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Officer Profiles

I Can't Believe We Did THAT
Jun. 11, 2019

Collin Weltzien - President
Arcadia FFA Chapter
President

I can’t believe we did that.

One year ago, I wrote my final blog as State Vice President, and this was the first paragraph: “The other day, I was reflecting on the year of being a state officer with a few of my teammates. We all laughed when somebody brought up the last day of State Fair: we spent hours looking for somebody’s keys, drove over an hour to a hotel, went to a hotel that didn’t have our reservations, and were all so tired that 8 state officers ate SIX pizzas. Someone said, ‘I can’t believe we did that.’ But we had.”

Last year, my final blog: I can’t believe we did that. This year, my final blog: I can’t believe we did THAT. You see, I thought my life was crazy busy as a state officer. And then I realized that it could get a whole lot crazier and busier.

I have had so many adventures as a state FFA officer:
State Fair: shouting “Go Veggies Go” at the top of your lungs with 5 year olds, all day for two weeks. Driving away from the fairgrounds, I thought, “I can’t believe we did that.”
The time I went to 5 banquets in one weekend. I got home and said “I can’t believe we did that.”
There was the time at a conference I was so tired, I drank 7 cups of coffee that day. At the end of the day, I said, “I can’t believe we did that.”
Walking out of a college final, in official dress. I had just taken the exam in OD so I could make it to a chapter event on time. “I can’t believe we did that.”
There were snowy drives, conversations about “priorities”, workshops about potatoes, busing tables, and more smiles than I ever thought possible. All in one year. “I can’t believe we did that.”

But who is “we” in all that? My teammates and I? My chapter and I? No. It’s you and me.

Because for every time I yelled “Go Veggies Go!” you were working at your chapter’s Food for America program to teach children about agriculture and where there food comes from. For every chapter visit I walked into, you were having lunch in the Ag room with some of your best friends. For every set of car keys my teammates and I lost, you were unlocking your potential with each new FFA activity and Ag class you took. For every banquet I drove to, you were at your high school making sure your banquet would be amazing. For every cup of coffee I drank, you were already awake and hard at work on your supervised agricultural experience. For every time I ate Culver’s, you were waiting to eat until chores were finished. And for every time I thought “This is the best job ever,” you were the reason why.

“I can’t believe we did that.” WE did that. WE advocated for agriculture. WE made memories in the Ag room. WE put long hours into FFA events and SAEs. And WE made an impact on someone else, because WE were dedicated enough to go the extra mile.

The moments you have right now will never repeat themselves.
Live your life.
Laugh when you get the urge to.
Love where you are at.
And then you’ll look back on these moments, and say, “I can’t believe we did that.”

Even though life got crazier and busier, each time I was at an FFA event, I was even more glad I chose to run for State FFA President. There are no people I would rather go the extra mile for than you. There are no memories I would trade for those I gained these past two years as your state officer. And there is no organization that has taught me more about dedication than the FFA. So yes, life got crazy this year. But you, FFA members, advisors, supporters, and sponsors, you made it worth it.

I can’t believe we did that, but because we did, I BELIEVE that each of you is capable of incredible things, if you dream big while loving where you are at. Because we did, I Believe in the Future of Agriculture.

With a full heart,
Amelia

A Place to Grow
Jun. 10, 2019

Michelle Stangler - Vice President
Watertown FFA Chapter
Section 10

Members, Supporters, and Advisors:

I see a spotlight land on centerstage, a freshly opened box, wide-eyes and a postage stamp. I see seventh grade students celebrating their first public speaking success, freshman sitting shyly in the back of the classroom, and seniors confident in taking their next steps. I see a student showing their talents as a state winner, an excited middle school member as they receive their first jacket, the expression as a student looks in amazement at the 60,000 FFA members at national convention, and the final touch of an application after hours of perfecting it. I see this as my future. A future as an agricultural educator.

Like many fresh high school graduates and early college students, choosing a major and being confident in our choice, is challenging; any time we make drastic changes and choices, it can be challenging. How do we know we are on the right path?

We must explore while we have the opportunity. Pursue internships, take different classes, get involved in different student organizations, and surround ourselves with people who will encourage us. We must create an environment of growth for ourselves and those around us.

From experiencing the excitement of hundreds of middle school students at FIRE conference to hearing the retiring addresses of chapter officers to spending 29 days working with students in classrooms to spending late nights planning workshops and lesson plans, you, Wisconsin FFA, have been my growth environment.

I hope that each and every one of you find and create a successful growth environment such as you have given me. Whatever decision you are struggling with, change that challenges you or uncertainty that unnerves you: answers will come. Place yourself in an environment of growth and we will watch you shine!

Forever Grateful,

Emily

Be Happy that it Happened
Jun. 09, 2019

Joe Schlies - Parliamentarian
Denmark FFA Chapter
Section 9

Dear Wisconsin FFA,

Thank you for allowing me to serve as one of your 2018-2019 State FFA Vice Presidents, it has been a whirlwind of a ride and is coming to a bittersweet end. Time truly flies when you’re having fun this past year has taught me to live in the moment and enjoy the little things in life. From getting to travel the country and state with my teammates to getting to interact with members throughout the state it has been an outstanding year or learning and adventure. This Thursday of convention some of us will be zipping our FFA Jackets up for the final time and there may even be tears shed. The FFA is a life changing experience and without it many of us would not be where we are today as we zip up our jackets for the final time, don’t be sad that its over be happy that it happened. Thank you for allowing me to serve you in the past year and I hope to see you down the road!

Signing off,
Sarah Calaway

Signed on the Dotted Line
Jun. 08, 2019

Lydia Williams - Reporter
Shawano FFA Chapter
Section 8

Hello Everyone,

Convention is approaching fast. Not like a lion creeping through the grass but like a freight train barreling down the tracks. This blog is supposed to be a reflection on the year so obviously, I spent two days thinking about it. Over those two days, I discovered a strange thing. After eleven months of state office, I have learned a lot. Many would consider someone eleven months into a one-year term as experienced, but we haven’t even started Convention! It is strange I will be looked to for guidance and confidence while having no prior experience in the position.

As of Saturday, my year is 98.6% done and the most memorable and important part is yet to come. It is like a final boss battle in a video game or the cherry on top of a sundae, depending on how you look at it. These four days will be the defining moment for my year of service. It is slightly terrifying knowing that how you perform in one instant will be how hundreds of members will remember you by. On the other hand, I have eleven glorious months of experience and a wonderful team around me for support. Like playing on a team, your job is made easier when you have a great teammate excelling at theirs.

Anyways, I was pondering my experience because I will be passing on a lot of traditions. Many of you may not know but the state officers have lots of great traditions that get passed on year to year. Some are new, like the guys’ fanny pack, and some are old, like signing the sectional tubs. (Each newly elected officer leaves Convention with no less than three large tubs. They contain all sorts of items that may be useful during the year.) I signed the tubs and added the year, marking my existence in the great history of our organization. Like the other officers before me, I did this before I even stepped foot into the convention hall.

I may be rambling on now about not having experienced the peak of State Officer-ness but my point is this. These signatures go back a long way, almost 2 decades on some. And not one name was signed after retirement, all were done before convention. They were scribbled on not as a sign-off for the year or a mark of completion, but instead like contract and a promise that that officer will finish the year to the best of their abilities. That they will do their part to ensure that the next officer will inherit the great legacy that we all strive for.

Thanks for following along this year. It means a lot to me that someone out there values these words enough to read them all. I appreciate it deeply. Have a great rest of your life. Go out and make that legacy count.

Thanks Again,

Mitchell Schroepfer
State Treasurer
2018-2019

Don't Blink
Jun. 07, 2019

Daniel Clark - Vice President
Spencer FFA Chapter
Section 7

Hi everyone,

With convention fast approaching it seems like just yesterday that we, the 2018-2019 State FFA Officer Team were inducted. Today we are just four days from the gavel dropping. Looking back over the year, we have had a great one. I can’t appreciate the things you all have taught me enough.

Coming to close, I have some advice. Don’t blink. In everything we do it always seems to go by so much faster than we anticipate. After taking office, the first week of our training seemed to take forever, and now everyday leading up to convention seems to fly by faster than the one before. Don’t blink. If you do, you will miss the little things that make everyday worth it, the things that make you wonder, make you smile and even make you think a little. For me, State Office has been my don’t blink moment. For you it may be high school, college, a job or even watching your children or grandchildren grow up. Everyone is different, everyone will have a different don’t blink moment and that is okay. But what you have to remember is to don’t blink, always live in the moment and take time to reflect on everyday.

When I say, don’t blink, I don’t mean physically don’t blink. I mean don’t sweat the small stuff, but always pay attention to detail. The details in life are what makes our journey so special. Take for instance the 11 state officers. We all completed chapter visits and banquets, but not a single one of us had the same experience because of the details. I want to thank you Wisconsin FFA for making the details of my year pretty unforgettable.

I can’t wait to see you all at State Convention next week, I am looking forward to a blast!
Jillian Tyler

Move With The Cheese
Jun. 06, 2019

Jared Mack - Secretary
Sauk Prairie FFA Chapter
Section 6

I recently read a book called “Who Moved My Cheese?” by Dr. Spencer Johnson. The main focus of this book was about change, and how a person can change faster and more successfully in order to find fulfillment and happiness. I stole this book from my teammate and section 8 state officer, Mitchell, back in February, and felt it was a fitting time to read it during this time of year as I am about to face some big life changes, and change is an inevitable part of our lives and something we must always overcome and adapt.

“Who Moved My Cheese?” tells the story of four main characters running through a maze, looking for “Cheese.” The characters are “Sniff,” who sniffs out change early, “Scurry,” who scurries into action, “Hem,” who denies and resists change as they fear it will lead to something worse, and “Haw,” who learns to adapt in time when they see changing can lead to something better. The “Cheese” stands for a metaphor of what we want in life, whether it is a job, relationships, money, freedom, health, recognition, or even an activity like playing sports. Sniff and Scurry are mice who think in simple terms and adapt to change easily, while Hem and Haw are similar to us as humans, who think in more complex ways and resist change as they go throughout the maze searching for “Cheese.” In the end, the story can be summed in a few parts:
1.) Change Happens
2.) Anticipate Change
3.) Monitor Change
4.) Adapt To Change Quickly
5.) Change – Move With The Cheese!
6.) Enjoy Change!
7.) Be Ready To Change Quickly And Enjoy It Again & Again!

Whether you are graduating 8th grade and moving into high school, graduating high school and moving into college or entering the workforce, are transitioning out of a job or opportunity like I am with state office, or are just uncertain or fearful of the future, remember to Move With The Cheese and remember that there is always “New Cheese” right around the corner. Change is part of our lives, and although little and big changes may cause us to feel scared, we have to find our own way, beyond our comfort zone. As long as we are patient, go past any fears we may have, and enjoy the adventure, we can Move With The Cheese to unleash amazing opportunities in our lives.

As I prepare to Move With The Cheese and transition out of state FFA office, I want to thank each and every one of you for helping to make this year an incredible experience. State office has been the most fulfilling, challenging, and rewarding opportunity to date, and I hope you all find your “Cheese” and move right along with it! I am ready for change in the next chapter of my life, and for everyone experiencing changes and transition, enjoy every bit of the journey!

Moving With The Cheese,
Ashley

Why We Do What We Do
Jun. 05, 2019

Emily Sheehan - Sentinel
Parkview FFA Chapter
Section 5

Hey there Wisconsin FFA,

As the year wraps up, I had the opportunity to have one last event before tacking State FFA Convention. A few days ago, I traveled to the Madison Capitol to volunteer with Cows on the Concourse, an educational event for children and adults alike to kick off June Dairy Month. All sorts of exhibits were around Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard to show our industry off: from a pen of cattle to Sassy Cow ice cream, there was a little of everything for a passerby to enjoy! The day was full of questions, taste testing dairy products, and learning about what makes the dairy industry what it is today.

That morning, I was tasked with supervising tubs of cattle feed for people to explore. I began to wonder what would come out of this day, as the morning started off quite slow. However, as the morning went on, all sorts of faces passed by and stopped to see the simple bins of feed sitting on the asphalt. Groups of old women on their way to the farmers market would be enticed to come and smell silage and reminisce on their time back on the farm as young girls. Toddlers would dip their hands into the high moisture corn and grin as they held two chubby fistfuls of ground corn between their palms. Kids would come by and be coaxed into holding a handful cottonseed and be amazed over how soft the outside was. Adults would cup a handful of distillers’ grains and ask how in the world we found out how to use ethanol byproduct for cattle feed. Whether they had a farming background or not, those who stopped always had a question, comment, or simply a grin for us as they experienced what some know as daily life. Everyone had something to take away from that day, from reminiscing on old memories, new facts, to feelings of newfound wonder. The faces and the feelings of those who came by made the job turn from a mundane morning to a day of marvel.

Sometimes, as the story of agriculture takes a dark turn with low prices, a rising average farmer age, and a gloomier public perception by no fault of our own, we wonder why we stay in the FFA and agricultural education. However, mornings like Cows on the Concourse remind us exactly what brought us here to this organization. We’re here because of our true feeling of curiosity about agriculture. We stay involved to teach those kids with handfuls of cottonseed how a cow can use them in her diet. We continue to learn for those who get excited over or a cup of ice cream on the square. We continue to advocate for the adult who wants to learn about where his or her food comes from. No matter what, we stay because we want the FFA and agriculture to give others the feeling it gave us, as we were all once that person with wonder in our eyes over a handful of feed. Wisconsin FFA, we do what we do so others can feel that wonder, too.

Stay curious,
Gaelan

Bittersweet ending
Jun. 04, 2019

Grace Morrissey - Vice President
Shullsburg FFA Chapter
Section 4

It is hard for me to believe it is already less than a week before convention! The warm weather is here, school is almost out, and farmers are busy in the fields. Unfortunately, this means that my year serving as your 2018-2019 State Vice President is coming to a close as well. Many people told me that I’d never forget the feeling of running up on the stage after my name was called as a state officer. This is true but no one mentioned the joy I’d feel seeing a student finally understand a brain-teaser during a chapter visit. No one mentioned the excitement of announcing the winner of a sectional speaking contest. No one mentioned the friendships I’d make with my team or FFA members. No one mentioned the greatness of agricultural educators and FFA advisors. No one mentioned how difficult saying goodbye was going to be. I have truly enjoyed getting to know so many of you, and I appreciate all that you did to make my year so special. I feel blessed to have been able to serve and get a glimpse into all the successes of your chapters. With each experience I participate in, I am constantly reminded why I love our organization and why I love agriculture. I have also realized how lucky I am to be a part of such a wonderful organization full of innumerable opportunities. Please do not forget to enjoy every moment and share your story.
Wish you all the best,
Amber

A Wild Ride It's Been!
Jun. 03, 2019

Curtis Weltzien - Treasurer
Arcadia FFA Chapter
Section 3

Hello,

Well, it’s hard to believe the time has come for my final travel blog of the year! It certainly is a bittersweet feeling, but I decided to take a few minutes to go through and revisit each of my past blog posts from the year. I went all the way back to my very first post in early July titled, “Wild Ride Ahead!”. At the time, I used “wild ride” as a reference to the busy summer months, but now, looking back on my year as a state officer, I can’t think of a term that more accurately and efficiently summarizes my experience. The past 12 months has been one wild ride. A wild ride of a lifetime, in fact. And a wild ride I will never forget.

From summer training, to SLWs, to chapter visits, to National Convention, to FFA Week Activities, to chapter banquets, the year has included a whirlwind of activities that’s provided me with lessons, experiences, relationships, and memories I will take with me for the rest of my life. And for that, I say thank you.

It’s been a wild ride but a ride that I’ve appreciated every step of the way. Sure, it came with some exhilarating peaks and some stressful valleys, but the pace never slowed, and the people I encountered along the way made the journey without-a-doubt worth it.

I’m willing to bet “wild ride” would be a fitting descriptor for many of your FFA years and careers as well. Chance are you’ve had your fair share of ups and down, but either way, you’ve probably realized your time in the corduroy flies right by! And my best advice to you is: cherish the “wild ride” while it lasts!

Thanks for riding with us this year! I can’t wait to see you all at State Convention for our grand finale! Please remember that I’m always just a phone call away if you ever need anything.

So Long,
Collin

For These Reasons...
Jun. 02, 2019

Lindsey Augustine - Vice President
Ellsworth FFA Chapter
Section 2

Its the time of the year where we all start looking forward to summer and the many exciting plans we have to look forward to when school is out. During my middle school years I always looked forward to spring and summer because it meant meeting all of my friends from across the county at one of the local farms for dairy judging practice and some homemade treats with milk after practice was complete.

In middle school we answered type analysis questions (TAQs) for a few of the classes we judged at the area and state contests. If you have never judged before these are questions like:

Which cow is the tallest at the point of her withers?
Which cow has the most set to her leg?
Which cow has the strongest fore udder attachment?
Which cow shows the most spring of rib?

As we answered these questions they helped us identify specific traits of certain cows in the class. My coaches would call me the TAQ queen because I would rarely lose points on my questions. Little did I know, these questions were preparing me for something I was dreading. . . Reasons.

When the year rolled around that I was required to give reasons on my own, I wanted to quit. My mom had quit dairy judging when it came time for her to give reasons, but she wouldn't let me make that same mistake. I had to at least give it a try. Even though TAQs were a breeze for me, I struggled with reasons. Although I was able to identify specific traits when the cows were right in front of me for TAQs, it was difficult for me to identify all the good, bad, and otherwise traits of each cow and then try to remember all that information to deliver reasons later in the day.

Even though I didn't want to keep judging, I gave a few years judging and giving reasons a try. I learned that reasons didn't come as naturally to me as others because although I can talk until I am blue in the face my memory isn't wired to remember all the specifics of each cow. This meant I had to spend more time perfecting reasons on my own time (on the lawn mower, in the shower, and in the car) than many of my teammates. Although I grew to tolerate giving reasons, I did exactly that. . . tolerate them. I stuck with dairy judging not because I loved giving reasons, but because I enjoyed going to see cows, growing in my speaking skills though practice and coaching, seeing all my friends (and sometimes going on post practice Denny's trips), and of course the treats and milk! For those reasons above, I still looked forward to each dairy judging season.

Sometimes we have to try things we don't want to do. Sometimes we have to work harder at things than others around us. Sometimes we decide to put up with the small parts we don't enjoy as much because the positives outweigh those little negatives.

We do this every day without thinking about it. Maybe we try that contest our ag teacher keeps pestering us about, even though we don't want to speak in front of others. Maybe we have to work twice as hard to memorize vocabulary for english or a formula for math class. Some of us put up with waking up early to do chores before school, so we can raise the livestock we love to work with and show. For these reasons, we will become more well rounded students and better prepared for our future endeavors.

All of these small actions we make each day are shaping us. I truly believe we will each be better for these things we do that we don't want to do, or that are more difficult for us than others, or finding the positives that outweigh the negatives. These are the reasons our decisions impact our traditions, our futures, and our legacies.

-Paige


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