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State Officer Blogs

Alexandra Klapoetke - Parliamentarian
Westfield FFA Chapter - Section 6
aklapoetke@wisconsinffa.org
Milwaukee Bucks
Apr. 13, 2014
This past Friday I ventured to my FIRST Milwaukee Bucks game with the Markesan FFA members. It was an incredible experience. Not only did the Milwaukee Bucks win, but I was able to hang out with passionate FFA members. No matter where you are, or what event you attend, you always hear the best stories and make the greatest memories on FFA trips. And that was no different here.

I listen to members talk about their passions and careers they one day want to pursue. Like Gavin and Brittany. Gavin lives on a farm, where he and his family are crop farmers. Brittany wants to one day become a nutritionist and help people. listening to these stories was truly warm-heartening. Building dreams, developing skills to accomplish goals, and making memories and friendships is what FFA is all about.

We all have dreams. Whether that be a auto mechanic, a farmer, business leader, animal caretaker, teacher, etc, our dreams and passions define us and help us grow. It is through the FFA and agricultural education that we can learn and harness those skills to be successful; to turn that dream into a reality. The FFA has so many avenues to offer, we just need to choose which one works best for us.

Memories are always made through FFA and friendships last a lifetime. From trips to career development events, conventions, and leadership conferences; the bus and car rides are always filled with smiles and laughter. Thank you to everyone at Markesan for a fantastic evening!

Your dreams are there, go get them!
Alex
CDE- Change. Develop. Explore
Mar. 31, 2014
March sure has been complete madness. From banquets, 212/EDGE, WPS Farm Show, Co-op Yes, and CDEs; March has certainly kept us on our toes. Recently I have ventured North to River Falls for the annual Ag. Tech Career Development Event Contest. This is was an incredible experience. I was able to talk and work with some amazing FFA members from both Minnesota and Wisconsin, as they tried out their knowledge and skill in various agricultural areas. To me it's always rewarding seeing bright young minded people exploring avenues they have a passion for, or maybe experiencing an area they tried for the first time.

This brings me back to my high school days when I was on the Floriculture CDE team. It was my senior year, and every year before I was only on the Dairy Products team, but that year I made a change. I have to be honest, I KNEW NOTHING about flowers except that they look pretty. But a group of us decided to try something new and let others do the dairy products event. This was the best decision I have ever made. Not only was I able to hang out with friends, but I learned so much information about flowers, floral arrangements, soil types, and functions of certain tools. The information I learned practicing for that event helped me as I went to college and took plant science classes and when I helped landscaping for a summer. Now every time I see a garden, I can point out the various plants.

Why did I share this story? Because this goes to prove that trying new things has so many benefits. Too many times, myself included, we only do what we like or know because its comfortable. There is a quote by Christopher Columbus that goes " You can never cross the ocean, until you have the courage to lose sight of the shore." And this brings up a valid point.

We all have a goal we want to accomplish, an ocean we want to cross. Yet we can never get there unless we are willing to try new things. Willing to lose sight of the shore. Maybe that's working at a job that you never expected, traveling somewhere new, or even something simple as participating in a career development event that you haven't tried before. The skills, lessons, and experiences will help us cross that ocean we face; to sail to the country of Success.

So what are your oceans? What are your goals? Whatever they be, remember to be willing to explore new routes. Even if it feels like the waves are too strong, or times maybe hard, always keep trying because you never know what may lay behind the horizon.

Your fellow explorer,
Alex

"Nothing ever becomes real until it is experienced." ~John Keats
CO-OP YES!
Mar. 19, 2014
This past Monday and Tuesday, I had the opportunity y to attend the Co-op Yes conference in Eau Claire. This conference focuses on the history, importance, and operation of cooperatives. But it also showcases why being a cooperative individual is importance for future successes.

Throughout this conference, FFA members from both Wisconsin and Minnesota, as well as other eager individuals, were able to attend various workshops, hear from guest speakers, and even witnessing a hypnotist show—where I was hypnotized.
One of the guest speakers, David Mann, truly hit home the message of cooperation and leadership to me. Not only was he engaging, but he also gave tips to how to better present yourself; whether that be speaking in front of people, job interviews, or even walking and meeting people. Mr. Mann gave three key messages that can help anyone grow and be a leader.

1. Adaptation.
2. Imagination
3. Communication

Being able to adapt is one of the most important things. Maybe that is adapting to an environment, or maybe it’s adapting ideas and concepts in order to accomplish a task. Being able to adapt, or to be flexible, allows for growth and success to happen.

Likewise, being able to use your imagination, is also crucial for success. Being able to come up with new, fresh ideas is necessary in order to continue the life of any organization. Too many times we think in one-dimensional ways; instead of using more of our ”right “ sided minds; which is shown to be linked with more creativity. Just because some ideas may seem “out there”, doesn't mean that they are not successful ideas. Every great technology we use today has come from weird idea that came “outside” the box. Remember, every idea is a great idea.

Lastly, is communication. We all have various ways of communicating. In today’s world, that seems mostly by texting. But did you know that most of our communication is in our body language? The way we walk, the tone of our voice, and emphasis of words can portray different messages. And an important part of being a lead, being in a cooperative, or anywhere you are; it is extremely important we communicate effectively to make sure that our ideas can be heard, but to also make sure we are all on the same page.
This conference was truly a great experience, and being able to work with other passionate individuals from Minnesota was the icing on the cake. If you were to ask me, ‘Is this conference worth going to?’ My answer would be “YES!”

"All successful people men and women are big dreamers. They imagine what their future could be, ideal in every respect, and then they work every day toward their distant vision, that goal or purpose.
~Brian Tracy

Alex
March MADNESS!
Mar. 11, 2014
March Madness is here! Now I don’t know how many of you fill out the March Madness Bracket, but I frankly do not. For three simple reasons: 1) I would choose the team with the prettiest uniforms, 2) I am not familiar with any if the teams stats and records, and 3) The outcome is simply too unpredictable and random; you never really know what to expect! But it is also with the last reason that I LOVE to watch the basketball games. Mainly for this simple lesson -- if you work hard, and if you work together; you never will know what can happen.

This lesson can really be applied to all of us for the rest of this upcoming FFA March Madness. March is filled to the brink with incredible opportunities for us to take advantage of; not to mention to show off our skills sets. In section 6, we started off right away with the Sectional Speaking Contest; with individuals from all over the section coming to Westfield to showcase their hard work, dedication, and knowledge. Although some may claim these contests “madness”, it truly was a great experience. I am so proud of everyone who took the time to face their fears and gave it their all. Congrats also to the ones moving on to State competitions:

Creed: Jared Mack, Sauk Prairie
Quiz Bowl: Sauk Prairie
Parliamentary Procedure: Baraboo
Discussion Meet: Emma Harvey, Portage
Job Interview: Rachel Leege, Sauk Prairie
Extemporaneous Speaking: Sally Albers, Sauk Prairie
Prepared Speaking: Adam Field, Reedsburg

March has 31 days of chaos, but March also has 31 days of great opportunities. From 212/EDGE Conference, Career Development Events, Banquets, Award applications, CO-OP Yes Conference, Oshkosh Farm Show, and so many more items that fill our schedule; “madness” does only seems fitting to call this moment in our lives. But before we know it, March will be over and April will be here. So remember, even with our crazy lives right now, to work hard; not only as an individual, but as team player. Because together we can create the history, the upset, and the moment that will always be remembered.

Have a Happy and Warm March!

“Opportunity is missed by most
people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.”
~ Thomas Edison

-Alex
FFA Week... #Success!
Feb. 24, 2014
This past week has truly been an experience for me. I have been so thankful to be able to celebrate FFA Week with all of you as well as sharing our story of agriculture.FFA Week was always my favorite event while in high school. I always enjoyed hosting Ag Olympics, dress up days, and even having little contests for students to partake in.

Throughout my travel, I was able to witness just that. FFA members celebrating and educating about agriculture. I started off the week on Monday with the Markesan FFA Chapter. Battling my way through mother nature, I made to the land of Markesan. While there, I worked with students about keeping an open mind and teamwork. By keeping an open mind, stepping away from our 'tunnel vision', we are opened to endless opportunities. We still have a half of year left to take advantage of what comes before us. Maybe that's conferences, career development events, and even county fairs. But we also have a half of year left to make a difference, to make that impact. And by working together, can we accomplish our goal and be successful.

I spent my Tuesday with Mauston FFA crew at their annual Pancake dinner. This was truly a life changing moment for me. Not only was I able to work with fun, cheery, hard working individuals; but I learned how to make pancakes! For those of you who don't know, I CANNOT make pancakes. They either turned out black or like scrambled eggs. But members took the time to teach me how to make them. Which goes to prove that no matter what, we can always learn something new; if we think we can't do it.

Wednesday I traveled to Lodi, where I worked the middle school FFA members. We worked with play dough and marshmallows & spaghetti; focusing on why communication and teamwork is important throughout FFA Week and for the rest of the year. I ended the day back in Mauston at their annual bowling tournament. And I'm proud to say that I bowled a 157! Congrats to everyone that evening!

Thursday I traveled to Wisconsin Rapids where I met up with the rest of the team and prepared for the Farm forum conference which was the 21st- 22nd. The Farm Forum, sponsored by the Wisconsin Farm Bureau, was a great way to end an amazing week. We heard from amazing presenters, like Dairy Carrie, about educating the public about our agriculture. Not to mention attending workshops about future career and college opportunities. I encourage everyone to attend this conference. It was at this conference that I chose a career as an Agricultural Educator. It is amazing what you can learn by attending this event.

Thank you everyone again. For sharing your passion, and in doing so, Igniting others'.

" Success is that old ABC - ability, breaks, and courage." ~ Charles Luckman

-Alex
Together We Can!
Feb. 13, 2014
February is home to many extraordinary things. Such as FFA Week, George Washington's and Abraham Lincoln's birthday, Valentine's Day, and African-American month just to name a few. But February is also home to Career and Technical Education Month.

We celebrated this down at the State Capitol on Feb. 6th, advocating for agricultural education at Wisconsin's Career and Technical Student Organizations (CTSOs) Day. The team and I were able to meet other state leaders from other CTSOs such as: DECA, FBLA, FCCLA, HOSA, and Skills USA. Together we spoke with State Senators and Representatives discussing all of the opportunities students have through Career and Technical Education (CTE) courses; as well as why they are a vital part to our school's educational system.

Throughout the day, my group met with different officials. Some were very aware of CTE programs, and told stories about when they were involved with FFA; yet for some, this was their first time hearing about it. This made me realize how crucial it is for us to tell OUR story of how agricultural education and FFA has impacted our life. These individuals truly care about the future of our state and of its schools, and by broadcasting how agricultural education and FFA are making this mission a reality is important.

For instance, did you know that individuals enrolled in an agricultural education classroom for two years is 97% more likely to graduate than the state average of 89%? By sharing and telling people our story, we can create the awareness to others. By showcasing what we have done as a chapter and how it has helped us grow, can ensure for a brighter future. We don't need to take big actions like meeting with your government officials, but it can be done in small ways such as newspapers, letters, or even inviting your school officials, and even government officials, to a local function. Together we can create the awareness of FFA and agricultural education; together we will.

"To effectively communicate, we must realize that we are all different in the way we perceive the world and use this understanding as a guide to our communication with others." ~Tony Robbins
The Polar Vortex
Feb. 06, 2014
This past Winter has sure been a cold one! Meteorologists claim we are experiencing a ‘polar vortex’, where it seems we are averaging a temperature of -50 below zero. But the temperature has not stopped FFA members from doing what they do best-- making a difference. Although the temperatures are cold, this Winter sure has been a blast! From the New Year upon us to even being welcomed by the entire National Officer team, as they toured this fine state giving workshops and inspirational messages; to even attending the 2014 Half-Time conference.

I was fortunate enough to attend three different workshops that were hosted throughout the section. There was one saying that I really enjoyed and
that was “ Get comfortable getting uncomfortable. . . and by changing your world you can change the world.”
This saying was apart of Jason Wetzler, the Western Region Vice President’s workshop, and his message truly applies to us everyday.

Too many times, we as individuals only do what we like. We don’t take the time to explore new things, to go outside our comfort zone.By taking those chances, we not only grow as individuals, but as leaders. And by doing those small things, we can create the ripple effect that can change the world. Maybe that’s giving a friendly smile, holding open a door, or even taking the time to talk to someone.
Because it only takes ONE person to start the ripple, and that person could be YOU.

We maybe experiencing a polar vortex, but we are also experiencing FFA members getting comfortable doing the uncomfortable in order to make a difference in the lives around them; making the statement ‘living to serve’ a priority.

Stay warm,

Alex

“ Always do what you are afraid to do.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
Take me back to Paradise City
Jan. 29, 2014
This past week, Connor, Justin, and I ventured to the lands of California. We left early Thursday morning out of Minneapolis, and we landed in San Francisco where it was sunny and 75! The atmosphere was beautiful and we couldn't ask for better weather. What did surprise us was that California is going through a "drought", where the temperatures were abnormally high, but we were not complaining. =)

Aside from the warm weather, San Francisco was extremely fascinating. From the culture, the people, and the cuisine, it was definitely a learning experience. After finding our hotel on the famous Lombard Street, home of the crookedest street in the world, we started walking and exploring the Bay Area. We toured Fort Mason, capturing views of the Golden Gate Bridge and the famous Alcatraz Island. We went and toured Pier 39 and Fisherman's Wharf, looking at all of the sights and meet some wonderful seals! After that, we climbed the many hills of San Francisco and went to the Ghirardelli Chocolate Square. Welcomed by beautiful lights and the sweet aroma of chocolate, we sat down and ate sundaes that were huge! After the dessert, we went to local favorite restaurant named Boudins. Boudins is a sourdough bread bakery that is famous for their bread creations and bread soup bowls. We then ended our first night by walking the 3 miles uphill back to our hotel.

The next day we continued to explore. We learned about the history of Alcatraz. Alcatraz was originally a U.S. Army base, known as the last line of defense to the Bay Area. It was then transformed into a high security prison and now it is part of the National Park Services. We also went on the famous Cable Car, where we went into down town San Francisco and into China Town.

Toward the evening we left San Francisco and traveled North to Paradise, CA, where we greeted by my family. Paradise truly is what the name is- Paradise. Nestled in the Sierra Mountains, surrounded by rivers valleys, and sights that are breathtaking. We also toured Chico, home of Aaron Rodgers, although we were not able to meet him, we did learn a lot about walnuts and almonds. We finished our adventure with some family quality time of shrimp tacos, movies, and haircuts!
Sadly, we had to leave on Monday morning. But the memories will always be cherished.

But this trip was much more that a vacation, it was learning experience. Being outdoors and exploring new territories is something that I truly love. Because you never know what you are going to find, see, or experience. But what I found out is that it does not matter where you are, it could be in Wisconsin or in California, the sunsets are just as breathtaking and the sights are just as powerful. But what is truly makes the difference, is the people you can share that with. I know for certain that this trip wouldn't have been the same without my partners in crime: Justin and Connor. Having those you care about in your life is important, maybe that's your family or maybe that's your friends, but they truly turn the ordinary into the extraordinary. I know we all have busy lives; we have school, sports, FFA, other clubs, work, or whatever it may be, but take the time to hang out with those you care about. It does not have to be trip to the other side of the country, it could simply be just hanging out and watching a movie. Take the time and cherish those moments. The memories will always be remembered and the bonds stronger. Take time also to meet new people and explore new areas. Go outside your comfort zone. Take that chance. And make those memories.

-Alex
"I cannot even imagine where I would be today were it not for that handful of friends who have given me a heart full of joy. Let's face it, friends make life a lot more fun."Charles R. Swindoll

CHECK out our adventure on Facebook! Look under photos at the Album labeled: The Great California Adventure.
Half- Time Conference
Jan. 16, 2014
What day is it? GAME DAY! What time is it? HALF-TIME! Alright, with all jokes aside, this past week has been truly phenomenal and an experience that will never be forgotten. Wisconsin was honored to have the entire National Officer team travel around this state and put on various workshops and keynote addresses. I was fortunate enough to be able to attend two of these events. On Tuesday, I was in the land of Waupun, and despite the cold weather, there was a great turn out. We were also fortunate enough to taste two frozen custard creations developed by the local Culver's: " I Believe"; which consisted of vanilla custard, pineapple, and blueberry; and " The Farmer in all of Us" which was chocolate custard, Oreo, and gummy
worms.

Then on Wednesday, I was in the land that is the home to the custard and the butter burger- Sauk Prairie. The tone was upbeat and contagious, form the workshops to the members, it was a fantastic evening!

On Thursday, I met up with Emma and we made our North to Stevens Point for the 2014 Halftime conference, where the theme was ' Jump into the Lead' and how we as members, and leaders within our chapter, can do just that for the rest of the year. The conference started off with a huge success in the first ever FFA Rap-Off between the State and National FFA Officers. Although the State Team did not take home the title, we were still pretty awesome.

But what was really awesome, was being able to witness members from across the state learn various items that they can take back and implement back in their home chapter. Two of them in particular: being able to use the Ag Career Network and building successful events; two workshops that Tom, Alison, and I put on. They started on Friday, with Battleship- hitting your target. Being able to maneuver and use the AgCN, will help members now in tracking classes and hours, but also in the future with scholarships, internships, and career portfolios. Then we capped off the conference with Chutes and Ladders- Building a Successful Event, by focuses on four main points: Who's your Audience?, What's your Goal?, Getting the Information!, and Supporting your Event.

Thank you to everyone for making this Halftime Conference the best ever! From the dance to the workshop, everyone's passion and commitment will be evident as this second half of the year unfolds. Great work and good job to everyone!

Take Care!

- Alex
"Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around." ~Leo Buscaglia
The New Year
Jan. 03, 2014
Hello everyone and welcome to 2014! I am so excited to start this new year with all of you and I am excited to see what we can accomplish. Did you know, that in 2014, there will be a total of 365 days? Multiply that by 86,400- the total number of seconds in a day- and you have 31,536,000 seconds, that we have to cherish and enjoy with others that we have in our lives. But most importantly, we have 31,536,000 seconds to make an impact and the clock is ticking.
There is a song by Natasha Beddingfield that I absolutely love called " Unwritten". Part of the lyrics go:

Starring at the blank page before you,
open up the dirty window ... reaching
for something in the distance so close you can almost taste it, release your inhibitions... today is where your book begins and the rest is still unwritten.

How true is that statement? Each and every one of us have a blank page before us, 365 pages to be exact, and we can fill it anyway we want. We can work hard to open and explore areas that before may have thought to be impossible. We can reach for our goals and resolutions. And we can conquer our challenges and fears and break through those boundaries. Today IS where our book begins. The question is, how are you going to write the rest? Our story has already started, and each day, we add another page to our book. How are you going to fill those pages? Will it be with words? Will it be pictures? Will it be actions? Will it be about others?

2013 will always be remembered as the 'year of the Farmer'. What do you want 2014 to be remembered as? Maybe, it will be the 'year of the FFA member'. The story is for us to write, so what do you say we get started right away and make this story, and epic one.

- Alex
"Don't judge each day by the harvest you reap but by the seeds that you plant."

~Robert Louis Stevenson
The Final Two
Dec. 22, 2013
After 32 bags of marshmallows, 24 different schools, and too many cups of coffee to remember, I have come to the end of my chapter visit travels. This truly is bittersweet moment for me. I have loved every moment and memory made with all of you and I look forward to seeing what the second half of the year has to bring.
I started off my travels last week on Monday in the town of Rosendale at Laconia High School. I had a great time working with everyone there and being able to hear all of your stories.

On Tuesday, the team and I headed over to Mauston to finalize our projects for the 2014 halftime conference- "Jump Into the Lead". For three days we call the Mauston Agriculture Department our home. A HUGE thank you goes out to Mr. Hines, Mr. Petrowitz, and the entire Mauston FFA for allowing us to be there and work. Also, thank you to the Bellows family for not only letting all six of us female officers stay in their home, but for all of the delicious baked goods, 'Just Dance' marathon, and for hosting our Christmas Party.

Friday I capped off my week with my last chapter in Lodi. Even the bad weather couldn't stop me from having a great time and see some great individuals. Thank you so much Ms. Crook & the Lodi Crew for having me there, and for those INCREDIBLE cookies!

All in all, I couldn't ask for a better week. From the first visit to the last visit, from the ups to the downs, every chapter and every person will be cherished. Thank you for an amazing first half and I'm excited to see what the second half has to bring. Remember to communicate effectively with those around you, in order to build your overall goal. Never give up on your goal, because the hard work and determination put forth will make you more successful in the end. Be that support for someone, for it could be the difference between trying something new to never trying at all. And lastly, remember that you are #johnwall #mindblowing

Take care,

Alex

"To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded."~Ralph Waldo Emerson
From the West ot the East
Dec. 09, 2013
This past week I had the incredible opportunity of visiting the East side of this amazing section. It all started on Monday in Sauk Prairie visiting with Mr. Keenan, Mr. Talford, and gang. It was great way to kick off the week after a nice break with the family. I had an amazing time being able to see everyone again and I hope your Cans for Christmas project is very successful!

Tuesday I traveled to a place where it's always a party... Pardeeville that is! =) But in all honesty, I truly had a great time being able to see some familiar faces. Thank you to Mr.Bouwkamp and the entire Pardeeville FFA chapter for allowing me to come see you. Wyatt, Journey, Matt, Chase and everyone at Pardeevile- I can't wait to see you guys again soon!

Wednesday was a great experience for me. I traveled to Randolph, where I was greeted by Mr. Gundlach and company. I had a blast being able to see everyone from FIRE again. It was truly great being able to witness and learn the different passions, successes, and stories from the members there. Thank you so much for such an unforgettable moment. Shout out does go out Dawson for your high energy and Maverick- even though I couldn't be in a class with you. I look forward to seeing you guys throughout the year!

Thursday I went to the great city of Waupun. I had so much fun with everyone there. From learning great lessons in support to learning about communication with play dough; it was a great time. Thank you Tristan, Jack, Dustin, Clint, and Dan for some great laughs and conversations. Thank you also to Ms. Costello and Mr. Beaver for allowing me to come to Waupun and be able to work with your students.

I ended my week in the wonder town of Columbus and Fall River. I couldn't ask for a better chapters to end my week on. I started my morning in Columbus where I worked with some eager students. One like Brady, who was able to do the $5 dollar bill jump, or like Rachel and her ability to create beautiful artwork from used machinery. No matter what we did, there was always great energy and participation. And Fall River was no exception to this statement either. Their determination and various passions were great. Thank you guys so much!

Although there are great memories made, it is bittersweet to think that I only have two chapter visits left. So Laconia and Lodi, be ready, because I look forward to ending my travels with two great chapters.

Take care guys and I hope to see you soon!

- Alex

"To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded." ~Ralph Waldo Emerson
GOBBLE, GOBBLE, GOOBLE !
Nov. 27, 2013
Happy Thanksgiving everyone! Hopefully all of you are enjoying your time off and together with those you love. I know I have a lot to be thankful for this year. First of all, I am extremely thankful for this opportunity to serve you throughout this year and to the many friends and memories I've made along the way. I've thankful for my teammates who are always there for me and are always bringing a smile to my face. And to my friends and family what have supported me through everything. With that, what or who are you thankful for?

I have been very thankful for this past week, for I was able to go back to chapter visits and meet some of the coolest FFA members at Oakfield and Markesan. I learned so much about them. From their passion of showing animals to being outdoors to even volunteering and working with youth. These chapters are learning skills that will help them become successful in life. Whether that be communication, management, or keeping track of records; they are working towards and accomplishing their goals. A shout out goes to Shelby, Joe, Levi, Buddy, Griffin, Aly, Emily, Brooke, Paige, and McKenna. Thanks for the memories guys and I look forward to seeing you throughout the year.

I do want to thank one individual who really contributed to my journey and passion for FFA and agriculture. His name is Matt Anderson. Matt was a former Section Six Officer and Past State FFA President, who unfortunately passed away a few years ago. But Matt's impact in my life will never be forgotten. You see, when I first became an FFA member as a 7th grader, I hated speaking in front of people. I would get scared, nervous, and doubt myself on what I was going to say. But Matt didn't see that in me. He saw someone who could conquer obstacles, fears, and challenges. He said to me "Don't worry about what might happen. I believe in you. You are going to be great!" If it wasn't for those few words of encouragement, I do not know where I might be today. In moments of doubt, he saw possibilities and I am forever grateful and thankful that I was able to meet such a great individual. To me, this goes to prove that it is the small things that can make the biggest difference. And we as FFA members have the ability to that every day summed up into one phrase-- living to serve.

As we celebrate this holiday season, be sure to thanks those in your life. But also take the time to serve others as well. Whether that is holding open a door, ringing bells, or volunteering; remember that it is the small things that people will always remember and be thankful for.

Have a safe and Happy Thanksgiving!

- Alex

"Sometimes our light goes out but is blown into flame by another human being. Each of us owes deepest thanks to those who have rekindled this light."~ Albert Schweitzer
Support
Nov. 19, 2013
Support has been one of the topics I have covered through my chapter visits, and how it plays an important role in our daily lives It allows us to overcome challenges, dream big, and take that step outside our comfort zone. Now support can come in many forms. It can simply be taking the time to have a conversation with someone, smiling and saying "hi", or just letting them know that you are going to be there for them. Support is important to have, but also to give.

Support couldn't be more relevant this past week for me. I recently had surgery to remove my gallbladder and I am glad to say that I am on the road to recovery. Throughout this journey I have received letters, texts, emails, and words of support from individuals like you wishing for me to get better. Your support has helped me overcome a rather big obstacle in my life. Your words and concerns are motivating factors for me to get better, so that I can get back on the road be with all of you. Your support has came in many forms and I cannot thank you enough for them.

As I said before, support is important in our daily lives. Not only with challenges. but also with dreaming big and taking chances. Throughout my travels, I have heard many stories from FFA members about how they got started in FFA , how they started their supervised agricultural experiences, and about their many memories through travels and conferences. Every time I hear these stories, I can't help but notice a little shimmer in the eyes, a huge grin on the face, and a passionate voice about them. To many members, these stories happened because an individual, or individuals, took the time to help them get started. Now these individuals come in many forms. They might your parents, who take the time to help you haul cattle from show to show; maybe it's a teacher who took the extra time to help you conquer your fear of speaking or fill out that application; maybe it's a friend, who you can talk to about anything; or even your local FFA Alumni, who sponsored you on your first FFA trip or even your first FFA Jacket. Because of their support; friendships, memories, and life-long skills have been made.

With that, I want to thank all of you. Not only for your support during my surgery and throughout my year of service, but also for the stories and the memories you've shared. Take the time to thank those in your life who support you, but also don't forget to be that support for someone else; for little things do go a long way. Remember I will be there for you, just like you have been there for me.

Your biggest supporter,

- Alex
"If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put the foundations under them."- Henry David Thoreau
Only BLUE will DO!
Nov. 07, 2013
Have you ever really looked at the FFA jacket before? Have you ever felt every crevice of the corduroy? Or the golden stitching of your name, your state, and your home chapter? For over 80 years, this blue corduroy jacket has brought us together in the name of progress and agriculture. The tradition and history embedded within the corduroy, speaks every time we zip up our jacket, reminding us that no matter what we face, or where we are, we can accomplish anything set before us.

This past week, I was able to attend the National FFA Convention in Louisville, Kentucky. Now this was my sixth time attending Nationals, but every time feels like the first. From walking around the career show, or listening to the National FFA Band and reminiscing of the years I spent with them, or hearing the long ever sound of thousands of FFA members saying " Aaaaaa"; I am awed to be around so many passionate FFA members. This year, over 62,000 from 50 states, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands gathered in Louisville, KY to celebrate this past year and for the new one ahead.

This convention though was interesting. For I had the honor to represent Wisconsin as a National FFA Delegate. Only 475 members will have this opportunity every year to serve as a delegate. As a delegate, we worked on six issues that are current within the national organization and made recommendations to resolve these problems.

When not in meetings, I was able to be on the main floor of each session dancing and cheering for all of the Wisconsin FFA members. Section Six was well represented this year between the 20 American Degree recipients, National Proficiency Finalists, National Band & Choir members, and much more; it gave me great honor to be able to represent everyone who attended.
National Convention to me is a opportunity to grow. Growing not only as an organization, but also as an individual. From experiencing a new state & culture, to expanding our knowledge about agriculture, developing those long life ethics from preparing and competing, to maybe my favorite-- meeting new people. It is incredible the people we will have the opportunity of meeting. And although our time together may be brief, they will have long impacts. The friendships I made at National Convention, and I am sure the ones you made too, will always be cherished. Even if the person we met lives in the town over or across the nation, the network we develop is astonishing! Remember, some of the biggest things in life come from a simple beginning. For the brightest and hottest fires always burn blue. Fuel Passion. Spark Action. Ignite FFA.

Thank you Wisconsin FFA, Morgan, Mitch, Sarah, and Kati for the incredible opportunity to make many memories, friendships, and to serve with & for you.

Your Friend,
Alex
"Nothing makes the earth seem so spacious as to have friends at a distance; they make the latitudes and longitudes." - Henry David Thoreau
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