Friday, November 6, 2015

Back where I come from; where I'll be when it's said and done.

Good morning!

This post is coming to you as I reflect on everything that has gone on in the past.  I recently brought my FFA jacket in to school.  As I was going through those treasures that I left in my pockets back in 2001, it made me think back at how fortunate I have been.  It also helped me to reflect on all of the wonderful memories that I now have...because of that good ole corduroy blue!  You see, I didn't come from a traditional farming family.  I grew up on a tract of land that was 1.5 acres....part of which my parents bought...and part of which was gifted to them from my dad's parents.  We grew up right down the hill from one set of grandparents, and the farm was a good size operation.  However, it's not what you see around here.  We didn't have any row crops.  I grew up in a time where my grandpa raised a few head of hogs...but mostly it was a cow/calf operation.  What wasn't being used to graze on, was used for hay production.  At the time that I grew up, my grandpa wouldn't allow my dad to help too much with the farm giving the reason that he needed to be at home with the family.  While I appreciate everything that my family has, and continues to give me, I realize that I missed out on some special family times that people have while being raised on a farm.  I will never say that I wasn't raised to not work hard.  There were plenty of times where we had to do a lot of wood hauling, splitting, and stacking to prepare for the cold winter months.  My parents taught me to be the way that I am; a hard worker, willing to help others, and always to just be able to listen.  They also taught me to do what I know is right...even if others think that it may be wrong.

As a young FFA member, I was hesitant to really get involved.  However, I was also one of two girls in a class full of boys....and I felt like I had something to prove: Girls can be a part of agriculture.

I was fortunate enough to get the opportunity to build leadership skills through the FFA organization.  In Missouri, we have a summer leadership camp that is held at Lake of the Ozarks State Park.  What better time could you ask for...a week at the lake, with about 120 other FFA members.  The friendships and memories that are built are incredible.

What's more incredible are the memories that one jacket can hold.  On the jacket itself, I have numerous pins from awards, leadership positions, and degrees that I was able to achieve through the help of hard-work, a loving family, and an awesome Ag Advisor.  Inside the jacket pockets are memories that will never tags from a convention I attended when I received my American Degree, business cards from State officers that touched my life, pennies picked up along the way, and funeral programs from a fellow member that passed away in a car accident.  All of these are memories...and they are mine!

My hope, as an FFA advisor, is to give my students' jackets memories that will be treasured for the rest of their lives...whether by the pins that are earned, or the trips that are made.

The last few weeks have been busy for us...making memories.

On October 20, we were fortunate enough to take Addie Swartzendruber and her mom out to Scottsbluff, NE for State Land Judging.

This was the view of the judging site.

Because it was just Addie that qualified, she was in the group of Advisors and Individuals.  Addie did well enough at state to receive a pink ribbon.  I did well enough to get bragging rights over the state, as I placed 5th out of 22 other Advisors that chose to compete.
And, because out site was so close to the Wyoming border (6 miles) we decided to make a trip to the state sign.  Never fear, we also took a picture at the Nebraska sign too!  

While in Scottsbluff, we took a little bit of time to witness what the pioneers got to see.  We traveled up the Scotts Bluff National monument to see the sights.  Alas, no rattlesnakes were spotted!  It's said that at one point in time, the prairie was as high as the bluffs.  However, with erosion and glaciers, the sandstone was weathered aways to leave these massive bluffs.  These bluffs were a welcome to travelers as they were nearly done with the tough prairie travel and halfway done with their journey to the west.

On October 27, I departed with seven students towards Louisville, KY.  This is the last year that National Convention will be held in Louisville for a while.  Next year, convention will move back to Indianapolis, IN (though it would be nicer if we could get them to move the convention back to Kansas City!!).

We arrived in Louisville on Wednesday in time to tour the Louisville Slugger Museum.  The kids got to see how the bats used for the MLB are made.  This was an exciting they were making commemorative bats for the NY Mets in case they won the World Series.  I don't mind saying that I'm glad that those bats weren't needed!!!

On Thursday of Convention we always go to opening session.  While there, the members got to listen to Dr. Rick Rigsby.  He did an amazing job of talking about listening to your teachers and your mama's and daddy's.  He reminded us that our "servant towel" should be bigger than our ego.

After the session was over, students were given a scavenger hunt to use to walk around the career show.  The scavenger hunt tasked them to visit a booth from every sector of agriculture: natural resources, plant science, animal science, ag mechanics, environment, etc.  Students were also expected to go to at least one workshop to build upon their knowledge of leadership, scholarships available, and possible job opportunities.
 The group of Heartland members that attended the 2015 National Convention.
 One of the exhibitors at the Career Show!  Yes, if you are wondering...those are penguins!

On Friday of National Convention, we were able to tour two very different farms.  The first farm was a sheep/csa/mushroom farm.  The CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) was set up to sell garden produce baskets to 30 community people that do not have the ability/time to produce their own garden crops.  The couple that had the CSA also raised sheep for their meat, and mushrooms for local restaurants....when they weren't eating them for themselves.  
This is one of the sweet potatoes that she had left over from her garden.

After touring this farm, we went to another "naturalist" farm.  The lady that headed this farm also participated in a CSA, supplying her consumers with garlic, onion, and corn.  She is more about bringing the land back to it's natural environment.
This is the group standing outside of one of her multiple gardens.  In this garden she produced popcorn and native corns.

Though this lady was vastly different than what we were used to, she had some yummy handouts for us: chocolate chip scones and hand-ground corn bread.

After lunch, we toured Churchill Downs.  Since the Breeders' Cup was getting ready to happen, there were no horses at the track during this time.  However, we did get to learn quite a bit of the history of Churchill Downs and tour the museum.

 Here Vanessa and Olivia are posed with the historic twin spires behind them.  The Twin Spires are the oldest part of the stadium at Churchill Downs.  If you watch the movie "Secretariat" you would get to see several parts of the Downs that we were not able to see due to paid patrons coming to watch the Breeders Cup.

On Saturday, we attending the American Degree Ceremony and then headed back to Nebraska!  We returned home at 1:30 on Sunday morning!

In Ag classes, we have been working on putting together an Ag Demonstration, learning the FFA creed, learning the basics of ARC and MIG welding, and the importance of nutrients for plants.
This is what the room looked like as the freshmen were reviewing the 4th paragraph of the FFA creed.

Next week, the freshmen and officers have the opportunity to attend a leadership workshop (EDGE conference) in Central City.  All members have the opportunity to attend a Pathways to Careers workshop on Friday evening and Saturday day.  Hopefully they will learn a little more about future career opportunities as well as making new friends.

For now, I feel like I'm doing a fairly good job of creating memories and opportunities for the kids.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

October far!

Well, for most of the area, we're mid-harvest.  For the FFA chapter, we're mid activities during the month of October.

Last week, we had District Land Judging.  It was held in Hamilton County this year.  Who would have guessed that they put us along the Platte River banks?  Let me tell you, for the type of soil that we worked with that day (October 7) we sure didn't do too bad.  In fact, I am extremely happy with how the kiddos did!  If I would have put the kids on different teams....we could have easily received third place...possibly even 2nd.

Just a reminder, and for those who are unfamiliar with land judging, we were looking at what the soil is capable of doing.  We have to forget what the land is currently being used for, and look at several factors to determine what it's best use would be...all while keeping soil conservation in mind.
 This is a picture of one of the four soil pits the kids use to judge.  Here they are looking at how thick the horizon layers.  They can also use some of this information to figure out how much erosion has taken place, and to help determine soil texture.
 The picture above and the picture below is of field information notes that are given to the students so that they can correctly treat the land.

 Again, another example of a pit that the kids had to judge.  They are not allowed to make marks or touch the area between the two pink ribbons.

 The kids are taking some time before the competition starts to relax.  There is a lot of walking and standing around during the competition, so this was actually a good time to take a group shot.  Unfortunately, the reason why they had this chance, is because a sheet that the students were supposed to be able to use was forgotten.  This put the competition behind by an hour and a half.
 Connor Peters is taking some time during the competition to fill out his score card.  Each hole is worth 100 points.  Making the competition worth 400 points total.
 Austin Stuhr is contemplating some choices that need to be made on his score card.
 Calvin Harper and Bryce Allen were placed in the same group during the competition.  The competition is an individual event, but they walk to each of the four pits as a group.
 Karah Joyner is trying to figure out how to calculate the slope of the land when there are 70 other students that she has to share the space with.
 Emily Goertzen in the gray shirt, and Olivia Casper in the orange shirt are taking their turn to ribbon the soil so they can put the correct soil texture on their card.  This is important because of 1) how to treat the land and 2) the water holding capacity of the soil.  Plants can only take up nutrients through the absorption of water.  If the water moves through too fast, as it would with sand, the plants don't get enough time to soak up the water before gravity moves it deeper into the soil profile.  Likewise, if the soil has more clay, the water won't move through it at all...and therefore drowns the roots.
 Trevor Friesen is trying to double check some of his answers before finally handing in one of his four score cards.
 Nate Rogers is observing other students in the pit before he takes his own turn in.  By observing, he is able to get somewhat of an idea of what the answers on his card should be.
 Connor Peters is taking his turn to feel and ribbon the soil.
Olivia Casper, in orange, and Emily Goertzen, in gray, are waiting their turn in the pit.

Out of 334 competitors, we had 8 place in the top 50.  Addie Swartzendruber placed 2nd (earning a chance to compete at state), Emily Goertzen placed 11, Matthew Buller placed 17, Cheyenne Hiebner placed 23, Trevor Friesen placed 24, Kyle Ott placed 31, Vanessa Hiebner placed 33, and Peyton Ott received 39.  At this time, we do not have any ribbon placings...but I'll get you updated when we receive them.

On Friday, October 9, members took some time from their day off to feed local farmers.  This event took place in Bradshaw, at Progressive Ag Inc.  This is the third year of the Heartland Chapter hosting the event.  I think that the kids enjoy it as much as the farmers appreciate it.
 Kyle Ott and Austin Stuhr are prepping the "to go" boxes with chips and a cookie.  The chips were donated by Progressive Ag Inc., water was donated by Fontanelle, and the cookies were donated by Central Valley Ag.  A special thank you goes out to these companies for helping support this cause...which in turn supports our farmers!
 Bailey Ulmer has found that they boys weren't quite ready for her to hand a cookie to their productivity line so she takes a moment to take a picture.
 Angelica Bassett waits to hand over a "to go" box to the next patron in line.
The Quirings took some time out of their busy harvest schedule to feed their workers.

Several members were also chosen to receive a free FFA jacket through various supporters that live throughout the state of Nebraska.  These supporters sponsored over 315 jackets.  Heartland was fortunate enough to receive 8 jackets.
Members receiving jackets (from Left to Right): Jade Hiebner, Katrina Hiebner, Olivia Casper, Brooklyn Epp, Ben Mestl, Peyton Ott, Noah Hiebner, and not pictured Shauna Spencer.

Lastly, Tuesday evening, October 13.  FFA members worked the David City volleyball concessions.  The money earned from concessions will help to pay for the chapter dues.
Peyton Ott, Ben Mestl, and Reid Huebert were just three of the 16 members that came to help work the concessions.

Members will also work during the conference volleyball games on Monday, October 19 and then December 15 during basketball concessions.

Money earned at concessions on Monday will go towards helping members pay for National Convention.  Money earned from concessions in December will go to finish helping pay for dues, and any other activities that we will hold throughout the year.

Looking towards the rest of the month, next week is State Land Judging out in Scottsbluff, NE.  Then 7 FFA members will attend National FFA Convention in Louisville, KY in two weeks - October 27-31.  Keep looking for some updates.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Welcome to the 2015-16 School Year

Wow has it been a while!  Crazy how time flies when you stay busy.  I think the officers will agree with me that we definitely have been busy...whether it's school and sports...or just life.

The first thing I wanted to make our followers aware of is the emblem change.  This actually happened last year, but we never really spread the word.
Can you spot the differences?

We started the summer with a bang at COLT conference.
Members met and worked with the new Nebraska State Officers.  They also had a chance to bond with National Western Region Vice President, Caleb Gustin.  During their time at COLT officers began to look at what activities we would try to do throughout the 2015-16 school year, as well as worked on building their own leadership skills.

The FFA chapter was fairly busy throughout the summer too!  During June we held our first, and I hope continues, Parent/Member meeting.  

This meeting was designed for incoming freshmen and their parents so that they could see what FFA was and learn a little about what is expected of them.  After the meeting, freshmen attending the meeting got together with older FFA members for a pool party at Henderson Aquatic Facility.

Members also participated in Community Days by hosting a 3-on-3 Basketball Tournament for going to be 3rd-going to be 8th graders.  They also had a float, and hosted a Pie Baking Contest.  After the contest, the pie was sold with the option of ice cream.  It was a great way to end the evening!

Members then hosted a concession stand at Bradshaw Days annual Tractor Pull.  It was a great afternoon, and we got to watch two of our members in the Pull.

Our members also showed various projects at the York County Fair.  
Krynn Arbuck (pictured here with her Charolais) showed cattle and sheep.  Trevor Friesen showed a few of his hogs.

 Trevor Friesen and Austin Stuhr did well on the crops that they showed.
 Nate Rogers and Austin Stuhr received Grand and Reserve on their ARC welding boards.
Austin Stuhr also did well with his flowering plants.

After the fair, we had our first FFA meeting in August.  The members had a lot of fun during the slip-n-slide.  Last year, we had the slip-n-slide on what might have been the coldest evening of the summer.  This year the weather was awesome!!!  Unfortunately, our camera was missing for a few it went home in a certain member's FFA jacket and she didn't figure it out until recently when she pulled her jacket out for a School Board meeting.

I bet you're wondering what the picture is above.  It's actually DNA.  The freshmen agriscience class began a discussion about biotechnology.  Due to this discussion, we extracted some DNA from both strawberries and carrots.  The bubbles in the picture is not of spit.  It's actually a cloud of DNA...and what you can see with your naked eye.

Several members helped make the static exhibits at the state fair possible.  Seniors attended the fair on Friday of Labor Day weekend to help set up the static exhibits, and get the exhibit area ready.  They also got a chance to see some of what the fair has to offer. 

After all of Heartland's exhibits were up, they helped man the booth for Nutrients for Life.  While working the booth, they had the chance to tell people of plants needs in the soil.

We also had a few members volunteer that time throughout the weekend to help with judging of the static exhibits as well as bringing the exhibits home.

Sophomore member Karah Joyner was one of those volunteers. She helped the crops judge write the placings on the entry tags, as well as brought grain samples to him so that he could look them over and place them with a purple, blue, red, or white.

FFA members attended Husker Harvest Days on Wednesday, September 16.  They were asked to wear orange shirts to help promote Abilene Machine.  Not only did the members receive free orange shirts, they also received a monetary donation from the company for promoting their business.  

Not only is Husker Harvest Days a good way to get the kids to see the vast network that agriculture is and the career opportunities that await, they also get in to the show for free by donating to the Heartland United Way food pantry.  To top that off, members were required to fill out a scavenger hunt that is hosted by UNL.  This scavenger hunt asks the members to find the various agriculture career pathways and have some sort of interaction with each pathway.  Possible pathways are: animal systems, plant systems, food systems, agriculture business, agriculture mechanics, and natural resources.  For completion of the scavenger hunt, members were awarded a free CASNR (College of Agriculture Science and Natural Resource) shirts.
 Sophomore members (L to R) Connor Boehr, Kyra Dick, Lane Huebert, and Taylor Quiring are waiting to be able to enter the exhibition grounds.
32 members attended Husker Harvest Days.  Here we are posing in our orange shirts at Abilene Machine for a picture.

 Recently, FFA members hosted the annual Farm Safety Day.  Members developed lessons to teach 4th-6th graders about safety.  The topics that were covered this year were: helmet safety, chemical safety, animal safety, and ATV safety.
 Here, Krynn Arbuck teaches 4th and 6th graders about Helmet safety and when you should wear a helmet.  After she talked with the students, she gave them the opportunity to work as a team to develop their own helmets.  The teams then dropped the eggs (in their helmets) off of the shop balcony (or paint area) to test how safe their helmets really were.
 Kyra Dick talks with 4th and 6th graders about chemical safety.  We borrowed a chemical look a like kit from 4 Corners Health in York.  Kyra held up two different substances to see if the kids could tell which jar was a chemical and which jar was safe for human consumption.  Kyra also taught them about a variety of animals (both wild a farm) and what we need to watch for when coming into contact with those animals.
Cheyenne Hiebner hosted an ATV jeopardy game about ATV safety.  Here 4th and 6th graders were split into two teams, where they competed to see who could gain the most points.

Currently, FFA members are studying for Land Judging.  District contest is next week, in Hamilton County.  They have learned about conservation practices and when to use them.  They have learned to ribbon the soil, how to calculate erosion, and also how to figure slope.  Since we are missing a lot of school lately, and I tend to loose track of time.  We decided to first learn slope by utilizing the crown on the football field.
 Here first year members, Freshmen Bryce Allen and Sophomore Noah Boyd try to find the slope for the crown of the field.
Here the freshmen class spreads out to calculate the slope from the goal post to the other side of the track.  

I'll have to post next week on how we do.  Hopefully it's well.  State Land Judging will be in Scottsbluff, NE.  I think it would be great to take some kids out west to see the scenery and so that they could see the difference in soil.

The classes have been going through a variety of stuff.

There are two students in Ag Leadership.  This class talks about what it takes to be a leader, different personality and learning styles, and what their personality and learning styles are as well as how they can work with others not like them.

There are 13 students in Ag Science.  We have talked about a general idea of agriculture, various career options, and some natural resource items...including soil conservation.

There are 9 students in welding.  They were all anxious to go out to the shop and weld.  So far, we have just worked on OA welding and will begin brazing fairly shortly.
We have 8 stations going at one time.  That means that if we have a day where all students are there, there is one student that observes another student, and then they switch.  Here I'm helping Noah Boyd steady his hand while tacking the it doesn't move as he runs a bead for the butt weld.

The ag projects class has 2 students.  Each student was asked to develop a scrap iron project.  One created a post pounder, the other is in the process of creating a stand for the metal sheer...since one of the wheels is no longer in working order.

There are 4 students in an independent study.  Two students are working on animal science information.  They will gain knowledge in cattle, swine, sheep, and then switch tasks to vet science.  The other two students developed the curriculum for farm safety, have been studying for land judging and the meats contest.  Once land judging is over, they will begin to prepare for job interview skills.

Happy Thursday!