2021-22 Officers

Mar 07 2022

Blocking Pressure

For hours, the cursor stayed frozen in place, while the time for submission crept closer and closer. Blankly, I stared at the screen knowing I needed to fill the page with meaningful words as soon as possible — words that were able to create laughs and motivation, but yet the page remained empty and the cursor remained in place. 


Slowly, I lowered my head as a signal to the vacant page, I was admitting defeat. I needed an absolutely Earth shattering, mountain moving idea I could turn into a masterpiece. Yet, I had absolutely nothing. Eventually, I closed my computer and began to shift my focus somewhere else. Suddenly, I had it! The epiphany I was needing finally happened. 


Quickly, I hopped back onto my vacant document, filling it with the words I had so desperately needed. Within no time, my blog was completed, allowing me to realize something. All of the pressure I put on myself to create an “Earth shattering masterpiece”, had stopped me from creating anything at all. My own pressure had prevented my progress. 


Today, it is extremely difficult for all of us to not put pressure on ourselves. Whether it be to take a test, complete a writing assignment, compete in a sporting event, or perform in a competition, our own pressure can cause us to create obstacles. As we move forward, I encourage all of you to step back, take a break, take a breath, and let the ideas form their own.

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Mar 04 2022

Be All You

As we began preparing for the  Missouri FFA State Convention, I found myself listening to old retiring addresses by state and national officers. As I sat on the couch in my dorm room, forcing my roommates to listen in on what a past national secretary had to say, these words resonated with me, “Whoever you are; be all you, all the time.” It was ironic in the moment; you see I was trying to get a handle on what a state officer should say as their final words to their state association. I was trying to figure out how I should sound, how I should speak, and what message I needed to convey. I was not being all me, I was trying to be the idea I had for state officers – I wanted to live up to the expectation. I will let you in on a little secret: I had been STRESSING over what my retiring address would be about and if I could present it to the members of Missouri FFA.  What I did not realize is that once you let go of certain expectations, you become free of the pressure that comes with them. As you embark on the many adventures that the FFA offers you, let go of the expectations, let things just be. It is easy to focus on the failure, or the shortcomings, but I promise that you will never be successful if you never get over the negative. I challenge each of you to learn from the mistake, adjust from the failure, and focus on the real win – growth. Whether you win your first speech contest or come up short in your last, the experience, the learning, the skill, the GROWTH is what will matter later in life. More times than not, I came up short while competing in the FFA. Each time, I tried to understand why I was not good enough to stand on the stage at state convention and receive a plaque, or why I could not grasp certain concepts in a career development event. It would have been so easy to throw in the towel and focus on the negative, but with each failure, I became more hungry for growth. Without the failure, I would not have gotten better. If you take one thing from this message, let it be this: you are the way that you are for a specific reason, never let a shortcoming dictate the future for you. Never be afraid to simply be yourself, that is when true growth and success occur. 

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Feb 03 2022

Create Your Own Legacy

Legacy is a word that will be thrown around a lot over this next year as Tom Brady, the greatest quarterback in the history of the National Football League, mulls over retirement or coming back to play another season. Regardless of how I personally feel about Brady, there is no doubt that he is a phenomenal player and will leave a lasting legacy on all of football.


    But legacy does not have to come from the greatest player of all time; legacy can come from our parents, our chapters, or even ourselves. A legacy can be very uplifting, a goal that is within reach because it has been done before. However, legacy can also mean an unconquerable pressure that presses down until we manage to reach our goal.


    For me, legacy was always something that weighed me down in FFA. My father was an FFA advisor, and my chapter has had a lot of success throughout the years, so the pressure of living up to those standards was present the second that I stepped into Animal Science 1 my freshman year. I tried not to let it affect me, but I still felt that if I did not do well that I was letting everyone down around me. It took until my junior year to realize that I do not have to live up to the same legacy as those around me. It is my choice what sort of impact I want to leave, not anybody else’s. Once I made that connection, I was able to let go of the weight of the legacy that I was holding on to so tightly. I decided to try new contests and found a love for them over what I had been doing. Finding what made me love FFA for myself and not for others made all of the difference in how I went forward through senior year and while running for a state office. Legacy is what you leave behind, not what others put upon you.


    If legacy is something that you struggle with, I encourage you to remember that finding what makes you happy and doing that will free you of that weight. Leaving a legacy for yourself is so much sweeter than doing something just because it is expected of you.

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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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