirt that read “coffee straight up,” I knew at that moment I was ready to embrace this new school year.

In life, we are constantly presented with new experiences. These experiences might take hours and end up costing too much, like shopping. Or maybe, like Serenades, they leave us voiceless and sore for days after. Sometimes these new experiences might scare us, like meeting new friends. Sometimes these new experiences will force us out of our comfort zone.  But it is through these experiences that we learn to grow. I’m reminded of a quote from Winston Churchill that goes like this,

While changes might seem foreign at first, they almost always come with progress in some way or another. As someone who appreciates new opportunities, this quote speaks to me. It reminds me that by opening up to new experiences, I can eventually find the personal growth that we’re all looking for.

This new school year presents us with an opportunity to start fresh with a clean slate. This is a new chapter in the best novel we could write: our life novel. Let’s embrace the newness and make the most of these new experiences this year!

Living to Serve,

-Michael Dowd

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