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Don’t Be Too Quick to Shut the Gate

Mariah Fox, casual

Mariah Fox, 1st VP

At seven years old, I spent my summers traveling the state with my market show hogs. My hogs were my best friends, and I had a specific routine with them every single day. This routine included washing, walking and feeding them twice every day. Morning and night, my dad would come to the barn with me to complete the routine and make sure it was completed correctly.

 

One morning, I pleaded with my dad to let me take care of the pigs by myself. He was hesitant to this idea, but in the end, allowed me to. I ran up to the barn that morning and did the chores. Later that day, after the chores were done, I was with my grandma. As I was helping her bake in the kitchen, I heard the phone ring and it was my dad. He asked me about that morning, and explained that I had forgotten one vital piece of the morning routine: I had failed to shut the gate! I was so embarrassed I had forgotten the most important part.

 

Sometimes, we are quick to shut our gate to opportunities and stand behind the fence scared or worried we won’t succeed. However, succeeding and failing are both a part of growing. To succeed, we must open our gate to the amazing opportunities FFA offers in making lasting memories with your friends in the FFA.

 

 

 

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The Salt Shaker

Elise Bailey, casual

Elise Bailey, VP

The second week of September I had the opportunity to witness more than 400 members from the Area V FFA Association pack their “toolboxes” full of leadership skills to use throughout the upcoming year. Their eagerness to come and learn new things through workshops facilitated by their area officers sparked some enthusiasm in my own mind to learn new things and grow as an individual.

 

Thinking about packing their toolboxes reminds me of a time at my grandma’s house when I was younger. I took the task upon myself to fill the salt shaker. Standing over the sink with the shaker in one hand and the can of salt in the other, I began to pour the salt into the bottom of the shaker. My grandma walked in the kitchen and began laughing as the salt poured out the top of the shaker as I filled it up.

 

This silly image reminds us that it is important to contain the things that are being poured into us in order to fulfill our purpose. Whether at the Area Leadership Conference, sitting in the classroom, or practicing on the ballfield after school, we have so much “salt” to encompass in ourselves. I encourage you to find the ambition to learn new things and embody the salt that those around you are pouring into you on a daily basis.

 

 

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One More Mile

 

Mariah Fox, casual

Mariah Fox, 1st VP

“Come on Fox, one more lap and you’re done!” The word done pounded in my head. My body was aching as I made the first turn of my final lap, I was ready to collapse. My exhaustion was coming from the most dreaded event for any 7th grader. That event was the Presidential Fitness Challenge. This annual event includes physical activities required to pass our P.E. class. The final activity of the challenge is the mile. All the events were easy, except the mile. In previous years, I stopped and gave up on the third lap. This time I was going to succeed and make Presidential. As I made my way around turn two on my final lap I was ready to give up the mile. I slowed to a walk, but then I heard a voice in the distance. It was my P.E. teacher yell, “You can do it”. As she said this, I looked up and saw others yelling the same thing. Their encouragement motivated me to finish the race. I finished the mile and made Presidential Fitness. I realized then that those around you want you to succeed. Your parents, fellow members, and especially your FFA advisors. They all want to make your time in the FFA successful and without any regrets. FFA members, I challenge you to go the extra mile in everything you do. Remember, there is always someone at the end to congratulate you on your success!

 

 

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Embrace

 

Justin Belew, casual

Justin Belew, VP

I vividly remember the day I drove by myself for the very first time. Most of us have either felt that feeling of freedom or we will soon discover it. The importance of this experience lies most in the type of vehicle I was driving. My first automobile was a 1996 Red Ford Ranger. I can promise you that not only did it have multiple shades of red and pink, but also there was not a single area of the entire truck that didn’t either have a ding, dent, scratch or was missing paint. That truck was at the very least, unique.

 

When I first drove that truck to school, I remember wondering what my peers would think. Would they make fun of the truck? Would they make fun of me? What I soon realized was that it didn’t matter what anyone said about the truck as long as it accomplished its purpose. As young adults we often question where we fit in the societal norm, but in reality being unique and playing to those strengths are what help us succeed.

 

We are all unique in our own ways, just like that red truck, and no one can deny the passions and qualities that define us. FFA members, face every challenge with the advantage of your exclusive skill set and be proud to embrace the weird quirks that make you human.

 

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To Infinity and Beyond

 

Rhiannen Schneider

Rhiannen Schneider, VP

Growing up, one of my most favorite things to do was to watch the movie Toy Story. I absolutely LOVED the characters, and I longed for the day that my toys would start talking to me. However, the admiration for this seemingly silly children’s movie did not dissipate as I grew older; it instead continued to grow as I did.

 

When I heard the news of Toy Story 4 being a possible release in 2017, I began to reflect upon what it was that made the Toy Story movies so great. As I re-watched the movies, I realized Buzz Lightyear’s signature phrase, “To infinity and beyond” was something that people of all ages could to relate to.

 

This year is full of incredible opportunities for Missouri FFA members. From career development events to Supervised Agricultural Experience Programs and speaking contests, the opportunities to help share agriculture’s story are endless. Regardless of what this year might hold for you, each one of us can live like Buzz — to infinity and beyond. Every one of us has the power to go to infinity and beyond in all our chapter activities, leadership events and contests. Although we might not always hit the bullseye, if we strive for greatness and improvement in all we do, we will be successful.

 

As you tackle your year, remember to go to infinity and beyond in everything you do. In the wise words of American basketball coach, Pat Riley, “Excellence is the gradual result of always striving to do better.” Be excellent this year.

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Celebrating Summer’s Activities

Abby Bertz

Abby Bertz, President

Our summer together has come to an end, but it was absolutely a blast while it lasted! We enjoyed a week of FFA Leadership Camp, AOI, HYMAX and HYPE. It could not have been more fun!

August was a month to remember for sure. I know that so many of you worked tirelessly with your fair exhibits all summer long to get them looking their best for the one, the only, the best time there is —THE MISSOURI STATE FAIR. Whether this preparation was catering to livestock, fertilizing your garden treats, restoring a prize tractor, or perfecting your ag mechanic projects, I know first-hand the time and effort that it took to get your projects to fair quality. So congratulations, fairgoers and friends!

At the fair, you might have heard of a super cool event that took place on Tuesday, the 15th — Food Insecurity Service Day. Approximately 400 of our absolutely awesome FFA members gathered together at the state fair to pack 50,000 meals for hungry tummies across rural Missouri. Way to embody the “living to serve” portion of the FFA motto, my friends! If you didn’t make it to the fair this year, I hope next year’s fair is calling your name.

This year’s Missouri State Fair brought FFA members countless opportunities and memories, and this school year will, too! This is a new school year full of exciting, unique things. Take advantage of each one. Trust me, you will not regret it.

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Time to Slow Down

Abby Turner

Abby Turner, VP

Spending time at the Missouri State Fair was the perfect way to wrap up a summer of service. From carnival rides to the rodeo, and from corndogs to livestock shows, the fair has something for everyone. This year, I had the opportunity to work with Dr. Forgey, a veterinarian who performs health checks on breeding sheep at check in. It appeared as though we had endless trailers to unload. To say the least, I was not excited for the daunting task ahead, however Dr. Forgey seemed as though he could not be more relaxed. He would chat with me while exhibitors were unloading their sheep and half way through the night he said, “Have you noticed how even the youngest kids help prepare the animals? That’s what is so special about the fair.” This comment caught my attention and instead of thinking about the endless trailers, I started to notice how Dr. Forgey went above and beyond to not only check the animals, but also help the exhibitors and their families in any way possible. His easy-going demeanor made the check-in process enjoyable. After spending the evening with Dr. Forgey I had a new appreciation for the hard work show families put into their animals, and how the fair brings everyone together.

As we move forward with this new school year, whether you are a freshman or a senior, I challenge you to take a piece of Dr. Forgey’s patient attitude. Often, I find myself getting too caught up in deadlines and moving onto the next challenge that I forget to take a breath and enjoy the journey. As classes begin and fall activities start packing our schedules, let’s not forget to slow down and appreciate the special moments that are happening all around us.

 

 

Many will get caught up in how the year is over and be sad that it has come to an end. I challenge you to instead be eager for the start of a new year.

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Reflection

Elise Bailey, VP

As this school year comes to an end, and chapter banquets, award ceremonies and graduations are underway, it is easy to have a mindset of reflection. Whether you are reflecting on your failures or successes, the people you have met along the way, or maybe your growth as an individual, keep in mind that even after the ups and downs, you’ve made it! Another year is in under your belt and now it is time to say, “What’s next?”

 

Many of these events mark the end of the year, but they also mark the beginning of a new year. It is important to reflect on the past, and likewise, look ahead to the upcoming year and all that is in store. Now is the time to set new ambitious goals, and make the plans to meet those goals. Tell yourself one thing you look forward to and more importantly, how you plan to make it the best experience possible. There is no better time to make your dreams become reality, and I have faith that you can make it possible.

 

Many will get caught up in how the year is over and be sad that it has come to an end. I challenge you to instead be eager for the start of a new year.

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Sparking Passion

Justin Beleu, VP

From the moment we are born, we are asked the question, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” Throughout our lives this phrase seems to haunt us, whether we know the answer or not and becomes increasingly more difficult the older we get. As FFA members this choice becomes more urgent as ‘the real world’ comes into sight. I know for myself I didn’t realize I wanted to continue in a production agriculture lifestyle until my senior year of high school when I began to work more alongside my dad on the family farm. It is a-ok to not know your complete life path from the get-go, but it also never hurts to try new things that may spark a new passion.

 

A good friend once told me, “Life is like driving down a country road at night, the headlights only shine so far.” As FFA members, we have endless opportunities within this organization to try something new. Whether that is presenting a speech for the first time, traveling to FFA camp during the summer or beginning an SAE, we all have the chance to create a spark that could make those headlights brighter. Branching out is a challenge in itself, but the result could help you discover what you want to do for the remainder of your life. FFA members, I challenge you to do something you have never done before, because you never know the passion it may spark.

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Strive For Success and Missouri FFA Will Rise

Chad Laxton

Chad Laxton, VP

Recently, members all across the state of Missouri came together for the 89th Annual Missouri FFA Convention. Thousands of dedicated Missouri FFA members gathered into one domain for many different reasons. Some may have attended to compete and further develop their skills, while others utilized their abilities to advocate for agriculture. No matter what their task at convention, each member demonstrated an act of hard work and dedication to get them to this event. It is obvious to anyone that in order to reach success, you must provide a consistent amount of practice and dedication.

 

State FFA Convention has been one of my favorite events throughout the past four years, simply because it is a time that members are rewarded for their success. As the days of this event progress, members have the opportunity to see the idea, “hard work results in success,” come to reality when hundreds of members walk across the iconic convention stage and receive recognition. This is an electrifying time for those being recognized and truly makes me proud to be serving the members of Missouri FFA in the upcoming year.

 

When the convention comes to a close and the final session is adjourned, members begin to feel relieved and overjoyed that all of the stress leading up to convention is finally over. Although, convention is over we must not forget the hard work we provided to get us to that point. I encourage everyone to never lose their passion and to always remember what this organization has to offer. We must continue to demonstrate the same commitment we put towards a successful convention to all other activities throughout the following year. If we all strive for success and implement hard work into our chapters, the upcoming year will be prosperous and Missouri FFA will rise!

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