Kansas FFA Blog

Surprise!

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.

Sincerely,

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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Making Your Bouquet

For those who know me, I am more of a tomboy. I like to roughhouse and do not mind getting a little muddy. But despite this, deep down I have an appreciation for flowers. The reason being is flowers are simple and small in size, but they can mean so much to people. On top of this their meaning can vary, so a flower to one person can mean something to else to another, and that is a beautiful thing.

When I was in elementary school I did not have many friends. Every so often I would find myself completely alone during recess, so I would wander around and find dandelions. My grandmother had always told me that if you close your eyes and blow all the white fluffy parts off of the stem, then you could make a wish. Once I would find one I would close my eyes, blow and wish that I would have someone to play with the next recess. This did not always work, but it gave me hope.

When I was babysitting a girl named Elli, I made her a flower crown out of clover flowers. She immediately went from a giggling little girl playing in the grass to a confident queen. She ruled a floral kingdom and with great flowers come great responsibility. She even took time to try and make me one, since every queen has to have a princess (her words not mine). Afterwards we had to get the royal drink of choice, a juice box, and head back out re-energized to rule the land. The flowers to make crown came from right outside the door, but when they were placed upon her head they brought her confidence.

Last year I got a friend of mine a small yellow rose bush from the grocery story, because when I saw them they made me think of her as a yellow rose is the symbol of friendship. The next time I saw her I gave them to her, and she could not wait to plant them. I had actually forgotten about these flowers until August of this year, when someone we both knew perished in a car accident. The day after the wreck she sent me a picture of that same rose bush, which at this point had grown a considerable amount. She said that every time she looked at it she thought of me.

We all have our own flowers, whether they’re real or metaphorical, that remind us what life is about. Hope is a flower we could all use as hope is one of the hardest things in the world to break. Confidence is a rarer flower, because we all feel like we lack confidence in something. Friendship is another flower that can be hard to find, but like a rose, it is hardy once you do. Even in the darkest of times your friendships can be what helps you through. We should all make our bouquets, and keep in mind what a treasure each flower is.

Living to serve,

Krissy Isle

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Snooze Buttons

Beep… Beep… Beep… The sound of my phone’s alarm clock rips through the room at 6:00 AM. I had set that alarm the evening before with every intention of rising early and getting a head-start that day on my work. But, as most of us have probably experienced, that’s much easier said than done! I found myself habitually groping for my phone, hitting the power button, and falling back to sleep for eight more measly minutes. There weren’t any events or appointments looming that morning, so, in the short run, it didn’t cause much harm to fall back to sleep a few times.

Most of us know that it’s often best to start our day earlier. When we do, we feel better, get more done, and aren’t filled with guilt for that morning. We also know that snoozing just isn’t really worth it! When we hit the snooze button, we fail our own expectations, waste more time in bed, and make it that much easier to press it again next time! Why, then, do we keep on doing it? The short answer: it’s easy. The long answer: We sacrifice long-term effectivity in exchange for a short-term reprieve. And we hit the snooze button on more than just our alarm clocks!

Alarm clocks are a metaphor for the things in our life that fall into the second quadrant of the time management matrix, as proposed by Stephen Covey in The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.

This “Quality Time” quadrant is where we truly grow. You know those to-do list items that always get pushed back behind more pressing matters? That’s us hitting the snooze button on our growth as leaders. What are the tasks you’re hitting snooze on?

One of my Snooze Buttons is reading. I love to read, and I read a lot in elementary school, but when high school (and now college) hit, it suddenly seems like I just don’t have the time. The truth is that I just keep hitting snooze on making time to read. Tim Ferris, a time-management author, sums it up pretty well when he says…

“Lack of time is actually lack of priorities.”

Going forward, I want to commit to using my time better according to Covey’s time management matrix! So, here’s to working on things that truly matter, and zooming out of the crisis/deadline-driven tunnel vision. Let’s prioritize, take care of the little things as soon as they come up, and make time for the meaningful things that won’t have any deadlines but the ones we set ourselves. Let’s break the snooze button habit and wake up our potential!

Living to Serve,

Max Harman

Posted in 2018-2019 | Leave a comment

Building Community

I’m finally a Wildcat! I sway back and forth with all of the students to the Wabash Cannonball. We sing the fight song loudly and proudly. In my short time at Kansas State, I have begun to experience all over again, what it feels like to be part of a community. The definition of community is a feeling of fellowship with others, as a result of sharing common attitudes, interests, and goals. I experienced community growing up in a small town, but now I see it on a much larger scale.

When I stand up and yell at K-State football games, I am proud to be doing so with other students by my side. Our “community” that we have is all moving in the same direction, working towards the same goal. Bill Snyder did not create this community overnight– no, it took many years and an unfathomable amount of hard work. It is a community of support that surrounds Kansas State University. Being a person with a mindset that lends itself to daydreaming, I found myself dreaming after the first football game. I was thinking of the great accomplishments that could be achieved if we all had the undying unity of a community.  We could build a community where people felt they belonged, that was passionate, loud, and showed up in droves whenever we needed them. One we never hesitated to give our all to.

Great things could be done if we all had this type of support, but just as Bill Snyder took many years to build the community, we each should have the expectation of hard work if we want to build something similar. We can accomplish things like making our schools or places of business feel like a family.

I think it starts with lending yourself to a community. If we can’t bring ourselves to have fellowship with others who have similar interests, then how are we going to build a community? If we are to build community, we must be passionate. I do not believe there was ever a moment when Coach Snyder didn’t believe in his team 150%. Lastly, be grateful for any community we experience. Greatness can be formed in the midst of a group who has similar interests, common attitudes, and goals; be thankful for that. I am happy to be a part of the K-State family and feel equipped to pursue greatness. Whether we are walking down the halls of our school, or interacting with coworkers at our jobs, try to build a community that you want to feel surround you. Whatever your community is, nurture it, believe in it, and be proud of it. If we do this, we can see our own greatness sprout from the love within our community.

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Progress for the Best

How many times do you ask yourself “What have I actually accomplished today”?

Since college has begun, I have found this to be a reoccurring question that, at first, I have had no answer to or anything to show for what I have managed to tackle on my way-to-long of a To-Do list. I’m sure that many of us could say the same thing, whether we be in school or out, we seem to have so much going on at once. But what good does it do us if we do not feel like we have actually got something done?

A major theme among my officer team this year so far has been a quote from past national president David Townsend: “Action without reflection is meaningless.” There’s just something about these words that resonated within us and almost shook us to our core. Throughout our summer of training, we focused on great actions that would help progress ourselves, our members, and our organization, while also reflecting on the good wehad accomplished. However, I believe there was one crucial element missing in our process of achieving our goals: we did not understand the true meaning of progress and how it may be measured.

Trying to define and evaluate progress is difficult because everyone defines it differently and perceives progress in their own ways. The definition that has helped me comes from the Matthew Kelly book, Perfectly Yourself.Mr. Kelly states that “progress is simply change that is positive.” This resounding definition allowed me to reevaluate everything we had accomplished and helped me realize if we had actually made a positive change with our actions, or did we just go through the motions?

Personally, I found that we had made significant progress over the summer months of June thru August, but I question on where to go from here. With college in full swing, officer responsibilities picking up, and personal well-being all being priorities, I ask where is there room for progress? Mr. Kelly also addresses evaluating progress in his book, and he declares that progress is measured differently for everyone. With everything going on, I have found that for me progress is simply making my bed in the morning. It’s a positive change to the state of my dorm room that allows me to feel as if I have already accomplished something for the day. For others, it may be achieving larger, more complex items on your To-Do list. Whatever it is you see needs progress, and however you choose to measure it, keep in mind that your progress is not like everyone else’s.

“Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You.” ~Dr.Suess

Now is YOUR time! Make great progress, achieve your goals, and appreciate all the good you have in your life, because you only get one.

 

Living to Serve,

Scuyler Zenger

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Attitude of Gratitude

Moving to Manhattan, I knew I was going to experience many new things: a lot more traffic, many new friends, and several more people; but what I did not expect to experience was a flood. On the morning of September 3, 2018, I jumped out of bed because I heard a very loud banging on my door followed by Max Harman’s voice. Confused as to what was going on, I anxiously looked at my phone and saw several missed calls from Garrett, Krissy, and Max, who then shouted that the creek behind the trailer park I live in was flooding and we needed to get out! Never having faced a flood before, I had no idea what to take with me. I only grabbed my school backpack and a bag of clothes because, thinking optimistically, I thought we would be coming back very soon. Frantically, we left the trailer park as the water gradually crept higher and higher. Much to my surprise, there were already many firemen and policemen using jet skis and boats rushing to get people out of their houses. Once we were out and safe, I became concerned because I didn’t know what to do next.

Not sure where to go, I called Scuyler and asked if I could hang out with him and his roommate, Ben, for a while. They were nothing but welcoming to me and concerned about the entire situation; especially about where I would be staying later that night. They were helpful in thinking of many places and people I could stay with if it came to that. Even though the water had risen to almost two feet, it thankfully had receded and I was able to return home that night.

 

Thinking back on the entire day, I realized how fortunate I was to have such amazing teammates. They were all worried about me and my safety and they made sure to call me (even though I did not answer) just to ensure I was ok. Max even came to my house in order to make sure I was aware of the situation and made it out safely! Scuyler let me stay at his dorm for a couple hours when I had nowhere to go, plus the many text messages from Krissy, Michael, and Ms. Kane asking if there was anything they could do to help. I was at ease knowing if there was ever another intense situation, my team will always be there for me. I am so grateful to have such caring people around me who are willing to do anything to help during a very chaotic situation.

“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend.”

-Melody Beattie

What are some things to be grateful for in your life? How can you be thankful for the challenges that you’ve experienced? How can you say “thank you” more? Make sure to take the time to let the people in your life know how grateful you are for them!

 

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Will food be affordable in the year 2050?

It’s that time of year again! The air is warming up, and farmers are heading back to the field. All the fields have been fertilized in anticipation of the growing season. The ground has been worked with care to prepare a seed bed. Finally, the seeds have been planted, kicking off a new growing season. In choosing when to plant and work or selecting seeds and fertilizer the decisions can be based on numbers. Not just any numbers, but numbers taken and collected to provide the absolute best data possible. These are essentially statistics for the different seeds. Statistics and data are a huge part of the world we live in. They are used as decision-making tools and as proof to back up ideas in an argument. A piece of data or a statistic familiar to those in agriculture, is the population growth expected by 2050. Depending on the source, the world population is predicted to grow to nearly 9.8 billion people. This is often the reason given for needing to drastically increase the amount of grain, meat, and dairy products our country produces. I do agree, the change in population is a significant issue for the future of agriculture and our world. However, I have learned we may be asking the wrong question. The usual question is,” Will we be able to produce enough food to feed the world by 2050?”

The question that could be more appropriate is, “Will food be affordable in the year 2050?” In history, it was not uncommon for people to predict that the world population would grow in a significant enough amount that it would outrun agricultural production. A man by the name of Thomas Malthus predicted that when this happened, famine would bring the population back to a sustainable level. Malthus and his followers have predicted this more than once but have failed to be accurate.  With continual growth in population, amount of food demanded could certainly outrun supply. With technological innovations and changes in ability to grow we have been able to produce food to keep up with our population growth. Even though this will continue, if supply decreases enough the price of our food will increase. While this won’t bring the earth to famine, the many people who live on extremely low incomes will not be able to feed themselves or their families.

Several scenarios are brought up as solutions to this problem. The first, is to stop feeding grains to livestock. This seems like the logical choice-it takes many pounds of grain and a ton of energy to produce only one pound of meat. The flaw however, is that the highest consumption of meat tends to come from areas of higher income. They likely would continue to purchase meat, even at higher prices continuing to create demand. And those eating the grain diverted from livestock may still have an inadequate diet. The second, concerns the vast amount of food waste. We’ve all heard the statistics. The common estimates are that around 30% of food is wasted. Some would even say higher. Be cautioned-check the definition of these statistics. In some instances, any grain that is fed to livestock or used to make fuels is considered waste. While this does mean these grains are not consumed directly by humans, I don’t believe that this is waste. I also am not saying that food waste is not an issue, it just may not be as significant as some would think. Being wasteful of food is poor stewardship of our resources, but that’s another topic. Regardless, eliminating food waste alone won’t not solve our problem.

Will food be affordable in the year 2050? There is a ton of speculation, estimates, and ideas about this problem. There are also many viable options to solve this problem. Technology is great, but it may not be enough. The hope is in the future of agriculture. The answer to this question lies in the ability of future generations to answer the question differently. The answer is in us, the FFA members. No matter our background or our goals in life we all have the ability to contribute to the answers to this question and the many other questions that plague the future. How will we answer this question?

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