Being Content in the Simple Things

Brenden Kleiboeker - President

Brenden Kleiboeker – President

“It’s a beautiful day in the Ozarks.”
“We’re just making memories.”

Two quotes from my agriculture advisor, that I did not understand until recently. Yesterday was National Teach Ag day, and I learned so much from my agriculture teacher that I would like to share. My agriculture teacher is Mr. Duane Kaiser, and to fully understand these quotes, you must first understand his life. Mr. Kaiser grew up with a single mom in the 1960’s, and it was tough to make ends meet. Though his mom did not go to high school, she earned enough that her son was able to obtain an associate’s, bachelors, and master’s degrees in agriculture education. Mr. Kaiser built a dairy farm from scratch in the 1980s battling 19 and 20 percent interest, still he persevered. Just recently, when he started to think that the dairy market was getting good, here we are. 2019. The dairy market has slipped, and with every load of milk, Mr. Kaiser also sends his hard-earned cash to town, never to return. Still, he perseveres.


It is obvious that Mr. Kaiser has never had much in the way of material things, however he finds happiness without them. The beauty of a cool crisp morning, with the bobwhite singing on Stones Prairie brings joy to his heart. Funny experiences with students, and watching these students grow are memories that he stores in his heart forever. These things bring joy to Mr. Kaiser. Too often, we all get caught up in life. Who has the coolest truck, newest shoes, or the highest grades. However, someday, these things too shall pass. Years from now, all we will have is the beauty of the earth, and the memories we made. Learn from Mr. Kaiser and be content in the simple things. Missouri FFA, find the beauty in life.

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The Fall at Pinnacle Park

Brenden Kleiboeker - President

Brenden Kleiboeker – President

One Friday afternoon, I went to the Pinnacle Youth Park, north of Columbia. On the wall of a rocky canyon, many people venture to test their hiking and rock-climbing skills. I had descended from the parking lot down a rocky trail, had ventured across the creek, climbed up the canyon wall and ascended to the second highest point in the park. After taking in the beautiful view, my friends and I decided to climb back down, so that we could go to the highest point – the pinnacle. After watching my one friend easily climb down, I knew that I could safely do the same. However, when placing my second foot on the boulder —slip. I fell nearly 12 feet off the rock, hitting my feet onto the solid ground below. Needless to say, I was rather sore after falling, but we decided to trek ahead. Finally, we came to the branch of the trail which goes to the pinnacle. At this point, I was weary. I did not want to fall again, so I convinced my friends not to go. We went back to the car that day, without achieving our goal.


FFA Members, on the trek to our goals or pinnacles, we often face falls which will scare us. We will have lingering pain that will tempt us that our goal is not worth it. When we decide not to persevere to our goal, we only cheat ourselves out of our potential. We cheat ourselves out of helping others. Luckily, I can drive back to the Pinnacle Park any day and achieve what I gave up on. However, we are not often this lucky. We have one chance to achieve our goal, and if we give up after a fall, the chance is gone. Though we will face falls in our FFA journey and in life, continue to persevere, because we only have one life to leave our mark. FFA members, reach your pinnacle this year!

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National FFA Organization Announces Record Student Membership of More Than 700,000

 INDIANAPOLIS (Thursday, Sept. 12, 2019/National FFA Organization) – The National FFA Organization is answering the need for more highly skilled graduates to fill job openings in the field of agriculture, and nowhere is this more evident than in the organization’s growing membership. 


Today, the organization announced a record-high student membership of 700,170, up from 669,989 in 2018. The top six student membership states are Texas, California, Georgia, Oklahoma, Ohio and Missouri. Interest in FFA and agricultural education continues to grow as membership continues to increase. This year, the organization has more than 100,000 Latino members, 45 percent of the membership is female with 52 percent of the membership being male. Females hold more than 50 percent of the leadership positions. FFA chapters can be found in 24 of the 25 largest U.S. cities. 


“FFA is providing future leaders, and our membership growth reflects continued enthusiasm for agriculture as well as agricultural education,” National FFA Organization CEO Mark Poeschl said. “FFA prepares our student members for careers in agriculture while working to ensure the security of our country’s food, fiber and natural resources systems for years to come. Through real-world experiences, agriculture educators are helping students develop the technical knowledge, skills and problem-solving capabilities to be the industry’s leaders of tomorrow.” 


The National FFA Organization provides leadership, personal growth and career success training through agricultural education to more than 700,000 student members who belong to one of the more than 8,600 local FFA chapters throughout the U.S., Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The organization is also supported by more than 8 million alumni and supporters throughout the U.S. 

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Look at Her Bloom

Six years ago, Kylynn Mallen’s mom made a career move, trading her job managing a local title company to owning a retail greenhouse. It was a move that planted the seeds for what would become Kylynn’s supervised agricultural experience project through FFA.


Before she entered high school, the Kylynn learned the tricks of the trade so that when she was old enough to join the Cameron FFA chapter as a freshman, she had a project that was ready to bloom.


“I lease 50% of the house space of my parent’s retail greenhouse operation and help manage the entire house year-round,” Kylynn explains.


Marketing her plants to landscape professionals as well as local do-it-your-selfers keeps Kylynn busy. In fact, the entrepreneur purchased, grew and sold 7,740 bedding and nursery plants in the spring and summer of 2018. A non-cash exchange of labor serves as a way for her to pay for some of the expenses associated with her percentage of the greenhouse and helps her mom with needed labor.


As one of four finalists in the nursery operations proficiency award program through FFA, Kylynn will be recognized on stage during the National FFA Convention next month in Indianapolis.


Change initially brought Kylynn to her SAE, and that only continues to evolve as her project grows.


“Greater responsibilities have come with increasing my ownership from 10% to 15% to 50%,” she explains. “With owning a larger percentage of the greenhouse each year, not only has the expenses and income increased, but so has the amount of work and number of hours I put in.”


Success in Kylynn’s SAE is driven by having the ability to reach a larger market share. Growing 1,100 cuttings and plugs for her plant broker was an accomplishment for the FFA member. Her handiwork was planted at the Pleasant Valley Golf Course in Iowa City, Iowa. The successfully grown varieties of lantana and impatiens are also being showcased in the plant catalog for McHuntchinson and Dummen Horticultural companies.


Mother Nature dominates as challenges for the young entrepreneur. With the greenhouse accounting for a portion of her family’s livelihood in addition to her own SAE, both are simultaneously affected by weather events which can make it difficult to make a profit.


“For instance, when my town of Cameron had a water shortage in the summer of 2018, residents were advised to not water their flowers,” Kylynn explains. “I knew my sales were going to be affected. However, after it was all said and done, early season sales over-compensated the money lost during the rest of the season, allowing for the return of a profitable amount of money.”


At the end of the day, Kylynn says she’s learned to take her SAE in stride, realizing that even though her plants are raised in a controlled environment, she also relies on the outside environment to help her project grow and provide income.


Because of her hands-on experiences in nursery operations, Kylynn says she’s gained a greater understanding of plants, including their identities and diseases.


“Being able to own such a large part of a business as a young adult has taught me many life skills,” she explains. “I learned how hard one has to work to earn an income and understand the true value of a dollar.”

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Small-Town, Big-Time Rewards

Small but mighty. These three words can be used to describe the state’s Top Chapter, named at the 91st Missouri FFA Convention held earlier this year. Lead by 12chapterofficers and advisor Paige Brock, the Braymer FFA Chapter planned and hosted countless activities and events to grow leaders, build communities and strengthen agriculture. 


“Our chapter is one of the smaller chapters,” said Dustin Davies, 2018-2019 chapter president. “We don’t have a lot of members, but every one of our members works very hard at everything they do through the FFA.”


The smaller nature of their chapter allows each member to participate and remain on the same page.


“It’s a small chapter,” said Keaton O’Dell, 2018-2019 chapter vice president. “We have 45 members in our chapter, and we all know each other. We all know each other’s names. We talk to each other on a daily basis, and we get along great. We’re very cohesive, and we work well together.”


This hard work and cohesion paid off when Braymer was named Top Chapter in the state, a surprise to many of the chapter’s members.


“The student that was on stage accepting the award, he actually thought that there was a mistake and that he wasn’t actually supposed to be standing up there since they hadn’t called our name yet,” Davies said, laughing. “We were very shocked and very excited to win that award.”


This recognition is backed by a year of hard work, starting with the chapter’s Program of Activities (POA).


“At the beginning of the year, we decide what will be in the POA and what activities we are going to do,” Davies said. “A lot of the activities are annual, so we like to keep them the same, but we are also always looking for new things and activities to do.”


From there, the finer details are ironed out to ensure that the POA is organized and well-rounded. While all sections are addressed, members of the Braymer FFA Chapter like to focus a lot of their attention on building communities.


“I think we like to focus primarily on the building communities section,” Davies said. “In everything we do, even if it is in growing leaders or strengthening agriculture, we are still bringing it back to our community and using the events to build our community.”


O’Dell agreed and added, “We’re very involved in our community. I’d say we are a big-hearted chapter.”


From picking up trash to the Teal Pumpkin Project, members of the Braymer FFA Chapter are no strangers to serving others.


“During harvesting season, we will pack lunches and take them to our local co-op for farmers as they are unloading their grain,” Davies said, “so, they can have food without having to worry about stopping and getting something.”


O’Dell’s favorite event is also community-focused.


“We help with Smoke in the Valley,” he said. “It’s our tractor pull here in Braymer. It gets the FFA name out there and shows we are supporting the community.”


In addition to their full calendar and focus on service, the Braymer FFA Chapter’s family atmosphere makes it unique.


“We are like a family,” O’Dell said. “We’re everything a family should be. We work together, and we work hard together.”


Davies agreed and added that their chapter’s members are especially close.


“Everybody always says that FFA is a family,” he said. “But I feel like our chapter is a really, really close-knit family. If anyone needs any help with their SAE or a contest team, they just need to ask another member, and they are more than willing to help.”

—By Brandelyn Martin

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Homeward Bound

Memphis FFA member Brock Aylward has his sights set on the future, yet he won’t be far from home.


A national finalist in the grain production placement proficiency award area, Brock says working on the family’s farm alongside his father and grandfathers has had the most impact on his future plans to return home and continue a legacy in production agriculture.


“This has enabled me to learn and appreciate the love of the land and the impact I can have by being a good steward of the soil, embracing technology and the value of every bushel produced,” Brock explains.


Four national finalists are selected in each of 45 proficiency award areas to compete for a national proficiency award. Proficiency award winners are announced on stage during the National FFA Convention & Expo, which will be held Oct. 30-Nov. 2 in Indianapolis, Indiana.

Proficiency awards are based on a member’s Supervised Agricultural Experience (SAE).  They recognize individual skills and career-based competencies developed through multiple years of participation in Immersion type SAE projects.


Brock considers himself privileged to learn from two generations that have built a business from shear heard work and smart management decisions. “I’ve witnessed from my family that this job doesn’t mean managing from an office, but from putting in the physical labor and understanding all functions alongside all employees to be profitable,” he explains.


Through his placement experience on Aylward Farms, Brock operates tractors in addition to tillage equipment, planters and grain carts. Guidance systems assist with operating field cultivators, harrow, sprayer and planter — which he says is critical in helping the farm be as efficient as possible and reduce overlapping.


“The investment in planter monitors was a huge financial investment,” Brock says.


The monitors record the population, plant date, speed and hybrid/variety of the crop planted. Understanding how and what the monitors can do and then overlay that data with precipitation data from The Climate platform is then used to make additional informed management decisions, he says.


“With my employment on this row crop operation, I have witnessed the differences between owning land and cash renting ground,” Brock explains. “These differences include increased financial profitability and the ease of providing maintenance and improvements to the land.”


By investing his salary earnings and a previous purchased ground cash rental payment, Brock was able to purchase, with additional financial assistance, a 90-acre bottomland farm that he cash-rents to his family’s operation. Currently pursuing a precision agriculture certificate at the University of Missouri, he hopes to farm the land himself following college graduation.


While Brock’s role at Aylward Farms began in maintaining machinery and equipment, the young farmer now assists with machinery purchases as well.


“Working beside my dad engages me in all management decisions such as fuel purchases, seed, fertilizer and chemical pricing, commodity marketing, crop insurance and employee management,” Brock explains. “I have learned that fertilizer decisions are based off of yield results and soil testing.”


He’s also learned how to read soil tests and implement the best management practices to employ based off of the results.


Perhaps the greatest challenge Brock has been faced with in his role on the farm is understanding the different components that make up the farm. Juggling employees as well as machinery and other factors such as the weather that are out of ones’ control can prove difficult even for a well-seasoned farmer.


Still, through hands-on hard work and his involvement in soils and farm management FFA career development events have helped the aspiring farmer succeed.


“The knowledge, information and experiences that I received from being on these teams has given me immense comprehension into critical components of grain production,” Brock says. “The farm management team was the most challenging, but I think the most rewarding because the information I gained is very practical and critical to becoming a successful grain producer.”



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Live Life in the Yellow

Jessica Janorschke - VP

Jessica Janorschke – VP

The sun was shining as sweat dripped down my skin and fear ran through my bones. Standing tall before my classmates, I was on a high ropes course that we would soon conquer. As we harnessed ourselves to safety, our instructors told us the goal was to live life in the yellow. That is, push us out of our comfort zones.


With my lack of balance and fear of heights, there was little in my favor. The first set of obstacles consisted of two tight-rope like cables. The goal was to make it across with only a partner to hold on to. I was paired with Thaddeus, and we each put one foot on the cable, then another and another. My arms and legs were shaking as I gripped Thaddeus to ensure we didn’t fall. We swayed back and forth. Then, a gust of wind brought the fearful fall, but it only lasted a second. Laughing and dangling in the sky by our harnesses, Thaddeus and I helped each other up to finish the course.


After falling, I realized that there was nothing to fear. If I wouldn’t have taken the opportunity to live life in the yellow, I never would have experienced the adventure. The fact of the matter is, we must push ourselves to explore new opportunities to grow. This fall, we have the opportunity to present a fall speech or to work toward a successful SAE. Sometimes when we take the first step, we might fear of losing our balance. Our supporters, classmates and agriculture advisors are with us and can help us reach our goals, or in my case the other side of the cable.


FFA members, I challenge you to live life in the yellow.

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Don’t Be Afraid To Be The Difference

Isaiah Massey - 1st VP

Isaiah Massey – 1st VP

Fear: to be afraid of something that is likely to be dangerous, painful or threatening.


Everyone has his or her own personal fears. Some people are afraid of clowns, spiders and snakes but one thing we all share in common is that we all are afraid of being different.


Being different definitely is nerve wrecking, and I can attest to that on a personal level. My very first FFA meeting I attended was in a pair of cool grey Jordans and a shirt that was all white with a large bold black word saying “hustle.” I recognized very quickly from the surrounding AriatÒhats and boots that I stood out like a sore thumb.  At first, I was nervous, thinking that I didn’t belong here, that I was too different from everyone in the room, and they wouldn’t accept me for who I was. I remember being ready to storm out of that room as soon as the meeting was over just so I could avoid hearing the snickers and cackles that I drew up in my mind.


As soon the chapter president adjourned the meeting, I stood up and raced down the bleachers until I was stopped by a kid named Lucas Ellis. Lucas and I were classmates back in the 4th grade but hadn’t talked until that day after the FFA meeting — three years later.


I remember Lucas telling me that everyone was excited that I was there because not many people like me want to try understanding the world of agriculture.  I had spent this entire time worrying during the meeting that no one would accept me because I was different, but in fact it was the very reason of me being different that they accepted me.  In life, there will always be times where you will be different than others, and it will be scary. However, FFA members, being different is a beauty within itself.  It is where you can express yourself, be who you are and the best part is, there isn’t anyone else that can replicate your own personal identity.


FFA members I challenge you to be DIFFERENT.

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The Curse of the Photo Album

Drew Kientzy - VP

Drew Kientzy – VP

While spending Labor Day weekend at home, my Saturday morning began just as any other would — eating breakfast at my Grandma Janie’s house with my entire family. After the meal was over and the dishes were put away, one of my younger cousins came strolling into the kitchen with an old photo album. In just seconds, the book was sprawled across the table and everyone’s noses were buried into the faded pages.


About halfway through the album, my Grandpa stopped flipping pages and pulled out a picture of him on a tractor in 1973. After a few minutes of admiration and talk about the picture, Grandpa muttered “Yeah, those were the good old days, I only wish that I could go back for a while.” Following his declaration, we continued looking at the photos until my cousin that brought the album to the table spoke up and quietly asked, “Pop, why do you say that you wish that you could go back when you know you can’t. All that you can do is try to make next year be better and more like that one.”


At that statement, the whole room was taken aback. My eight-year-old cousin had just uttered some of the wisest words that any of us had ever heard, and though the idea in his statement might have not been a popular one, it was all too true. Now, I try to think of the past as merely a memory, good or bad, and only compare the present to what can be done better in the future.


As we move through our years in FFA, we must always remember to keep looking forward. Although there have been good times in the past, there is no way to re-enter that day. So instead of dwelling on the past and making the present and future less meaningful, let’s pin our eyes on the horizon of future opportunities, because we can never know when the most beautiful sunrise of opportunity might occur.

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Elizabeth Brooks - VP

Elizabeth Brooks – VP

Good ole’ August, the final month of summer full state fair shenanigans, school shopping, and my personal favorite, vacations! In fact, I was fortunate enough to spend my final days of summer soaking up the sun in Destin, Florida with my family. I spent most of the week on the beach, listening to the waves hit the shore and running away from seagulls that kept trying to steal my snacks. As I sat watching the waves, I thought about what a perfect metaphor for life waves are. Life literally comes in waves – there are moments when the waters are calm and life is just easy, and then there are moments when, no matter how great a swimmer you are, the waves just keep knocking you down (and maybe even stealing your sunglasses while they’re at it). But you know what, members? No matter how big the waves get and no matter how much life tries to knock you down, the waters will always recede, and life will always keep going. So, as the new school year kicks off, make this one the best one yet and remember that things will always, always get better!




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For Students, By Students

What started as a search for firsthand experiences with livestock for students of the Mount Vernon agricultural education program ended in a 10-month building project, now known as the animal science lab. Built for students by students, the lab is designed to help members of the Mount Vernon FFA Chapter become more familiar with animal agriculture.


Agricultural educators and FFA advisors Jay Shepherd and Steven Prewitt started crafting in December 2017 their idea of a hands-on space where students could learn about livestock.


“We had posts driven by a local fence builder who is an alumnus,” Shepherd said. “My students built the rest of it.”


Using a mobile welding trailer made the year before, students Ryan Raucher, Lane Hale and Corby Allen used their welding skills to build the lab.


Between working during their agricultural education classes and coming in on their own time, these students completed the project in 10 months.


“We worked on the lab pretty much every day,” Rauchersaid. “Sometimes after school, sometimes on weekends. Just whenever we had time. We even came in during the summer.”


The students said they gained just as much as they gave while volunteering their time.


“We learned a lot from it,” Allen said. “We just saw what needed to be done, and we knew how to do it, so we just kind of took action and made it our priority during school.”


Now, their hard work is paying off as they enjoy the finished project and students start using the lab for hands-on learning experiences.


“My favorite part is finally seeing it done and knowing that it was basically three kids that put it together,” Raucher said.


Allen agreed and added that it is rewarding to know he played a part in building the structure.


The animal science lab is made up of sorting pens made for many different species. Rather than being a place to house student Supervised Agricultural Experiences, the space is dedicated to labs for learning more about livestock and animal agriculture. It will be used primarily by Animal Science and Ag Science 1 classes during livestock units.


“The main purpose is to get students’ hands on live animals,” Shepherd said. “To help them learn how to deal with live animals, whether it’s injections, deworming or castration. We’ve even had someone come in to teach artificial insemination in cattle.”


The point is to have a consistent place to bring livestock to the students instead of having to make trips to various farms.


“When our advisors get on a certain unit, they’ll bring in someanimals, like cattle,” Raucher said. “We’ve castrated cattle, vaccinated and ear tagged them. We checked a couple cows to see if they were pregnant. We’ve even brought in show cattle, clipped them and showed them in the lab.”


Raucher said the lab isn’t just for cattle, though. They have brought in other animals, like horses, as well.


“We’ve worked some cattle in the lab,” Shepherd added. “We had a lab for horses where students saddled a horse. We’ve had some dairy cattle in to judge and had judging practice in the lab with goats and other animals.”


This hands-on education is equally important for both students who come from a livestock background and those who do not.


“We have a lot of kids in our program that are close to the farm, but many times if they are doing something, like working cattle, they’re the ones in the back pushing the cattle up,” Shepherd said. “So, we’re trying to get them some more direct experience.”


In addition to those students familiar with the farm, Mount Vernon also has students who have never been around livestock. The lab serves as their opportunity to experience firsthand what they are learning about in class.


“The students really enjoy any sort of hands-on stuff in class,” Shepherd said. “Because of the lab, they’ve gottento see a lot of things they otherwise wouldn’t.”


Shepherd acknowledged the fact that the lab was made possible only by the gracious support of the surrounding community.


“We sent out some letters to some key people we thought might be interested in supporting the project,” Shepherd said. “We sent out about 16 letters, and we got enough responses to start building. We decided we would try to get the money as we went along.”


Seeing the benefit of having a space dedicated to hands-on learning for their students, the surrounding community was supportive throughout the entire process. Between monetary contributions and building materials, nearly $12,000 in donations were made, Shepherd said.


“The support of the community was awesome,” Raucher said. “We had organizations like Missouri Cattlemen’s donate. We also had a lot of individuals that donated. Many individuals came together to make it happen, and I really think it’s going to pay off in the long run.”


Looking toward the future, the Mount Vernon agricultural education program plans to continue its use of the animal science lab while continually growing its potential for student contact with livestock.


“The plan is to get a roof over it and have it powered by solar power,” Raucher said. “I think members of the community plan to help with that, too.”


— Brandelyn Martin

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Stand Up and Speak Up


Whether you are new to FFA or a returning member, now is the time to get involved by participating in one of the many speaking contests held this fall. Here’s a list of organizations that offer opportunities for FFA members to brush up on their public speaking skills. Check with your chapter advisor for information regarding area and district contest times and places.

Contact: Peggy Lemons


Contact: Sydney Thummel


Contact: Eric Volmer


Contact: Kristi Livingston


Contact: Kevin Beauchamp

Contact: Diane Slater


Contact:Joe Eddy


Contact: Ed DeOrnellis


Contact: Pam Rowland


Contact: Lisa Evans

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Back to School

Back-to-school season can be an overwhelming time for parents and students alike. Between picking out classes, trying new sports and deciding on organizations to join, high school freshmen have an especially busy season on their hands. The Cass Career Center FFA Chapter officers noticed the effect this was having on their first-year members’ level of participation and took action by creating a Greenhand Information Night and Ice Cream Social to be held the second or third week of school to boost involvement.


“The main goal is for Greenhands and their parents to see the opportunities in FFA and get excited for those opportunities,” said Jason Dieckhoff, a Cass Career Center FFA Chapter advisor. “We started hosting our Greenhand Information Night and Ice Cream Social in 2016.  Our chapter officers started the event because the year prior, it took about half the year before Greenhand members felt very comfortable coming to chapter activities.  We wanted to increase the participation level of Greenhands earlier in the year.” To build participation, the chapter began by increasing awareness of opportunities and events.


“We invite all new Greenhands, as well as their parents,” Dieckhoff said. “Chapter FFA officers start the evening with opening ceremonies and a president’s welcome. Our treasurer goes over the dues for the year and what dues pay for. The rest of the evening, Greenhands and their parents enjoy ice cream and toppings while going around to different stations to listen to chapter officers talk about opportunities in FFA and the ag program.”


These stations typically cover opportunities like chapter field trips, trapshooting, Supervised Agricultural Experiences, chapter fundraising, Career Development Events, Leadership Development Events and more.


Additionally, the event is meant to connect chapter officers with the Greenhand members. Coming from a larger school, the officers might not already know incoming freshmen. Building this relationship early in the year makes it easier for the officers to interact with Greenhands in the halls of the high school, during lunch or even at other school activities. Dieckhoff said the first-year students also enjoy hearing about events directly from the chapter officers themselves.


“Greenhands react better to their peers than to hearing opportunities from advisors or their parents,” he explained. “By letting Greenhands interact one-on-one with chapter officers, they feed off the enthusiasm of the officers and get excited about what they can do in FFA.”


Kara Vergouven, a second-year member of the Cass Career Center FFA Chapter, agreed and said the most memorable part of the evening was hearing from the officers. She attended the event last year.


“My favorite part about the Greenhand Night was talking to the previous FFA members and learning about all the different things that the organization had to offer. Listening to them had me even more excited about being a part of FFA and cleared up all the questions I had,” Vergouven said.


Dieckhoff said the event has accomplished its main purpose, and there has been an increase in Greenhand participation at events throughout the year. He also cited benefits such as increased parent communication and an established professional tone for their organization.


Vergouven said the Greenhand Information Night and Ice Cream Social increased her involvement because she was excited about pursuing the opportunities discussed.


“Before the event, I didn’t realize all the different activities they had,” she said. “Once I went and found out what they did, I went to most of the activities. Now, I encourage everyone to try FFA because I think they will like it very much.”

— By Brandelyn Martin

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FFA Helps Feed Missouri

The third annual Drive to Feed Kidstook place on Tuesday, Aug. 13 at the Missouri State Fair in Sedalia. More than 750 Missouri FFA members from 73 chapters across the state gathered to pack meals for food insecure families. They exceeded their goal by packing more than 128,400 meals.


Kids feeding kids is the focus of the 2019 Drive to Feed Kids, and Missouri agriculture is banding together once again to address the alarming reality that one in five Missouri children regularly face hunger. The goal of this collaboration is to raise funds to provide food for hungry Missouri children and stand in the gap for those children who face food insecurity.


According to recent data from Feeding America’s “Map the Meal Gap,” more than 240,000 children in Missouri do not know where their next meal will come from. Missouri counties with the highest rates of food insecurity are disproportionately rural, where one out of every three children face food insecurity.


“We continue to see food insecurity grow in rural areas,” said Gary Marshall, Missouri Farmers Care chairman. “Through Drive to Feed Kids, we have the opportunity to raise awareness, while showcasing the tremendous work of farmers and ranchers who leverage science, technology, their expertise and natural resources to provide food for the world.”

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Tools to Success

Kate Thompson - VP

Kate Thompson – VP

Eucalyptus trees are native to Australia. A rare type of evergreen, it is seldom that you see them shed their leaves. It is a wonder they ever manage to sell rakes in the land down under. Nevertheless, it was a cool day at St. Matthew’s Catholic School when a young Kate Thompson stood with a rake held high above her head. She thrust the rake towards the earth, poking 16 fresh holes in the ground below her. She looked to her mother and said, “Mum, look what I did! I am giving the soil air.” Mum replied with laughter, “Well done, Kate.” Grinning with pride, Kate continued to poke 16 holes at a time into the soil around the grassy play area.


Now in hindsight, I realize that I, Kate Thompson, wasn’t really doing much to help. But it gave me some perspective. How often have we been presented with tools and opportunities that have the potential to do great things, but wasted them poking holes in the ground? How many times have we skated by, exerting minimal effort, instead of taking the reins to propel us as far as possible? As FFA members, there are many tools and opportunities at our disposal: public speaking, CDE and LDE contests, FFA Camp and summer academies, the friendships and connections we make. Let’s take full advantage of the tools that we are given.


“To whom much is given, much is expected.” -John F. Kennedy


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