Lilly Weber
Apr 05 2024

Showers Bring Flowers

Lily Weber

We have all heard the old saying, “April showers bring May flowers.”

 While I’m writing this I am currently listening to rain pour down outside my house. I know rain will help the many acres that farmers have planted, the pastures on our farms and ranches, and my favorite wild flowers grow. My father has always told me that everything needs rain to grow. While this is true for all vegetation, the same can be accurate about our lives. Sometimes we struggle with a decision, a situation or the outcome of an event. It is that struggle that allows us to grow and helps us turn into the person we were meant to be. 


I’m not always a fan of the rain. When I’m having a bad day, I can not wait for it to be over. I will go to bed early just so I can have a fresh start sooner the next day. Still, sometimes bad days turn into a bad week. When this happens, we must learn to embrace the rain by dancing in it. We might not always understand the rain and the storms that can come with it, but we need to remember that everything happens for a reason and that there are better days to come. 


 We are like plants and need the rain to help us grow. The April shower can bring beautiful May flowers. After struggles and hard times, we get to take in the beauty of what we have been through and the strength that we have. I have learned that rain will provide the necessary supplies to grow a bountiful harvest. I encourage you to embrace the showers so you can embrace the beauty in every flower you see. 

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Kiley Mattson
Mar 15 2024

Find Your Courage

Kiley Mattson

Looking back at the person I was before my year of service to Missouri FFA, I’ve seen a number of major changes in myself. I’ve grown more confident, I’m better at conversation, I’ve learned resilience, but perhaps the most important thing I’ve learned is how to be courageous. Without courage, I wouldn’t have achieved any of the progress I’ve seen within myself. Throughout the past year, I’ve been asked to conquer challenges that scared me, embracing situations that made me uncomfortable in my abilities. Many times when asked to participate, I wanted to say no. Instead of staying where I was comfortable, I dug down deep and found the courage I needed to march through the fear, get the job done, and grow in the process. 

The word courage comes from the Latin root cor meaning heart. You see, courage is more than not being afraid or being uncomfortable. Courage is acknowledging that you have fear and feel uncomfortable, and then having the heart to face those fears and push through the discomfort in order to grow. It comes from a deeper desire to grow and succeed and prosper as a person. It comes from your heart, your core. 

Life is scary and uncomfortable. Changes will come to disrupt your life, whether good or bad. What’s important to remember is that you have it in you to make it through any and all obstacles. Deep in your heart, you have the courage to stretch your comfort zone, try new things, and grow into the person you’ve always wanted to be. Some days you have to dig deeper than others to find that courage, but it will always be there. So don’t give up! Find courage, and let it fuel your fire to progress and grow throughout your life. 

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Maggie Starke
Feb 29 2024

Embrace The Struggle

Maggie Starke

Oprah Winfrey once said, “Where there is no struggle, there is no strength.” As you go through life, you will encounter challenges. Unfortunately, there is no way to avoid the times of struggle. Your time in the blue jacket will include both victories and challenges. In high school, you will face both victories and challenges. Even in college and later in your career, you will face both victories and challenges.

It’s human nature to struggle. All of us will have moments in life where life just feels hard. How we overcome those challenges is what matters. Do we let a setback define the steps that we take forward? Or, do we overcome and persevere, emerging stronger on the other side? When we face a struggle, we have the power to determine what the outcome will look like. 

If I take a moment to look back and think of the struggles I have faced while wearing my blue jacket, the list is long. Still, I can think of how each experience made me stronger in some way, shape, or form. I think of how I learned to put the time in to memorize a speech before a contest, that sometimes you have to ask others for guidance and actually accept their help, and that no matter what you can’t give up. 

As you go through life, remember that you are not alone in your struggles. Others can help you overcome challenges. Ultimately, you get to make the decision on how those struggles affect your future. Finally, remember that you are stronger than you think. You’ve got this, no matter what. 

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Colin McIntyre
Feb 01 2024

Stand Out From the Crowd

Throughout my time in FFA, I participated in several Career Development Events (CDE). During my junior year, I found myself doing a contest that I had never imagined doing. Although I didn’t know what it was and the level of difficulty the Forestry CDE encompassed, I discovered one tree was quite unique during my involvement.  The Chinkapin oak might sound like the average oak tree with its typical tree bark, average height and normal stems, however when looking at its leaf structure one can see how unique it really is. Typical oak leaves are round or pointy lobed, whereas the Chinkapin sets itself apart with sharply pointed leaves. 


From time to time we might seem to be like everyone else. However, remember that the Chinkapin oak looks identical to others until you look at its leaves. We might not know exactly what makes us different. I found that I enjoy talking in a British accent, and I love the color pink. As we reflect on ourselves we will discover all that makes us unique. Look at the small things that make you different. It could be the structure of your leaves or your favorite color. It’s okay for you to be different.  

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Lynn Dyer
Jan 02 2024

Go On A Quest

The recent release of the Percy Jackson and the Olympians show on Disney Plus makes me want to listen to Riptide on repeat, start eating exclusively blue foods, and maybe go on an epic quest to save the world. While we definitely won’t be running into minotaurs or furies at any FFA events, our journey in FFA is not so different from Percy’s adventures. FFA is our Camp Half-Blood, and we as members are the demigods of agriculture and leadership. 

Whether it be a spring contest, an office you want to run for, or an SAE you want to start, think of your next project or event in FFA as a quest. There will undoubtedly be roadblocks— metaphorical monsters to face, riddles to solve, and mazes to navigate. Percy wouldn’t have been half the hero he is without the challenges he faced. Likewise, our FFA quests shape us into stronger problem-solvers and leaders.

Being a demigod is far from easy, and for Percy, it comes with high expectations from the Olympian gods, his fellow demigods, his closest friends, and even the monsters he faces. Those expectations cause him to struggle with self-doubt, fear of failure, and the constant pressure to live up to the heroic image others have of him. While this experience looks different for us, our lives are not free from expectations either. 

One of my favorite quotes from the Percy Jackson books is, “If my life is going to mean anything, I have to live it myself.” It will never be possible to please everyone. At the end of the day, it is up to us as individuals to push ourselves, know our limits, and make the choices that are right for us. We are the authors of our own story. There is no prophecy telling us what to do or who to be. Our story is waiting to be written, and it is up to us to make it a tale worthy of Camp Half-Blood.

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Caleb Simpson
Dec 22 2023

Me As An SAE

Why does every FFA member already know the secrets to personal growth?

How could it be that every FFA member already has, somewhere inside of them, all the knowledge needed for personal growth? While there are certainly a nearly infinite number of self-help books, podcasts, or TikToks fighting desperately for what last scraps of cash and/or attention we have left, creating a better world for ourselves—both inside and out—lies within the hands and minds of every FFA member.

Why is that?

As FFA members, we subscribe to the trifecta philosophy of the “Three Circle Model” that makes up agricultural education. For most, the idea of having classroom instruction, FFA involvement, and an ever-improving SAE is familiar territory that has been experienced firsthand. In my mind, the core tenets of any self-improvement that students wish to make can be seen in how they improve their SAE. 

As we create an SAE and watch it grow a life of its own, many of us ask ourselves: how can I make this thing better? Oftentimes this seemingly innocent question quickly becomes difficult to answer. A lack of funding, time, or space can all be major roadblocks to improving our project—just as they can be to improving ourselves. 

While both are incredibly frustrating, many FFA members over the years have discovered three questions that have led them to overcoming these obstacles—in projects and in life:

  1. What do I need to keep doing?
  2. What can I do better at?
  3. What do I need to stop doing?

For the first of these, it is essential that no matter what growth we want to see as people—such as learning to become a better speaker, building better relationships, or reducing day-to-day anxieties—we should first pat ourselves on the back for what we are doing well. Using our example of speaking, don’t let yourself get down over a speech that runs too long while overlooking the positive tone of your voice during that time. 

You have to start somewhere. Start by acknowledging the things that are working so far.

Second, we can build off of what we do well by identifying the things that we could do better at. This is the time when we can start to be gently critical of ourselves. Someone looking to create a more meaningful relationship with a person or group might find him or herself noticing that they aren’t the quickest to reply to texts or emails, which could be leading to their weakened relationship. By identifying the essential things that they are already doing that could be done better, this person can commit to a solution—easily bettering themselves in the process.

Our final question for ourselves is often the hardest: what do I need to stop doing?

Whenever we go to better ourselves, most of our actions are done with the best intentions; however, at a certain point, it is only rational to acknowledge that some of these aren’t working. As much as we wish and pray otherwise, we are limited to only 24 hours in a day. Our time, our mental and physical resources are all finite, and we need to be able to allocate them in the best way possible. Just as someone who invests money into an unprofitable part of an entrepreneurship SAE is most likely wasting their efforts, so too can our self-improvement efforts be better targeted. If you are someone who is trying to gain muscle in the gym and doing the same exercise day after day without results, the rational thing to do is to stop doing that exercise. By finding what efforts may be less effective, we free up our valuable time to work on ourselves in another way.

Altogether, these three questions can serve as guides to us, not only to produce premier projects, but to catapult ourselves forward into the best teammates, friends, and bright-minded individuals that we were born to be.

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Lilly Weber
Dec 22 2023

Keep Air In Your Tires

Lily Weber

As Joyce Meyer once said, “A bad attitude is like a flat tire. You can’t go anywhere until you change it.” Flat tires are not the way to start any day. It delays you and ruins your plans for the day. It also affects other people, too, because it could make you late for a meeting or even just the start to your day. 


It takes only seconds for a tire to go flat, but to change out the tire and repair it takes several minutes. The same can be said about a bad attitude. It only takes one little thing going wrong to put you in a bad mood. Which might take just seconds like the tire going flat.Also like a tire, a bad attitude delays you and even in some cases ruins your day. Just like a tire makes you late, a bad attitude affects the people around you. By having a bad attitude you are bringing down the people around you. When you are part of a team such as in sports, it helps to get the win when you have confidence and a positive attitude. When you are working on a project, if it is not going the way you want, sit back and try looking at it from another angle. Do not let it get you down, frustrated, or give up. These are all ways to bring your group’s attitude down. With these things in the way, the project does not get finished. We all know that one time we might be excited to do something or go somewhere, but someone else was not, and it changed our mood. Bad attitudes are contagious. How do we fix this bad attitude? We fix it the same way we fix a flat tire. We change it out for a new one. While it might take a few minutes to change our attitude, once we do we are back up and ready to go! So remember, if you have a flat tire or a bad attitude, change it for you and those around you. It will only take a few seconds to put a smile on your face, and share it with others.  

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Caleb Simpson
Nov 28 2023

What Does Presence Mean to You?

Do you ever finish a conversation, maybe with a friend, a parent, or a teacher—and then immediately realize that you can’t remember what was actually just said? Physically, you were right there and you wanted to be there… but inside, you weren’t. For me, this might be because my mind is on an upcoming chemistry test, maybe an SAE-related epiphany, or maybe I’m laser-focused on what I might have for breakfast tomorrow. These little distractions can come in all sorts of funky shapes and sizes but they all have one thing in common: they keep us from truly enjoying the present.

It’s very frustrating but it’s also curable.

In my experience, the best way to combat this is simple awareness. Be aware of whenever your mind wanders. Notice the things that distract you and release them just for a moment, bringing your focus back to what is around you. If you really want to see change, give yourself a little reward, a piece of candy or a mental pat on the back, each time you succeed.

We can all say this, but to experience it is another thing altogether. As 20th century novelist and poet Hermann Hess once stated, “Wisdom cannot be imparted. One can find it, live it, do wonders through it, but one cannot communicate it and teach it.”

So go outside! Run through the woods, the fields, down the sidewalks, and notice the world around you. Let the heavy things in life go, if for just a short while, and practice the art of being present. Learn to extract the joy from all of life’s moments, little or big. 

My friend, find what presence means to you.

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Noah Graham
Nov 10 2023

Chase. Your. Dreams.

Noah Graham

As I write today, I am reminded of a long held dream of mine. To put it into context, I am writing this post from the cab of a brand-new 2023 John Deere 8r 410. Now to most people, this might not seem like much, but for me, it’s an amazing experience. Ever since I was a little kid, tractors have always amazed me. There’s something about them that evokes a feeling of sheer joy.

I remember going into our local convenience store and always snagging the newest version of the Tractor House magazine. As I rode around in the farm truck with my father and grandfather, I would recreate the all-too familiar “wish list” that everybody makes, even the older people that claim they don’t. What I didn’t understand was that every item on my wish list had about five too many numbers beside the word price. Nonetheless, I kept on circling and telling dad, “Look I found a good deal!” over and over again, to which he would say, “Good job, son,” and go about his business. 

When we are young, we constantly see things that attract our attention. If it attracts us enough, a dream is then implanted within our minds. It doesn’t matter if that dream has a half a million dollar price tag, we still pursue it. As we grow up, a little thing called reality begins to set in and we are almost immediately filled with doubt, fear, and uncertainty. I for one, know this happens, as it has happened to me time and time again. But then I have moments such as these, where that childish spark is lit inside me, and I am reminded to continue chasing my dreams, no matter how impossible they might seem. 

Reading about my tractor experience might not connect directly with you, but nonetheless you have had a dream. Whether it was when you were little or even now, every person in this world has had a dream—something that we dearly yearn for, but seems so very far away. As I write this today, I am presenting a challenge to you. No matter what the price tag is, never give up on your dreams. As I leave you, I would like to include one of my favorite quotes. It states, “Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars.” – Oscar Wilde 

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Kiley Mattson
Nov 04 2023

Don’t Be Afraid to Grow

Kiley Mattson

One of my favorite TV shows is the 90’s classic, Boy Meets World. I love watching the main character Cory and his best friend Shawn get into all kinds of trouble only to be steered straight by one of their teachers/principle, Mr. George Finney. George always has the most wise advice to give these boys when they find themselves with problems they don’t know how to solve. One of my favorite Finney quotes is this: 

“If you let others dictate your behavior, you will never grow as a person.”
– George Finney

We all want to be liked, accepted, part of a group, and oftentimes we let the fear of isolation or rejection influence the ways we act. It’s not always easy to be ourselves when we’re afraid of rejection or ridicule. But life isn’t easy, making the right choices isn’t easy, and growing as a person is NEVER easy. Ease is a luxury that no leader has. Instead, it’s hard work, uncomfortable situations, and vulnerability that help us grow as individuals and leaders. And if we let others dictate our behavior, we won’t get to experience that growth. So follow the wise direction of Mr. George Finney and don’t be afraid to grow. 

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