The Christmas Cow

Justin Belew, casual

Justin Below – VP

The holidays are for spending time with friends, family and for those in production agriculture — for continually caring for our livestock as colder weather seeps into the landscape. This colder weather means our livestock will normally stick closer to the feed and water supply that becomes increasingly more necessary as lower temperatures set in.


This is normally the case for my family’s small commercial beef cattle herd, but this year, one cow in particular decided to change things up. A mature and easy-going cow managed to find her way out of our pasture’s fence THREE times over Christmas Eve, Christmas day and the day after. It seemed that she was on a mission to discover every failure in the fence. At the time, it seemed extremely inconvenient to be fixing fence and dealing with a loose cow around Christmas. However, when looking back on the experience, I began to reevaluate the situation. Many times, whether in FFA or in life, we will encounter failures just like that cow found the failures in the fence. Instead of focusing on the negative effects, it is just as important to keep a positive attitude and look for the opportunity to grow.


Although it was stressful to safely re-secure the cow, we were able to fix the fence before a larger problem could have occurred. Without a doubt, we will make mistakes in our lives, but it is how we react and learn from our mistakes that allow us to improve. Remember, the next time a failure strikes us down, look on the up side, there might be more hidden benefits than we realize.


Read More

How To Win When You Lose

Rhiannen Schneider, casual

Rhiannen Schneider – VP

American industrialist Henry Ford once said, “Failure is the opportunity to begin again more intelligently.” This concept is one that surrounds us all as FFA members. From the early days crafting our Supervised Agricultural Experience programs to the late nights finishing our State FFA Degree applications, failure exists. Failure is prevalent, and quite frankly, it is often one of the hardest things we face as members of this organization. Although it can be hard to look failure in the eyes, a graceful comeback from a major setback can teach us some of the best lessons, even better than the ones we learn when we win. So, how in the world can we turn our greatest losses, biggest challenges and most triumphant failures into successes — into life lessons — and into our most joyful wins?
1. Take a deep breath. In the wise words of famous author C.S. Lewis, “There are far, far better things ahead than any we leave behind.” It is unexplainably hard to fall short of your own or others’ expectations. However, if you take a step back and put your life into perspective, there is always more to come.

  1. Make a list. What did you do? What was wrong with it? What would have made you successful, rather than a failure? How can you change your actions, moving forward? According to American economist, Leonard Schlesinger, “Failure doesn’t mean the game is over, it means try again with experience.” This is your opportunity to gather your thoughts in a reflective way and use them to craft a second attempt.
  2. Try, try again. Take another chance. Give it another go. Looking to the words of Maya Angelou, “you may encounter many defeats, but you must not be defeated.” Using the knowledge you gained in steps one and two, make another attempt. This is your chance to turn things around.
  3. Reflect some more. What went differently the second time around? How did you improve? What changes did you make, and how did these changes impact the outcome?
  4. Repeat! This cycle is not fool proof. Even with reflection, planning and action, there will continue to be failures, short-comings and disappointments. However ,with the right mindset, you will begin to use these failures to build successes, to learn from your mistakes and to turn these losses into wins.

As the future of agriculture, you will face hardships. This journey will not always be easy, and failure will always exist. However, if we use our failures to build successes, we will always be winners.


Read More

Connect to Vibrant Colors

Abby Turner, casual

Abby Turner – VP

Looking back on my first semester of college, one class period of Ag Ed Leadership weighs on my mind. Dr. Tummons had yet another great lesson for our class. He held up his daughter’s painting from elementary school. The painting featured a vast array of vivid colors. It was a woman with bright red hair, a blue top, a purple mountain behind her, and it featured a large yellow-orange sun peeking through the background.


Dr. Tummons told us he was going to recreate her painting and needed us to shout out the colors we saw. The class yelled out the colors blue, red, orange, yellow, green and purple. He poured some of each color onto a pallet and started with the red paint. However, instead of using the red paint on his brush to begin painting, he put it in the blue paint next to it. He continued to mix all the colors together until they made a dull light brown. He then casually began recreating the painting starting with the woman and finishing with the sun peaking out behind the mountains.


Then, Dr. Tummons turned, to what I can only assume to be a class full of confused faces, and asked which painting we thought was more beautiful. His daughter’s with the array of colors or his that was all dull brown. We answered obviously the one with all the beautiful colors. The paintings were a representation of life, and the colors represented people.


Life is beautiful and interesting because we are different and bring a unique color to the painting. If we were exactly like everyone else, our picture would be painted with the same color. All the shapes would remain, but the eye-catching appeal of an intricate and beautiful color scheme would be lost.


As the school year continues, stay connected to your own vibrant color. Do not be afraid to be yourself and strive to become the best version of you. As tempting as it might be to want to become like another person, the world really needs more you. Like Dr. Seuss said, “Today you are you! That is truer than true! There is no one alive who is you-er than you!” Let’s all use our individual colors so that together we will create a masterpiece!


FFA members, are you ready to rise to the challenge?


Read More

Looking Back and Moving Forward

Madelyn Warren, casual

Madelyn Warren – VP

“It’s the most wonderful time of the year…And hearts will be glowing when love ones are near…It’s the most wonderful time of the year!” This song is one of my absolute favorites. In my humble opinion, it perfectly describes the holiday season. My father used to tell me that there are two types of people in the world: those that love Christmas music and those that haven’t been introduced to the right Christmas music. I fall into the first category. I cannot get enough of the cheerful lyrics and happy notes that accompany them. I am also one of those people that you can catch humming Christmas songs under their breath all year around. After all, Christmas isn’t just a day, it’s a mindset!


Christmas is when we can sit around with our loved ones and look back at the year. We can see all of our accomplishments and look at them with pride, and this year there is plenty look back on! Missouri FFA has set a number of records, including having more members at the state convention than ever before, packaging more than 50,000 meals for Food Insecurity Day at the Missouri State Fair and having the most American Degree recipients at the 90th National FFA Convention and Expo!


Christmas is also a time when we can look at the coming year with a sense of hope and determination. There are endless possibilities for us as to look forward to. We might find ourselves working on a new contest team, attending a leadership conference for the first time, or adding a new portion to our SAE. Either way, these new experiences are both exciting and challenging ones. They will push us to break out of our comfort zones and grow as individuals. To learn new things and apply them to our lives, just as we are told to do in the FFA motto. However, it is not until we accept that the previous year has come to an end and embrace the new one before we can rise to the challenge of making 2018 even better than the year before!


FFA members, are you ready to rise to the challenge?


Read More

Back Up Plan

Mariah Fox, casual

Mariah Fox – VP

Growing up with a father as an agriculture educator, I was always exposed to the contests offered in FFA. In a sense, I was almost like an honorary member of each team. Every contest season, I was there to help dad with training his team. The knowledge and experience I received, while watching my dad prepare teams for competition made me eager to be part of my own contest team, when I became a FFA member.

My freshman year, I competed in the knowledge contest; my sophomore year, I was on the dairy cattle team. My junior year, I was a member of my favorite team, ag sales. Having achieved previous success increased my excitement for my senior year when I signed up for the meats team. However, as the list started to fill up for tryouts, I noticed seven others on the list. This meant we had to cut people for the final team.

For the next month, I studied meats like it was going out of style. I thought I was ready to claim my spot on the team, however, after taking the test I did not make the cut. Devastation was all I felt, and I didn’t know what team I would be on. After a talk with my advisor, I decided on job interview. This last-minute decision taught me so much.

In life, we always seem to have a plan of where we want to go and what we want to do. Sometimes our plans change, and we are left trying to figure out what is next. It’s always good to have a back up plan. You never know where life will take you, but with a plan you will feel more secure.


Read More

Deer Season

Ben Luebbering, casual

Ben Luebbering – VP

Deer season has arrived in Missouri! This time of year ranks among my favorites as the leaves turn to bright colors, and the hunter orange fills the woods of my hometown. With deer hunting season comes my hope of seeing the “30-pointer.” In fact, I have not shot a buck in seven years as I continue to hold out for that buck of a lifetime. Sitting in the deer stand for hours on end becomes tiring and very tempting to shoot one of the younger deer that passes through. In the end it is all worth it for me when the opportunity to harvest a mature whitetail arises. The quest for these elusive big bucks has taught me several valuable lessons. To be successful in the deer woods I must be patient, persistent and passionate. Patience is key to control the urge to leave the stand or shoot a smaller deer. I must be persistent by spending countless hours waiting for the perfect opportunity. Finally, passion is key because without a love for what you do it is easy to lose sight of the goal.
FFA members, I challenge you all to take these lessons from the deer woods and apply them to your goals within the FFA. Always be patient, persistent and passionate, and success will be right around the corner!


Read More

Be a Role Model

Aaron Mott, casual

Aaron Mott – VP

This time of year we all begin to ask ourselves some important questions. While you might wonder what classes you will take next year and how you can improve your math grade, other questions are also important.


Consider this one: “Who is my role model?” Think about who you consider to be your role model. Why do you see he or she that way? What traits do they possess, and can you possess traits like that? When I think about my role model, the traits that immediately come to mind are hardworking, trustworthy and future-minded. I admire these traits and will continue to work to develop them in myself.


Finding a role model and identifying traits you admire in someone is only the beginning. The real challenge is finding oneself. What are you good at? How can you improve your skills to positively impact your family, friends and community? While it is easy to focus on trying to be like others, each one of us is unique and can make a difference like no one else. We might possess some of the same traits as our role models, or we might have different strengths. I challenge you to ask yourself how you can make a bigger difference in the world around you.


Oh, and while you think about these questions, good luck in that math class!

Read More

The Auction Cry

Chance Wallace, casual

Chance Wallace – VP

I remember as plain as day the first time I heard that rhythmic auction chant. The way that the auctioneer blended a smooth song-like chant with the never-ending whirl of numbers was incredible to me. Standing in awe I thought to myself, “It’s do or die; I’ve got to learn that auction cry!”

I began developing my own auction chant three years ago when I was given a tape of world champion livestock auctioneers. As I listened intently to these professionals sing their auction chant, I began to feel more disheartened. How was I ever going to be able to talk that fast? It seemed to be an impossible dream, but I took a chance and pushed on. As I researched, I found that the best way to learn to chant was to go slow and try different methods to see what fit best. Because I thought I knew everything, it was hard for me to accept that I should change my chant. As time went on, I noticed that my chant was not only speeding up and sounding better, but that I was also using new and different words and expanding my abilities. I am now a licensed auctioneer and have been complemented time and time again for my chanting ability.

Looking back, I noticed a similarity between auctioneering and my FFA career. Both required me to branch out and expand myself before I could find success. During your time in FFA you will encounter opportunities to try new activities, meet new people and get out of your comfort zone. I encourage you to seize those experiences and enjoy the ride. At times it will be difficult and you will feel that bit of fear in the pit of your stomach, but that fear is only holding you back. Whether it be giving a speech for the first time or running for chapter office, you must release that fear and lunge head first into the unknown.

I took the chance and worked hard to change my chant. I took the chance to compete in creed speaking my freshmen year. I took the chance to run for a state office. You, too, can take a chance. Seize the opportunities!






Read More

Driving Lessons

Elizabeth Knipp, casual

Elizabeth Knipp, VP

When I was learning to drive, one of my favorite things to do was take my family’s farm truck out in the pasture to practice. One evening, as I was headed back to my house, I took a short cut through an area in the pasture where we fed our cows hay during the winter months. I began driving on top of what I assumed to be solid ground. Halfway through the shortcut, the truck started to sink into the ground. Not wanting to stop, I pushed my foot down on the gas pedal to go faster only to be stuck in the mud with my tires spinning. As I looked out the driver’s window, I noticed what I had presumed to be solid ground was in fact loose hay spread on the surface, covering the muddy ground below. My shortcut had caused a much larger problem. Every day, we encounter shortcuts that seem the easiest route for us to take. Though tempting, these shortcut actions inhibit us from being the best versions of ourselves and lead us to overlooking important details. I encourage each of us to full-heartily complete tasks, from committing to a contest team to giving a speech in class, with the best of our abilities we can gain the most from these experiences.






Read More

Grab Opportunities to Reach Success

Emily Blaue, casual

Emily Blaue, VP

I remember being in the third grade, dreading each day of school knowing that no matter how much I willed that day, or that school year to go by faster, it never failed to drag on and on. Now as a freshman in college, I can’t believe how fast the first half of the semester has gone. Not only have I finished some of my classes already, I’ve also done what I had once thought impossible: taken a college midterm.


For some of us, the school year or even just the year in general, seems to get slower and slower while we anxiously await the next holiday, shopping trip or FFA event While this might seem true, we often forget that time itself is a force to be reckoned with. The interesting thing about time is that it is something that can only be taken and used, rather than given back. How we use the time we have been given is up to us just like the opportunities that are presented to us through our FFA careers.


One of my favorite stories is that of the Greek God Caerus, who was the personification of opportunity, luck and favorable moments. Caerus was known to be mischievous and quick, yet easily caught by the hair hanging over the front of his face. But once he had passed by, if you missed his front hair, you could never again grasp him, the back of his head being bald. The moment of action is gone with his hair and an opportunity not fully taken advantage of cannot be recovered.


What a great representation of how we must approach opportunities! Within our FFA careers we will be faced with many opportunities. These chances for success range from contests to making networking to even learning experiences. We must grasp the front hair of the opportunity per say or we will miss it as it passes us. Rarely are we ever given another chance to take that same opportunity. While we might be wishing this year to go by faster and faster and wishing for that sweet feeling of freedom, we must remember to not let opportunities pass us while we are wishing them away. We must grab the opportunity as it approaches and embrace it with full confidence of reaching success.





Read More