Friday, May 30, 2014

Day Three of the 86th Kansas FFA Convention - Friday, May 30

FFA members filled McCain for the last day of the 86th Kansas FFA Convention. Several members anxiously awaited the results of the Triple Crown chapter, State Star winner and State Offices.

Fifth Session

Members were challenged to "Live Your Life" by Treasurer Cody Holiday as he gave his retiring address. After the presentation of the Kansas FFA Foundation Board of Trustees was recognized, Wes Davis, National FFA Vice President, shared some inspiring words with Kansas FFA.

The 239 State Degree Recipients were recognized on stage for their milestone accomplishment within the association. Will Owens of the Labette County FFA Chapter, won the John Deere Gator 625iXUV.

Emily Beneda, chairman of the Nominating Committee reported the 2014-2015 State Officer Slate. Each slated candidate was then given their turn to present their speech to the audience of FFA members and voting delegates.

Sixth Session

The State FFA Band and Chorus filled McCain with their sweet music and melodies during their encore performances. All members thanked the Kansas FFA Foundation Sponsors for their generosity before President Lindy Bilberry retired with her motivating address titled "Savor the Moment."

Chapman FFA received the coveted Triple Crown. The “Stars Over Kansas” pageant continued with the announcement of the 2014 State Stars.

All members were on the edge of their seats as President Lindy Bilberry read the names of the newly elected 2014-2015 Kansas FFA State Officers. The 2013-2014 Officers were officially retired and thanked one last time by the members of Kansas FFA for their dedication to the organization. After the installment of the new officers, President Taylor Green took the podium to present the closing remarks and adjourned the 86th Kansas FFA Convention.

Congratulations to all winners and officers during the convention. See you all next year!

2014 - 2015 Kansas State FFA Officers

After several months preparing, the 2014 - 2015 state officers have been selected. These six individuals were elected among 20 candidates running for a state officer position to represent more than 8,700 Kansas FFA members.

The officer team will travel across the state sharing their passion for agriculture, leadership and service. Kansas FFA officers present workshops and conferences across the state and challenge FFA members to serve their communities and the agriculture industry.

The 2014 - 2015 State FFA Officers are:
  • President: Taylor Green, Southeast of Saline
  • Vice President: Bethany Schifferdecker, Girard
  • Secretary: Jeff Hadachek, Republic County
  • Treasurer: Chantelle Simon, Hill City
  • Reporter: Kyle Apley, Blue Valley
  • Sentinel: Nick Meyer, Marion - Florence

Outstanding FFA members recognized in Stars Over Kansas Pageant

FFA members were awarded the state’s top honors of Kansas FFA Star Farmer, Star in Ag Placement, and Star in Agribusiness during Friday's final session of the 86th Kansas FFA Convention on the Kansas State University campus.

Each year, the Kansas FFA Association recognizes three FFA members who have the top Supervised Agricultural Experience (SAE) programs with the Star Farmer, Star in Agribusiness and Star in Agriculture Placement awards.

These awards were sponsored by ICM Inc., United Bank and Trust, Kansas Farm Bureau and the Pagent was sponsored by Farm Credit Associations of Kansas.

Star Farmer: Caleb Obermeyer, Marysville FFA
Star in Ag Placement: Tristan Davis, Central Heights FFA
Star in Agribusiness: Stone Hayden, Chapman FFA

Lindy Bilberry delivers State President's retiring address

Lindy Bilberry
2013-2014 President
Garden City FFA

Savor the Moment
One single moment. My life—almost 20 years to be exact—has consisted of over 614 million moments. Some happy—some sad. Some nervous—some mad. Around the world, 4 children are born every second.. and about 2 people die. It takes only a single second for a baseball that left a pitcher’s hand to get hit and fly back to him. In a single moment, a honeybee flaps its wings 200 times. A lot can happen in a moment. Moments… they matter. Are we making the most of our moments? Are we actively engaged in every moment…. Or are they just passing us by? Do we savor every moment? Savor the opportunities. Savor the memories. Choose to make every moment that you savor a good one.

I am a HUGE red dirt country music fan. One of my absolute favorite red dirt bands is Reckless Kelly. In April, Reckless Kelly had a concert in Manhattan and I begged around enough that two of my friends, Emily and Katy, said that they would go with me. On the night of the concert, I could barely stand my excitement. We were some of the first people there and landed ourselves in the front row. As the evening continued, I quickly became acquainted with a young man who was also standing near the front. He noticed that I was singing almost every word along to the songs, and concluded that I must be a pretty big fan. Boy, was he right! However, at one point during the concert he noticed that I was taking a lot of pictures and videos to text and Snapchat to all of my friends. He continually pestered me to put away my phone, so eventually I did. Once I put it into my pocket, he said, “You know, you’re obviously a big fan and are excited to be here. Why aren’t you taking the time to simply enjoy it?” He was right. I LOVE Reckless Kelly. I LOVE concerts. Going to this concert was an item that I could finally cross off of my bucket list. Why was I on my phone instead of enjoying it? At that concert, I only had about two hours—roughly 7200 moments— to take in as much as I could before it was over. I wasn’t taking full advantage of the opportunity that was in front of me, instead I was wasting it behind a cell phone.

In FFA, we get four, sometimes five years to savor the moments and opportunities that we have while wearing the blue jacket. In high school, we get four years. In life, we could get twenty… forty… sixty… eighty years. We never know, but the inevitable truth is that all of these things eventually come to an end. Are we spending so much time focused on one thing, like me on my phone at that concert, that we aren’t enjoying the things that are around us before they come to that end? Do we focus so much on the end result that we aren’t enjoying the moments that get us there? What’s holding us back from living in the moment—from taking advantage of opportunities? Each moment is what we make of it, so we should take advantage of every opportunity that we are presented with. Lots of these are opportunities that we may never be presented with again… so we had better make the best use of them while we can. Savor the moment by savoring the opportunities. My dad was active in his FFA chapter in Post, Texas and a few times I’ve asked him about his experiences. He’s always told me stories about the ugly green pants he wore with his OD, the time his district voted down letting girls in FFA (how did that one work for ya, dad?), and playing his guitar for members. Not once did he ever mention a plaque. Not once did he ever mention a medal. But a year or two ago, I was cleaning out a storage closet that we have in our barn and ran across some of my dad’s things from high school. In this dusty old box were medals, plaques, record books… looking in that box, it became clear to me that if there was an award or honor to be won, my dad had probably won it. Yet, when my dad told me about his FFA career, that’s not what he told me about. Reflecting back on that dusty box makes me think that I approached my time in this organization—and in high school in general—all wrong. If you looked up high school Lindy Bilberry in the dictionary you would find overachiever, public speaker, 4.0 GPA, distinguished senior, plaques, medals, accolades… the list goes on and on. My happiness hinged upon results. My FFA career was no different. As recently as a year ago, if you would have asked me about my favorite FFA experiences, my response would have sounded more like a resume than a story. I would have told you about winning a few state championships in public speaking and how cool it was to talk across the stage as a National CDE finalist. I would tell you about honored I was receiving plaques and metals from banquets and competitions and how it felt to ‘win’ the election of chapter and district president a couple of times.

For four years, my time in our Organization was defined by my success in the blue jacket. If I could go back and tell myself one thing, I would tell myself to focus a lot less on the competition and a lot more on the people and things going on around me. How many opportunities passed me by because I was so focused on doing well? I had it all wrong. My dad—he has it right. The medals and plaques… they ended up in a box in a closet. But the memories… those are what have lasted him a lifetime. It is so easy to get caught up in the competition—the thrill of the chase—the adrenaline of a win. But do we get so caught up in winning that we aren’t enjoying the things around us? Meeting new people? Making memories? Are we willing to keep going in that CDE, sport, class, activity, just because we love it—not because we have to win? Winning is great and all, but if we don’t win, it’s not the end of the world. In life, we’re not always going to get a plaque or a medal if we do great work, but what we can do is create memories along the way. I used to define my time in this jacket by the things I could hang on a wall or put on display… but this year—the year I didn’t win anything—has been my best FFA year yet because of the memories I’ve made and the relationships I’ve developed. Those, not my successes, are what I will tell my kids about my time in FFA. Savor the moments by savoring the memories, not the accolades. A year and a half ago, my neighbor, youth group leader, and most importantly my friend Charlie Drussel was involved in an accident in his shop that literally caught his body on fire. After spending over two months in a coma, Charlie woke up to find that he had lost two months of his life and two things that most of us find pretty important—his legs. Take a second to think about how that would make you feel. You wake up without a clue where you are, without a clue that you’re missing two legs, without a clue that two months of your life have passed by without you even knowing it. Your entire life has revolved around farming and racing and engines and mentoring young people… then all of the sudden, without a warning or a choice, that’s all been stripped away from you. If it was me, I would have been angry. I would have been furious at my situation and resentful of my life, been angry with God even. But Charlie—you’ll never catch him without a smile on his face, sharing his testimony with anybody who will listen. Charlie believes his life is a blessing and his joy… it’s contagious. How many times do we let our days be ruined by little things—not acing a test, someone cutting us off on the highway, dripping food on our favorite jeans, a friend talking about us behind our back, that cute boy or girl who doesn’t seem to notice us or ABCDXYZ the list goes on and on? If Charlie can keep a smile on his face while facing a seemingly nightmarish circumstance, what excuse do the rest of us have? Folks, I hate to tell you this, but life will not always be a cake-walk. We all face difficulties—big and small. The difference between Charlie and the majority of the rest of us? His attitude. Charlie understands that in life, we only get so many moments—and they are made worth living by making the conscious decision that those moments will be good ones, not bad ones. When we’re faced with what seems like a monster of a problem—whether it’s not acing a test, someone cutting us off on the highway, dripping food on our favorite jeans, a friend talking about us behind our back, that cute boy or girl who doesn’t seem to notice us or ABCDXYZ or even having our world flipped completely upside down like Charlie did—let’s be ready to battle them. When it seems like it’s not going to get better, let’s smile and fight through it. How much better would our world be if we all chose to have good moments as opposed to bad ones? Savor the moments by choosing to make them good ones.

Over the past year, I’ve had the opportunity to savor some incredible moments with FFA members from across our state. I can’t thank you enough for letting me be a part of some of the moments in your lives. When I think about what makes this Organization—this blue jacket—so special it’s the moments that we get to savor while we wear our National Blue corduroy. From the time we zip up our jacket for the first time until the moment we hang it up for the last time we spend some of the most pivotal moments of our lives in them—we laugh in these jackets, we cry in these jackets. Our members serve communities, step up as leaders, and make a difference in these blue jackets. We win—we lose—we work hard—we grow up—we find ourselves all while wearing the blue jacket. In these jackets we are a family… in these jackets we stand together for a common cause—it’s in these jackets that we ‘believe in the future of agriculture’ and ‘practice brotherhood and honor agricultural opportunities and responsibilities’ in these blue jackets we ‘develop those qualities of leadership which an FFA member should possess.’ We learn to ‘be courteous to everyone, just in our dealings, and above all, honest and fair in the game of life’ all while wearing the blue jacket. In these jackets, we get to savor some of the best memories and moments that we will ever know. Wearing this jacket gave me moments that changed my life—and I hope that the same is true for you. How can you make the most of your moments? Savor the opportunities—savor the memories whether you win or not—choose to make every single moment you can savor a good one. For 157 million of my approximately 614 million moments on this planet, I’ve gotten the chance to be a member of this blue jacketed family. These are the moments that I will savor for the rest of my life. Kansas FFA, savor the moment!

State Degree Winners

The State Degree is the highest honor the Kansas FFA Association can bestow upon its members. In order to achieve this award, members must meet the following requirements: have received their Chapter FFA Degree, been an FFA member and agricultural education student for at least two years, earned at least $2,000 or worked 600 hours in their Supervised Agricultural Experience program, have given a six minute speech about agriculture or FFA, participated in eight different leadership activities, received a “C” average or better in high school and shown a record of outstanding leadership and community involvement.

2013 - 2014 Kansas FFA State Officer team complete year of service

The 2013 - 2014 Kansas FFA State Officer team completed their year of service today with the conclusion of the 86th Kansas FFA Convention on the Kansas State University campus. The team presented workshops and speeches challenging high school students to serve their community in the spirit of this year’s convention theme, “Ignite.”

Outgoing officers include President Lindy Billberry, Garden City FFA; Vice President Carrie Carlson, Centre FFA; Secretary Chance Hunley, Riverton FFA; Treasurer Cody Holliday, Jackson Heights; Reporter Daryl Simmons, Minneapolis; and Sentinel Elizabeth Allen, Holton FFA.

After being elected in May 2013, the team spent the past year traveling across the state sharing their passion for leadership, service and agriculture.

All six will be students at Kansas State University in the fall. Bilberry will be a sophomore majoring in Agricultural Business, Carlson will be a sophomore majoring in Bakery Science, Hunley will be a sophomore majoring in Agricultural Communications, Holliday will be a sophomore majoring in Agricultural Education, Simmons will be a junior majoring Agricultural Business and Allen will be a sophomore double majoring in Agricultural Economics and Animal Science.

Day Two of the 86th Kansas FFA Convention - Thursday, May 29

Day two of the 86th Kansas FFA Convention comes to an end after three exciting jam-packed sessions of recognizing the successes of chapters and individuals in the past year and listening to the powerful messages of keynote speakers, Shalee Lehning and Curtis Childers.

Second Session
Enthusiastic FFA members flooded McCain Auditorium with blue and gold for the second session in which the 2014-2015 State Officer Candidates were announced. Several chapters were recognized with awards from Kansas Farm Bureau and Farm Credit for their positive impacts on their respective communities. All were attentive as 2013-2014 State Reporter, Daryl Simmons, gave his retiring address, “Rock Your World.”

The 2013 American Degree recipients were celebrated for their accomplishments. The top 10 individuals and top 5 chapters in the Leadership Information Test and KAAE Essay award winners were also announced

Several FFA Members walked across the stage as State Proficiency Award Winners from Landscape Management to Swine Production. 

After the session was adjourned, the Agriscience Fair Conference judging took place in McCain Auditorium, the Extemporaneous and Prepared Speaking Finals were held in the K-State Alumni Center and Proficiency winners enjoyed their award luncheon. 

Third Session
Session three hit a high note for FFA members as they listened to the compositions of the FFA State Chorus. State Proficiency winners continued to parade the stage, accepting their awards for their hard work. Next, retiring State Vice President, Carrie Carlson, presented her address, “Why Me," to the members.  

Scrapbook winners were revealed along with Job Interview winners. Scrapbook winners were Cherryvale, Centre, Girard, Great Bend, Mission Valley, Marysville. In addition, advisors of state officers were recognized. Shalee Lehning, former Kansas State Wildcats basketball and WNBA player, empowered the audience with her captivating motivational speech. 

Several scholarships were awarded to outstanding FFA members by corporations such as Washington Leadership Conference, Orscheln, Ford and National FFA.

After closing ceremonies, members made their way to meet the State Officer candidates and enjoy an ice cream social.

Fourth Session
FFA members filled McCain one last time for the final Thursday session and were welcomed by “Voices," the retiring address of Chance Hunley. 

Honorary FFA Degrees were awarded to those selfless folks who have made a powerful impact on Kansas FFA and its members. The current state officers recognized all the hard work their parents have done to get them this far. The Extemporaneous and prepared speaking finalists took the stage to find out their final placings. Extemporaneous speaking winner is Jamie Wall and prepared public speaking winner is Bethany Schifferdecker.

To wrap up the evening, keynote speaker, Curtis Childers, a former Texas FFA President and National FFA President moved students with his inspiring story about the choices you make.

Convention continues tomorrow with recognition of the state FFA degree recipients, Triple Crown winner and the new state officer team will be announced.

Chapters honored for National Chapter Award - Chapter Development

The National Chapter Awards for Chapter Development, Sponsored by SouthWestern Association-Western Farm Show, Gold Division are as follows:
  • Arkansas City
  • Buhler
  • Chapman
  • Clay Center
  • Ellsworth
  • Girard
  • Goessel
  • Hays
  • Hill City
  • Holton
  • Jayhawk Linn
  • Louisburg
  • Marysville
  • Mission Valley
  • Riverton
  • Southwestern Heights

Kansas FFA Association thanks 2014 sponsors

All the events FFA members participate in and the entire Kansas FFA State Convention would not be possible without the support of all of our generous sponsors. We want to thank them for their investment in the youth and the future of agriculture. Please help us show our support of these vital partners.

2014 - 2015 State Officer Slate

Emily Beneda, immediate past State FFA President and member of the Nominating Commitee announced the slate for 2014-2015 State Officers during the fifth session of the 86th Kansas FFA Convention.

The slate is as follows:

For the Office of Sentinel:
Beth Augustine, Ellis
Nick Meyer, Marion-Florence

For the Office of Reporter:
Kyle Apley, Blue Valley
David Luebcke, Marysville

For the Office of Treasurer:
Chantelle Simon, Hill City
Makenzie Deines, Centre

For the Office of Secretary:
Jeff Hadachek, Republic County
Baylee Siemens, Buhler

For the Office of President:
Taylor Green, Southeast of Saline
Bethany Schifferdecker, Girard

Delegates will cast their ballots and the winners will be announced this afternoon during the final session.

Labette County FFA Member Wins John Deere Gator

Will Owens of the Labette County FFA Chapter won a drawing for a John Deere Gator 625iXUV during the 86th Kansas FFA Convention on Friday, May 30.

Owen’s name was drawn from 10 finalists, which were randomly selected from a pool of members who completed one of the following requirements for entry: submitted an application for the American or State FFA Degree, participated in the agriscience fair, received an agri-entrepreneurship award, or were honored as a proficiency award winner or District Star winner.

Owen was eligible for the drawing because he received his State FFA Degree. His advisors are Dustin Wiley, Jeff Falkenstien and Kyle Zwalhen. Owen’s Supervised Agricultural Experience (SAE) program is in agricultural communications, which involves working for Farm Bureau in Lamont. He is responsible for creating games and presentations for 500 fourth grade students in conjunction with Earth Day. Owen also participates in the extemporaneous public speaking, agricultural sales and agricultural communication Career Development Events (CDEs).

As an FFA member, Owen said he has enjoyed activities such as attending National FFA Convention and getting to know members from other states.

“FFA has provided many opportunities to develop as a person and will help with everything from scholarships for college to learning skills for applying for jobs,” Owen said.

The drawing is sponsored by Kansas John Deere Dealers and the John Deere Agriculture and Turf Division.

“With continued support from the John Deere Dealers in Kansas, we are able to recognize and reward the outstanding accomplishments of our members,” said Daryl Simmons, Kansas FFA Reporter.

CDE Winners to Represent Kansas at National Convention

Congratulations to the FFA members and chapters who here honored for their success in CDEs and other competitive events during the first two days of the 86th Kansas FFA Convention.
Winners were recognized on stage as follows:
  • Creed Public Speaking: Savana Hernandez, Arkansas City 
  • Ag Issues: Ellsworth FFA
  • Parliamentary Procedure: Holton FFA
  • Leadership Quiz Bowl: Hill City
  • Ritual Demonstration: Buhler FFA
  • Scrapbook Awards: Cherryvale FFA 
  • Job Interview: Christina Hoffman, Chapman FFA 
  • Extemporaneous Speaking: Jamie Wall, Winfield FFA
  • Prepared Public Speaking: Bethany Schifferdecker, Girard FFA
  • Agriscience: Winfield FFA
Congratulations, and good luck at National Convention!

Cody Holliday delivers State Treasurer's retiring address

Cody Holliday
2013-2014 Treasurer
Jackson Heights FFA

Live Your Life

“What is life?” It was “Philosophy Friday” and my FFA Advisor posed this question to my Agri-science Class. That day I found that we could answer this question in many ways. Life is a magazine. Life is a cereal. Life is a box of chocolates, you never know what you're going to get. Finally there was my advisor's favorite, the explanation that he gave us every year when he reminded us to make the most of everyday, “Life is a game, and it could be game over anytime.” Throughout this year, I came across an anonymous quote that takes this one step farther. This quote does a great job of defining what we often go through in life as well as in FFA and we'll be taking a closer look at it this morning; it goes like this, “Life is a game. Play it. Life is a challenge. Meet it. Life is an opportunity. Capture it.” “Life is a game. Play it.” Crack. The sound of the bat hitting the softball rings out, and Kade is running to first base. Seth moving like a tiger scoops the ball up and prepares to throw the softball to first base in order to catch his prey, but then he waits just half a second as the voice in the back of all of our minds screams out, “Wait! Are you really going to get out a six year old?”With that moments hesitation, Kade makes it safely to first base. A couple minutes before this Jeremy finally agreed to play a softball game, after Silas, who was eager for a competition had asked him for about the millionth time if we could play. The teams had been split up, and Seth and Brady did the whole who can put their hands on the top of the bat first deal in order to decide who would bat first. Brady had won with his usual determination while Seth just silently smiled, grabbed his glove, and took his place in the field. Jeremy, Jacey, Cody, Seth, Brady, Drew, Silas, Kade! That's right I have seven siblings, and last year about this time I stood on this stage and explained how living in a big family is very similar to living in a big FFA Family.

Now one phrase that I always heard growing up in a big family was, “Wow! There are almost enough kids in your family to have your own baseball team.” In a big family and in our FFA family we all have skills and talents that we can share with our team as we play this game of life. In my family Jeremy is the oldest and therefore our leader, Jacey is the sweet one, Seth is the quiet one, Brady is the determined one, Drew is the story-teller, Silas is the competitive one, Kade is the baby (and I suppose you always save the best for last), and I am the ornery one. Some of the most enjoyable times that we have as a family are when we are all together and playing our role within our “team.” As a big family and as an FFA Family this can be very true, we do have enough people to field our own baseball team. In fact I think that we often find ourselves on a team on the field that we call life, and as we continue on in life this will only continue to happen. We will be on a team of co-workers, family, or even FFA members. One thing that is important to remember as we are on this field of life though is that we all have skills and talents that help us to play our position. We might be in right field, left field, short stop, or the pitchers mound, but we all have special talents that we can share with our team in order to best play the game. It is important that we use our very unique skills to the best of our abilities. What would it look like if we had our right fielder trying to pitch from right field? What would it look like if we had our home-run hitter bat first instead of fourth? If this was our game-plan for this game of life, we would probably set a record for most walks in a game instead of the most strike outs, and we would probably only score one run when we hit a home run instead of hitting a grand-slam and scoring four runs. We play this same game of life as FFA members. What would it look like if everyone in our FFA chapters came up with brilliant ideas, but no one carried them out? What would it look like if, green hand members took the place of our FFA Advisors? (Yeah, you thought that the drive here was scary.) If this was our game-plan for this game of life we probably wouldn't be able to accomplish very much in our FFA chapters, and we might not make it back home alive.

Take a look at the chair number that you are sitting in. We all put on official dress and come to these sessions as FFA members, but simply put you are the only one who will be sitting in your chair during the 5th Session of the 86th Kansas FFA Convention. What skills do you have that can further not only your chapter, school, and community, but the Kansas FFA as well? What is a task that you have been good at since you were 5 years old? What is one of the most important lessons that you have learned this past year? How will you share those skills, talents, and lessons this next year? Kansas FFA, “Life is a game,” and we “Play it,” best when we choose to Live Your Life, by using the skills and talents we are given to help our team. As Oscar Wilde said, “Be yourself. Everyone else is already taken.” Kansas FFA, “Life is a game.” How will you “Play it?” We all have skills and talents that we have to offer that make us unique, but sometimes we have to overcome a challenge that is holding us back. “Life is a challenge. Meet it.” One of the biggest challenges I faced this past year was when my grandfather passed away. On September 25, 2013 at 3:35 pm I was in Hale Library on the third floor studying when I received a phone call informing me that my grandfather had passed away. (Two days after that I can remember sitting in the front row of my crop science class, just like I always did. I tried to take notes and focus just like I always did. I had a whole lot of other thoughts I my mind that day though. It felt like I was in the middle of a black hole, just being sucked down, while hoping that someone would come and rescue me.) I can remember sitting in class, and on the outside we put a smile on our face and pretend like everything is just fine, like everything is normal, but on the inside we know that's not true. At the time, I recorded many of the thoughts that were going through my mind as I dealt with the loss of my grandfather. “So many is so different being on the other side of things...I always told myself I wouldn't cry when this happened, but this is a man to cry for...I'm so sad...I will miss him, but at the same time I am joyous that he will be in a better more Parkinsons, dymentia, or memory loss...he knew Jesus and because of that he will be in a much better place...who knows he might even dance (Holliday Style)...that's another emotion...humor...we can laugh and smile at all of the good memories...and share in the bond and joviality of being together...part of it seems fake, a way to hide the pain, but part of that seems real after all that's who grandpa was...then there's a feeling of loss...I wanted him to see his great grandchildren...I wanted him to see engagements and marriages...and the world will miss this man who lived so simply, yet so vibrantly...then there is sorrow...for grandma...” There were so many, thoughts and emotions, that I was experiencing at this time, and it was tough in many ways to go back to school after this. However, as my family came together after this it was amazing to see all of the support that people provided us with. Whether it was a kind word or a great big bear hug that people shared with me, I realized that my grandpa had touched many people's lives. I also realized that he taught me many important lessons that I could pass on. While it is still different not having my grandpa around, I am thankful for the many lessons he taught me. I am also very thankful for all of the people who helped my family during this time.

We often have a large challenge like this before us, and it changes our life. When we get to the other side of our challenge we see things a little bit differently. It's my experience that most people at this time probably have at least one challenge that they are dealing with. Some might seem more major or more minor than others, but my experience leads me to believe that this is true. Before state officers are up here on stage, they get the opportunity to be out in the audience. I can remember being out there thinking, “Alright this speaker is funny, their motivational, but I'm just a normal kid. At this time I'm not diagnosed with cancer, and I haven't had to save the world, so when are they going to start addressing my challenges, when are they going to start addressing “normal” challenges that we may face. I realize that there are those of us in this room who have had to deal with a death, this past year, but I realize that there are probably those of us who haven't had to experience this up close yet. There might be people in this room who have had to deal or might have to deal with challenges that range from alcohol and drug use, to relationship issues, to how we handle our money, to dealing with a sprained ankle, or not being able to find a single Kleenex in the house when we really need one. Even if I didn't mention your challenge in this brief list believe me I understand, how you feel and I am talking to you. You might be going through the world's largest challenge ever, or you might being going through what seems like the world's smallest challenge ever. The magnitude of the challenge does matter though, what matters is how we meet our challenge. Sometimes when I am getting ready for a particularly hard task, I like to watch an “inspirational” video on YouTube. One of my favorite lines in my favorite video goes like this, “I have a saying that goes like this when life knocks you down try to land on your back because if you can look up, you can get up.” When life knocks us down, do we land on our backs or do we pull out a white flag and give up? Think of a challenge in your life right now. How are we meeting this challenge? How can we see this as an opportunity for growth and learning versus viewing it as an insurmountable obstacle in our life? Kansas FFA “Life is a Challenge,” and we “Meet it,” best when we choose to Live Your Life, by realizing that we can learn and grow from these challenges. Kansas FFA, “Life is a Challenge.” How will you “Meet it?” We all deal with challenges, but there are ways we can capitalize on challenges and other situations that arise. “Life is an opportunity. Capture it.” “Alright, I'm not going to call a timeout here, but I want you to tell the linemen to really gear down and push for this first down. I'm going to let you take responsibility and tell them that because that's what I call leadership. With that I ran back out to the huddle, relayed this message to my teammates, and we pushed forward on the next play and got a first down. As a middle school football player, and then later as an FFA member my advisor, Mr. Lierz was constantly urging me to step out, strive for premier leadership, and push me to be my best. “Life is an Opportunity. Capture it.” One way that I like to capture opportunities that life gives me is to surround myself with great people. By doing this I have learned some amazing lessons, and I have had some amazing experiences. By surrounding myself with people like Mr. Lierz, I have been able to capture many opportunities. One of these was when Mr. Lierz told me that he thought I should run for a district office. At first I thought he was crazy, but in many ways Mr. Lierz understood me better than I understood myself. He knew that I liked being involved and that if I was playing baseball I wanted to be on the pitcher's mound, if I was playing football I wanted to be the quarterback, and therefore as part of FFA, I loved having the opportunity to serve as a district officer.

There are many ways that we as FFA members can capture opportunities that arise before us. Personally when I think of capturing opportunities, I think of all of the fantastic people I have around me. I have the opportunity to learn from them. We get to celebrate the good times together, and we are there to support each other in the tough times. I love to be able to look back and see how reaching out to the different people in my life has helped me to grow throughout the years. There are many possible ways though for us to capture the opportunities that we are given. We can capture these opportunities by reaching out to the amazing people around us, stepping out of our comfort zones, serving others even if it is tough, or finding some other way to make the most of every moment that we have. “Life is an Opportunity. Capture it” How do you capture the opportunities life presents you with? Do you capture moments by surrounding yourself with people, like the African proverb goes, “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together?” Do you capture opportunities by setting goals and working towards them? Do you capture opportunities by stopping and enjoying the simple moments in life? Take a moment to consider how you capture the opportunities you are given. Kansas FFA “Life is an Opportunity,” and we “Capture it,” best when we choose to Live Your Life by making the most of the moments that we have here, which for me is asking someone to come along for the ride. Kansas FFA, “Life is an Opportunity.” How will you “Capture it?” On this “Philosophy Friday,” if you asked me, “What is life?” I would consider telling you that, life is a magazine. I would consider telling you that, life is a box of chocolates – you never know what you are going to get. I would be pretty sure that my advisor would tell you that, life is a game, and it could be game over anytime. However, on this “Philosophy Friday,” I would expand on that. I would tell you that, “Life is a game. Play it.” We all have talents, skills, and strengths that make us unique and allow us to bring something special to our FFA team. “Life is a challenge. Meet it.” Know that there will be challenges we face, but if we come through them we will be stronger. “Life is an opportunity. Capture it.” We can choose to make the most of every moment by taking actions like surrounding ourselves with people who are willing to help us through the good and bad times in life. What is life? “Life is a game. Play it. Life is a challenge. Meet it. Life is an opportunity. Capture it.” What is life? Life, is a noun, it just kind of sits there. Live on the other hand is a verb, like jump, run, and skip, it takes action to make it happen. Kansas FFA Live Your Life!!