Developing A Personal Brand

Paxton Dahmer

Paxton Dahmer – President

When I hear someone’s name, I immediately begin associating it with the things that make them who they are. For example, when I hear someone say, Harriet Tubman, I think of her dealings with the Underground Railroad. She stood up for what she believed in and risked her life in the process. Tubman had a foundational belief that freedom is a universal right, and although she was responsible for helping escort over 300 slaves to freedom, she never sought personal glory. In response to Tubman’s selfless acts, she has been branded as a leader that prioritized the freedom of others. She was willing to sacrifice her own freedom to help others. She was selfless. She was invested. She was the leader that the world needed.

Just like Tubman, we can develop our own personal brands. If we invest ourselves in the causes we feel are worthy, we will improve ourselves. For me, FFA was always the cause that I chose. FFA is invested in improving members each and every day. As an aspiring educator, I fell in love with that concept.

A variety of activities will not only improve us, but also allow us to develop our brands. Attending leadership academies, participating in CDE’s and LDE’s, and engaging in community service are great ways to improve your personal brand. When community members see that you are involved in these activities, it will reflect well on you, thus improving your image and brand.

I believe that when we have positive personal brands, it reflects well on our entire organization. It is no secret that our industry is under scrutiny, so as we progress throughout the remainder of our FFA careers, let’s put our best foot forward and work to improve our brands!

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All Kinds of Kinds

Madison Bader – VP

When you are growing up, everyone always talks about how you want to be a leader, not a follower. No one wants to be the person taking orders when they could be giving them, no matter what the situation might be.This was always such a hard concept for me to understand.

Growing up, I was rather shy and liked to stay behind the scenes. I was okay with being a follower because that was what I was good at. I liked the doing the small details and making sure everything was running smoothly, all from the safety of a curtain shielding me from the public eye. I felt weird and alone while doing this, because all my other friends were pushing to be the ones in charge, yet I wanted nothing to do with it.

As I got older, I became more okay with wanting to be behind the scenes. I quickly realized that there are two types of people in the world- those that want to be front and center, and those that do not. I was okay with being the latter. My friends would never bat an eye when I chose to do the tedious details they did not want to do, whether it be making arrangements to get caterers for events or to go and get supplies needed for different activities because they knew that those jobs needed done, and it was something that I could accomplish well and on time.

Overall, my message here isn’t that you should not try for different leadership positions, but that you should never feel uncomfortable with doing the work behind the scenes. FFA has a position for everyone, and in the words of Miranda Lambert, it takes all kinds of kinds.

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Quentin Carlyle

Quentin Carlyle – VP

Climbing Mount Everest is one of the most harrowing items on my bucket list.  Imagining the feeling of standing at the summit, literally on top of the world, fills me with inspiration and excitement.
To accomplish this goal, I am going to have to put in a great deal of work. The first step is to get all of the supplies.  The list is long, including necessities such as oxygen tanks, snow shoes, climbing tack and even simple things such as a very warm coat.
After gathering the equipment, I must do a couple of additional things. The goal is to reach the summit, but I’ll have to decide what path I will take to get up there.  Multiple ridges exist leading to the top, each with different advantages over the others. Planning the route is crucial to summiting the mountain.  After I have my supplies and my plan in place, all that’s left is to climb to the peak.
Much like climbing Everest, we need to put in some work to get the most out of life.  First comes setting a goal: what do you want to do?  This might be something you want to accomplish in school, sports or anything in your life.
Next, we have to gather our resources. For myself, many of my supplies for life came from the numerous opportunities in FFA.  You also are offered many things through our organization as a member, whether it be the opportunity to improve your leadership skills at an event such as Greenhand Motivational Conference or the chance to gain employment skills in a Career Development Event.
The last crucial step is making the plan. What steps can you take to help you reach your goal?  How will you summit your own mountain?  If you can answer all of these questions, all that is left is to climb to the peak.
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20 Seconds of Courage

Adriene Aubuchon

Adriene Aubuchon – VP

One of my favorite movies of all time is We Bought a Zoo. In this heartwarming movie one of the many quotes that has impacted my life is this: “You know, sometimes all you need is 20 seconds of insane courage. Just literally 20 seconds of embarrassing bravery. And I promise you, something great will come out of it.”

This quote not only embodies what we all should strive for, but it also tells us that something good can occur because of it. FFA members, take that step of bravery and reach for your goals. Sometimes it can be scary to have faith in yourself because we don’t want to embarrass ourselves, but sometimes that is exactly what we need. We aren’t perfect; instead we should strive for the uniqueness our courage brings.

FFA has amazing opportunities to help us practice these 20 seconds of courage. It takes 4 seconds to say ,“Hi, my name is Adriene Aubuchon. What’s your name?” If we don’t leap right into these sometimes-scary situations, we might not ever meet a once-in-a-lifetime inspiration or friendship or connection. It takes about 20 seconds to say the opening line to your speech. It takes 1 second to wave at someone we see that’s having a bad day. This not only applies in FFA, but in school, other clubs, friendships and future careers.

Twenty seconds FFA members, 20 seconds. A year is 31,536,000 seconds. The magnitude of opportunity one year holds for a challenge, a new experience, a small change, is so exciting. May we never let fear of the unknown or of failure keep us from those few seconds of insane courage.



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Summer Reflection

Paxton Dahmer

Paxton Dahmer – President

The combined smell of livestock and corndogs, the sound of cattle and carnival games, and the view of the coliseum, swine barn and ferris wheel can only mean one thing — the Missouri State Fair! With the excitement of the fair, we tend to overlook that it is the end of summer break and it marks the beginning of the school year.


The start of school often leaves little time for reflection on the summer. When we take time to reflect on the events of the summer, we remember the time spent at Camp Rising Sun with friends learning leadership skills, the trips to livestock shows with our family, the countless hours spent in the field and so much more. Although these events are all wonderful, I love to reflect on our Food Insecurity Day at the state fair.


It was so wonderful seeing more than 600 FFA members from across the state come together for one reason — service. FFA members were energized and ready to continue serving after they returned to their home chapters. As members of a service-based organization, this is a necessity. The fourth and final line of our motto can help to serve as a guiding factor for our FFA careers.


A number of several prevalent needs in our home communities. Some communities need assistance in combatting food insecurity, some need volunteers at the community center and some need help at homeless shelters. Regardless of what the need is, we should be willing to help serve at all times.


As we start school and get back into the groove of FFA, I challenge you to take your service to the next level. Step out of your comfort zone and try something new and work to make your impact everyday so that you can truly live to serve!



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Digging Deep

Republic FFA begins land restoration project

by Jera Pipkin


Just as crops are growing in the field, Republic FFA members are inside the classroom learning what it takes to run a sustainable row crop operation.


An opportunity cropped up when school administrators reached out to the FFA chapter for help.


“Our administrators were looking for a better way to take care of the land in front of our new high school,” said David Mareth, agriculture instructor and FFA advisor at Republic High School. “They came to us for help.”


For years, the FFA chapter had taken hay off of the extra land, Mareth said. However, administrators within the district were looking for more. Yet, if the FFA chapter was going to spend time restoring the land, they wanted it to be self-sustainable and profitable.

With 45 acres of open ground, Republic FFA began by no-tilling wheat into the soil to enhance the landscape surrounding the high school. Mareth explained how the students are working to manage the project and will eventually reap the benefits of what they sow.


Intertwining with the curriculum for Agricultural Science II, instructor and FFA advisor Ciara DeClue has enjoyed interacting with the students and encouraging their growth during the process. The project has sparked interest, and students are eager to learn.


“The kids are really excited,” DeClue said. “I am excited to see what it will grow into and how we will sell our product to farmers.”


DeClue explained how students will learn the process of restoring the land from poor to rich soil. The soil is in undesirable condition because of extensive excavation of the ground from when the high school was built.


From figuring out what to plant and when to plant it, to crop rotations, soil samples, Environmental Protection Agency studies, and waterway research, students are receiving the full experience, Mareth said. With the capability for hands-on learning, the project will continually give back to students in the chapter.


Additionally, they have created a two-year plan, budget, and profit margin analysis for their enterprise. This will give the students the confidence and knowledge to run an enterprise of their own one day, Mareth explained.


Currently, a local alumnus is assisting the chapter in spraying, cultivating, planting and harvesting the crop, Mareth said. The alumnus is donating his machinery and time to the project. Yet, the students’ work still comes in to play, providing the local alumnus with amounts for pesticide and seeds per acre and calculating potential harvest. Relying on producers in the area has allowed them to use resources to get their feet on the ground, he said.


“Having someone running it like it is their own will allow us to continue to plan while meeting the needs of the administration,” Mareth explained. “Any profit we make will go back into the next crop, making this a completely self-sustainable process.”


Looking to the future, the chapter plans to institute a wheat-soybean crop rotation. DeClue said once the soil is restored completely, they will then plant warm season grasses to harvest for a hay crop to sell to local farmers.


“I hope that students will experience a full rotation of crop,” DeClue added. “This will allow students to see the process all the way through.”


On a larger scale, Mareth said, the chapter will eventually purchase equipment. Once established, the chapter will be able to harvest for profit, giving the students a visual of how hard work truly pays off.


Additionally, other areas surrounding the high school will go into supporting the land restoration project and agriculture department. Mareth described future plans for starting a school herd of livestock. Students would then be able to conduct trials on the livestock using hay harvested on the school ground, while also using the manure to fertilize. Plans to establish a rotational grazing program are also on the horizon. That would allow students to see the process full circle and use their knowledge in other areas of crop and grassland management.


“This is only the first step in expanding the presence of our agriculture program on campus,” Mareth said. “Our administrators are excited about what we are doing.”


Mareth said administrators are raving about the results from the land restoration project results thus far. They enjoy that it is relevant, practical and real-world.


“The school is getting everything they wanted done, plus it is providing pride and education back into our agricultural program,” Mareth said.


While both Mareth and DeClue agree that the project hasn’t sunk in with students yet, they know chapter members are learning and growing alongside the crops they have planted. Once the students are able to see something in the field, Mareth and DeClue believe they will really see the process come to life.


“I think this can build excitement for the program because they can see what we are doing for the school and that they have an impact here,” DeClue said.



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Stay Focused

Hannah Viets

Hannah Viets – VP

We are nearing the end of August, and that means it’s back to school time. Starting school can be an amazing, yet scary, time. Some of us might have started sports practice while others of us just wrapped up the 2018 Missouri State Fair.


When I was in high school, this time of the year was always the most hectic for me. I would be wrapping up my showing at the fair while having volleyball practice, and on top of that I would be starting my next adventure in my blue corduroy jacket. So many scheduled tasks at one time challenged me to keep my focus on what I what I wanted my end result to be. 


The National FFA organization was always something that brought new and eventful activities toward the beginning of the school year. This was also the organization that helped me filter my focus and find out what was important for me. From the time I was a freshman and had the opportunity to say the creed for the first time all the way to my senior year when I determined I was going to make that final lasting impact on my chapter, I was focused on my end goal.


No matter who you are or what grade you are going to be in, we need to stay focused on what lies ahead for us. Whether you are involved in competitive events such as Friday night football games or you are simply going to hangout with friends, stay focused on your one goal to achieve success.


Remember what Alex Hirschfeld once said, “The biggest challenge is to stay focused. It’s to have the discipline when there are so many competing things.” 



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Exceeding Expectations

Chloe Momphard

Chloe Momphard – 1st VP

Camp Rising Sun, Lake of the Ozarks, Main Street Musical, and forever changing Missouri weather are all things that can be associated with State FFA Camp. These are all common experiences for camp, however, one particular interaction made FFA camp unforgettable for me.


Colton Spencer was State FFA President when I went to camp.  At the time, I was pretty reserved, but wasn’t afraid to be outgoing. Colton told me that to achieve the goals I had set for myself, I had to step out of my comfort zone and grow personally. He also took the time to get to know me and remember my name.  His advice and interactions with me helped set me on the path to becoming the person that I am today.


This year, I had the pleasure of attending weeks three and five of camp. Boy, were my expectations wrong! I thought I would be the one that did the teaching and inspiring; instead I was the one learning and being inspired!


FFA members, you have a passion that burns in you like a fire; carry that into everything that you do! While I know I learned quite a lot at FFA camp, I hope you, FFA members, were able to build stronger leaders out of yourselves and others.  Take all of the tools we identified back to your home and community and use them; don’t let them lie in the toolbox and rust away! We all have our own individual strengths. Yet, that doesn’t mean we can’t collect more from those around us and work together to form a more cooperative and efficient team. We are mighty alone, but incredible together!



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Back to School

Hannah Viets

Hannah Viets – VP

We are nearing the end of August, and that means it’s back to school time. Starting school can be an amazing, yet scary, time. Some of us might have started sports practice while others of us just wrapped up the 2018 Missouri State Fair.

When I was in high school, this time of the year was always the most hectic for me. I would be wrapping up my showing at the fair while having volleyball practice, and on top of that I would be starting my next adventure in my blue corduroy jacket. So many scheduled tasks at one time challenged me to keep my focus on what I what I wanted my end result to be.

The National FFA organization was always something that brought new and eventful activities toward the beginning of the school year. This was also the organization that helped me filter my focus and find out what was important for me. From the time I was a freshman and had the opportunity to say the creed for the first time all the way to my senior year when I determined I was going to make that final lasting impact on my chapter, I was focused on my end goal.

No matter who you are or what grade you are going to be in, we need to stay focused on what lies ahead for us. Whether you are involved in competitive events such as Friday night football games or you are simply going to hangout with friends, stay focused on your one goal to achieve success.

Remember what Alex Hirschfeld once said, “The biggest challenge is to stay focused. It’s to have the discipline when there are so many competing things.”



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Lights, Camera, Action

Ryan Siegel

Ryan Siegel – VP

Imagine you are standing on a movie set, and you are the lead role. The director screams out, “Lights, Camera, Action.” You begin saying your lines, and the feeling is surreal! When the scene is over, you let out a sigh of relief, and you feel a little uneasy about it. You don’t think you did your best. You think you could have done better, but the director said that the cut was the best that it was ever going to be and that you gave it your all.


You see, in this scenario the director is your FFA advisor, and the scene is your four years in high school. When you start the scene, the lights are blinding, you are shocked by what you can truly do to succeed. These blinding lights are a lot like your freshman year in FFA; you are shocked by the magnitude of the organization and all the older members are lifting you up, lighting your day with knowledge and wisdom. Helping you one day see the camera or the perception that everyone has of you, in this camera you are a superhero, farmer, friend, or a mentor.


The camera is a lot like your senior year in FFA. Younger members are always watching you, waiting to follow your lead, while others see the impact you are making in this organization and your teachers and advisors notice how much you have grown and succeeded.


Finally, you hear the word action, and you are sitting in your high school auditorium or football field with your cap and gown on. At this moment in time, you realize that it’s time for you to start acting in the next scene. You begin this scene in college, trade school, or on the farm. Yet, with each step that you take throughout this next scene in life, you act to improve the future of agriculture.


When you hear lights, camera, action, what are you going to do to light up someone’s world, change the perception of agriculture, and act to improve and believe in the future of agriculture?



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Be. Believe. Become.

Chloe Momphard

Chloe Momphard – 1st VP

Be. Believe. Become. These simple but impactful words have hung above my bed and served as motivation for the past five years.


I’m sure we’ve all heard the saying “Act like the person you want to become.”This is where “be” comes into play. Each of us has to take action in order to be the person we want to bein life. However, it isn’t enough to just act like the person we want to be, we have to “believe” we can achieve it. Positive mental images are critical in achieving goalsbecause what you think is often what you achieve!


While it is always nice to have support from those that we love in our lives, we also have to be confident in ourselves and our abilities. We have to work for the goal and “believe” that we can achieve it. After we “be” and “believe”, it is natural for us to “become” the person we want to be or achieve the goals we have set for ourselves. Be. Believe. Become.


It sounds simple. It’s just three steps to follow. We will always haveobstacles to face; however, we can prepare and limit the obstacles and eliminate the opportunity to react. By preparing, we are on the front end of a goal, guiding the path; when we react, we are behind, chasing the path, trying to play ‘catch-up’.


FFA members, you can use this in your FFA career, school and vocation. Success will not be handed to us! We have to work for it each day. While we may not be able to control everything that happens, we can guide our path by preparing for success and going after it, instead of waiting for it to happen and reacting. Be, Believe, Become and write your own success story!



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Lift To Rise

Regan Ragsdale

Regan Ragsdale – Secretary

“We rise by lifting others.” – Robert Ingersoll


There is nothing more fulfilling in life than when we lift others up through service.


The Missouri State Fair is here – finally! Many describe these booming 10 days in Sedalia, Missouri, as the best times of the year.


So many of you have been working all year with your livestock, watering your plants and crops (despite the drought), and gearing up to make incredible memories with your family and friends. I can’t imagine the amount of pride that must be beaming from your soul – whether you receive a ribbon or not.


Many members have traveled to the fair to exhibit. In addition to many of you who are exhibiting at the state fair, 650 other FFA members signed up for Food Insecurity Day on Tuesday, Aug. 14. Missouri FFA members from across the Show-Me state will pack 100,000 meals to be distributed between the six Food Banks in the Feeding Missouri Network.


The Missouri State Fair, Missouri Department of Agriculture, Missouri Farmers Care, Missouri FFA and many others will work diligently to ensure that countless members could come together to make a huge difference in the lives of those who are food insecure.


Consider this fact: 1 in 5 kids in the state of Missouri is food insecure. Missouri FFA members – you have LIFTED others by having a servant’s heart. I know that if you continue to embrace the last line of our FFA motto, “living to serve,” you will RISE.


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We’re Going to the Fair

Dillon Reinitz

Dillon Reinitz – VP

There is nothing like the thrill of attending the Missouri State Fair! I remember when I was younger, my parents would say, “Dillon, load up. We’re going to the fair.” I immediately ran to the truck and prepared for the long drive to Sedalia. I wasn’t sure if it was the rides or the livestock barns that made me more excited. I remember seeing how excited the exhibitors in the show ring were when they led their animals into the ring. I couldn’t wait until I had the opportunity to be an exhibitor at the Missouri State Fair.


When my FFA advisor asked me my freshman year of high school if I wanted to exhibit at the state fair, I couldn’t help but say yes. I took bacon, peppers, zucchini and many other vegetables to show in the FFA building. Although it was so much fun, I also remember how much work it took to complete the registration as well as prepare my items for competition while preparing for the upcoming school year.


FFA members, what an exciting time for all of us! As we prepare for this year’s Missouri State Fair, we can’t forget to focus on the other upcoming events that await us with the start of a new school year. Good luck to all exhibitors at the fair, and have a great year in FFA!


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The Sweet Sound of Success

Andi Montgomery

Andi Montgomery – VP

Flip, flip, flip go the records as I sort through hundreds of them to find the perfect oldie I had been dreaming about. Pause. I pull the record out slowly, just to find it is warped. Plunk. Back into the file it goes. Flip, flip, flip. Time seems to continue forever, until finally I find it.

You might be wondering what a tedious day of record hunting could do with FFA.

To get the best quality of sound from a record, you must do a few certain steps, kind of like FFA.

First, you must take the beauty out of the cover, check for scratches and place it on the turn table.

In FFA, this looks like learning your skills and checking for obstacles.

Preparations might look like early contest team practices, or planning activities for chapter members.

Then, you must take the needle off the rest and gently place it on the outside of the disc.

Take action, and carefully keep track of your recordsso that you can get the most out of what you are producing. I know SAE’s can be hard to keep track of in the summer, but I promise if you diligently stick to it, it will pay off.

Finally, it’s time to select the right speed.

Find your tempo. This could look different for every FFA member — slow and steady or jumping in to get your feet wet in brand new ideas and activities. It is important to find the right pace for you, so that you will not get burned out or bored.

FFA members, as events keep flipping by, my challenge to you is to work on these steps, so you might hear the sweet sounds of success in your future!


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Skills to Last a Lifetime

Alumni Spotlight: Catching up with Doug Kueker

By Alison Bos-Lovins

Doug Kueker, Missouri FFA Alumnus

What has FFA taught you?


For alumnus Doug Kueker, his time in the National FFA Organization provided him with life lessons, skills and opportunities he uses every day in his career.


“My experience in the classroom, laboratory and through FFA helped me develop the skills and character traits everyone needs to be successful – communication, being a team player, positively influencing others, time management, responsibility and more,” Kueker said.


Kueker grew up on a small cow-calf and row crop farm in Sweet Springs, Missouri. He was very active in his FFA chapter, served as Missouri FFA President and was later selected as a National FFA Officer.


Serving as a state and national officer taught Kueker to respect the value of diversity and to seek to understand differences before jumping to conclusions. He was beyond honored to be selected by his peers to represent other FFA members at the state and national levels.


“Both of these humbling experiences broadened my perspective about the diversity of the agriculture, food, and natural resource industry in Missouri, as well as across the U.S.,” he explained.


Kueker’s journey as a state and national officer led him to experiences that he will never forget. His favorite experience as a state officer was traveling the state to Greenhand leadership conferences with his fellow state officers. He enjoyed working with young FFA members and helping them set goals for their career and leadership development. Kueker recalls hearing progress from students he worked with a few years later, which he said was a very rewarding feeling.


His experience as a national officer was also an inspiring venture for Kueker. He was humbled to represent members on a national level and see the passion members had for FFA.


“Traveling to different chapters across the state of South Dakota during FFA Week was one of my favorite experiences as a national officer,” Kueker explained. “Experiencing the enthusiasm FFA members have for the organization and for the future of agriculture firsthand was inspiring.”


Kueker admits that being a state and national officer was hard work. It required passion and drive. He explained that to earn the right to represent other FFA members in this capacity, one should be prepared to spend time investing in building the knowledge and skills it takes to lead effectively.


“Take time to reflect on what you have gained from FFA and why you feel it is important to encourage other FFA members to pursue their own development through the organization,” he said.


In addition to his FFA honors, Kueker received his agricultural education degree from the University of Missouri. After graduation, he worked for the National FFA Organization, where he created curriculum for national student conferences such as the Washington Leadership Conference. Additionally, he generated curriculum for professional development experiences for agricultural teachers. Kueker obtained a master’s degree in education from Purdue University and recently completed his PhD in Information Science and Learning Technologies from the University of Missouri.


Through his accomplishments, Kueker credits the FFA organization for shaping his future. Plus, he said FFA taught him that hard work and perseverance pay off.


“FFA helped me set goals and explore and discover my passions and talents,” Kueker said.


He has a passion for learning new things and developing others. An entrepreneur, Kueker took his passion and turned it into a successful business. His company, Vivayic, designs effective learning programs and educational materials that equip individuals with the knowledge, skills, and attitudes they need to be successful. It offers services such as learning strategy and analysis; curriculum and program design; education program evaluation; and e-learning and content delivery.


“Simply put, my company Vivayic helps build others’ capacity to do good in the world,” Kueker said. “A majority of our work is with organizations who are striving to ensure a safe and sustainable food supply to feed the world, as well as groups and organizations who are working to make the K-16 education system more relevant and effective.”


Kueker continues to support the FFA organization today. He volunteers to help Missouri FFA organize and conduct national officer candidate interviews each year. He also works with FFA members at HYMAX academy and with area officers at the Area Officer Institute at Camp Rising Sun each summer. Plus, he and his wife, Emily, enjoy working with members of local chapters to help them prepare for contests and other FFA events.


Kueker advises FFA members to step outside their comfort zones. He encourages members to do that contest they do not think they can do. Additionally, he said FFA members should sign up to be on a committee to organize a chapter FFA event. He also charges members to interact with others at conventions or camps and bring back new ideas to their chapter.


“You’ll never know how much you are capable of until you step out of your comfort zone,” Kueker said.

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