2021-22 Officers

Sep 16 2021

Just Keep Swimming

One of my favorite Disney movies has always been Finding Nemo.  My favorite character is Dory because not only do we both struggle to remember things at times, but also because she is one of the most optimistic characters in the world.  I have found myself repeating her classic phrase, “Just keep swimming, just keep swimming,” whenever I’m in a rough place.  

 

There is a line in the FFA creed that reads, “I know the joys and discomforts of agricultural life and hold an inborn fondness for those associations…”.  From the very beginning we all knew there would be joyful success and uncomfortable struggles.  We all need to know the agricultural industry and life in general will always have its ups and downs. Just this last year FFA faced a huge struggle with COVID-19. Many of us didn’t know how to overcome this struggle, but we just kept moving forward. Now look at where we are. We are going to be attending an in-person National FFA Convention for the first time in two years, and you can bet that it’s going to be the best convention yet!

 

FFA members, we’ve  all been through some struggles over the last few years, and even the last few months.  However, what makes us stronger is not when we fall, but when we get back up. We always need to keep moving forward and overcome our struggles.  As you move forward this year and in the future, remember, FFA members, to always “Just Keep Swimming.” 

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Sep 16 2021

Be Prepared

Growing up, I was very active in the Boy Scouts, eventually earning my Eagle Scout rank this year. The Boy Scouts have a few core values, such as our motto, “Be Prepared”. Our motto was something that always stuck with me. Whether it was simply bringing a poncho to a football game when it is supposed to rain or making sure I have enough gas in my car to make a road trip, I always strive to “Be Prepared” for whatever may come my way. 

 

I think the Boy Scout motto is something we as FFA members can apply to our time spent in the blue jacket as well. In our ever-changing world, we are constantly being faced with many struggles and challenges in the agricultural industry. As FFA members, it is our duty to Be Prepared to educate our peers with the truth behind our industry we are all so passionate about. 

 

Personally, I don’t come from an agricultural background. I did not live on a farm, show a steer at the county fair, or even own a pair of cowboy boots, but I knew how important it was for me as an FFA member to share the truths of the agricultural industry to those around me. My SAE consists of owning/operating a house plant shop in my hometown, and one of my main focuses is to share the background and science of the plant industry with those who otherwise, may not get to learn. 

 

FFA members, my challenge to you is this: Find your connection to agriculture. Whether that is something more traditional such as raising beef or having a row crop operation, or selling plants from other countries, Be Prepared. Prepared to share, prepared to learn, prepared to educate. Be prepared for whatever may come your way. 

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Sep 06 2021

Passing Defeat with Grace

“You may encounter many defeats, but you must not be defeated” – Maya Angelou.

I stumbled across these words while searching for my senior quote this past year. At first I stared at it, wondering what on earth the woman was talking about. But as I continued to re-read the quote, the absolute brilliance of the statement hit me. These words acknowledge that life is going to throw you a few curveballs. There are things that are going to cross your path that simply knock you flat on your back, but no matter what, you cannot stay on the ground. 

 

In the moment that you stare defeat in the face, it might seem impossibly large. It might seem as though it is a mountain that you will never move. It might seem easier to simply give up. But if you keep working and keep pushing yourself past your defeat, the victory will be that much greater. 

 

Throughout our FFA careers and life, we will face many obstacles, many things that feel like a huge loss. But we cannot let one setback hold us down. A football team doesn’t let a loss early in a season affect the playoffs. An FFA member doesn’t let one bad day of a career or leadership development event affect him or her when the district contest comes around. I challenge all of us to move past our defeats with grace and keep pushing ourselves and the people around us toward our victories. 

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Grant Norfleet
Sep 03 2021

We All Play A role

Growing up, I was a child of the Fine Arts before I was a child of Agriculture. I took piano lessons, participated in art workshops, and even dabbled in a bit of dance. But we don’t talk about the dance thing; Let’s just say it didn’t work out. However, one of my favorite summer activities was participating in Theatre Camp at my community’s performing arts center. 

 

One of the most memorable moments I had at Theatre Camp was when I played the Scarecrow in The Wizard of Oz. During the opening night of the show, I was on stage ready to start my very first scene. Dorthy and Toto prance across the yellow brick road over to the centerstage cornfield. There I was, standing on center stage in silence with a thousand eyeballs focused on me; I had forgotten my line. I did not know what to do. I began to panic and could feel myself starting to sweat, but soon before I knew it, my friend playing Dorthy knew exactly how to help me out━the show must go on!

 

My Theatre Camp experiences often remind me of the roles we play as FFA members. In our organization, we all play a key role on the agricultural stage. Regardless of our connection to the agriculture industry, we all have the opportunity to use our unique roles to produce the story of agriculture. Even though we cannot be involved in all aspects of agriculture, we as FFA members can build relationships with each other, so we can have connections to the diverse cast of agriculturalists. Whether you participate in agriscience research, raise livestock, grow crops or even work at a local restaurant, your role in agriculture matters. Step out onto the agriculture stage and let your story be in the limelight. 

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Aug 02 2021

Be Stronger

“What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. Stand a little taller. Doesn’t mean I’m lonely when I’m alone. What doesn’t kill you makes a fighter. Footsteps are even lighter. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, stronger.” Stronger by Kelly Clarkson is a world known hit or to others it might be just another annoying song on the radio. But to me, this song has been my life’s motto for the past three years. 

 

I tore my meniscus in my left knee twice. Within nine months, I endured two surgeries, many days of physical therapy and was placed on crutches for nearly a year. No one understood the physical and emotional stress the experience caused me. I began my sophomore year of high school on crutches and was stuck in the school library to do my school work. After my first surgery I viewed that struggle as just a hurdle, because what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. But the second surgery and recovery did not go so smoothly. I sat on the bench and watched my teammates play on the court, sat on the bleachers watching my friends in the show ring, and I wasn’t able to participate on my chapter officer team as much as I used to. My motto of “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” just became another inspirational quote you would see on a picture at Hobby Lobby. I was caught up in the things I wouldn’t be able to do anymore and lost sight of what was important. Watching myself become bitter and distant from friends, family, clubs and school work. I wasn’t myself and I couldn’t see the joy in life anymore.

 

We all experience bumps in the road, where paths take a sharp turn in a different direction. It took a strong talking to from my parents and for me to come to the realization that these challenges and bumps I was facing were not for the worse, they only made me stronger. 

 

I challenge you to go throughout your life with this same motto. You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience where you really stop and look fear in the face. Where you are able to stop and think, “What doesn’t kill you, only makes you stronger?”

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Jul 28 2021

Get Started

As I watched the Tokyo Olympics from the comfort of my couch, I saw a Toyota commercial play on the television. The commercial showcased several young athletes from different walks of life contemplating the decisions. While seeing their idols succeed in their ventures, they felt lost and unsure of their direction. The negative thoughts rolled through their minds . . .

“Am I good enough?”

“You’re not going to make it.”

“Just quit.”

Later in the commercial, the athletes find their motivation to push through their adversity and reach their goals. The commercial concludes with the phrase “You don’t have to be amazing to start, but you have to start to be amazing.” It begs the question: “If not now, when?”

During my junior year, I was determined to try something new. I reached out to my advisor about the possibility of competing in the Employment Skills contest. However, after watching COVID bring cancellations, the shutdown gave me negative thoughts making me wonder if what I was doing was worth the effort. Although I had to compete virtually, I was still able to learn how to present myself while gaining many skills that will be valuable whenever I apply for a job. 

Throughout the next year, there will be countless opportunities to take advantage of. Career Development Events will push us to learn more about an industry or challenge us to grow our leadership skills. Other events will allow us to network and grow friendships. Each of us has the choice to rise or sink through the actions we take each day, to move a step closer to our goals or to sit stagnant. 

Choosing to make a positive difference in our own lives allows us to take that next step to fulfilling our goals. All we have to do is get started.

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Jul 14 2021

Thermostat or Thermometer?

“Are you a thermostat or a thermometer?” This is a question I often asked myself throughout my time in the FFA as I worked to develop my leadership skills. A thermostat will set the climate by staying true to core values and making a positive impact on the environment. On the other hand, a thermometer only  reflects the environment they are surrounded by. A thermostat can see a problem and provide a fix while a thermometer might see a problem but will continue to live in it.  

As we navigate our way through school, FFA and life, it is important to reflect on how the choices we make might impact our families, our communities and our chapters. Use this mentality when engaging with an officer team in a chapter meeting. Whether you are an officer or not, bringing new ideas into the meeting room will allow each member to explore opportunities to advance the chapter. The thermostat will see a need within a community and initiate a community garden that supplies the local food pantry with fresh produce, one who pushes their chapter to attend National FFA Convention for the first time, one who encourages their fellow members to compete in Career Development Events. You see, leadership is not limited to those who hold an office or win a speech contest, leadership lies in the heart of those who make an impact on the environment around them, just like a thermostat.

I challenge each of you to look at your chapters and communities like a thermostat. What can you do to help? How can you make a positive difference? Leadership lies in each and every one of us; each of us are capable of making a difference. That difference can be something extraordinarily huge or it can change a small piece of your hometown. Regardless of size, your impact will change lives. So, will you be a thermometer or will you be a thermostat? The choice is yours.

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Jul 14 2021

Dare to be Different

“If you’re always trying to be normal, you will never know how amazing you can be.” This thought-provoking quote comes from the unmatchable, Maya Angelou. Maya was a fearless leader in our country, standing up for what she believed in, and teaching others to do the same through her famous poems, books, and other writings.

 

I attempted to be a fearless leader, much like Maya Angelou last week during the Audrain County Historical Society’s History Camp. Yes, you read that right, History Camp! I know, it sounds like the most utterly boring thing you have ever heard of, but I personally believe nothing can top it! I am by no means a history buff, but attending History Camp, as both a camper and counselor has taught me the importance of our past, as well as finding something odd and different to be a part of. 

 

When summer camp time rolls around, and the History Camp facilitator contacts me, I am ecstatic. All of my friends and family members know just how important camp is to me. However, each year they continue to give me a funny look and laugh at my obsession and excitement to attend camp. As a camper, I would take it offensively. Not only was this originally out of my comfort zone, but it was also something none of my friends would try. I realized I was being different, maybe a little odd, but I was adding another experience to my “give-it-a-try” list. 

 

Over the many years I have been involved in History Camp, I have made countless friends, met government officials and leaders, as well as learned about our country’s history, and my own county’s history, in a hands-on environment. I have tried new foods from a variety of eras, built boats and even created a mini rocket. 

 

FFA members, I’m not asking you to join me at History Camp, or become involved in an activity that makes you uncomfortable, but rather to try something completely different than your typical interest. Give it a chance; you never know what may happen until you try it. Just as Maya Angelou said, if you try to be normal and fit in with the social norm, you will never find your true passions or interests. Dare to be different and unleash your potential to find out how amazing you can be. 

 

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Jul 14 2021

A Frigid Realization

Freezing wind blew against my thick barricade of coats as I ventured out looking for a missing heifer. With snow up to the middle of my shins, it was hard to walk. Frustration stormed inside of me as I slowly moved through a thicket of cedar saplings. After a long week of frigid temperatures and losing calves, I was more than ready to quit. Finally, I laid eyes on my missing heifer. 

 

At her side, she has a determined newborn trying to stand and nurse for the first time. For a while I stood and watched the new calf fall down only to get back up and try it all again, reluctant to get the warm milk that was waiting for it. No matter how many times the calf fell, it continued trying to get up, until eventually it was successful. As I stood there, I realized I needed to be more like that resilient newborn. 

 

After a long, hard year filled with challenges and inconveniences, I was ready to call it quits and give up. However, I learned I just needed to continue my attempts at standing and reaching for achievements waiting for me. Instead of focusing on what was dragging me down, I needed to look for what was there when I stood. I decided I wasn’t going to let the negatives drag me down anymore, I was going to stand. 

 

When we are faced with challenges, it makes it easy to forget what we are working toward. As we embrace our future, it’s important we become like that newborn calf. No matter what obstacles are weighing you down, don’t forget to keep trying to stand and stay focused on what lies ahead and you are working toward. 

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Jun 30 2021

Dare To Be Different

“If you’re always trying to be normal, you will never know how amazing you can be.” This thought-provoking quote comes from the unmatchable, Maya Angelou. Maya was a fearless leader in our country, standing up for what she believed in, and teaching others to do the same through her famous poems, books, and other writings.

 

I attempted to be a fearless leader, much like Maya Angelou last week during the Audrain County Historical Society’s History Camp. Yes, you read that right, History Camp! I know, it sounds like the most utterly boring thing you have ever heard of, but I personally believe nothing can top it! I am by no means a history buff, but attending History Camp, as both a camper and counselor has taught me the importance of our past, as well as finding something odd and different to be a part of. 

 

When summer camp time rolls around, and the History Camp facilitator contacts me, I am ecstatic. All of my friends and family members know just how important camp is to me. However, each year they continue to give me a funny look and laugh at my obsession and excitement to attend camp. As a camper, I would take it offensively. Not only was this originally out of my comfort zone, but it was also something none of my friends would try. I realized I was being different, maybe a little odd, but I was adding another experience to my “give-it-a-try” list. 

 

Over the many years I have been involved in History Camp, I have made countless friends, met government officials and leaders, as well as learned about our country’s history, and my own county’s history, in a hands-on environment. I have tried new foods from a variety of eras, built boats and even created a mini rocket. 

 

FFA members, I’m not asking you to join me at History Camp, or become involved in an activity that makes you uncomfortable, but rather to try something completely different than your typical interest. Give it a chance; you never know what may happen until you try it. Just as Maya Angelou said, if you try to be normal and fit in with the social norm, you will never find your true passions or interests. Dare to be different and unleash your potential to find out how amazing you can be. 

Read More