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The Country Today

Sally Albers - Vice President
Sauk Prairie FFA Chapter - Section 6
salbers@wisconsinffa.org
What is your Supervised Agricultural Experience (SAE)?
Swine Production Entrepreneurship and Beef Production Placement
What is your favorite Agricultural Education Class?
Leadership and Group Dynamics
What is your favorite FFA Activity?
Speaking Contests and Tractor Pull Concession Stands
What is your favorite hobby or hobbies?
Softball
What is your favorite Color?
Blue and orange
What college will you be attending and what is your major?
UW-River Falls, Agricultural Education
Be "Happy"
Dec. 15, 2014
Music has this uncanny ability to move people in ways that very few will ever understand. When we hear those minor chords, minor keys, and minor movements, it invokes in us anger and sorrow. Think of the song “Say Something” by a Great Big World. That song makes us feel very sad and down in the dumps, but now think about the song “Happy” by Pharrell Williams. It has the opposite effect on us making us feel joy and upbeat. These songs have a major effect on us, but people can do the same thing.

When we are around someone who is upbeat, they have a similar effect on us as hearing the song “Happy.” And the same goes for someone who’s in a bad mood. When we’re around them we also seem to be in a bad mood, just like listening to “Say Something.” So if that’s the effect people have on us, what effect do we have on them?

If someone is in a bad mood, we have the ability to change their mood by being upbeat or we can feed into their mood by being crabby. Which do you want to do? I encourage all of us to be like “Happy” and always to improve the moods of those around us.

We want to make a positive impact, and this can start out as simple as smiling and saying hi to someone. It can be that easy to impact someone’s day. So let’s do it. We can start small by smiling and saying hi. But where can we go from there?

When we get to lunch we can ask the one student who sits by themselves everyday to come sit by us. Or we can start a conversation with someone we’ve never talked to before. Whatever impact we want to make is up to us, but I challenge each of us to make a small impact this week, and see how we can be the song “Happy” for someone.

“Music can change lives. Whether you are having a good or bad day, the power of music can change one’s mood.” ~Jess Bowen

~ Sally
Speak Up!
Dec. 04, 2014
It’s getting to be that time of year again...and by that I don’t mean it’s almost the holidays, or winter, or even New Year’s, I mean it’s time to start thinking about speaking contests! I’m sure those eight letter words just made your stomach drop a little bit, but reach down pick your stomach back up and hear me out. We all find public speaking a little nerve racking, but this is our chance to improve our speaking skills and cure the nerves.

We've all seen those movies where a student gets up in front of class to give a speech and is shaking from the nerves. The cool thing about FFA speaking contests is that you don’t have to give your speech in front of an entire classroom filled with your teacher and peers. All you have to do is present to a small group of judges, who might I add are super nice! And there are so many options for the types of speeches we can give.

Of course there’s the traditional prepared speaking. This contest is exactly what it sounds like, you prepare a speech, memorize it, and present it to the judges. The nice thing is, this isn't like your everyday English speech, this speech can be about anything related to agriculture. You get to pick the topic and what you want to say. You just need to remember to keep your speech between six and eight minutes long.

Now for those of us who are not very good at memorizing things there is the extemporaneous speaking contest. This contest is a little different in that you don’t know what you’re speech will be about until you get to the contest. When it’s your turn to start you will be taken to a quiet area where you will pick the topic for your speech out of a hat and have thirty minutes to plan out your speech. You get to use note cards while presenting your four to six minute speech. After you present there will be five minutes for the judges to ask you questions.

If you’re a freshman you might want to consider participating in the creed speaking contest. All you have to do is memorize the FFA creed and recite it in front of the judges. After you recite the creed the judges will ask you question relating to the creed. It’s a great contest to get you started in the FFA!

If you’re more of a team player, you might want check out the parliamentary procedure contest. This is a contest where you get to run a mock meeting with your teammates following Robert’s Rules of Order. It’s a lot of fun and can help your chapter’s meetings run more smoothly.

Speaking of team players if you’re a middle schooler you can try out the quiz bowl contest. This a trivia contest based on your knowledge of the FFA. And if you like quiz bowl you can always try the high school quiz bowl contest based on your knowledge of the agriculture industry!

If you want something that you will for sure have to use someday, you should check out the job interview contest. This contest is just like a regular job interview except in the end you won’t get a job. This is also great practice for the job interview you will eventually have!

Now if you’re really not feeling this whole public speaking thing there is one last contest that might interest you, the discussion meet. For this contest you don’t give any sort of speech and you’re not on a team, instead you’re having a discussion about an agricultural topic with other competitors. This not only works on your speaking skills, but it also helps you convey ideas with others and develop your ability to hold a discussion.

As you’re thinking about these contest, don’t let the fear of messing up keep you from participating. This is the best opportunity to learn how to speak in front of people, so that someday when you have to you won’t make any major mistakes. Dale Carnegie once said, “There are always three speeches, for every one you actually gave. The one you practiced, the one you gave, and the one you wish you gave.” There will always be room for improvement, but the only way to improve is to try. So go ahead and try one of these speaking contests today!

“Almost every single person will need to speak in public at some point in their lives...You might need to work in sales and speak to groups of people to sell product, you might need to give a presentation at a business meeting, you might have to give a speech at your daughter’s wedding. No matter who you are it is almost 100% certain you will need to give a speech at some point in your life.” ~ Anonymous

~Sally
Little Happies
Dec. 01, 2014
This past weekend was full of so much to be thankful for, and it reminded me of a family friend who recently passed away. After being diagnosed with cancer she lived by the motto, “Life isn’t about the big events; it’s about the ‘little happies’ that come along every day.” It turns out she could not have been more right.

Big events are always important, but sometimes the things that mean the most, are those little events that simply make us smile. I thought about this thought a lot over the Thanksgiving weekend, noticing that my family made a big deal over making sure that everything was just right. We had a great Thanksgiving and we all had a lot to be thankful for, but I think we missed the “little happy.” Instead of worrying about the turkey being a perfect golden brown or the mashed potatoes being mashed just right, we should have been focusing on our time together as a family. It seems so little, but just having the chance to come together and enjoy each other brings a lot of happiness, a “little happy.”

We often get so caught up on events, holidays, birthday parties, competitions, whatever it may be, that we forget to enjoy the little things. On Saturday I got to attend my first Badger game. This seems like such a big event, and don’t get me wrong the event itself was a lot of fun, but what I enjoyed most was being able to spend time and catch up with so many friends. The big event was fun, but the “little happies” meant a lot more to me.

In order to notice these “little happies,” we need to live in the moment and take notice of the small things in life that have an innate ability to make us smile. Maybe it’s that one song, or that Facebook message from a friend. Whatever it may be, take notice and give it value because those “little happies” keep us going through thick and thin.

“Be happy for this moment. This moment is your life.” ~ Omar Khayyam

~ Sally
Happy Thanksgiving!
Nov. 27, 2014
Food! I’m sure we are all at least a little excited for the food that will come today in honor of Thanksgiving. I mean who wouldn’t be excited for homemade pies, turkey, green bean casserole, sweet potatoes, and whatever else our families might add to the Thanksgiving table? Thanksgiving is a fun time that allows us to be with our families and eat lots of food, but sometimes that is the only part of Thanksgiving that we think about.

Today is a day for thanks. We often take for granted everything that we have available to us. We should be grateful for all that we have like our friends and family, the food we are able to eat, and even the opportunities we have in our lives.

Now we should be giving thanks daily for several of these things, but today is a special reminder to us about how lucky we are to have the lives that we do. So take a moment today to give extra thanks.

Today I am reminded of how lucky I am to have the opportunity to serve Wisconsin FFA. I’ve been able to meet so many amazing members, and build some strong connections that will last for a lifetime. Today I am thankful for all of you, and the impact that FFA has on so many lives.

I encourage each of you to think of that one thing that we sometimes take for granted, and truly give thanks for it today because that is what today is all about. Be grateful for all that life has to offer.

“Gratitiude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all others.” ~ Marcus Tullius Cicero

~ Sally
Pressure=Diamonds
Nov. 26, 2014
Those of us who were at the section 1 SLW probably remember Ethan’s speech surrounding Thomas Carlyle’s quote “No pressure, no diamonds.” Here is a link to a story of a girl who truly understands just what that quote really means: http://fbshare.sfglobe.com/2014/11/24/coach-catches-teenage-runner-with-multiple-sclerosis-during-every-race/?src=share_fb_new_20016

Each of us can pressure ourselves to reach great things, but sometimes we need a little extra push from an outside source to truly reach our full potential. Now as FFA members we have several people that can help give us that push. We have friends, officers, teammates, other members, and often the ones with the biggest push, our advisors.

Advisors help us reach new heights everyday through simple acts such as encouraging us to try something new, or reminding us of the things that we are good at. Helping us try reaching our full potential is great and all, but sometimes what we also need is someone willing to catch us when we fall, just like in the attached video when Kayla’s coach catches her at the end of the race.

For those times when we work hard day in and day out and just can’t seem to reach the mark, our advisors are there to catch us and remind us to get back on our feet and keep trying. Each and every one of us needs someone in our lives to cheer us on when we succeed, but support us when we don’t.

FFA is full of people willing to do that for us, we just need to take the time to find them. Sometimes trusting is hard, but by trusting the people that support us, we can use that push to reach our full potential, and when we don’t reach it we have someone to catch us and tell us to get back up and keep running.

“Have you started already? Keep it up! Are you getting tired? Don't give up! Did you quit? You can do it again! Great accomplishments do not come with big steps; they come with little steps taken in regular installments! Do it and do it again and again!” ~ Israelmore Ayivor

~ Sally
Remaining Strong
Nov. 20, 2014
Asking for help…what a scary thought. So many of us can’t stand the idea of admitting that we need help and actually going to someone for it. But why is this so hard? We help others every day. It’s part of our motto, “Living to serve.” And in order for there to be people for us to help, there has to be someone brave enough to ask for it. So why do we struggle sometimes when we are the ones that need that help, rather than the ones to provide it?

There are times when we can’t do something on our own and we need help. So we need to be able to have the courage to ask for it. Asking for help is not a bad thing. In fact it’s actually a good thing. Knowing when you need help means that you are able to recognize when something is outside of your limits. This is a good thing! Good leaders are able to know when they can provide help, but also when they need it!

For example, how many times have we gotten confused in a store and didn’t know where something was. This problem has a simple fix, however most of us will spend several minutes wandering around the store hoping to find what we are looking for. Those are precious minutes that we could have spent productively, but instead they are wasted trying to accomplish something that could have taken just seconds. All we needed to do was ask.

We’ve all seen those people in the stores either wearing pins that say, “How may I assist you,” or actually coming up to us and asking. So why don’t we let them help? They’re more than willing. In fact they’re living out our motto of, “Living to Serve.”

So the next time you realize you’re reaching outside your boundaries, I want you to think about being brave and simply asking for that four letter word…”Help.”

“Ask for help, not because you’re weak, but because you want to remain strong.” ~Les Brown

~Sally

P.S. How can I help you? This year I have the opportunity to serve Wisconsin FFA to the best of my abilities. And so in an effort to make sure that I am helping you all as much as possible, I want to reach out to you so asking for my help isn’t as scary. One way that I would like to be helpful is through my blogs. If you have any questions for me that you think I might be able to help with, send me an email. I will try to write a response either through my blog, so other chapters can benefit from it, or through an email if it is specific to your chapter.
"Go All Out"
Nov. 07, 2014
Go all out! So many of us heard these words several times this past week in Louisville, and Wisconsin FFA, we did a great job living them out! We had great energy all week and so many of our members and chapters were recognized for their hard work and success. But now that National Convention is over and the lights and loud music is done, how can we continue to go all out?

For some of us going all out may simply mean that we work hard in school, our extracurricular activities, and maybe even our SAEs. But I challenge you all to take it to a whole new level. Just because convention is over, doesn’t mean that we should go back to doing things just like we did before National Convention started.

I will admit in the past when I have gone to National Convention, I got super excited and inspired while I was there, but when I came back, everything went back to the way it was. I never took that excitement and inspiration back home with me like I should have. Don’t make this mistake like I did.

Now that you’re back work harder than you did before. Think about all of the ways that you can give back to your community and go all out actually doing it. Take all of the things you thought about doing at convention and actually do them.

If you don’t, nothing will ever change. You will not have the opportunity to “go all out,” and you will go back to National Convention in the same state that you did this year. So I encourage you to give that excitement from convention your all and use it to accomplish bigger and better things. This will propel you much further in the long run.

“Always do your best. What you plant now, you will harvest later.” ~Og Mandino

~Sally
Waiting for Excitement
Oct. 20, 2014
My how time flies! It seems like just yesterday we finished the Section 6 SLW, and here we are done with all three FIRE conferences and getting ready for National Convention. I have been so blessed to visit with some awesome chapters the past few weeks, and meet so many members. Wisconsin FFA is truly amazing!

As I am starting to get ready for National Convention, I think back to my freshmen year, when I was lucky enough to see my name on the list of people selected to go to National Convention. It was such an amazing experience from going on some cool tours to meeting so many new people; it was definitely a trip I’ll never forget.

I am sure there are several of us starting to get excited and maybe a little nervous to to go on that big trip. For many of us it may be our first time away from home for more than a day. For others it may be our first big FFA event. And for more we are just excited to see what’s out there.

I promise that if you put all your energy into what National Convention has to offer it will be one of the best experiences you will ever have. There may be some late nights and early mornings, but it’s all worth it. The final countdown is here. Only 7 days before the Convention finally starts! So as you continue to wait, let your excitement build, and get ready for the time of your life!

“The idea of waiting for something makes it more exciting” ~Andy Warhol

~Sally
New Doors
Oct. 06, 2014
One door closes for another door to open. This past week we concluded the last Sectional Leadership Workshop ending with the best section ever of course…section 6! We had a very energetic SLW and I had a ton of fun. The week ended with a FIRE conference in Appleton.

Now that the SLW door has closed, a new door has opened…Chapter Visits! I did have the opportunity to visit with several of you at the beginning of September for my first chapter visits, but now it is Chapter Visit season so each of my days will be spent getting to know each chapter in Section 6. Today I have the opportunity to visit with the Wisconsin Dells FFA chapter.

I have really enjoyed watching each student learn in their own way. So far my favorite activity has been one where groups need to put different puzzles together. Everyone gets so frustrated trying to finish their puzzle firsts, and you can really see the wheels turning as the learning takes place.

While I am sad SLWs are done, I am even more excited to have the next month to get to know even more members and see so many more classrooms. It is so rewarding to see so many students struggling through activities only to realize the basic underlying message.

For those of you that I’ve been fortunate to work with, thanks for all the fun and help you’ve given me to make my activities better! I look forward to working with the rest of you as the month goes on!

As doors in your lives close, please remember to focus on the new door that will open up for you! Don’t miss these fun opportunities by focusing too much on the door that closed.

“When one door closes, another opens: but we often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door that we do not see the one which has opened for us.” ~Alexander Graham Bell

~Sally
Risk Failure to Reach Success
Sep. 27, 2014
“Yeah I’ll do that.” I’m sure if I took a poll, over half us would say that we have at least once said something we were going to do, and never did it. I know I can think of a few things like this in my own life. But why is it that we don’t do it?

Why is it so easy to say we’re going to do something, but it’s so hard to actually follow through and do it? We often come up with excuses why we can’t do it, whether we’re too busy, not enough people are interested, or it simply won’t work for whatever reason.

While all of these excuses may be true, I think more often than not we don’t do it simply because we’re afraid of failing. But you see that fear is exactly the problem. By not following through, we really do fail. Michael Jordan said it best, “I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”

When we think of Michael Jordan we think of the ultimate success story. But hearing that quote makes us realize that behind the success is so much more. He only became successful by failing in order to improve and allowing himself to constantly risk failure.

If Michael Jordan would have simply said he was going to play basketball and never followed through with it because he was afraid of failing, he would not be one of the most famous and successful basketball players of all times. By allowing himself to fail, he succeeded.

The same can be said for each of us. If we don’t follow through will automatically fail, but if we take a risk we allow ourselves to make mistakes that we can grow from, and reach success. As we continue on with our year, remember to always follow through and take risks in order to reach success!

“You are what you do, not what you say you'll do.” ~ C.G. Jung

~Sally
Every Day Superheroes
Sep. 25, 2014
I have been tAGeED. Those four words seem so insignificant, but to me and so many others, they mean everything. Ag teachers have influenced hundreds of thousands of students across the country. I’m sure if each of us thinks back, we can all remember a time when our Ag teacher helped us through a challenge, encouraged us to step outside of our comfort zones, or cheered us on at a competition.

Ag teachers can be some of the most influential people out there. In fact, my Ag teacher reminded me today, that not only do they influence us through our four years of high school, but they continue to work with us after we graduate and as we continue on with our lives.

I can’t wait to be able to be like these every day superheros someday, when I become an Ag teacher myself. In honor of Teach Ag Day, I want us all to remember how important our Ag teachers really are. Think about how you show your appreciation to your Ag teacher. Do you do it enough? If not, let today be your day to step up and show that appreciation as much as you can.

If your Ag teacher has left a lasting impact on your life, please make sure you thank them! Remind them of just how awesome they really are. And if you want to make an impact someday, maybe becoming an Ag teacher is for you!

“The best part of teaching is that it matters. The hardest part of teaching is that every moment matter, every day.” ~Todd Whitaker

~Sally
We Are Good Enough!
Sep. 20, 2014
Has anyone ever told you or made you feel like you’re not good enough? Sometimes it’s easy to listen, or give in and believe them. I know I’ve been there, and while it is easier, the truth is, they’re wrong. We are all good enough. We may need to put in lots of hard work and effort, but at the end of the day, if we try hard enough we will be good enough.

One group of FFA members was able to prove how good they were. Everyone seemed to think that they were not going to be good enough at the Quiz Bowl contest. They even started believing it themselves, but they continued to practice, and ended up winning at the district level.

That was all they needed to regain their confidence. They continued to practice and ended up competing at State Convention, where they did quite well. By working hard, and gaining enough confidence to believe in themselves they were able to show just how good they actually were.

Just like that team, each and every one of us is good enough, we just need to gain enough confidence to believe in ourselves. Don’t let anyone convince you otherwise. Stay positive and forever believe in yourself!

As we continue on with the second week of SLWs, I want everyone to give everything their all, and go into SLWs knowing that we are all good enough and that the workshops we attend will continue to help us be more amazing!

“And above all things, never think that you're not good enough yourself. A man should never think that. My belief is that in life people will take you at your own reckoning.” ~Isaac Asimov

~Sally
Get Ready!
Sep. 14, 2014
What time is it?…SLW time! And if you were thinking summertime you might be on the right track! Get ready for FFA’s High School Musical as SLW season starts! I am so excited to have the opportunity to meet all of you and get the opportunity to work together!

As FFA members and chapter officers we have the opportunity to work together and make our chapters shine. As we set goals for our chapters in order to target success, SLWs will give us tools we need to take action to accomplish those goals. This means that SLWs are all about action.

We can accomplish a lot no matter what position we may be. Everyone is important in FFA, and the next three weeks we will be learning about how we can do this. As we all work together to reach our goals we can target our success and take action! So FFA members go all out because it’s time for SLWs, so 3…2…1…ACTION!

“The way a team plays as a whole determines its success. You may have the greatest bunch of individual stars in the world, but if they don't play together, the club won't be worth a dime.” ~Babe Ruth

~Sally
Using Our Tools
Sep. 02, 2014
This past weekend I had the opportunity to pick grapes for my step dad’s uncle. This was a new experience for me and it was a LOT of fun! There were several people there helping, and we quickly had to learn to work together as a team to make sure we were being as efficient as possible. For our group of grape pickers this meant pairing up and having each pair take a section of the vine that they were in charge of picking.

This made me think of FFA and all of the leadership skills we are taught through workshops, conferences, SAEs, and our Ag classes. While these give us the tools we will eventually need, we don’t often use them until a situation presents itself. Maybe for you that situation is on an officer team, or at a band practice, or maybe during a sporting event. Whatever it may be, FFA gives us the tools to be able to make it through any of these.

You may not always feel like a leader, but by having leadership qualities you can help lead in small ways. Sometimes coming up with a new idea, or agreeing with something great is all it takes to help lead others in the right direction. This may at times feel like being a follower, but sometimes followers are just good leaders helping the group get where it needs to go or helping someone else learn to lead.

I know each of us has a story of being either a good leader or a good follower. I would like to hear from some of you how you’ve used tools you’ve gained in FFA and applied it to a real-life situation. Please share these with me on the Section 6 Facebook page! I can’t wait to hear from you!

“Great leaders know when it’s time to lead, but also when it’s time to follow.” ~ Anonymous

Sally
Soon We'll Meet!
Aug. 25, 2014
The past week my teammates and I were at Jag Lake working together to set goals, correct workshops and speeches, and get ready to serve all of you this year. This was such an important time to make sure that we all know exactly how to best serve each of you.

As I think about having the opportunity to serve each of you, I get very excited for the school year to start! Sectional Leadership Workshops (SLWs) will be one of the first times my teammates and I get to meet all of you! Our theme for SLWs is “3...2...1...Action!” This fits right in with this years theme of “Target Success. Take Action.” SLWs will help teach us how we can take action within FFA to help us all reach our targeted success.

What an exciting year it will be! I can’t wait to meet all of you and hear about your FFA stories! If there’s ever anything I can help you will just let me know! And don’t forget...we’re all in this together!

“Everyone is special in their own way, we make each other strong, we’re not the same, we’re different in a good way. Together's where we belong, we're all in this together.” ~ High School Musical

~ Sally

P.S. Don’t forget to like the Section 6 Facebook page at: https://www.facebook.com/sectionsixwisconsinffa
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