Rachel Grimes

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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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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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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