Missouri FFA and Agriculture Education | 2019-20 Officers
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2019-20 Officers

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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Stand Your Ground and Don’t Back Down

Matthew Morgan - VP

Matthew Morgan – VP

“Stand your ground, that crazy cow is not going to hit you. She is just bluffing.” I know my Dad is probably right, but 1,000 pounds of angry beef running full speed ahead towards you with her calf in between your legs can still be intimidating.  I quickly tag the calf, and to my relief the cow was bluffing.  The goal set fourth was accomplished.


I learned two things from that day.  1. It is always good to have a person you trust that is willing to back you up and encourage you when you need it. 2. When you’re faced with something that is challenging, you stand firm and hold your ground because you can’t reach your dream by giving in.


One of my favorite songs is I won’t back down, sung by Johnny Cash.  In this song Cash sings, “I’ll keep this world from dragging me down, gonna stand my ground.” It doesn’t matter what knocks us down, what matters is how we get back up and learn from those experiences.  When you hang out in the right places and with the right people you will soon do incredible things.  The friends you surround yourself with make a huge difference on you.  Don’t be afraid to chase your dreams even if they intimidate you.


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The Most Important Play, is the Next Play

Isaiah Massey - 1st VP

Isaiah Massey – 1st VP

It’s third and 14. We are down by 7 points.  The corners were playing deep, preparing for the pass.  As I survey the field, I call out my check downs. “45’s the Mike,” as I let my quarterback (QB) know the blitz was coming. I snap the ball, step back in pass protection ready for the linebacker to come through the whole.  I step back, and he breezes past me and tackles the QB in the backfield bringing up fourth down. He’s been beating me all game, and nothing has changed as he tackles my teammate in the backfield once again.  In these moments I could easily just admit that he’s a better player than me. I could easily just give up and accept defeat. Only three minutes remain in the game. But as my QB was sacked, my coach from the sidelines chanted our team motto. “What’s the most important play?” He would ask, and as one whole team we would shout in unison, “The next play.”


The opposing team takes the ball, and our defense sends them with a four and out giving us one last chance. One-minute left, with over 79 yards to go.  We break out of huddle. First play, 43 Dive. Our QB, Ryeil, hands the ball off to Collin, the running back, as he rushes for a gain of 15 yards. Still 64 to go. We set up, hurry up offense as Ryeil gives us the call, “Florida, Florida!” That means Wildcat Double reverse sweep on 2. Ryeil calls my teammate, Luke, in motion. As he hands Luke the ball, then the other receiver is handed the ball, who then secretly hands it to Ryeil.  I lead block for Ryeil, take down a defender as Ryeil rushes for 34 yards and steps out of bounds to stop the clock, 7 seconds left, with no timeouts.  We gather in the huddle and are signaled for our play-action pass. I grow tense because that means I have to block number 45 one more time. Every time I had to block him, he would escape and tackle Ryeil.  I think to myself: this is the next play. We line up at the ball, and I call my check downs once again. I snap the ball, and I watch the defender take his hesitation step to fake the pass coverage. He drills his left heel down and shoots out like a bottle rocket towards me.  I take a deep breath and use my leverage against his.  I lower my hips as I wait for the linebacker. As we initiate contact, I place my hands beneath his shoulder pads, and as my body is centered, I drive with all my force and lift the linebacker up in the air and slam him onto his back. His mouth piece flies into the air. Ryeil fakes the ball to Collin and passes it deep to Luke, and just like that we finish as victorious!


Through football I’ve learned the principal that the most important play is the next play, because life will always throw you hard times and obstacles that will bring you down and in times make you believe that some circumstances are impossible to defeat.  FFA members, it isn’t about how bad you miss the mark because failure is inevitable. It’s about how many times you get back up and rise to the occasion and overcome any challenge that you face because THAT is what will make you victorious.


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Alexandra Gast
Jul 26 2019

Conquer With A Positive Attitude

Alexandra Gast - Secretary

Alexandra Gast – Secretary

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


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


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


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


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


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Learn From Your Life Jacket

Jacob Knaebel - VP

Jacob Knaebel – VP

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


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


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

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Share Your Ag Story

Kaylee Lewis - VP

Kaylee Lewis – VP

Can I take your picture?

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

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

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

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

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Your Biggest Fear

Tyler Schuster - VP

Tyler Schuster – VP

What’s your biggest fear?

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

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

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

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

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Are You Tough Enough

Andrew Moore

Andrew Moore – State VP

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


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


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


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


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


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


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

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Step Out of Your Comfort Zone

Natalie Koch

Natalie Koch – VP

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


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


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


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

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Serve to Make a Difference

Alexandra Gast - VP

Alexandra Gast, Vice President

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


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


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

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