Jul 13 2022

Be Excited About the Things You Love

“The sooner you be you, the sooner the people looking for you will find you.” 

 

I stumbled across this quote by an unknown author while scrolling through Pinterest. I sure wish I had realized this sooner! 

 

I have always felt like a bit of an oddball. Starting in about 4th grade, I began to develop hobbies and interests that my friends found super weird. My brother and I watched the Kansas City Royals every night. I had never cared much for sports, but I loved hanging out with my brother and my dad and learning about baseball. Pretty soon, I memorized all the players by name and number. Then I started keeping track of batting averages, RBIs, and home runs. I was ecstatic when my family got to watch a Royals game in person once or twice a year. A few of my friends liked the Royals, but I was a little disappointed that no one at school followed them quite as closely as my brother and I did. 

 

In 5th grade, I really liked Star Wars. I watched the entire series several times. I read books about Star Wars, built the Millennium Falcon out of Legos, learned about George Lucas and the actors, and even dressed up as Padme Amidala for Halloween. Circa 7th grade, I got into a few really good book series. I could ramble for hours about Percy Jackson, Divergent, Harry Potter, or The Chronicles of Narnia. In 9th grade, I loved Broadway musicals like Newsies, Les Miserables, and Hamilton. To this day, I will completely nerd out over Marvel, Taylor Swift, Wordle, marching band, or whatever book I’m reading at the moment. 

 

Are you starting to notice a trend? 

 

Now that I’ve completely exposed myself about these super nerdy obsessions I’ve had, let me explain why these random interests have been a formative part of my life. 

 

At my small high school, there are only 14 students in my entire class! In such a small pool of people, I have often felt isolated in the things I love. This has caused me to suppress my enthusiasm and curate my personality to fit in with other kids my age. However, as I grew up and met people through FFA, I became more comfortable with the things that make me unique. I realized that even silly things like Star Wars and Hamilton can help me build connections with people who think like me. Although I was teased for being a “book nerd” in middle school, I now see how being an avid reader has developed my imagination and helped me in my written communication skills. All of my quirks make me special and human. I want to encourage you to be 100% yourself. Explore things that truly interest you and don’t be afraid to share your enthusiasm! Be excited about the things you love, because it will lead you to amazing friendships, exciting opportunities, and a strong sense of self.

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Emily Nelson, VP
Jul 13 2022

Look Beyond Your Differences

I found my family in FFA, but I still felt like the odd one out at times. Growing up, I was a city kid and didn’t know if I belonged in a rural dominated community. I loved all things agriculture and wanted to be really involved in FFA, so I applied to HYMAX Academy. I spent a lot of time and energy on my application, but unfortunately I was not selected as one of the 100 members that would attend.

 

I let my doubts get the best of me and didn’t grow from that experience. I started to realize how different I was from everybody else in FFA. I didn’t grow up on a farm. I couldn’t tell you more than a few breeds of cattle, and I didn’t know how to drive a tractor. These were not overly important things, but I felt like I was the only one who didn’t know them. I started to let my differences define me, and over the next few years I didn’t even apply to MAbA or HYPE. I felt like my differences made it so that I wouldn’t belong.

 

However, this year I got to attend HYMAX Academy, and I realized that our differences don’t make us outsiders, they make us unique. I belonged at HYMAX because I am passionate about learning and advocating for agriculture. It was my passion that connected me with the other HYMAX participants. Throughout the academy, I learned about several unique supervised agricultural experiences (SAE). Just because they were different, didn’t make them any less important. Differences actually help make us stronger as an organization.

 

Sometimes we go through life and set ourselves apart by looking at our differences. I let my differences define me, and didn’t even afford myself the chance to try new experiences such as HYPE. I let my differences hold me back. Learn from my mistakes and change your perspective. I challenge you to think differently. Find what connects you to others. We can all make the conscious decision to look beyond our differences and know that we belong as our true authentic selves.

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Cooper Hamlin, VP
Jul 13 2022

President Versus Precedent

When my chapter arrived at FFA Camp the summer between my junior and senior year, I was somewhat aware of what the week would look like. With it being my second time at camp I knew of the waterfront activities, tournament play, and the various leadership sessions that were in store for me. One thing new this week of camp: I would be running for a camp officer position! I was extremely passionate about making this week great for my fellow campers. After walking out of the interviewing room, I was confident that I received the office I was shooting for, president. However, this confidence was short lived, because when the state officer announcing camp officer positions read “vice president,” my name followed. I was disappointed and thought of myself as the first loser. For the rest of the day, I thought about how I should have interviewed better and how I would not have the honor of giving a speech at the end of the week.

 

At the end of the first day, something happened. After a guest speaker spoke to all of the campers, they told me that my vice president opening ceremonies truly touched them and that I could have a real impact on my fellow campers. This sparked a change in me and for the rest of camp I put everything into my camp officer position. I brought energy to opening ceremonies, encouraged members to give speeches, and interacted in every way possible during leadership sessions. Other campers soon started to compliment me. They came to me for help when they needed it, and the week turned out to be great. You see,  I was so focused on the title of president that I forgot I could set a precedent no matter what position I received. Too often we find ourselves letting labels restrict our potential. I encourage us all to strive to do our very best and leave a good example for others, no matter what position in life we are in. We must remember that leaving behind a meaningful precedent could potentially impact those around us more than a title ever could. 

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Annamarie Stone, VP
Jul 13 2022

Changing Your View

Hey, y’all, I am Annamarie and I love taking pictures. I live on a small diversified livestock operation in Audrain County. On the farm, I have a small herd of purebred Charolais cattle, two pigs, and cornish cross broilers, which aid me in owning my own business — Stoney Creek Meats and More. Through my business, I also sell mums and have determined the best way to produce the birds through my Agriscience Research Projects. 

 

When I am not on the farm or working at a boutique, it is almost certain that at golden hour you can find me behind my camera capturing moments of beauty. Recently, I had the opportunity to take engagement pictures, and I enjoyed every minute of it even though the session did come with some issues. The first issue was the lighting because we were outside and the sun was so bright it was hard to make the couple look their best without encountering glares from the sun. The second obstacle I faced was the brush that kept interfering with the pictures. While the pond was pretty and the field of wildflowers were gorgeous, the brush just seemed to keep get in the way of  my photo taking. 

 

Time after time, I stood in the same spot and tried to miss the brush by either bending down or leaning one way or the other. I just could not seem to miss those hurdles. I found myself frustrated and angry. Then it hit me. To get the result I wanted, I had to move and change what the lens was seeing to avoid the brush being in the photo. 

 

Sometimes life is like that. We know that we are getting frustrated with our situation and surroundings and try to come at the problem from different angles, yet we refuse to move because we are afraid we might just fail once again. My experience as a photographer is just like that. I got the lighting perfectly right to have the photo look the best, yet the brush was still intruding on my photos. I was afraid to move and start again. Once I relocated myself, I was able to get a better photo without the ugly eye sores. Our personal life can be just like that; relocating from a comfortable, yet problematic situation can be challenging but it is there where we might just get the best outcome.

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Malerie Schutt, VP
Jun 01 2022

Getting Involved in Summer FFA Activities

With the school year coming to an end, summer is probably the most prominent thing on your mind at the moment. If you’re anything like me, summer is the best time of year — no school, warm weather, late-night drives, time with friends and family, and more. But with all that, the summer activities FFA has to offer are considerably the best part of my summer schedule every single year. The excitement it brings me to meet new people, do things I have never done before, and learn new things about myself, this organization, and the agriculture industry is incredible. The opportunities offered this summer are endless! FFA camp, for example, is a great way to explore new interests and make connections with different people. 

 

Personally, Helping Youth Prepare for Excellence (HYPE) was one of my favorite summer FFA activities I have ever been a part of. This academy will test your limits as it challenges your speaking and research skills, integrity and credibility. This isn’t just the only activity I have enjoyed doing, however. From FFA Camp, Area Officer Institute, HYMAX, and MAbA, the doors are opened for everyone with interests of all kinds. 

 

FFA members, while it might be intimidating to join something that’s new to you, I strongly urge you to participate in at least one activity this summer that you wouldn’t typically partake in. One thing to remember is the only way to grow is by embracing change, if you stay comfortable with the normal, there is no growth in the process. As one of your  Missouri FFA State Vice Presidents, I would like to say how ready and excited I am to serve you this upcoming year. Let’s kick off this new year with an amazing summer filled with growth, new friendships, and memories that will last a lifetime! 

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Jodi Robinson, Secretary
Jun 01 2022

Discipline Gets You Where Motivation Can’t Take You

Jodi Robinson

When preparing for state officer interviews, one of the prep questions I was asked was, “What would you consider your motto or something that you live by?” I was slightly taken aback as I hadn’t really ever thought about the question and even more by the fact that I didn’t have a quick response. I stood there and I pondered. “What is something that I live by,” I asked myself. Eventually, a few things came to mind — one of them being, discipline gets you where motivation can’t take you.

 

We often hear a lot about motivation. It is everywhere in our culture. Motivational speakers, videos, and quotes, the list goes on and on. Many times these motivators are useful and will get us engaged in whatever we are trying to accomplish. We can all think of a time where motivation got us started, but there had to be something more to get us to keep going. Maybe we decided that we would start a regular workout routine or that we were going to get caught up on all of our homework. It quite possibly could be something bigger, like becoming a state winner in a contest or proficiency. These decisions likely were made by a motivating factor. At some point though, we will need to step beyond motivation and tap into something more, something bigger. This is where discipline comes into play. 

 

Discipline is the ultimate factor in making sure we will achieve what we set out to achieve. This type of discipline is controlled behavior. We are not letting ourselves get distracted from the end goal and are taking all the steps we know are necessary to get there. We get a workout partner that makes us go to the gym, we have someone check on us to make sure our homework gets done, and we study long and hard so we know our contest inside and out. These are the actions that help us complete tasks and that get us where we set out to go. 

 

Motivation is great, and gets us doing what we might  never have tried otherwise. However, discipline is worth more. Discipline is hard, but it is what it takes to achieve everything we know we are capable of. Tapping into it or not can be the difference between finding what we are good at and never knowing our full potential.

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Jacob King, VP
Jun 01 2022

Finding Your Place in FFA

Jacob King

Missouri FFA Members, I am truly honored and delighted to be serving as one of your new state FFA officers. I cannot tell you how thrilled I am to be able to serve and interact with FFA members from across this great state. I have a feeling that this year is going to be another remarkable year for Missouri FFA, and I am very excited to see the progress and impact this year’s state officer team is going to have. 

Finding your place in the FFA will open your eyes to countless opportunities and make your FFA experience worthwhile. I know from being a Greenhand that it is difficult sometimes to realize your place and passions within agriculture and FFA. Luckily, FFA offers a variety of leadership opportunities, career events and skill building workshops that are developed to help us find our place. Career Development Events and Leadership Development Events provide us with a variety of options that can enhance our knowledge, leadership, career and communication skills. Personally, I have competed in the entomology contest and various speaking competitions. I’ve seen first hand the improvements and new skills I have acquired because I applied myself to those contests. Competition can really help you discover your passions and talents, but if those opportunities are not for you, that is okay. Supervised Agricultural Experiences also provide a way for you to develop your skills. My SAE is in vegetable production. Through my SAE I plant, maintain, and harvest 150 tomato plants, along with several other vegetables. My SAE has taught me wonderful life skills such as marketing, communication and responsibility. It has also helped me develop career goals I would eventually like to pursue. The good news about SAEs is the diverse interests the experiences help members explore. If you are struggling to find your place or passion in FFA, an SAE project can help open new opportunities for you. 

Members, I challenge you to discover your place in FFA. Set goals and work to achieve them this next year. Don’t wait for the opportunity to find you. Seek out ways FFA can help you discover your niche!

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Cody Garver
Jun 01 2022

Be Comfortable With Being Uncomfortable

Like a lot of people in this world, I hate trying new things. Foods, processes, activities are all things that I am not very adventurous with as I prefer to stay with what I already like and know; those things I’m comfortable with. However, these last four years as an FFA member have taught me the importance of new experiences because to grow and become a better person, you must first do things that make you uncomfortable.

 

A wise man once said, “If you always do what you’ve always done, you will always be where you’ve always been.” It was October of my sophomore year in high school when I learned the truth of this statement for I was about to do what seemed to be the unthinkable for myself. I had never given a speech before, and I was afraid to even attempt as I had bombed the FFA Creed my freshman year and struggled to give a two minute presentation in class. But my advisors signed me up for fall speaking and encouraged me to compete. I was scared to death, but I decided that I would just do my best and accept whatever the result was. I wrote my speech a month early and practiced and revised it over and over again until the day of the area contest came. I went in the room and delivered it to the best of my ability. I won the contest that day and went on to place first at districts, qualifying for the state competition. In two months, I went from not being able to give a speech at all to feeling comfortable with delivering a talk to anyone.

 

Throughout the experience, I learned that you can do just about anything you put your mind to if you are willing to put in the work and embrace what’s uncomfortable to you. FFA members, dream big and never let someone bring you down or tell you that you can’t do it. It might not be an easy path to travel, but if you push yourself to do the things that you aren’t comfortable with, you will find yourself standing in places you thought you would never be. This next year I challenge you to try something new with your FFA career and go chase your dream whatever it may be!

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Mar 07 2022

Blocking Pressure

For hours, the cursor stayed frozen in place, while the time for submission crept closer and closer. Blankly, I stared at the screen knowing I needed to fill the page with meaningful words as soon as possible — words that were able to create laughs and motivation, but yet the page remained empty and the cursor remained in place. 

 

Slowly, I lowered my head as a signal to the vacant page, I was admitting defeat. I needed an absolutely Earth shattering, mountain moving idea I could turn into a masterpiece. Yet, I had absolutely nothing. Eventually, I closed my computer and began to shift my focus somewhere else. Suddenly, I had it! The epiphany I was needing finally happened. 

 

Quickly, I hopped back onto my vacant document, filling it with the words I had so desperately needed. Within no time, my blog was completed, allowing me to realize something. All of the pressure I put on myself to create an “Earth shattering masterpiece”, had stopped me from creating anything at all. My own pressure had prevented my progress. 

 

Today, it is extremely difficult for all of us to not put pressure on ourselves. Whether it be to take a test, complete a writing assignment, compete in a sporting event, or perform in a competition, our own pressure can cause us to create obstacles. As we move forward, I encourage all of you to step back, take a break, take a breath, and let the ideas form their own.

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Mar 04 2022

Be All You

As we began preparing for the  Missouri FFA State Convention, I found myself listening to old retiring addresses by state and national officers. As I sat on the couch in my dorm room, forcing my roommates to listen in on what a past national secretary had to say, these words resonated with me, “Whoever you are; be all you, all the time.” It was ironic in the moment; you see I was trying to get a handle on what a state officer should say as their final words to their state association. I was trying to figure out how I should sound, how I should speak, and what message I needed to convey. I was not being all me, I was trying to be the idea I had for state officers – I wanted to live up to the expectation. I will let you in on a little secret: I had been STRESSING over what my retiring address would be about and if I could present it to the members of Missouri FFA.  What I did not realize is that once you let go of certain expectations, you become free of the pressure that comes with them. As you embark on the many adventures that the FFA offers you, let go of the expectations, let things just be. It is easy to focus on the failure, or the shortcomings, but I promise that you will never be successful if you never get over the negative. I challenge each of you to learn from the mistake, adjust from the failure, and focus on the real win – growth. Whether you win your first speech contest or come up short in your last, the experience, the learning, the skill, the GROWTH is what will matter later in life. More times than not, I came up short while competing in the FFA. Each time, I tried to understand why I was not good enough to stand on the stage at state convention and receive a plaque, or why I could not grasp certain concepts in a career development event. It would have been so easy to throw in the towel and focus on the negative, but with each failure, I became more hungry for growth. Without the failure, I would not have gotten better. If you take one thing from this message, let it be this: you are the way that you are for a specific reason, never let a shortcoming dictate the future for you. Never be afraid to simply be yourself, that is when true growth and success occur. 

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Feb 03 2022

Create Your Own Legacy

Legacy is a word that will be thrown around a lot over this next year as Tom Brady, the greatest quarterback in the history of the National Football League, mulls over retirement or coming back to play another season. Regardless of how I personally feel about Brady, there is no doubt that he is a phenomenal player and will leave a lasting legacy on all of football.

 

    But legacy does not have to come from the greatest player of all time; legacy can come from our parents, our chapters, or even ourselves. A legacy can be very uplifting, a goal that is within reach because it has been done before. However, legacy can also mean an unconquerable pressure that presses down until we manage to reach our goal.

 

    For me, legacy was always something that weighed me down in FFA. My father was an FFA advisor, and my chapter has had a lot of success throughout the years, so the pressure of living up to those standards was present the second that I stepped into Animal Science 1 my freshman year. I tried not to let it affect me, but I still felt that if I did not do well that I was letting everyone down around me. It took until my junior year to realize that I do not have to live up to the same legacy as those around me. It is my choice what sort of impact I want to leave, not anybody else’s. Once I made that connection, I was able to let go of the weight of the legacy that I was holding on to so tightly. I decided to try new contests and found a love for them over what I had been doing. Finding what made me love FFA for myself and not for others made all of the difference in how I went forward through senior year and while running for a state office. Legacy is what you leave behind, not what others put upon you.

 

    If legacy is something that you struggle with, I encourage you to remember that finding what makes you happy and doing that will free you of that weight. Leaving a legacy for yourself is so much sweeter than doing something just because it is expected of you.

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Hannah Shanks
Feb 03 2022

A ‘Work Hard’ Mindset

Anyone who knows me, knows that I am a proud product of the dairy farming industry. For the first 16 years of my life, I lived and breathed farming on my family’s third generation dairy. The long hours, the hardships, the irreplaceable memories and people, and the wisdom I received from the farm will forever be what shaped me into the woman I am today. The one thing I would say would be my most prized possession from the farm is the principles of working hard it instilled in me. 

 

To me, hard work is a mindset not just a word used to describe the tasks someone is doing. It is not just putting in the effort while it suits oneself, but rather continuing to work hard throughout the entire task in order to see it through. Sometimes when we are working, we get tired and we decide to slack off or pass the buck to someone else, leaving others to make up for our shortcomings. Finishing before the job is done because you are tired or it does not suit you anymore, is not working hard. It is taking the easy way out. 

 

We are already starting the most work-filled time of the year in FFA. There are applications to fill out, contests to practice for, banquets to plan, and projects to finish. All these projects can seem daunting, but I challenge you to have a “work hard” mindset. Do not quit when the job gets difficult, when you get tired, or when you feel like you cannot keep going. Finish strong in each task and make your dreams a reality. Conquer with a “work hard” mindset! As Dwayne Johnson once said, “Consistent hard work leads to success.” 

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Jan 28 2022

Something New

As I drag myself out of bed every weekday morning to the sound of my alarm going off at 5 a.m., I always ask myself why. Why do I do this to myself willingly? Why do I get out of my nice warm bed way before I have to? But then I remember why. I drag myself out of bed every morning to see the sunrise. That sunrise every morning is what makes me excited for the day ahead. 

 

I didn’t always have this philosophy to get out of bed every morning to see the sun come up. This practice has only come about very recently for me. The sunrise represents the one part of every day that I can fall in love with. The song by Hozier, ‘Someone New’ talks about how the singer goes through life and finds parts of people every day that he falls in love with. When I first listened to the lyrics of this song, I had no idea how it could possibly apply to my life. But the more I listened to it, the more I saw what the singer actually meant. Hozier is encouraging his listeners to find some part of every day that makes you fall in love with life. 

 

Finding something in your everyday life that makes you feel warm and fuzzy inside can be the simplest way to keep yourself motivated and happy as you go through life. That may not be waking up early to see the sunrise for you like it is for me. It may be listening to your favorite song in your morning shower, having a miniature dance party with your friends in your room, or simply taking 10 minutes to yourself every day to do one thing that makes you happy. I encourage you to find one thing every day to make you fall in love with life all over again.

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Jan 14 2022

Count On Me

There is something about the sweet rhythm and sound of certain songs that can turn them into world famous pieces of art. It was 2010 when the simple words, “You can count on me like 1, 2, 3; I’ll be there”, became some of the most popular and well known lyrics in recent musical history. These lyrics, that I am sure many of us recognize right off the bat, are from the famous heart touching song Count On Me by Bruno Mars. 

 

Now, you might not imagine Chris Ebbesmeyer as a die hard Bruno Mars fan, and you would be correct. The truth of the matter is that when I heard this song for the first time I didn’t pay too much attention to the lyrics. I liked the rhythm and beat, but once I started to pay attention to what was being sung, I realized that this song truly teaches a lesson that we all need to learn in our lives. 

 

The simple words, “I’ll be there,” can help those who surround us in so many ways. When we tell someone that we will be there we are telling them that no matter what happens we will help them along the way. This sense of security gives them the confidence to go out and try new things, and it helps them not be worried by the possibility of failure. In my short time as a Missouri FFA State Officer I have seen FFA members from across the state be there for one another. I have seen members go above and beyond to cheer for their friends as they step out of their comfort zones. 

 

As strong individuals, it can be very hard for us to let others be there for us when we need it. I personally struggle with this quite often. This is why I believe that the most important line of the song is the line that says, “And I know when I need it; I can count on you like 4, 3, 2; you’ll be there”. These lyrics go beyond us helping others and actually reflect on what a true friendship needs; a balance of give and take. As Bruno Mars said, we will be there for our friends, but we must also trust that our friends will be there for us.

 

 Throughout our lives we will give so much to others, striving for perfection, but we must remember that it is okay to accept help from our peers. We will all be brought to a moment where we need to hold each other up. As leaders, we must remember to help those who need it, but most importantly, allow others to help us whenever we need it.

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Grant Norfleet
Jan 14 2022

Nobody’s Better Than A Cow Pie

Living on a family farm has a strict schedule attached to it. Every task has a specific time and place it needs to be completed. The cows and weaned calves are fed at 3 p.m., show calves are fed at 4:30 p.m., hay is rolled out at 5 p.m., and the dogs are fed promptly at 6 p.m. Now, this is simply the winter schedule; summer is a whole other ball game. 

 

One of the daily farm chores I am tasked with is picking the cattle pens in the barn. This job needs to be completed each day because the cattle need clean pens to stay in that are free of any and all cow pies. Now let me tell you, I despised this chore so I would always try to convince my brother to do it for me. Sometimes I was successful but most of the time I was not.

 

After spending more time complaining about the task, than completing it, my father finally snapped. He sternly told me that I was not better than a cow pie. It took a few days for this moment to sink in, but I realized nobody is better than a cow pie. 

 

In life, there are going to be moments where we will have to do things we do not want to. Rather than attempting to push the task onto someone else, it is easier to take the bull by the horns and complete the task ourselves. It is important to have these moments in life where we take a step back and humble ourselves. We will be tested and encouraged in life to make others do the dirty work, but there is never a time we should feel better than a cow pie.

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