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Officer Profiles

The Tradition
Jan. 19, 2018

Brooke Brantner - Vice President
Menomonie FFA Chapter
Section 2

The Tradition

Some folks just don’t get it.
They think owning cattle makes no sense.
It takes too much time, too much equipment,
not to mention the expense.

But the fondest memories of my life
they think might sound funny
were made possible by Mom and Dad,
‘cause they spent the time and spent the money.

You see, the most important lessons
helping values grow so strong,
come from loving cattle and passing the tradition on.

As I shut off the barn lights this evening, and looked back behind me at the building in which I have truly had a chance to grow up in, I couldn’t help but think of this poem. Raising and showing cattle has been a way of life for my family for generations, and to me it is so much more than a tradition… it’s a legacy.

Over the past few days I have had the chance to spend a little time at home, and enjoy working on my family owned and operated beef farm. On this farm are hundreds of childhood memories, thousands of lessons learned, and a million reasons to feel so blessed to have grown up as a farm kid.

Here are a few lessons that have made me who I am today:

1. Don’t let a wishbone grow in place of a backbone.
2. Always double check your work, as if you are double checking a closed gate.
3. Take time for those around you and appreciate their company, just as your dog does for you.
4. Without rain there would never be a successful harvest, so don’t let a bad day get you down.
5. Be more like your horse and listen to understand not just to hear.
6. Never stop learning, and be willing to help the next person in line grow along with you.
7. Enjoy the everyday miracles, like the birth of a newborn calf, or a simple sunrise in the morning.
8. Twine string and a good attitude can solve many problems.
9. Think before you act, unlike a mad momma cow.
10. Love with all your heart.

What are some of your most valued lessons that help you pass on a tradition and leave a legacy?

Agriculturally Yours,
Brooke Brantner

It's Time to Apply!
Jan. 11, 2018

Meikah Dado - Reporter
Amery FFA Chapter
Section 1

‘Tis the season of scholarships! If you’re a high school senior, shake off “senioritis” for a moment because it’s time to apply for some money! Scholarships are used to help each one of us make it through further education close to debt free. Whether it is a two-year technical college, or a four-year university, there are scholarships available everywhere. Here are 6 tips and tricks I use when applying for scholarships.

1. Emphasize your involvement, whether it be FFA, athletics, music or other activities. Make it shine!
2. Have other’s proofread each section of the application. This prevents us from completing an application with silly spelling or grammar mistakes.
3. Ask for a letter of recommendation in advance, at least two weeks! Teachers, advisors, and other group leaders are busy. Ask them for a letter of recommendation early enough so they have time to do their very best for you. However, your first choice for a recommendation may not be able to complete your letter, so have backups.
4. Use the word count. If the application asks for a maximum of 500 words, be sure to be as close to the 500 as possible. Be clear, concise, and get the point across.
5. Write Thank You’s! If you are awarded the scholarship, be sure to write a thank you. The money is to benefit you, and will be the quickest money you ever earn so be sure to write a thank you.
6. Keep the due date in mind. The earlier the scholarship application is finished, the less stressed you will be. Although procrastination may happen at times, fight off the urge to put it off!

These 6 hints will hopefully help you get through these final days of high school. To start out, be sure to apply for local, state, and national FFA scholarships. There are also many agriculture businesses that offer scholarships on the local, state, or national level. If you are not a senior in high school, keep these in mind for any paper or application, and be prepared for when the time comes!

Agriculturally Yours,
Meikah Dado

Just Like Math 24
Jan. 10, 2018

Ciera Ballmer - President
Clinton FFA Chapter

8x3=24. 4-2=2. 4x2=8. 8x3=24. Yup, maybe you’ve done this before – it's Math 24! However weird it may seem, ever since the 4th grade, Math 24 has been one of my favorite games! There’s just something so exhilarating about figuring out how to make four different numbers somehow equate to 24!

In complete honesty, my 4th – 7th grades were spent with a lot of Math 24, even to the point where I would play it on the bus to and from school and during recess every day with my friends so we could prepare for the competition! I must say we took this fun way to do math quite seriously.

A few days ago, I found my box of Math 24 in my room. When I stopped and thought about it, although to most people it’s just that fun way to practice math, you can apply a lot of the lessons from Math 24 to life.

Here are just a few ways life is just like Math 24:

1) Multiple Solutions:
In Math 24, most cards have multiple ways that you can come up with 24 as your answer. Whether you do 8x3=24. 4-2=2. 4x2=8. 8x3=24. Or 12x2=24. 4-2=2. 3x4=12. 12x2=24. As long as you use what is given to you to get to 24, you still did it right. When we are solving any problem, or just going through life, there are so many paths we can take. Just look at all of the opportunities we have in the FFA, which routes we take and which ones we choose to take advantage of is all up to us. If we choose to use the opportunities that we have, in the end we can develop our premiere leadership, personal growth and career success.

2) Cube out:
When you say something wrong or make a mistake in Math 24, you receive a cube, and each player can get 3 cubes until they “Cube Out” and have to sit out for the rest of the round. Even though we may not be handed cubes in everyday life when we make mistakes, just like the player has to accept the cube, we can accept our mistakes for what they are and then continue playing the game and living life to the best of our ability. Math 24 reminds that we should try to limit our mistakes, however they have cubes for a reason, so we know mistakes are going to happen. We can just do our best to accept and learn from our mistakes.

3) Level up:
Each year that you do Math 24, you get to level up and they make it just a little bit more challenging. You start with the Single Digit Math 24, then move to Double Digits, up to Integers, and then Fractions and Decimals. As we move on in anything, we can find ways to take ourselves to the next level and challenge ourselves. Whether it’s our school classes each year or further developing our skills, we should always look to challenge ourselves.

4) Thinking on Your Feet:
In Math 24, you have to solve the card as fast as you can. We may not always need to quickly solve a math problem, but people have to make decisions each and every day, and therefore problem solving and the ability to think on your feet are extremely important qualities. I certainly practiced this in Math 24, but also I know I was able to further develop these skills doing dairy judging through 4-H and FFA. Now I know I am much better able to make quick decisions whenever I need to.

Life really is just like Math 24! As we jump into 2018, I want to challenge all of you to take the lessons we can learn from Math 24 and apply them to your life. Find the solution or route that is best for you this year, own and learn from your mistakes, continue to challenge yourself, and continue working on your decision making skills. If we follow these lessons, I know it will be another great year!

Wishing you luck as you live out 2018 just like Math 24!

Jan. 09, 2018

Sam Pinchart - Vice President
Luxemburg-Casco FFA Chapter
Section 9

Hey Wisconsin FFA,

I hope your enjoying the start to your 2018 year! I want to take you back to a memory I had this past December, way back in 2017;) The officer team was at the Dells for the American Farm Bureau convention. At this convention we were going to sessions and timekeeping for the discussion meet. The morning of the second day I was the last to depart down towards the conference room. In my hotel room I was searching for my last bit or wardrobe, my shoes. I franticly searched everywhere for them but I could not find them. Then I saw them... black dress shoes, but they were not mine. They were Sam Jesse's. I immediately knew what had happened. Sam took my shoes by mistake. I texted him "You have my shoes." He responded "wear mine and we'll switch." I then texted him "....Thief," to which I heard no response. I proceeded to wear Sam's shoes down towards the convention hall on the first floor. Now when we first got elected we went to kohl's and bought the same exact shoes. Same style, same size, same everything cause we're dorks. So I thought I would be okay briefly switching shoes. His shoes felt different, weird, and slightly uncomfortable. We met up and switched shoes to have our own back but the experience made me wonder.
Those shoes looked exactly the same and when bought they were. However after six months of walking the shoes had started to form around our own feet. With each step we took we started to shape our shoes around where we had been and of course our feet. Sam's and my shoes were different because we have different feet. Like wise even though someone may seem to have the same story as us they don't. We never know where someone's been, what someone is going through, or where they are going until... we ask.
I greatly appreciate a phrase Sam Jesse occasionally says, "Why are you the way you are?" While yes, he usually says it to be funny, I have noticed he always pauses after he asks. He always gives the other person time to answer. How often does someone do something to us and our first reaction is to think about ourselves? When driving, "Why did he cut ME off." When talking,"Why is she so mean to ME?" Instead of thinking about our own shoes, we need to think about the shoes of others. Why are they the way they are? "Why is HE driving so recklessly?" Maybe it was a mistake. "Why is SHE mean?" Maybe she has issues of her own she is working through. Never judge a book by its cover. Even though they may seem to have the same story as you...everyone's story is different. In 2018 look to see the bigger picture, look to see the WHY.
"WHY do they do what they do?"

Sam Pinchart

New Year, New Me!
Jan. 07, 2018

Elisha Riley - Treasurer
Waupaca FFA Chapter
Section 8

Hello Wisconsin FFA!

Now that Christmas is Over and we all celebrated New Years, we have all probably have our New Years resolutions. Maybe to lose, weight, eat better, etc. But some may not have set our new years resolutions yet, and that's okay! Here's a lost a few resolutions to do, and stick with!

1: Read a book or two

Books are a simple, yet fun way to relax and relieve stress that comes with the new year. It could be a romance novel, an Amish love story, suspense, a mystery, or even a book about agriculture1

2: Carry a Water Bottle

Water is a staple beverage for every human body and extremely important for mental health, but I know it is sometimes a struggle to achieve those eight glasses per day. A simple solution is to keep a full water bottle near you, so if you're ever bored..drink a refreshing glass of water!

3: Smile More

Another one that may seem simple, but sometimes forcing a smile is the best thing to do to boost yourself, and someone else!

4: Call or Text a good friend

Keeping in touch with friends and family we don't see often is a great way to make their day, and relieve some stress. Maybe get in touch with a friend that had moved, call a great grandparent, a family member from a different state...anybody! Keeping those connections is a great resolution, that requires little effort!

5: Try Something New

I left this one broad because it should me. This "something" could be an FFA activity, a speaking contest. Join another club and get active. Take a trip to a place you've never gone. Anything. Try something new and get yourself out of your comfort zone!

These are all simple, yet feasible ways to stick to your New Years Resolution, and grow as an individual along the way! Happy New Year, Wisconsin FFA members, advisers, and friends!

Get to Resolutin',

Elisha Riley
WI FFA State Treasurer
Section 8

Worth It.
Jan. 06, 2018

Amelia Hayden - Vice President
Big Foot FFA Chapter
Section 10

Happy New Year everybody! Time for new opportunities, new memories, and new trips. I love all of the possibilities, but it also reminds me of all of the opportunities, memories, and trips I’ve had.

Whether it’s in a bus or living the van life, some of my favorite memories are from road trips with my FFAmily. We were on our way to National Convention my junior year; Mrs. Konkel, our advisor, was planning to do a little bit of sightseeing on the way to Louisville, Kentucky. We stopped at the Jefferson Expansion Memorial, also called “The Arch.” In St. Louis, Missouri. On the way to Louisville, Kentucky. From Walworth, Wisconsin. Only a little detour: if 3 hours and 214 miles of driving is little. After leaving the school at about 8 a.m., we arrived to our hotel WELL after dark. I know what you’re thinking: this sounds like a really round-about trip, that wasn’t that much fun! But here’s what I didn’t say about this trip yet:

There was elation: running across the parking lot at Abraham Lincoln’s home in Springfield, Illinois, and then laughing as we realized we forgot something in the car.

There was singing: belting out songs from our “National Convention mixtape” a grad had made.

There was a tiny-teensy bit of fear: when like half of us were scared of heights & still wondering why Mrs. Konkel had detoured here.

There was laughter: when part of our chapter shared an elevator with some hilarious Canadians that kept teasing them about the height on the way up the Arch.

There was soaking wet people: it was raining when we were in St. Louis, and we parked far away from the arch, fast walking down the streets, trying to avoid the puddles.

There was food: stopping at Cracker Barrel and eating way too much – but first sharing laughs and trying to beat each other at the golf tee game that sits at each table.

And finally, there were good memories shared: our chapter falling asleep in the back of the school suburban as we finally drove through Kentucky.

It’s over two years later, and we still tease Mrs. Konkel about the time she detoured us to St. Louis on the way to Louisville. But here’s the thing – I wouldn’t trade anything for my memories of running, singing, laughing, & eating some Cracker Barrel. Mrs. Konkel wanted us to have those memories, so she made time for that detour. If you want to do something, do it. Make time for it, even if it’s not necessarily on your “perfect route.” It will be so worth it in the end.

Make time for that career development event practice. Make time to sit around after the FFA meeting, just talking with other members for the sake of talking. Make time to practice for the next sports game, or for filling out scholarships, or for simply going out to lunch with friends. If you want to do something, DO IT. Don't worry about whether it fits perfectly into your route. It is worth the detour, worth the time, worth the fear.

The memories are worth it.

Can’t wait to see what you do,

It's Winter In Wisconsin
Dec. 29, 2017

Kathryn Lampi - Parliamentarian
Owen-Withee FFA Chapter
Section 7

Hey Hey Wisconsin FFA!

Well folks it’s winter in Wisconsin and we all know what that means; extreme cold, lots of snow, water lines freezing in the barn and having to plug in tractors and our faithful diesel trucks. We did have long and warm fall this year that made me almost forget about winter in Wisconsin. I have quickly regained my memory with this cold snap we have experienced here in Section 7 and throughout the state. It’s so cold out that fun winter activities aren’t possible.

Our family loves the outdoors and winter is one of our favorite time to go exploring in the woods, fishing or hunt but right now it’s just too cold to have any real fun outside. My brothers and I have spent most of the last couple of days completing our choirs at the speed of light and then quickly heading back into the house to spend the greater part of the day. We take occasional trips outside to fire up and fill the wood stove but otherwise haven’t left the house. The first day indoors is great; we all get caught up on some missed sleep, do a little cleaning and watch TV but then we all hit that wall of being completely board. To help combat the boredom that an overly cold winter can bring on, here are 7 things to do when its way to cold outside to have any fun out there.

1. Read: Books, magazines and blogs are all great to read for fun but also can show us innovative ideas about topics that we are interested in.

2. Play board games: Games are a wonderful way to pass time and have some great family time in the process.

3. Learn a new hobby or pick up an old one: What is something you have always wanted to try or maybe a hobby that absolutely love but don’t really have time? Here is the perfect time to start a new hobby or find a new love for a hobby we haven’t had time for in the past.

4. Get organized for the new year: Soon we will all be heading back to high school, College or back to our Careers. We can take the opportunity to get ourselves together and put everything into order so when we head back we will be able to be version of ourselves possible.

5. Go for a walk: Although its super cold out, short walks outside are perfect for keeping us from being totally cooped up in the house.

6. Catch up with family and Friends: Make a point to call Grandma, Grandpa and catch up with other relatives and friends. Brighten their day with a just a short phone call or plan a day with them to really catch up.

7. Volunteer: It may sound simple but we can make cards and send them to the local nursing home, children’s hospital or shelter to show others love. We can also take this to the next level and volunteer in those places. It’s amazing how these simple act make a great impact on others and as well as incredibly impact on our own lives.

Stay warm out there,


New Years Resolutions
Dec. 26, 2017

Sam Jesse - Sentinel
Lodi FFA Chapter
Section 6

We are now approaching the new year, and gee wiz has 2017 been a great one. As the year winds down many people across the world reflect on this year and think how the following year could be improved and thus, a new year's resolution is born. But statistics show that within the first week of these goals nearly 22% have already failed and within a month, that number rises to 50%. Why do individuals fail at such an alarming rate? How can we better equip ourselves from becoming another dissapointing statistic?
As FFA members, we hear and learn all about goal setting and how to write good goals, but do we ever stop and focus on how to accomplish these goals? It’s important that we go out with an action plan for accomplishing our goals. Lay out specific times of the day that you will work on your goal. Come up with a back-up plan, in the event that your selected time is filled and somebody to keep you accountable and to ensure that you stay on task and don’t fall behind. Finally, make sure that your goal is realistic and is able to be measured. Rather than saying, “I want to get grades”, think more in terms of “I would like to finish the semester with a 3.5 GPA”. In other words, don't just think of a something nice you want to accomplish. Instead, write out a detailed goal with these components and put it in a place where you will be constantly reminded. By better equipping yourself to accomplish your goal, you can make 2018 even better than 2017!

Happy Holidays,
Sam Jesse

It's the Most Wonderful Time
Dec. 20, 2017

Liz Grady - Secretary
Oregon FFA Chapter
Section 5

“It's the most wonderful time of the year. There'll be much mistletoeing and hearts will be glowing when loved ones are near. It's the most wonderful time. Yes, the most wonderful time. Oh, the most wonderful time of the year” The air is crisper, snow is falling, hot chocolate is steaming, carolers are singing, and jingle bells are ringing. This is the time of year where we truly appreciate the little things in life because we know they are often the big things.

“Hearts will be glowing when loved ones are near” It’s the time of year to spend time with family and extended family. This time of year is my favorite because I enjoy the time that I can spend with my family. As it gets colder outside, the more work there is to be done outside on the farm to keep the cows happy and healthy. This is the time that I get to spend with my dad and brother. This time of year wouldn’t be the same without sweet Christmas cookies. One weekend before Christmas, my mom brother and I spend the day baking and laughing in the kitchen. The days leading up to Christmas are filled with the suspense of arrivals of our extended family. This year, my aunts and cousins came early for Christmas so we could spend more time together. I have learned that it is not a matter of what we are doing but, who we are doing it with.

It’s the most wonderful time of the year because we can enjoy the time and little moments spent with family. How is this ‘the most wonderful time’ for you?

Happy Holidays!

O, Christmas Tree!
Dec. 16, 2017

Morgan Fitzsimmons - Vice President
Mineral Point FFA Chapter
Section 4

The holiday season is officially here! My family celebrates Christmas every year, and one of my favorite family traditions is bringing home a freshly cut Christmas tree from a local tree farmer. Now my family often struggles to time the weekend that is perfect to cut down this tree. Do we go Thanksgiving weekend, or will we be able to keep it alive that long? Do we go the weekend before Christmas and be tighter on time to decorate this tree? These decision, are something that I’m sure keep my parents up at night. All joking aside, we have varied the time of year that we have gone to pick out this perfect tree.
One year my family decided to cut down this tree on Thanksgiving weekend. We took our handsaw and cut down a perfect seven foot Christmas tree. Yes, we did remember the hand saw, unlike Clark Griswold in Christmas vacation. We brought home this wonderful tree, and on our porch, it sat until we had the optimal time to decorate the tree. The funny thing about trees is they require water, and this tree did not have the most love and care. As we brought it in the house to our realization the needles started to fall, like crazy! How were we going to decorate this tree!? My mom and sister then volunteered to go to the local grocery store and get a new tree to try and save some headache. (While they were gone, somehow, my brother and I tactfully were able to place the tree on its stand). My mom and sister got the last tree at the store. Just to be completely honest, I believe that the Charlie Brown Christmas tree looked better than the one they brought home. On the way, home the tree was so small and difficult to tie down it fell off the car! My mom and sister had to pull over, pick the tree off the road, and put it in the back of the car. It was definitely a good thing that my brother and I were able to decorate the other tree. We were able to use the grocery store tree outside and use it for decoration. This was a good lesson for my family on not only the importance of time management, but why it’s a good idea to water your tree.
Time management can be critical to the success of any event or project. Now whether it is getting a Christmas tree, filling out a proficiency or state degree application, or practicing for a speaking contest it is helpful to organize our time and plan. One simple way that has helped me is using a planner. I know all events and tasks to complete. May this trick help the holidays and FFA events go more smoothly!
I hope everyone has a fabulous holiday season! If you have any funny stories like this one, I’d love to hear them. I hope everyone has a safe and happy new year, as well!

Happy Holidays,

Morgan Fitzsimmons

The Power to Choose!
Dec. 13, 2017

Ciara Koboski - Vice President
Black River Falls FFA Chapter
Section 3

In the spirit of the holidays one of my favorite movies is Dear Santa. This movie is about a little girl who lost her mother and is now ready to ask Santa for one thing for Christmas. This is not the only thing this movie is about, this movie is about fate. Some of us may believe in the word fate, just like in the movie Dear Santa when Crystal found the letter to Santa and became part of the little girl’s life.

A saying we hear often is “Everything happens for a reason.” Now whether we believe in fate, everything does happen for a reason. It could be going to that LDE and meeting a member that we competed against and becoming really close friends or maybe we meet family we never knew that we had. Everyone has something happen to them whether they choose it or not. It’s what we do with those events that make us who we are. We have the power to choose who we are! Who do you want to be? How are you going to make that happen? Take the time to think about what you want to be known for and make it happen.

Your Section 3 State Officer,

Ciara Koboski

Worth a Thousand Words
Dec. 10, 2017

Brooke Brantner - Vice President
Menomonie FFA Chapter
Section 2

The stories that could be told, memories relived, and feelings of pride shared, all remain within this one picture. When we look at this picture, we see my mom and I wearing our blue corduroy jackets. We will also see my agriculture teacher, alongside my mother’s FFA advisor and retired agriculture teacher, Archie Abbott. None of us are looking at the camera, instead we are all sharing a laugh with Mr. Abbott as he talked about the value of teaching agriculture for over 50 years, but more importantly investing in the value of his students for the rest of his life.

On Thursday, December 7th Mr. Abbott passed away in his home in Menomonie. When I received the news of his passing that day I immediately thought of this picture tucked so carefully away in the pocket of my blue jacket. This simple image speaks volumes to show just how powerful FFA and the agriculture industry is, and how it ties all of us together. In this memorable picture there are countless memories, contests, conventions, county fairs, and banquets that can be retold, relived, and cherished all the same. Ingrained in this picture are generations of lessons learned and a truly remarkable passion for the FFA Organization.

Mr. Abbott was a part of one of the greatest generations of Agriculture Instructors who helped modernize agriculture education. His career began when he graduated from the University of Wisconsin River Falls in 1951. He first taught at Neillsville for one year followed by five years at the Dunn County School of Agriculture and Domestic Economy. In July of 1957 Vocational Agriculture began at Menomonie High School, and the vacant Ford Garage across the street from the high school served as the classroom, lab, and Ag shop for Mr. Abbott's students. In the winter of 1961 the agriculture program was moved into the new high school building and within 10 years the Ag I, Ag II, Ag III, and Ag IV classes were put in place as semester courses. Mr. Abbott built up a program that has changed the lives of many throughout our community, including mine.

My favorite days of school always included Mr. Abbott as a substitute teacher. He would stroll into the classroom and the familiar sound of his loud sharp whistle would make everyone sit up straight in their seats. He would then proceed to point me out to the entire class of students and say: “Did you guys know that this young ladies mother served as the first female president for the Menomonie FFA Chapter in 1982?” The excitement, and pride that I’m sure Mr. Abbott felt that day my mom was elected could show through in his voice and eyes every time he told me that story. (Which was every time he saw me!)

Mr. Abbott, I want to thank you for being such an inspiration in my life, for loving my family as if it were your own, and for believing in me each step of the way. You have been tucked away in my blue corduroy jacket for the first 6 months of my state officer year, and the values in which you have instilled in my will remain there too. Thank you Mr. A, for believing in the future of agriculture.

Agriculturally yours,

Brooke Brantner

Thank You Alumni!
Dec. 06, 2017

Meikah Dado - Reporter
Amery FFA Chapter
Section 1

This past weekend the State FFA Officers attended the Farm Bureau Annual Conference. This conference is an opportunity for young farmers and agriculturists, and Farm Bureau members to meet to continue working and improving their grass roots organization. The Farm Bureau is proud to represent agriculture and always have agriculturists back (do you mean and always support agriculturists and farming), similar to our FFA Alumni.
The FFA alumni helps members live out FFA experiences every day. Whether it be judging a speaking contest, providing a scholarship to attend Washington Leadership Conference, or even helping the local members practice for a CDE, these alumni members do it all. One alumni member has always held a special place in my heart, my mom.
My mom, Gwen Dado, represents section one as the FFA alumni representative. She takes time out of her busy schedule in order to give back to the organization that meant so much to her and her family. In this season of being thankful, I am thankful for everything my mom does for the FFA organization and for our family. However, the alumni organization is not only for family’s rooted in FFA.
The FFA alumni is available to anyone who is interested in agriculture education and helping FFA members, they do not have to be a past FFA member themselves. My home chapter, and many others throughout the state, benefit greatly from having an alumni chapter have our backs. Consider contacting your alumni chapter this giving season and simply say “thanks.” These alumni members work hard to provide each member the opportunity to continue their FFA experiences. As the Farm Bureau helps all of their members reach their goals, the FFA alumni does the same for us.

Agriculturally Yours,
Meikah Dado

The Season of Giving
Dec. 01, 2017

Ciera Ballmer - President
Clinton FFA Chapter

Now that we’re past Thanksgiving and into December, it sure is beginning to look a lot like Christmas! I don’t know about you, but for the past week, I have been listening to Christmas music almost non-stop! Everything from Silent Night to the First Noel to Jingle Bells.

I love the holiday season because I love Christmas carols, bright colored lights, Hallmark holiday movies, baking cookies, and spending time with family and friends. But even more than that, one of my favorite parts of the holiday season is how it inspires people to help others.

The holidays truly are the Season of Giving! The Season of Giving is just getting started and I’ve already seen so many people, including Wisconsin FFA members, sharing some holiday cheer! Bells are ringing with the Salvation Army in front of stores, local organizations are collecting food for food drives, and students are writing holiday cards to the elderly and veterans. Just this last Sunday, my church was collecting macaroni and cheese to donate, buying presents for a family in need, and we scheduled our annual Christmas caroling trip.

All of those service projects are fantastic ways to celebrate the Season of Giving, but one holiday service project has a special place in my heart: the Children’s Christmas Benefit. The Children’s Christmas Benefit organizes a fundraiser and donation drives to help rural families in need enjoy the holiday season a little more. With funds raised and donations received, families are able to receive food and presents for Christmas.

As I was a committee member for the benefit through 4-H, I always loved helping with every step of the process from planning and setting up for the benefit, sorting the donated food, toy and other gift items, and packaging gifts for families. However, my favorite part every year was the Benefit itself.

The Benefit is held in a small, rural community, but you would never know that because you see the huge crowd when you walk in the door! At the benefit, there is delicious food, entertainment, raffles, and even a visit from Santa! And better yet, you are surrounded by people who truly exemplify the idea of helping others and celebrating the Season of Giving! It always amazes me how generous people are and how exciting and cheerful the atmosphere is.

The Children’s Christmas Benefit is one of my favorite ways to celebrate the Season of Giving, what is yours?

Spreading the Holiday Cheer,

How We Spend Our Days.
Nov. 30, 2017

Amelia Hayden - Vice President
Big Foot FFA Chapter
Section 10

As we are nearing the holidays, it can only mean one thing: relatives. Family. We all have a few: the ones we don’t really talk to, the ones who are always giving you more food (even though we’re still working off what we ate at Thanksgiving dinner), and the ones who always seem to have some kind of joke or prank up their sleeve.

In the family of my FFA chapter, I seemed to always fit into the last category. Oops. Now, I liked making sassy comments and puns with fellow FFA members. But I always seemed to “accidentally” be drawn to teasing my advisors. Specifically, by changing where they set things. Except (like most advisors it seems) their desks are always filled with a million papers to grade, registration for the next conference, fruit sale sheets, and random notes about their to-do lists. Which meant they would never notice if you changed something. Luckily, for jokester-high school Amelia, one of my advisors was super organized & would notice. Now, most of this moving of stuff happened during lunch, so everyone who ate lunch in the ag room was in on it. It depended on the day, but our favorite things to move around were the computer mouse, lunch boxes, carrots, and the iPad. Of course, we always revealed where it had been hidden after about a minute. One day, as I was packing up after lunch, my advisor blamed me for stealing his iPad (which I honestly had not done – this time). Although, I was notorious for moving things. My other two advisors practically died of laughter; finally my moving things came back to bite.

The thing I did the most was instantly related back to me. I was the student who constantly teases our advisors. What we do repeatedly is what we are known for. Author Annie Dillard once remarked, “How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.” What we do as individuals each and every day, is what our lives are about. I spent a lot of time moving things, and therefore, it was assumed that I moved the iPad. Was my advisor wrong? Yes, I hadn’t moved it that time, but how I spent my days was how I spent my life. I was known for moving it around.

What are you known for? Do you like it? I didn’t mind being the jokester of my FFAmily – but I also knew I was known for being more than that. Whatever you are doing today, that builds up to be what you habitually do in life. Are you spending your days being kind, selfless, grateful, or genuine? Spend your days being who you want to be remembered as. Whether it’s being joking, like I was, or something completely different. Be intentional about your actions each day; they’re how you spend your life.

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