Hannah Shanks
Feb 03 2022

A ‘Work Hard’ Mindset

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


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


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

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Jan 28 2022

Something New

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


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


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

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Jan 14 2022

Count On Me

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


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


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


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


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

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Grant Norfleet
Jan 14 2022

Nobody’s Better Than A Cow Pie

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


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


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


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

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Jan 05 2022

Presents or Presence?

Christmas is my favorite time of the year. Ever since I was able to walk on my own two feet, I have been the first one to the living room on Christmas morning. Rushing to the living room I would sort through all the presents so that as soon as my brothers were ready, we did not waste any time before opening our presents. I was even so impatient that I would shake my presents, and do anything I could to find out what was inside the gift-wrapped box. Christmas presents to me were the best thing in the world, that is until this year.


This year, my older brother Ben spent his full fall semester of school in Rome. After finishing his studies his plan was to arrive back in St. Louis on Monday, Dec. 20, just in time for Christmas. I could feel my excitement growing as I waited to see my brother again after nearly 5 full months over 5,000 miles apart. Everything was going to plan, Ben was at the Rome airport packed and ready to come home when the news hit. Just 15 minutes before Ben was supposed to board his flight from Rome to St. Louis, he was told that his flight had been delayed for two hours. This was not a big deal, we would just pick him up from the airport a few hours later than expected. An hour later came the really bad news. Ben was told that his flight had been completely canceled and that he would not be able to get a flight back to the U.S. until later that week, possibly even after Christmas. It wasn’t long before my family and I were panicking about the possibility of Ben not being home for Christmas. How could we possibly celebrate the holidays without Ben? 


At this point I made a very important realization. You see, I had always overlooked the importance of everyone in my family being at home for our Christmas celebration. As a child, I was always too busy thinking about what presents would be under the tree for me. Never had I considered the impact having all my family around made on my happiness. This year, getting to see my brother and spend time with him was the only thing I wanted for Christmas. I wanted Ben’s presence, not his presents. 


Thankfully, my brother was lucky enough to get a flight back to St. Louis two days before Christmas and the whole family got to celebrate together. This year, I was reminded of the importance of having people present in our lives. Our friends and family are the people that bring us true joy and happiness. These people are the most important things in our lives, and we need to make sure never to forget that. I want to remind myself, and you, that the most important thing is the presence of those important people in our lives, not the presents under the tree. 

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Jan 02 2022

Frozen: The FFA Edition

I am sure we all have heard of the movie Frozen and the famous song, “Let  it go,” whether we wanted to or not. The movie Frozen has become widely  popular since it was introduced in 2013. It revolves around two sisters who are princesses in a kingdom called Arendelle. Elsa, the older sister, has special abilities that allow her to create snow and ice but, unfortunately, she is unable to control her powers and ends up unintentionally hurting her younger sister Anna.  Elsa is then forced to conceal her secret powers from those around her. The movie follows the journey Elsa makes as she struggles with becoming a leader as she is to be queen. There are many different life lessons we can take away from the story, but  one of the major takeaways from Frozen is Elsa and her powers.  


Within FFA we face many different challenges just like Elsa did with her powers from trying a new contest team to applying for an office or competing in the agriscience fair. We face many different challenges that might not go the way we envisioned, make the cut to move on to districts, or think we do not have the capability to reach the goals  we have set for ourselves. Sometimes we think it’s best to “conceal don’t feel”  the struggles we face throughout our FFA journey and to just give up and try  something else. Elsa covered her powers with a glove and was scared to let her powers show. A war rages on in Elsa’s mind as she struggles to hide her secret  and feels as though she is some kind of monster. Once she is free from Arendelle,  she embraces her power as a gift and finally rejoices in the fact that she can let it  go. 

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Dec 28 2021

A Flaky Fail

Of all the delicious foods my grandma makes, my favorite is her apple pie. So, when I was 11 years old, I was determined to learn her recipe. I watched her smoothly move around the kitchen grabbing one spice, scooping out her sugar, measuring out her flour, and elegantly designing the crust. After practicing with her a few times, I finally learned some of the smaller details that make her pies go a cut above the rest.


I learned that I love spending time baking in the kitchen. After a while, I no longer needed to look at the recipe card since I had memorized the process like the back of my hand. Whenever holidays or birthdays came around, I was the one to fill the house with the delicious aroma when called on to bake the Hansen apple pie. While baking is most definitely an art and often requires people to be flexible, I was determined in one thing: I want to be alone when working in the kitchen. 


Some of it may be that I don’t want people to get in my way when moving around the kitchen. Another part may be that I have pride and am confident in my work and don’t want other’s help. I became efficient in the kitchen, cranking out pies in record time. But all bakers have instances where we make mistakes. Mine came when I quickly grabbed a reddish-brown spice that started with a “C” in a tall round shaker. I didn’t realize my mishap until I heard my dad coughing after he had taken a bite of the pie. I went back to the cupboard to see that instead of adding a teaspoon of cinnamon, I misread the label and placed a teaspoon of cumin into my apple mix.


My dad made me eat that pie.


I learned that sometimes, it doesn’t hurt to have people check your work. Throughout your time in FFA, you may find things you fall in love with and can do expertly. Yet it remains important that we continue to ask others with more experience for knowledge and help. While we may be great at selling fruit, welding, or giving reasons, there is always room for improvement. While it was most definitely my biggest cooking failure and I needed a big glass of milk to drink with each slice, it reminded me that double checking with a masterchef can keep me from getting served.

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Dec 27 2021

The Storm of Life

As Missouri weather often does, yesterday was beautiful and 60 degrees, today was a freezing 35 degrees. It finally hit me that, hey, it is December, winter is actually here. As I was walking to my class, I started reminiscing about some of my favorite winter memories. I remember one winter in 2007, specifically the ice storm of 2007 . It seemed like the whole world froze over. I thought it was beautiful, you stepped outside, and it was sparkling. Ice coated the trees, fences, grass, and every other surface. My parents on the other hand did not find it so pretty. You see, the ice also covered the roads and powerlines. That meant my house and every other one around me did not have electricity, and we did not have a generator. 


We packed up our belongings and carefully headed to my grandparent’s house — one of the only homes with electricity. When we arrived, the house was filled with the rest of my family who had also lost power.. My aunts, uncles, grandparents, and great grandpa were all gathered in one place for days on end. Four-year-old me had a blast. I saw it as some kind of awesome family party. The adults, however, were ready to get back to their own homes.


As I think about this ice storm, I realize my family was able to survive it together by relying on each other.  Sometimes, our lives can get a little stormy. Whether it is school, sports, work, or home we can be faced with challenges that seem impossible. It is easy to try and handle it all by ourselves. However, there are people around us who love and care for us and want to help. Identify your people and rely on them to help ride out the storm.


Happy New Year!

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Dec 16 2021

2022 Greenhand Motivational Conferences

Date Location Times Area
January 3 Lincoln University-Richardson Aud. 9:00 A.M.  Registration and Pictures 8
January 4 UMC-Natural Resources Aud. 9:00 A.M.  Registration and Pictures 4
January 4 Bowling Green High School 4:00 P.M.  Registration and Pictures 5
January 4 Mo State Fair-Lowell Mohler Hall 9:00 A.M.  Registration and Pictures 6
January 4 Mo State Fair-Lowell Mohler Hall 12:00 P.M.  Registration and Pictures 7
January 4 Waynesville Career Center 2:00 P.M.  Registration and Pictures 13
January 4 Sullivan High School 8:30 A.M.  Registration and Pictures 14
January 5 Truman-Baldwin Audi. 9:30 A.M.  Registration and Pictures 3
January 5 Darr  Ag Center–MSU 12:00 P.M.  Registration and Pictures 9
January 5 Darr  Ag Center–MSU 9:00 A.M.  Registration and Pictures 10
January 5 West Plains Civic Ctr.-MSU 8:30 A.M.  Registration and Pictures 13
January 5 Tinnen Ctr-Three Rivers Comm. College 2:30 P.M.  Registration and Pictures 16
January 6 Ketcham Community Ctr-NCMC 8:00 A.M.  Registration and Pictures 2
January 6 Darr  Ag Center–MSU 12:00 P.M.  Registration and Pictures 11
January 6 Darr  Ag Center–MSU 9:00 A.M.  Registration and Pictures 12
January 6 University Center-SEMO 8:30 A.M.  Registration and Pictures 15
January 7 MO Western St. College Theater 8:30 A.M.  Registration and Pictures 1
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Dec 10 2021

FCS Financial Awards $25,000 in honor of 25,000 FFA members on #GivingTuesday

Missouri is home to approximately 25,000 current FFA members. FCS Financial sees the leadership skills and agriculture education these students are developing. This is why on #GivingTuesday, FCS Financial is donating $25,000, $1 per FFA member, to the newly formed Missouri FFA Foundation.


More than 60 FCS Financial staff members served as local, area, district or state FFA officers. FFA formed the leadership skills and foundation that many of our staff members rely on today to complete their jobs assisting Missouri’s farmers and ranchers.


“The importance of a strong handshake was the first of many communication and leadership skills FFA taught me. Those lessons continue to help me today in my role at FCS Financial,” says Madison Browning, financial services specialist in the Maryville office.


“The vision of the Missouri FFA Foundation closely aligns with the mission of FCS Financial to support rural communities. It seems fitting that on #GivingTuesday we make an inaugural donation of $25,000 in honor of each active member to support the Missouri FFA Foundation in their efforts to advance Missouri FFA,” said David Janish, FCS Financial CEO.


“FCS Financial has always been a friend of Missouri FFA,” says Keith Dietzschold, Missouri FFA Association state advisor and Agricultural Education director. “This donation to the Missouri FFA Foundation helps to secure our ability to continue meeting our vision; “To cultivate the next generation of leaders for the agriculture industry and communities” here in Missouri.”


#GivingTuesday is a global grassroots movement to encourage people to show acts of kindness and generosity in their communities. This is the ten-year anniversary of #GivingTuesday according to GivingTuesday.org. It occurs annually on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving.


FCS Financial provides numerous opportunities for youth involved in agriculture through community betterment grants, curriculum development and youth funding programs. To learn more about our involvement, check out our website www.myfcsfinancial.com or follow us on social media.

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Nov 09 2021

Live and Learn

“You live and you learn, and if you mess it up sometimes, nobody’s perfect.”

I’m going to let you in on a small secret, I LOVE Hannah Montana. I was the kid in class with the themed backpack, bed spread, and to even top it off, my very own Hannah Montana wig. Yes, that’s right, I even dressed up as her for Halloween. Over the years, I was fascinated by the number of tough situations she persevered through. In the movie, Hannah was asked by her best friend, Lilly, to attend her birthday party. Instead of attending the party, she chosen to spend the day shopping for the perfect outfit to wear during an upcoming award show. Lilly was her best friend, her rock, her supporter, but Hannah chose to overlook this. She was becoming too concerned with her fame rather than remembering those who helped her get there. Later in the movie, Hannah finds herself involved in two events taking place at the very same time. Not only was she on a date with her childhood crush, but she was attending a dinner with the town’s mayor. She quickly thought of a plan: spend five minutes at either place then run back and forth while also changing outfits. This ‘plan’ worked… for a second or two. Her date noticed that Hannah’s focus was not all on their time together. Likewise, those at the mayor’s dinner noticed her excuses became more and more farfetched. Eventually, Hannah found herself between a rock and a hard spot. Sometimes, like Hannah, we can find ourselves signing up for too many events. In doing so, we spread ourselves too thin, falling short in our responsibilities.


At this point in time, many of you may be asking yourself why I loved her growing up and still refer to the movie as a college student. Although Hannah dug herself into many holes throughout her high school years, she always managed to self-evaluate and offer apologies when one was due. Often as leaders we get too caught up in our current space, we forget where we came from and those who helped us become who we are. Other times, we forget how to manage our schedule. I will be completely honest with you, this year I have struggled with both lessons I learned from Hannah Montana so many years ago. I came to the moment where I needed to self-evaluate while watching the movie with my roommates a couple weeks ago. As leaders, we must take the necessary time to be the very best for those who look up to us, but also for ourselves and teammates. 


FFA members, it is up to you to decide if you will live the best of BOTH worlds.

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Nov 09 2021

What’s Next?

Man! I am exhausted, and I don’t think I can walk another step. Blisters line the bottom of my feet from walking hall after hall of the Indianapolis Convention Center, and up and down the stairs of Lucas Oil Stadium. My voice is scratchy from cheering on all of Missouri’s winners and there is a crick in my neck from sleeping on a flat, feather pillow for six nights in a row. Some of my professors are continuing to remind me to turn in my homework, and I still have a few exams to make up. However, I can tell you one thing for sure; my cup is full, and I feel like I could take on the world. 


For many of us, this story may be painting a very familiar picture, and I’m sure you’ve already pinpointed it – coming home from National FFA Convention. Alongside several of you, I was able to sit in on delegate work and workshops, mingle with members from Missouri and all over the nation. We listened to some phenomenal speakers and National Officers give their keynote addresses. Each of these speakers left us with a challenge, every workshop gave us new tools, and all the members we met left us with a new story and perspective. But what now? How will we implement what we learned?


Let’s start with something small. First, we must reflect on our time spent at convention, all the information we absorbed, and the words we heard. Next, let’s make a list of things we can improve on and the flaws we see. With that list, we can sort the ideas we have for self-improvement and the ideas we want to implement in our homes and communities. We can continue with these ideas to create goals, reach out asking for help, and most importantly acting. While our improvement strategies might seem daunting and scary, don’t forget to be patient and extend grace to yourself and others around you. 


Leaving convention can be bittersweet, but the feeling of wanting to change the world is one of a kind. However, what will you do with the knowledge you’ve gained and the stories you’ve heard?  Will we reminisce on the memories hoping it will come again, or take initiative with what we’ve learned and strive to better ourselves and the community around us?  


Friends, the choice is yours. What will you do next?

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Nov 09 2021

Smells of Thankfulness

The smell of turkey filled the air with its tasteful aroma. Family and friends were scattered all throughout the house having conversations as though they had never been apart. I, myself, was quite ready to end the conversions to begin devouring the food that had been torturing me with its delicious smells.


At this point in time, I was so hungry I could hear my stomach growling louder than a lion and I was confused why no one else was as ready to eat as me. Reluctantly, I made my way over to my grandfather’s side, and I sat there listening to stories about cattle, sports teams and highschool shenanigans. I watched as each of them laughed and enjoyed each other’s company, not worried about what they didn’t have. 


It was then I truly realized how caught up I had gotten in my own wishes, I completely overlooked what I already had. Becoming too focused on my desires, made me completely ignore what amazing things had surrounded me in that moment. On this Thanksgiving, I had put on blinders only to see what I couldn’t acquire instead of recognizing how lucky I was for what I already had. It was then I decided to shift my focus. The blinders were coming off and everything I had around me was going to be fully enjoyed. 


When attracted to something, it becomes very easy to get lost in everything you do not have. As we venture into the future I want to challenge not only myself, but all of you as well to focus on what you have. Be thankful for the now.

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Oct 29 2021

Harvest Season

While I was growing up in production agriculture my dad would always tell me that the work that he made me and my brother do would create a great work ethic in the future, and our potential bosses would want that. This is true; it did create a work ethic in my brother and I that I use to succeed in everything I do. But that does not mean the work was easy, or that I liked it. There were countless days that I wanted to stop and go inside or quit to take a nap. My dad would always say,  “Prior preparation prevents poor performance.” Over time, his words sunk in.


In production agriculture right now, crops are being harvested and livestock are getting ready to give birth. Getting all that set up and lined out takes so much work, but it is worth it when the product is sold to the consumer. Imagine if after planting a field of corn the farmer gave it no care. Some of those plants might survive, but not nearly as many as there would be come harvest time. That crop is going to be worth much less than someone else’s who tended it.. Prior preparation prevents poor performance, and the same is true in FFA.

When competing on a team, getting ready for an interview, or just studying for a test in an ag class, putting in the effort is what makes whatever you are trying to do work. If I showed up to a career development event with no practice, it’s likely that I would perform poorly. If I go into an interview with no practice and I decide to wing it, I am not going to do nearly as well as I would if I took the time to practice.


With contest season almost here, keep in mind the lessons learned by farmers putting a crop in the ground or working with livestock. Cutting corners and not showing up to practices or putting the time in by yourself is setting your eventual harvest up for failure. However, when we put the work in and make the effort, the harvest is plentiful, and we are rewarded with success.  Remember, prior preparation prevents poor performance.

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Oct 08 2021

Thankful for Scary Opportunities

If you have ever been to a haunted house, then you will understand one hundred percent how terrifying they are! There is always something new right around the corner, and you never know what you got yourself into. 


Sometimes we have these opportunities outside of haunted houses. Think back to your freshman year of high school. Perhaps this was the first time you were at a new school, first time you heard about FFA, or your first time trying something new. And as you get more involved in FFA, you might decide you want to try public speaking. As you write your speech, distractions such as sports or other club activities are thrown your way. Or, maybe you procrastinate preparing your speech until the last possible second that your advisor will let you turn it in. 


Despite the challenges that seem to keep jumping in your way, you press on. Suddenly, it’s time to begin practicing your speech. Your nerves build until the day of the speech competition finally arrives. Everyone tells you that you’ll do great, but you start to doubt your abilities. It’s a scary time for you as you prepare to deliver your first-ever speech in front of real judges. 


While you might not win your first speech competition, it’s important to remember that you pushed through the worries, fears and what seemed to be some of the scariest few moments of your high school career. The most frightening times are behind you as you look ahead to more speech competitions in the future. With each one, you can be more prepared than you were the time before. You’re more thankful for taking this step out of your comfort zone, more thankful for the opportunity that you had, the people who supported you, and that you took a chance to open that door in your FFA career, no matter how scary it might have seemed on the other side.


So, how thankful are you for those scary opportunities?

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