Alexandra Gast
Jul 26 2019

Conquer With A Positive Attitude

Alexandra Gast - Secretary

Alexandra Gast – Secretary

As the beginning of the school year is around the corner, a new season of change is upon us. We may think this is just another year, we may not see the potential of a fresh start, or we may be hopeful that this year will bring growth. No matter the situation, or the outlook you have, this can be your year.


Attending FFA camp as a sophomore, I had a few preconceived notions of what to expect. The hot days in the rec hall, the bad food, and the treacherous hike up and down the trail to the waterfront was not something I was looking forward to. I let others decide my attitude going into the week and didn’t take advantage of the opportunities that I had been given.


I tried to fill my time with activities at the waterfront and learning to like the food that was served in the dining hall. My time at Camp Rising Sun was not the greatest and I was ready to go home.


Applications came out for camp the next year and I was not going back. NO WAY and NO HOW. But you see, I forgot one vital detail my first time at camp- I did not earn my leadership medal. I had to go back, open-minded and ready to conquer a challenge.


That year at Camp Rising Sun, I stayed positive. I focused on my goal. I had some fun along the way. FFA Members, this school year will be what you make it. Go in with a positive attitude, ready to conquer a new challenge.


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Learn From Your Life Jacket

Jacob Knaebel - VP

Jacob Knaebel – VP

Watch Out! Those were the last words I heard right as the canoe I was in tipped over sending myself and another FFA member straight into the Lake of the Ozarks. When I woke up on Day 4 of FFA Camp, I never would have guessed that later I would be walking around completely soaked with my brand-new tennis shoes almost ruined. To say the least, things were not going according to my plans that day. As I clung to my life-jacket, bobbing in the water, I could not help but laugh as I realized the campers were never going to let me forget this embarrassing moment.


Throughout our time in FFA, we are always going to try and plan events out perfectly. Whether we plan on winning a contest or receiving an office, all members will undoubtedly experience those days when our plans get turned upside down. Instead of looking at these unexpected times as failures, they should be seen as opportunities to better ourselves.


The next day, despite the embarrassment from my previous attempt, I went back out on the lake. However, this time I was more experienced and knew what not to do in a canoe. Whenever we experience those moments where our plans seem to be ruined, we just have to remember to use our newfound knowledge to better ourselves for the future. To learn from our failures, we must always carry with us an open mind, an optimistic attitude, and in my case a life-jacket.

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Share Your Ag Story

Kaylee Lewis - VP

Kaylee Lewis – VP

Can I take your picture?

This question came from a complete stranger in a car on the side of the road and completely threw me off guard. Why was this stranger so concerned with taking a photo of me? All I was doing was walking my show barrow on his regular path just like any other night. The stranger could see the confusion on my face and proceeded to inform me that she had never seen anyone walk a pig before, and she wanted to show her family this strange sight.

Now I understood; she had never been enlightened about the livestock show industry. Flashing lights started to go off in my mind. Maybe she was not informed about other aspects of the agriculture industry.

As Margaret Fuller once said, “If you have knowledge, let others light their candles in it.” This random, unplanned road side encounter allowed me to advocate for the agriculture industry in an unconventional way by sharing my story with another individual.

FFA members, this is a prime example that there is no need to wait for the perfect opportunity to advocate for the agriculture industry. Sometimes unplanned moments touch the lives of people more than the “perfect” sales pitch. I encourage you all to not be afraid to talk to the stranger that wonders about your SAE or anything that has to do with the ag industry. We need FFA members like you to share your story and your knowledge—that is how we can make a difference!

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Your Biggest Fear

Tyler Schuster - VP

Tyler Schuster – VP

What’s your biggest fear?

That question was posed way more often than I expected to hear it while I was at FFA Camp this summer. Y’know, it might have been because we kept talking about Paxton’s fear of snakes, which rivals that of Indiana Jones’ snake phobia, but that’s beside the point. The question really hit me, and I was drawn back to the times in my life when my answer was shaped.

As I became involved in high school with sports and clubs and leadership opportunities within FFA, my answer began to form. It really presented itself to me Monday morning before FFA Camp, when I could feel my stomach tighten and the creeping dread over what was to come. Today, my biggest fear is meeting new people and starting conversations.

That might come as a surprise to some people, because 95% of the work I do as a state officer is meeting new members and building connections, but it’s true. Every time I look to a person I haven’t met before, I can feel my chest tighten because I know that the first interaction is going to be uncomfortable and difficult for me. Then, I go up and say hello. And, that makes all the difference.

Everyone has his or her own biggest fear in life, but that fear is not nearly as important as the work you are doing to get past it. I see my fear in the face of every new person I meet. Where do you see yours? And, more importantly, what are you doing to become fearless?

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Hands-On Skills

Pursuing a career in veterinary technology is rewarding and requires passionate individuals with a distinct drive to help animals. Crowder College is graduating veterinary technicians who are meeting a hiring demand in clinics across a multi-state region. Recently, the Crowder College Veterinary Technology program was named one of the top 30 veterinary technology programs in the United States, according to

Shawna Estep, Veterinary Technology program director, explained that graduates of the program are receiving multiple job offers, allowing them to leverage better salaries.


“Placement rates are 100% for our graduates,” Estep said. “We have more open positions than we have graduates.”


The three-year program housed on the Crowder College campus in Neosho, Missouri, accepts a maximum of 20 students per year through a selective admission process. To be accepted students must have a 2.0 grade point average (GPA), 20 hours of veterinary observation, ACT scores, three letters of recommendation, and be at certain levels of math and reading. The program, accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), includes 78 required credit hours, and the students graduate with an associate’s in applied science in veterinary technology.


Students in the program are taking courses in a variety of topics, including radiology, large animal medicine, clinical pathology, pharmacology, veterinary dentistry, avian medicine and microbiology. In addition to the courses, veterinary technology students will complete 320 hours of clinical internship throughout two years in veterinary clinics.


“We strive to maintain a high quality of graduates with great hands-on clinical skills who are immediately employable and can be irreplaceable to a veterinary practice,” Estep said. “Students take a licensing exam at the end of the program and we can proudly say that our pass rate is at a three-year-average of 89%, compared to a national average of 70%.”



Veterinary technology students practice on large, small, exotic and avian animals, a requirement of AVMA-accredited programs. The program at Crowder College has a large-animal emphasis and offers labs focusing on radiology and anatomy as well as a dog kennel and cattery.


“Our program at Crowder has a large- animal emphasis because of our 300-acre school farm that raises cattle, sheep, goats and horses all of the time,” Estep said. “Students are in hands-on, large-animal labs from their first to last semester.”


Aside from the school farm, the Veterinary Technology department includes a number of facilities and laboratories, including an anatomy lab housing microscopes with the ability to project to a Smart Board, along with numerous anatomy models. The department also is home to a realistic treatment room in a veterinary clinic with diagnostic blood machines, autoclaves, recovery cages, and an anesthetic machine.


In addition to the facilities, Crowder College maintains a pet adoption program each semester. Veterinary technology students care for dogs and cats on campus that come from local humane societies.


“The animals come early in a semester and are adopted out at the end of the semester,” Estep said. “We have had over 300 animals rescued from shelters and humane societies that have been a part of our program.”


While the animals are in the program, the students practice their skills through laboratory work on the animals. These tasks range from simple physical exams to x-rays, vaccinations, IV and catheter placement as well as assisting surgical procedures including spays and neuters, endotracheal intubations, anesthetic monitoring, and fluid therapy, among many other responsibilities.


During the program’s tenure, Crowder College has rescued more than 300 animals from shelters and humane societies. Estep explained that students often get attached to — and fall in love with — the animals and adopt them themselves. However, the animals are up for adoption to the public as well and listed on the Crowder College website at

—by Julie Choate

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Are You Tough Enough

Andrew Moore

Andrew Moore – State VP

“Tough times never last, but tough people do.”


Raging flood waters, devastating weather phenomena and turmoiled markets are just some of the obstacles we face in agriculture. From the Dust Bowl and Great Depression of the 1930s, to the American Farm Crisis of the 1980s, to the unprecedented floods of 1993, our industry has persevered one struggle at a time. Agriculturalists embody resilience and adaptability. FFA members, you too can become adaptable to whatever life throws your way.


Becoming adaptable to lifes situations is something that many of us are not good at. There are a few guiding principles that can help us develop this ability.


The first step in solving a problem is to recognize that it does exist,” Zig Ziglar said. Acknowledging the circumstances we go through and the personal weaknesses that got us there will help us be more adaptable to potholes down the road.


The second step to adaptability is to analyze how others who were faced with a challenge overcame their situation. Understanding how they busted through their roadblocks can help us emerge victorious.


The final step to adaptability is finding a mentor to guide us through this thing we call life. Having a mentor who has walked in our shoes can increase our chances of success when hitting those bumpy spots in life.


Our creed states, “I know the joys and discomforts of agricultural life and hold an inborn fondness for those associations which, even in hours of discouragement, I cannot deny.” FFA members, the time will come when we face hours of discouragement. Know this, “Tough times never last, but tough people do!” – Robert Schuller. Just like our industry has adapted and persevered through every obstacle, you, too, can adapt. Don’t let anything keep you from your dreams.

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Step Out of Your Comfort Zone

Natalie Koch

Natalie Koch – VP

“There is no growth in the comfort zone, and no comfort in the growth zone.” These 15 words changed my perspective on life when past Missouri State FFA Vice President Isabel Legg said them during her reflections at Public Speaking Academy (PSA). This was the summer before my junior year of high school, and, up until this point, going out of my comfort zone was a risk I was not willing to take.


I have a reputation for getting homesick, and, quite frankly. both of my advisors did not think I could make it through the roughly 50 hours at PSA. However, this camp took me far out of my comfort zone. Taking a topic and transforming it into a speech in two days was a challenge, but presenting this speech in front of judges was another daunting task that forced me to step out of my comfort zone. Not to mention, I was able to stay the entire time without getting homesick.


The following week, I attended FFA Camp where I took a leap of faith and decided to deliver reflections one night in front of the entire camp… without note cards. I thought it sounded fun when the directors talked about it, but when the time came to stand up in front of the entire camp and give reflections, I was ready to throw in the towel. Afterward, I knew as challenging as this experience was, it was far more rewarding in the end.


The growth zone is a scary and uncomfortable place to be. There will be plenty of times when you would rather stay in your comfort zone, but the real reward comes when you step outside of the comfort zone and grow into someone you never dreamed you’d become.

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LIVE from Nashville!

Ten of your Missouri State FFA Officers traveled June 13, 2019, to Nashville, Tennessee, to film three episodes of FFA Todayon RFD-TV.  The show uses state officers from across the nation to host the episodes.

Those attending were Brenden Kleiboeker, Isaiah Massey, Alexandra Gast, Elizabeth Brooks, Kensie Darst, Jessica Janorschke, Natalie Koch, Matthew Morgan, Tyler Schuster and Kate Thompson.

These episodes are slated to air on RFD-TV on July 1, July 8,  and July 15.  The new episodes air at 6 p.m. CT each week.  Encore airings take place each Tuesday at 8:30 p.m. Central Time and Sunday at 2:30 p.m. CT.

RFD-TV understands not all cable/satellite companies carry RFD.  They do have some options for you. We cannot share the episodes due to FCC guidelines and sponsor agreements through social media channels.  You can subscribe to RFD Country Club at You can also subscribe to the agriculture portion through TV apps such as Firestick and Roku. Here is an article to help you navigate watching RFD-TV without cable: You can also find clips of the FFA Today show on the RFD-TV You Tube Channel.

FFA advisors and FFA members,RFD-TV is looking for viewer submitted ideas and stories. If you have a story idea, here’s a YouTube video  to help you with your video submission.

These stories can be service oriented, alumni or SAE highlights.  If you have questions, contact Emily Buck, FFA Today Producer. Her email is

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Serve to Make a Difference

Alexandra Gast - VP

Alexandra Gast, Vice President

I didn’t want to be here. Four years ago, I did NOT want to be involved in FFA. I was completely apprehensive to be involved in FFA and Agriculture because I was scared. I was scared that my dad was going to be right all the times he said “you would love it if you gave it a chance”, I was scared that I would constantly hear “oh, you only get that opportunity because your dad is the ag teacher”, I was scared that I would live in the shadow of the upperclassmen and wouldn’t ever find my place.


I spent more time being scared of the thing, rather than just doing the thing. I applied at the end of my freshman year to HYMAX Academy in agreement that if I didn’t get in, I would not enroll in an ag class the next year. I put half effort into my application, and when I didn’t make it in, I was MAD. I wasn’t mad at anyone other than myself though. I decided that day I got the letter of denial, I was in it to prove Missouri FFA wrong. After the first 6 months of that mentality, and attending State FFA Leadership Camp I realized that my home was the members in the blue jackets. I found my best friends in FFA, I found my sisters and brothers in FFA, I found my future roommate through FFA, and most of all I got the opportunity to serve FFA; through the Chapter, Area, and now State.


Missouri FFA, I’m here to tell you, it doesn’t matter how many awards you get, how many hands you shake, how many pins are hanging on the inside of your jacket, the level you serve at, or the number of times your name is in local newspaper; you can serve, and if you make even one positive impact, you made a difference in the world.

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Right Time, Right Place

“Being in the right place at the right time produces the right outcome,” is a saying that I heard way more than I wanted to as a kid. While I shrugged off these comments my father made when I was younger, I have realized that this statement holds weight when it comes to FFA. As FFA members we can make lasting memories, impact lives and make connections that could lead to future employment opportunities.


It is important to remember as we navigate our FFA journey that we must always be present. Not only must we be present physically, but also mentally and emotionally. Being present doesn’t mean just taking in what you need yourself, but being present for others.


FFA members can always be present for others whether it is at camp, at a local business or even sitting in an agriculture class. It is hard to control the outcome of a situation, but it is easy to devote time and energy to being in the right place mentally for every situation.


Life can give us lemons, and the outcome depends on our reactions. Being mentally present and ready for anything that is thrown at you will inevitably produce a more desirable outcome. Always remember that as a FFA member, you must be present in order to produce the outcome you want. I challenge you to be in the right place to change lives and impact community members as much as possible.

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Moving Out of the Clouds into the Sunshine

As many of you have probably noticed, it has been raining quite a bit this spring, especially in my hometown of Silex. With that being said, several Missouri farmers have not had many opportunities to get into the fields. As of May 8, I had not spent a single hour in the tractor seat yet this spring, instead of the dozens of hours and hundreds of acres that would have normally been covered by that time.  However, as summer comes into full swing and the weather begins to clear, the opportunity to plant looks much brighter and brings hope for an immensely successful summer for agriculture in Missouri.


Many Missouri FFA members may have also had a nasty, unproductive spring. It might have been that your career development event or leadership development event did not go as well as planned, or you didn’t get that proficiency award or officer position. These unfortunate events serve as the rain on the parade of FFA members. They are all hard as they’re happening, but they provide positive learning experiences for the future, just like the rain provides the nourishment for plants throughout the summer.


As farmers across the state are looking to the summer sun to grow their corn to the next level, FFA members should also look into the sun to create a brighter future by learning from the unfortunate storms of our pasts. Some of these sunny days include the great opportunities that can be had at events like FFA Camp, Helping Youth Maximize their Agricultural eXperience (HYMAX), Public Speaking Academy (PSA) and Helping Youth Prepare for Excellence (HYPE).


Just like the corn all across Missouri will soak up the rays of sun this summer, I encourage all of you to soak up the new skills that can be learned and use them to build a successful year.

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Humble and Kind

Missouri State FFA Convention is complete, chapter banquets are in full swing, and the school year is coming to a close. Across the state, FFA members are being recognized for their hard work and dedication. Sometimes, it is easy to get caught up in the heat of it all, but let’s not forget what got us to this moment.


One of my all time favorite songs is “Humble and Kind” by Tim McGraw. This song is full of advice to keep in mind during our FFA careers. One line that rings true during this spring season is, “When the dreams you’re dreamin’ come to you, when the work you put in is realized, let yourself feel the pride but always stay humble and kind.”


Many of our dreams come true at state convention and chapter banquets as a result of our hard work. We all learn valuable life lessons putting us one step closer to our goals. However, every dream reached is the culmination of the hard work of multiple people: ourselves, advisors, parents, community members and many others. It is definitely our right to feel proud, but let’s not forget these other supporters. Dropping them a card of thanks or giving them a phone call is a simple gesture to show our gratitude and humbleness toward them.


Near the end of the song, McGraw sings this line, “When you get where you’re goin’, don’t forget to turn back around, help the next one in line, always stay humble and kind.” To me, this line is what FFA is all about. FFA is about having experiences of our own and using them to enrich the lives of others. While FFA gives us many life experiences and skills, they are useless unless we use them to help others. Past FFA members have given much to us. Let us continue to give to the next generation.


FFA members, we are part of an amazing organization. We have many outstanding supporters and influencers. As we go about life this year, let’s not forget our supporters or the FFA members coming behind us. Let us be thankful, humble and kind in all that we do!

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Get Your Gobbler

My absolute favorite outdoor pastime is turkey hunting. In fact, I am obsessed with it! From practicing my turkey calling ability, to buying new decoys, to sighting in my shotgun, I did everything imaginable to get prepared for this year’s turkey season.


Season rolled around and I was absolutely pumped to get to the woods and watch the morning come alive! Unfortunately, my first day of hunting was plagued with high wind gusts and cold temperatures. I did not see or hear a single turkey! Then, I was out of town for more than five days of Missouri’s season, and it seemed like the weather just kept getting worse, which created bad hunting conditions.


Finally, it was down to the last day of season, and I was beyond worried that I would not get to fill my tag. That final morning came, and the turkeys were gobbling everywhere! I was blessed to be able to harvest a big gobbler at 7 o’clock on the last day of season.


FFA members, I was discouraged many times this season. It would have been easy for me to throw in the towel and give up on something that I loved and cared about, but I stayed to the very last day. Sometimes, not giving up, and sticking to the bitter end will help you find success. Don’t give up, and happy hunting, FFA members!

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This is a No-‘Comfort-Zone’ Zone

Ocean air, salty hair? More like no air, sweaty hair. Ah, FFA Camp. The most wonderful event of the summer. A time of growing, leadership and meeting new people.


This summer, many FFA members will have the opportunity of attending Camp Rising Sun, where they will learn how to be Linked to Lead. It can be easy to regret coming to camp. You’re forced to stay in a wooden cabin with strangers and no air conditioning for nearly a week. You step off of a bus into what seems like the middle of nowhere, surrounded by strangers, and that doesn’t seem like a great time to most. Yet, this is where growth happens – out of your comfort zone.


Although I never had the opportunity of going to FFA Camp, I spent a weekend of my summer before senior year at Area Officer Institute (AOI) at Camp Rising Sun, where we attended workshops and presentations to learn how to be the best leaders we could be. I imagine my experience to be similar to those attending their first time at camp.


I was scared. It was miserably hot and I looked an absolute mess in front of all these people I had never met. By the end of the first day, I was ready to go home. It was too hot, and I didn’t want to play in the ag Olympics anymore. I thought to myself, “What if these people are judging me?”I was leaving butt prints of sweat everywhere I went, and I couldn’t kick a ball to save my life. I was over it.


Looking back on AOI, I don’t remember much besides these few details, but that’s because I let them take over. I was so wrapped up in my own misery that I didn’t allow myself to have as great of a time as I could have. I now wish I had valued my time at AOI and focused more on the talented speakers and presenters that stood before me. You can learn so much in FFA, but you have to be willing.


This summer, whether you are attending FFA camp or not, I encourage you to step out of your comfort zone. Take a risk. Learn something new.


So many opportunities in FFA will lead you to great things. Don’t let your fears or doubts get the best of you. It is easy to pass up an opportunity because you are scared of what might happen. Instead of thinking of all the things that could go wrong, think of what could go right. The only hindrance to success is your own comfort zone.


In FFA, you can learn great things, meet wonderful people, and have loads of fun. So step out of your comfort zone, have a great summer, and make the most of your time as an FFA member!

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5 Tips to Prepare for a Career in Ag Journalism

1. Be open.
Be open to the opportunities you’ll have, as well as to failure and advice. Deciding that you’ll only be happy in one specific job will set you up to be unhappy. Every opportunity will help you grow and make you better for wherever you end up.


2. Research constantly.
For anyone interested in an ag-related career, you can never know too much. Whatever publication you read or podcast you listen to, keep reading, listening, and watching ag news every day. Know what the issues are. That will be more impressive to your future employer than nearly anything else.


3. Write often.
Learn how to be a good writer. Every job requires writing. It’s a skill that takes time, but being a better writer will benefit you in multiple ways throughout your career. Practice, and maybe even do some freelance work with the local paper.

4. Question strategically.
Learn how to ask good questions. Journalism will continue to evolve, and a lot of the technical skills you learn in school, you might not use. At the heart of it all is the information you’re sharing and how to ask good questions that point to actionable solutions.


5. Work harder.
Be 100 percent in whatever you do, even if the first job you land isn’t what you want. Be the best salesperson, proofreader, or whatever it might be. People will take note of that, and it’ll help you in the future.

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