Officer - Anna Milazzo
Mar 12 2021

Don’t Blink

Anna Milazzo - VP

Last year, a week from today, the world shut down. We lived our last normal week and didn’t even know it. If you’re anything like me, you have spent every day since then waiting for life to get back to normal. I told myself things like, “If we can just make it through the first two week quarantine,” and then “through the summer,” but now it’s been a whole year, and we are still nowhere close to normal. Something else happened throughout this last year. It is my last year wearing my blue jacket. I was so busy “pushing through,” being completely overwhelmed by change, that now my jacket is almost gone. I blinked and the year is coming to a close. I blinked. and I missed little moments. I blinked and time was gone. I bet you blinked, too. You “pushed through,”’ a little too much and missed the joy right in front of you. You blinked because big events weren’t like they were supposed to be. It’s true; life isn’t how it’s supposed to be. It’s completely okay to be upset about this, but it’s not okay to put yourself on autopilot and check out. All of the little memories to be had during these big life moments are well worth living. It would be a shame if we missed them because we blinked. Next time I won’t blink. For the rest of this year, I am soaking it all in. Wide open eyes. Open hands. Open heart. Big moments might not happen everyday, but the little ones add up. Sometimes something we think is little, ends up being very very big. Kenny Chesney said it best, Don’t Blink.

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Officer - Lauren Gilbert
Feb 18 2021

Do You Have the Winning Mentality?

Lauren Gilbert

The 30 minutes in the preparation room seemed to pass faster than I had anticipated. Luckily, I knew my topic and was able to write down my main points on a few notecards. Someone entered the room and called “Lauren.” I was the next speaker, and I was not ready.


Standing in front of three judges and a small audience of five, there my 14-year-old-self was shaking and quaking. My quivering voice made it through about a minute of the three minute speech. My cold and clammy hands dropped my notecards. I scrambled to gather them. However, I did not know which note card was next because I had forgotten to number them. My speech was a TOTAL FLOP. It was awful. To no surprise, I did not win —or even place anywhere near the top. I felt like a complete failure.


The experience made me realize that extemporaneous public speaking was not one of my strengths. So what did I do about it? I took advantage of any opportunity I had to participate in an extemporaneous speaking contest. Now, I wish I could tell a story of how I turned around and won the extemporaneous speaking competition which I had once failed at, but I don’t. I tried, but I never placed anywhere near the top for any extemporaneous speaking competition I competed in.


I might not have won a medal or experienced any success with the extemporaneous speaking contest, but in a way I did win. By participating in those competitions, I improved my own communication skills and faced one of my fears. A medal would do me no good at this point, but the intrapersonal skills I gained through the process are used every day of my life.


Ernest Hemingway once said, “There is nothing noble in being superior to your fellowman; true nobility is being superior to your former self.”

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Officer - Erin Heinecke
Nov 24 2020

No Place Like Home

Officer - Erin Heinecke

Living in Columbia, Missouri, for the past couple of months has been the biggest learning experience of my life so far. Even though home is only an hour away, Columbia has that big city feel. With more than 30,000 students and a population of over 100 times the size of my hometown, some nights seem a little intimidating. I walk around campus and never see the same face twice. The only people that may know me are my fellow officers and people from my hometown. 


With busy weeks of homework and being involved in multiple organizations, I feel myself needing a break. On the weekends when I can get away and make my way back home to Paris, I jump at that chance. What’s my first stop when I go home? The ag building at my high school, of course! There, I always feel welcomed. No matter the time of day, I am always greeted with a smile from members, friends and our two FFA advisors — Mr. Bondy and Mrs. Nobis. The Paris FFA ag building was my home away from home for my four years of high school. I hope FFA members feel the same way about their ag department. There is no place like home.

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Officer - Colin Wilburn
Nov 04 2020

The Trophy Case

Officer - Colin Wilburn

One of my most vivid memories from high school is walking through the front doors and past the trophy case everyday. I would look in awe at all of the accomplishments of those before me: state championships, countless tournament trophies, and small sections dedicated to individuals who went above and beyond in their sport. 


While I loved looking at all of those awards, there was one area in the case that always stood out to me. Right at the end of the trophy case in a spot by itself hung a sun-faded FFA jacket with the stitching, ‘Mark Wilburn, National Vice President, 1997-98,’ and a picture of my uncle Mark shaking President Bill Clinton’s hand. When I was a scrawny little 7th grader, to me it looked like it was out of place. With all of the metallic gold, silver and bronze, how did this corduroy jacket fit in? 


It wasn’t until later in high school that I truly found out the significance of that corduroy jacket. That jacket didn’t just bring a whole community together; it brought a whole nation together. It doesn’t hold stories just from Van-Far; it holds stories from schools across the country. The impact that FFA has on my family, my school and my community is tremendous. It’s brought us together and allowed us to experience memories and opportunities second to none. That FFA jacket more than belonged in that trophy case. 


We have the ability not only in FFA, but also in our careers to make something meaningful. We can bring communities together and achieve goals we had no clue that could exist. It’s up to you to make that impact. 


Will you be in that trophy case?

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Officer - Anna Milazzo
Nov 04 2020


Officer - Anna Milazzo

I lost my glasses a few months ago. I had just gone to the eye doctor, so I was bound and determined to find them.  I never did, so I bit the bullet and picked out a new pair. When they finally came in, I put them on and realized how much sharper everything was. Without my glasses, I have to stare at things endlessly before they come into focus. 


Focus. With the craziness of this last year — Covid-19, transitioning from high school to college, moving from the smallest town to urban living — I lost focus. My world was shaken up. My vision was blurry. Why was I doing this again? What is my purpose? I was focusing on all the things I couldn’t control and my forever-long to-do lists. I was spiraling about the smallest details. Not taking time to breathe and enjoy the moments.


Last week, I started to see through a different lens. It was National FFA Convention week, so I spent four days straight with my state officer team doing what I love. I was reminded of the joy surrounding me, and how much I want to surround others with that same joy. I need to focus on things I can control, and on all of the amazing things happening around me. 


Sometimes we need a reset, a wake up call. A reminder of why we care. A shift in focus. There will always be something negative, but there will also always be something to be grateful for. So, don’t be stubborn. Get your new glasses, and be willing to see through a new lens. Choose to focus on the good.

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Officer - Mackenzie Porter
Sep 14 2020

What If

Officer - Mackenzie Porter

“What if I don’t like it?” 


These were my exact thoughts four years ago when I started my freshman year of high school as the “new kid.” The summer before my freshman year, my family moved to the town of Archie, Missouri. I was super excited to move and have the opportunity to join FFA, but I was also nervous to leave my old life, just to hopefully like what Archie had to offer. 


As August rolled around, I started to dread the first day of school. What if I hated it? What if I wanted to move back? 


Finally, the first day of school arrived. I remember going to most of my classes, but I’ll never forget the moment when I walked into my Introduction to Agriculture class. I was greeted by my advisor, who instantly started pestering me with questions about my life and why I had moved to Archie. He asked me why I joined FFA and what I hoped to get out of our organization. He talked about different opportunities within the organization.


I was hesitant at first. I was too scared of not liking Archie, and I was too nervous to absorb everything that he was saying. I let my what-if thoughts get the best of me, and I wasn’t too sure how my time in the FFA would progress. Of course, I later realized that FFA made me feel at home, but it took me a while to realize that, and I hadn’t been getting the most out of my class. 


As you start this crazy school year, remember to always look on the bright side of things and be sure to get the most out of what you are doing. Whether this is your first year at a brand new school or you’ve been at the same school your entire life, I encourage you to give this year everything you have. Try something new, listen to your advisor, don’t be afraid to forget your what-if thoughts. When you do, great things are bound to happen. 

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Officer - Felicity Cantrell
Sep 14 2020

Winners Lose

Officer - Felicity Cantrell

Waitlisted. My voice broke as I uddered this word to my mom and grandma as we stood in the bathroom where I was reading my long awaited acceptance letter. I, Felicity Cantrell was now waitlisted from my dream college. I had fallen just short of something I had worked so hard to achieve. I lost. 


The news not only broke my heart because it was my dream, but it also hit home because I don’t like to lose. 


I have always been extremely competitive and was typically successful when it came to achieving my goals. Whether it was getting varsity cheer captain or being elected to serve in various positions throughout my career in FFA, I usually met my goal. 


There were obviously times when I wasn’t successful, but I always used that as fuel to motivate me to try harder the next time. This was different though; interviews were completed and the decision was final. I was not selected, and I was going to have to move on. The next couple of weeks were so hard; my confidence was shot. I referred to myself as a loser, and I was stuck in an awful rut. Then my ag teacher reminded me of a dream I had led myself to believe was unobtainable, being a Missouri State FFA Officer. 


I had always dreamed of being a state officer; motivating students is my passion. However, I let my loss make me feel like I couldn’t. This one set back that was totally unrelated made me feel as if I wasn’t good enough. 


FFA members, we all have setbacks, and that’s okay. We aren’t always going to be the winner and that is the simple truth we must accept. We will all fall from time to time, but we have to get back up and keep trying. It is in this process we find growth in ourselves. 


Our losses are what make our wins so special. If we don’t ever lose, we won’t know how truly special it is to win. 

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Officer - Ricanna Spargo
Sep 09 2020

River of Obstacles

Officer - Ricanna Spargo

Birthdays around the Spargo house are always a celebration. My best friend and I have close birthdays, so we’ve established the tradition of going on float trips with our dads. For the past several years, our quartet has packed up and made the drive to Current River to float downstream.


This year was no different. The morning of July 31 st, I woke up to a sky full of clouds and a radar that called for an afternoon full of rain. Being stubborn, I insisted that the show must go on, despite the grim weather predictions. After the customary lunch of ribs and Texas toast, we gathered our tubes and piled into a van that would take us to our drop off point. We eventually realized the weather report was wrong. Although the UV was high and the current was strong, we were having the time of our lives.


But even on a good day, rivers will always present obstacles. Boats, other floaters, snakes, cows, rocks, fallen trees, debris, you name it and it can be found in the water. This year our quartet was faced with a unique set of challenges. We had a very strong current after a storm, and it was one of the busiest weekends of the summer. As we floated, the dads’ searched the area for any obstacles that could interject themselves into our path. On the busiest bend in the river, there was a fallen tree. With boats flying by, we struggled to move out of the way of the tree. Three of us managed to get out of the way, but my dad was moving on course to hit the tree. In one swift move, he flipped around and pushed off the tree, propelling himself in front of us. What was once an obstacle became a catapult to launch ahead.


Everyday there is a new obstacle in our path. As leaders in agriculture it is important we look at challenges from every angle. Instead of panicking over what we cannot do, let’s focus on what we can do instead. Michael Jordan is quoted saying, “Obstacles don’t have to stop you. If you run into a wall, don’t turn around and give up. Figure out how to climb it, go through it, or work around it.” Will you crash into the tree or will you flip around and push off the tree? The choice is yours.

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Shaken Faith

Officer - Madison Moll

Faith. To me, faith is believing in things that are not always visible. Today when we look around it’s easy to believe what we see. What we see is hate, arguing and a lack of humanity. When we see these things, we can’t deny the fact that they are there, but we have to ask ourselves about all the good that we can’t see.


Toward the end of July, our state officer team joined our peers from across the nation online for the Virtual State Officer Summit. In four days, we were able to connect with and develop friendships with other state officers from all across the United States. 


On the third day of my small group, we had an especially impactful conversation. We discussed the idea of looking past stereotypes and preconceived notions of those we meet and really getting to know people for who they are. We talked about how the majority of the time we decide to make our judgments of others based on what we don’t have in common rather than everything we do have in common. It is human nature to look at those around us and come up with judgments and assumptions, but we decide what to do with those judgments. Are we going to use them to assume we know all we need to about the other person, or will we disregard them and decide to actually get to know the person? You see, any time we meet someone we perceive as different than ourselves we have that choice. We have the chance to not succumb to our judgments, assumptions or stereotypes and find a way to connect with that person. Imagine if all those arguing in the world found just one thing they have in common. Maybe the picture in front of us would look a little bit different right now.


At some point in your lives, your faith will be shaken — whether that is the faith we have in ourselves, in the good Lord, or in our fellow human beings. What matters is that we don’t just look at what is put in front of us. I was lucky enough to be shown directly in my small group just how many people still believe finding commonalities is more important than finding differences. I was shown that even with all the arguing and disagreements going on today, there are still so many who see that that is not the way to go. They reminded me that no matter how much hate we are shown in the world, there will always be more good. These days we need just that. We need to show people just how much good we have in our world. We need to always find things we have in common with those we meet while paying no mind to the differences. I challenge you to do these things not just throughout the year, but throughout your lives, and to always keep your faith even when it becomes shaken.

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Days of Defeat

Officer - Jenna Perry

It was Feb. 4, 2019. I was exhausted and excited after a long night of watching one of my favorite sows have her litter of piglets. This litter, like many others, came with so much excitement for the upcoming months and seeing if the breeding selections and hard work had paid off. That spring, one of the Duroc gilts was quick to catch my family’s eye, and we knew she would turn out to be something special. 

Fast-forward to the FFA show at the Missouri State Fair. It was the day so highly anticipated in the previous months. It was time for my gilt’s class. I was faced with having to take my eighth-place ribbon and exit the ring. Defeated. This pig that I had poured so many hours of time and energy into, had placed at the bottom of her class. 


The next day was the open show. Though we had previously decided not to enter her into this show, my brother was angry and looking for anything to prove this gilt was better than what the previous judge had said. He decided we were giving her a second chance and entering into that day’s show. I was frustrated and beaten down. I told him that he could drive the gilt; I wanted nothing to do with her. 


After much convincing, the next morning rolled around, and I was the one driving the gilt that had let me down the day before. I was pessimistic when the judge began penning the pigs from bottom to top. One by one, the other competitors in the ring took their places until it was just me and one other showman left. My heart was racing as he started his set of reasons and put my feisty gilt at the top of that class. After the defeat of the previous day, I got to take my gilt to the championship drive. 


We went home with something so much better than the dark purple, champion ribbon: the light purple, reserve champion ribbon and a lesson in the form of an eighth-place ribbon that I will never forget. I will always cherish that eighth-place ribbon more than the reserve champion one. It showed me how to get back up. Do not let your past failures hinder your future success. We all fall short of our goals from time to time. It is in the times when failure comes and makes you feel defeated that success is appreciated to its full capacity.  

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