Supervised Agricultural Experience:
My primary SAEs were dairy production placement, and entrepreneurship. For the placement aspect of my project I worked on my grandparents' farm, as well as at dairy cattle shows and sales. I also raised swine to show at my county fair, and I work at a wholesale greenhouse each spring.
What was your favorite FFA opportunity that you participated in?
At this point in the year, someone might think that a state officer would be able to easily answer this question. Afterall, we get asked this question frequently. It still hasn't gotten easier. My mind instantly begins to race thinking of all the things I've been able to do. State Convention, National Convention, WLC, Parli Pro, Employment Skills, Dairy Judging, Dairy Foods Judging, Conferences, what else am I forgetting? I think to myself that can't be everything I've done. While it's easy for many of us to think of the events on a state of national level, sometimes I have to take a step back and realize myself and so many FFA members are just as actively involved at the local level. One of my favorite activities at the local level was helping each year with the annual tractor pull my chapter's alumni puts on. Over the years I've found my duties on the day of consist of helping in the VIP tent, where all the sponsors and pullers come to enjoy a meal before the event begins. I enjoyed this task because I was able to interact with the people who help make the event possible. Without sponsors and supporters it would be difficult to have the funds to make the event happen. Without the pullers there wouldn't be a reason for people to come watch and enjoy the event. The interactions I had with people in the VIP tent also allowed me the opportunity to teach them about FFA and why I am part of the organization. I've also realized without the support of our alumni and their willingness to host this event each year, many members in my home chapter wouldn't have the opportunity to take part in many of the state and national activities that the alumni helps offset costs for.
What was your favorite holiday tradition growing up?
Traditions are a very important thing to my family, so growing up there have been many which have carried on from my great-grandparents, grandparents, and parents experiences. I find it difficult to choose between my favorite Christmas tradition and our family's Easter tradition because I believe they are both unique to my family. On Christmas Eve each year, we gather in the evening with the Mitchell side of the family to celebrate the holiday season. Although I have fond memories of about 100 people filling great-grandma's house to the brim, eating the most delicious dishes everyone brought to share, the massive mountain of gifts, and more there is one part of Christmas Eve that was the highlight each year. All the kids would go down to the basement, put our pajamas on, and sing Christmas Carols while we danced around patiently waiting to hear Santa's jingle bells. When we heard the bells and a jolly ho-ho-ho everyone raced up the steps to sit on the floor around Santa and his big green plastic bags of gifts. Santa would pull unwrapped gifts out one by one and call our names. Sometimes a younger kid would cry even harder when their mom told them they wouldn't get the gift unless they sat on his lap. We would thank him and send him off by singing Happy Birthday to Baby Jesus and "We Wish you a Merry Christmas." This tradition was started by my great-grandparents for their kids and has continued. Easter morning seems to drag on each year. Finally, lunch hits and we eat as fast as we can because all the grandkids know what's coming. We suit up in our warm clothes (usually it's still cold in Wisconsin) and we head to the porch to wait for the "master clue" the Easter Bunny left for grandpa. As we find our way through more and more clues, the 16 grandkids get split off into groups, then pairs, and finally you are on your own but the clues don't get any easier. We have about 5,000 acres of the farm our baskets could be hidden on. Some years we've found baskets at the top of silos or grain legs, in the manure spreader, in the shop toilet, buried in the middle of a field, and many more places. The Easter Bunny is a tricky fella! This tradition was started by my mom's parents for their children and I hope it continues for years to come.
Looking to the future, what is one goal you have for the rest of your year serving as a state FFA officer?
Where has the first half of this opportunity as a state officer went? I hope to continue to encourage members to step outside their comfort zone and try new FFA opportunities. I also hope to share with members that we have the power to find our own path in the organization by participating in the things we enjoy. Our journey does not have to be dictated by the fact that we didn't grow up on a farm, that nobody in your chapter has ever participated in that event, or that people think we need to follow the same path as those in our family who were members as well. We are our own unique person and with determination can find our own path in the organization.