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.