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Oct. 31, 2016

Hannah Taylor - Reporter
Poynette FFA Chapter
Section 6

As I scrolled through Facebook this past week, I saw many posts in tribute to the Official FFA Jacket as members took their jackets off for the last time after national convention. This simple piece of blue corduroy seems to mean so much to every individual whom ever had the chance to wear it. What makes this jacket so special?
Two young sisters, Abby (7th grade) and Maggie (6th grade), told me all about what the jacket means to them. Growing up in a family where everyone already knows they will be in FFA, they have looked forward to putting on official dress since they were very young. They began begging very early on for the chance to wear the jacket, so their family began a new tradition. Last year as a 6th grader, Abby got to wear official dress to their chapter banquet as an “almost-official” member. This year, Maggie looks forward to doing the same. She says that she can’t wait to be able to wear official dress and feel like she is part of the chapter.
Once we finally get our FFA jackets, some of us seem to become obsessed with corduroy. Did you see all of the stuffed corduroy animals sold at national convention? I myself have my own corduroy teddy bear. His name is Corey. Corey travels everywhere with me. I originally got him because I love the feel of corduroy and it’s a lot less awkward to cuddle with a bear than with my jacket.... I use Corey to inspire me when I’m not wearing my jacket. Just feeling the stiff ridges of the blue corduroy reminds me of what it feels like to wear the jacket. It reminds me of how I feel like I have super powers, like I am capable of doing anything and that I am supported by thousands of members around me.
But as much as we love our jackets and wish we would never have to take them off, the day will come when we will have to. My older sister, Jessica, recently had to hang up her jacket for the final time after receiving her American Degree. This is some of what she wrote as she hung up her jacket for the last time:
"7 years ago I zipped up a blue jacket for the first time. I’m not really sure when I finally realized just how blessed I was to wear those colors. It could have been my first trip to National Convention and seeing all the jackets is Indy, or maybe when I made it into State FFA Choir my first try! All I know is I felt my heart break when I hung it up for the last time last week! The jacket is more than a jacket. It’s a symbol of who you are and who will become as a person."
The blue jacket symbolizes FFA and who we are as a whole. Those pockets hold memories, experiences and life lessons learned while traveling the state and country next to our best friends. It unites us; while we wear the jacket, we know that we have the support of 649,355 FFA members across the country. To those of you who just got your first jacket, love it and wear it as much as possible. To those who are going to be taking it off for the final time soon, cherish all the memories and take them with you everywhere. Even if we have to let go of the jacket one day, we never have to let go of the memories.

Love every moment,
Hannah Taylor

American FFA Degree interview
Oct. 27, 2016

Dani Angotti - Vice President
Freedom FFA Chapter
Section 8

The American FFA Degree is a goal of many however less than 1% of FFA members receive their American Degree. This year there were 119 American Degrees awarded to Wisconsin FFA members. I interviewed one member who was awarded her American Degree this year.

Morgan Denzer was from the Pulaski FFA Chapter and is now a Junior and Iowa State University majoring in Food Science. Her Supervised Agricultural Experience was beef production entrepreneurship. Morgan started her FFA journey as a middle schooler and said she joined because it was a family affair. Her parents and her brother were both FFA members also.

Morgan’s favorite activities in FFA were the conferences and conventions. Morgan said she enjoyed going to see her friends while learning and having a great time too. She said her funniest FFA story would be when she thought back to all the different dances she attended. She said there were very few girls and a lot of boys who attended events from Pulaski, she said the boys would dress crazy and the people she was with just made it a lot of fun.
Morgan said the hardest thing for her in her FFA career was that people didn’t believe in her. She said this only made her work harder to meet their expectations, and to prove them all wrong.

Morgan left a little advice for current FFA members and said to get involved to try something that kind of scares you because it could end up being very rewarding and lead you into a direction you never expected. She also left advice for students who are thinking about joining FFA and said look into it more. She said don’t focus so much on the rural farming side, because if you do you will miss out on what else FFA has to offer.

This was Morgan’s last National Convention as a FFA member but she will cherish the memories she has made forever. Congratulations Morgan on all of your accomplishments and best of luck to you in the future.

We've Been Transformed!!
Oct. 23, 2016

Ashley Zimmerman - Vice President
Spencer FFA Chapter
Section 7

Wow!! It can't even be put into words of how amazing National FFA Convention was this past week! Watching how the FFA has transformed over the last 89 years has shown why the FFA is such an impactful organization.

Last Monday we hopped on a bus at 4:30 in the morning to start our adventure. The state officer team was fortunate enough to ride with some awesome FFA members and of course our awesome national delegates Jared, Katelyn, Lilly, and Parker!!

Throughout the week the state officers along with our national delegates worked with 461 other delegates from across the nation in six different committees creating ideas of how we can transform the National FFA Organization. These committees consisted of Reviewing Career Development Events, Alumni Engagement, Middle School Opportunities, Inclusion and Diversity, Service Opportunities and Recognition, and Agricultural Technology. We also made some very important decisions regarding official dress.

As delegate we got some of the best seats in the house for the sessions in Bankers Life Fieldhouse!! The delegates are seated on the floor for the sessions and the energy and excitement is crazy!! We attended every session to hear the inspirational retiring addresses from the national officers, thank our supporters, and cheer on all of the award winners. Wisconsin came home with 4 National Proficiency Award winners, 119 American Degree recipients, 5 Honorary American Degree Recipients, a top 5 Career Development Event team, a top 4 prepared speaker, and 2 National Agriscience Fair winners!!

Wisconsin FFA National Award Winners include:

Brandon Anding, Granton FFA- National Winner Ag Mechanics Repair and Maintenance

Erica Helmer, Plymouth FFA- National Winner Dairy Production Placement

Zachary Olson, Adams-Friendship FFA- National Winner Diversified Horticulture

Josh Anderson, Wisconsin Dells FFA- National Winner Grain Production Placement

Honorary American Degree Recipients- Jan Shepel, Sarah Leystra, Todd Leystra, Ralph Johnson, Kevin Whalen

Amery FFA- 2nd runner-up Parliamentary Procedure

Amelia Hayden, Big Foot FFA- National Winner Food Products and Processing Agriscience Fair

Grace Schumacher, Plymouth FFA- National Winner Animal Systems Agriscience Fair

Braden Kundert, Badger FFA- 3rd runner-up Prepared Public Speaking

Tuesday night we had the opportunity to talk to employers about internship opportunities. The employers we were able to talk to were also huge supporters of the National FFA including DOW Agrosciences, Elanco, and John Deere. On Wednesday night some of the state officers and delegates attended what may have been the best concert I have ever been to!! We were able to see Chris Young and Cole Swindell and to see big entertainers show support for the National FFA was incredible.

I loved seeing and talking to Wisconsin FFA members during the week!! It was amazing to see almost 600 people come for the state picture on Thursday making it the biggest state picture of the week!

FFA members, now it is your turn to transform your own lives! Take what you have learned from attending the 89th National FFA Convention back home to your chapters, schools, and communities. The state officer team is excited to see what transformations each Wisconsin FFA member can make! Because of the 89th National FFA Convention, we have been transformed and turned our Purpose into Action!

Forever True. Forever Blue.
Ashley Zimmerman
Wisconsin FFA Vice President

It's Harvest Time!
Oct. 15, 2016

Ciera Ballmer - Vice President
Clinton FFA Chapter
Section 5

It’s that time of year again! Time for beautiful fall colors, football, pumpkins, and most of all, time for harvest!

With the farmers hard at work during harvest time, it seemed fitting for me to reflect upon this idea of “harvest.” A harvest is the end result. For a farmer, the harvest is the final amount and quality of the food they produce. However, for all of us as FFA members or supporters, our harvest could be any of the results we see in our lives. Our harvest could be the achieving goals, our level of premiere leadership, personal growth, and career success, or what impact we make on other people and the community.

Seeing results is great because we can see progression and feel accomplished. However, sometimes results, or our harvest, can’t be seen and can’t be measured. Not seeing results can be frustrating because you feel like you haven’t made progress and you question if the time and effort you put in is really worth it.

Whenever I am not seeing results, I always turn to the quote:
“Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap, but by the seeds that you plant.”
–Robert Louis Stevenson

We all like seeing results, and I am no exception. But it is important to remember that it is not all about that end result; the end result is just the final step along the way. What we should all try to focus on is the seeds that we plant.

The next time you are questioning if you have made progress or if you have made an impact, try putting your attention on the seeds we’ve planted. Simply start by making a goal for yourself or “Pay It Forward” by helping someone else in hopes that your action will create a chain reaction. Every little thing that we do to improve ourselves and our community, those are our seeds, and those seeds can never be harvested if you don’t start by planting them.

Happy Harvest!
Ciera Ballmer,
Wisconsin State FFA Vice President

And So It Continues.....
Oct. 10, 2016

Kari Fischer - Parliamentarian
Argyle FFA Chapter
Section 4

Hello Wisconsin FFA! It’s crazy to think that we’re already well into October! I hope you’re all having a great fall. I know I sure am! From Green Bay to Milwaukee to La Crosse to River Falls, I’ve been pretty much everywhere! During this time, I am humbled and amazed to have met so many amazing Wisconsin FFA members. While traveling constantly was super fun, it was a relief to slow down and get to start my chapter visits! I started out with the fantastic chapter of Potosi. All of the students were so much fun and welcoming! The second visit was with River Ridge. It was wonderful getting to meet their officer team who is so dedicated to their chapter! Also, they’re considering doing donkey basketball which I was extremely excited for! My third chapter last week was Wauzeka. This chapter is definitely going places! It was great to have the opportunity to present to the entire high school about FFA! The fourth and last chapter I’ve done so far is Belmont, which occurred today. Mr. Hodgson and his students were extremely fun and were very knowledgeable about the FFA! These four chapters have made my chapter visit experience the best and I can’t wait to visit the rest of Section 4 in the coming months! And along with chapter visits comes National Convention! I hope to see lots of you down in Indianapolis next week!

Keep on keeping on Wisconsin FFA,

Kari Fischer

FIRE Conference Rumble!!
Oct. 08, 2016

Laura Munger - Secretary
Holmen FFA Chapter
Section 3

"Everybody do the FIRE Conference Rumble! Everybody do the FIRE Conference Rumble!" These past three Saturday's have been packed with eager to learn middle schoolers and state officers ready to share their FFA knowledge! The state officers had the chance to visit the UW-Madison, Fox-Valley Technical, and the UW-River Falls campuses to host Wisconsin's Foundations In Building Excellence Conference. Each of the campuses offered space to host the workshops, college students to help out, and an activity for the middle schoolers after lunch! This year, the FIRE Conference theme was Building Your Foundation, One Brick at a Time. Every FFA member received a safety green conference t-shirt to match the construction theme, and had the chance to build a solid foundation for their FFA career!
State officers paired together to allow each 7th, 8th, and 9th grader to experience four different workshops. These workshops included FFA opportunities and pride, FFA history, and proper etiquette. The state officers spent months preparing for the FIRE Conferences, but the amount of energy the FFA members brought to the workshops is what made the whole experience so memorable.
In Sarah and my workshop, one member really stuck out from today. This particular member was an 8th grader named Kendra. As Sarah and I talked about all the different opportunities FFA offers through Leadership Development Events and Career Development Events, Kendra sat on the edge of her seat the whole time. Eyes wide with curiosity and excitement as she soaked in all the information. Every time we asked a question or needed a volunteer, she would nearly jump out of her seat as she raised her hand. Kendra knew a lot about what Sarah and I were talking about, and the amount of enthusiasm she brought to the rest of the students was pretty incredible!
Thank you to each and every student for helping make the FIRE Conferences so much fun! I know the state officers and I cannot wait to work with you again later in the year for chapter visits!

Until the next time you zip up your blue FFA jacket,
Laura Munger
2016-17 State FFA Secretary

2016 SLW's in the Books!
Oct. 07, 2016

Rylee Black - Treasurer
Amery FFA Chapter
Section 1

I cannot believe Sectional Leadership Workshops are already over! It has been a crazy whirlwind of meeting new people, experiencing new things, and learning so much more about Wisconsin FFA and the agriculture industry.
Since most FFA members only arrive at SLW check-in time and leave after closing ceremonies, I’m going to give you a quick sneak-peek behind the scenes of a Sectional Leadership workshop. Before I was a state officer, I had no idea what went into preparing for and executing an SLW.
Before SLW’s even started, we spent an entire week planning workshops, rehearsing the skit, sharing our speeches, gathering materials, and practicing facilitating at the Adams-Friendship high school. Ms. Grabarski’s agriculture classroom looked like a tornado went through it with all of the team’s things spread throughout her room and the shop. We spent many hours planning our own workshops, making lists of materials we needed, and diligently writing workshop outlines in case of an emergency where we couldn’t facilitate for some reason; thankfully, we never had utilize them because no one got sick! Once we were finished, we headed home for two days of rest before hitting the road for SLW’s.
We began our SLW adventure on September 11th, the night before the first conference. The first SLW was for section six in Poynette, WI. That week, we also visited sections ten, five, and four. SLW check-in starts at 3:15pm, so what exactly do the state officers do all day before then? It’s plenty of time to set up and relax before the conference starts, right? Well, not really. We usually did not arrive at the host high school until about 1:30pm. We woke up early each day in order fit in travel time and time to tour two agricultural businesses in the area. Since there is ten sections in Wisconsin, we had the opportunity to visit twenty different businesses! These businesses covered many parts of the agricultural spectrum: livestock producers, crop producers, family-owned, corporately-owned, production, distribution, retail, and even research. Despite how different and unique each business was, they all had one common message: there is a constant demand for good workers in agriculture at all levels. Agriculture is an industry that will never go away, but there is still never a steady flow of dependable labor coming into the industry. To me, this means there are tons of opportunities for potential careers for FFA members, and this is very exciting!!
The other part of SLW’s that most members don’t realize is where we stay while we are on the road. We actually stay with host families rather than in hotels. Each officer is in charge of organizing host families for all of the officer team for the SLW in their section. We do this instead of hotel stays because it is another opportunity for us to connect with more FFA members and their families! This is one of my favorite parts of our travels. It was so interesting to chat with people from all over the state, learn about members’ experiences, and play with their adorable pets! I also felt more at home than I would at a hotel because all of the host families were so kind and welcoming to us.
We did Sectional Leadership Workshops at the home schools of each officer in all ten sections for three weeks and FIRE conferences on the Saturdays in between, so we were very busy bees in the month of September! Although SLW’s are done now, there is still one more FIRE conference on October 8th at UW River Falls, so if you’re in middle school or ninth grade, come join us for fun activities, dancing, food, and free t-shirts!!

Celebrate 50!
Oct. 05, 2016

Caleb Green - Vice President
Stanley-Boyd FFA Chapter
Section 2

World Dairy Expo turned 50 years old this year and the celebration was amazing. The State Officer Team had the opportunity to Travel to Madison to attend the World Dairy Expo and help with the FFA Judging Contests. It was an awesome chance to see all of the great show animals and equipment that relate to it. It was also a great chance to meet many people from around the world. Throughout the day, the State Officers also handed out t-shirts to members who successfully completed the Word Dairy Expo Scavenger Hunt. We also got to witness the newest statue to the World Dairy Expo- the cow statue known as “Miss Madison.” Miss Madison is located near the iconic Globe. From the delicious grilled cheese to all of the interesting vendors, this event was one for the ages! I encourage all of you to attend this next year!

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