Friday, January 31, 2014
Saturday, December 7, 2013
For many, this description leads us to think of many of the memorials that we see in our nation's capital, Washington D.C. Their solemn beauty stands to remind all of us of the men and women who gave their lives for our nation. What some don't consider is that something like this can reside in a small town.
Baxter Springs, Kansas, a town about ten minutes away from my home nestled in the southeast corner of the state, is home to a memorial dedicated to the veterans from all branches of the military. I attended the unveiling while I was home on Thanksgiving break, and was completely awe-stricken. Five stones stood in a semi circle around a larger one in the center. Each of the outer stones were engraved with images depicting a different branch of the military, while the center stone had an engraved dedication to America's veterans. What particularly stood out about this memorial was not the polished stones that my eyes saw, however, but the small paver bricks my feet stood upon.
Each brick was marked with a different name. Names that were family friends, and names that I had never seen before. Below each name was a description of what branch of the military they belonged to, if they had been apart of a war, and what years they had served. Each brick had a place on that path, locking between the others and serving as an entrance to the memorial.
|Courtesy of Michael Rodgers Photography|
The memorial project was undertaken by my grandmother several years back. With the help of friends, family, and the community she and the other members of her committee set out to build something that would stand as a reminder of those who served. The committee had gone through many years of phone calls, late nights, meetings, and construction, to honor others. Over these past years, my grandma had always had a full schedule, but between it all, she always found, and still finds, time for the ones she cares about.
I began to have some thoughts after the ceremony: service is a continuous cycle. We don't just do it once, and then we're done. Those we serve have or have had the opportunity to serve another, and the chain continues. My grandma and her colleagues worked to serve the men and women of the armed forces, as they have served our country for countless years. How can you be caught up in the act of service? How are you able to serve those in your home and community? Is there a way that you can be a part of this continuous cycle of service?
Through this memorial, we offer thanks, in the hopes that one day future generations can look upon it, and be thankful for the service that was given to ensure our safety, our ideals, and our country. To all of the men and women, past, present, and future, who live an act of service: Thank you.
Friday, November 8, 2013
This was not only my second National Convention that I had ever attended, but this was my first time being in Louisville. I shared that "first" with many, as it had previously been held in Indianapolis, Indiana for several years past. At this National Convention, however, I had an amazing and unique experience: to serve as a delegate. The delegate body is made up of 475 members, similar to the House of Representatives. Our mission was to address different issues surrounding the FFA, with items such as how we can further broadcast our message, or ways to increase ag literacy in the public. The entire process was amazing because it shows how we can all come together to help the FFA grow as an organization.
National Convention wasn't all business, though. There was plenty of time to meet new people and hang out with old friends. The team went to a concert featuring Jana Kramer and Dierks Bentley, which was mind-blowing. The delegates also sat on the convention floor, where the Kansas State Officers had front row seats. All of the sessions were recorded and broadcasted, so I'm sure a few people saw Lindy and I jamming out to the choir's mash-up of Pitch Perfect (which was amazing, I might add), or Daryl and Elizabeth swing dancing in front of the stage. As delegates, we made sure to match all of the energy that the members brought to convention, making it so amazing to be in the sessions.
The core of National Convention is the general sessions, where FFA members are recognized for their accomplishments, National Officers deliver their retiring addresses, and amazing keynote speakers are heard. There are moments of high energy, and high emotion. Each session is chaired by a different National Officer, who bring their own personality into the light. In my opinion, one of the most amazing things to hear at National Convention is opening ceremonies, right at the beginning of each general session. The secretary calls the roll of members (62,998!), and you get to hear the thundering reply to, "FFA members, why are we here?"
The biggest takeaway were the messages that the speakers left behind. One of the keynote speakers, Josh Sundquist, said that "life is tough. But life isn't about falling down, it's about how quickly you get back up." National President Clay Sapp wrapped up his retiring address with one, resounding question: how will you start living for others? Every person on that stage had a story that would capture my mind, and all of them had a message that touched my heart.
This year is full of so many possibilities. There will be obstacles, but none that cannot be overcome. This year, we as FFA members have the opportunity to fuel our passion for the FFA. We can spark action. Our ideas and actions could be the fuel needed to spark something much bigger than ourselves. And when we fuel our passion; when we spark action; we will ignite. How can you bring passion to something, like a new project? How can you bring that passion into your communities, and spark that action?
I could write (or type) about National Convention all day. If I did, however, I have a feeling that it might be the size of a Harry Potter book. For those interested in seeing the 86th National Convention & Expo for themselves, the broadcasts are available to watch at ihigh.com/ffa. They are worth watching, because there are some parts to National Convention that you just cannot put into words.
Each session was ended by one phrase. These words spoke about how we as individuals can shine, and as members, how we can ignite the FFA. Because I'm a science geek, I loved this phrase from the moment I heard it. I know, as did the National Officers, that we can all accomplish great things in the FFA,
Friday, October 11, 2013
Green Eggs and Ham, The Lorax, and of course The Cat in the Hat. Stories all created by Theodor Geisel, also known as the one and only Dr. Seuss. The winner of many awards for his creations, Dr. Seuss was also known as a perfectionist. He would not settle on a story until he was sure that the theme was exactly what he wanted. It is said that it wasn't uncommon for Seuss to throw out 95% of his current work and start from almost scratch. But his endless pursuit for perfection shows in his work, providing countless lessons, laughs, and memories.
I was given a book of Dr. Seuss quotes as a gift before I graduated, and was told that if I ever need a smile, or a little extra motivation, to look through the pages. Here are some of my favorites:
"You're off to Great Places!
Today is your day!
Your mountain is waiting,
So...get on your way!"
-Oh, the Places You'll Go!
"Why fit in when you were born to stand out?"
"If things start happening, don't worry, don't stew. Just go right along and you'll start happening too."
-Oh, the Places You'll Go!
These quotes remind me that we all have a journey ahead of us whether that is achieving a goal or trying something new. There's no better day to make progress than today, and the trip becomes easier when you can just be yourself.
If I ever need a pick-me-up, or a good rhyme, I'll always be sure to find a quote by Dr. Seuss. What quote speaks to you? Is it motivational, or thoughtful? How can your favorite quotes empower your actions?
Kansas FFA, we out!
Thursday, September 5, 2013
Thursday, July 25, 2013
On my regular run, I will run past cows, horses, a hay field, two wheat fields, and a couple of corn fields. There is no doubt that there are times that I take all of this for granted, but I wouldn't trade it for anything. I consider my neighborhood (AKA the middle of nowhere) a fantastic picture of American agriculture. Every adjacent plot of land is growing something different, but at the same time they are all next to each other. It's diversity coming together that makes agriculture so amazing.
It's moments like this that I get little snapshots of all the beauty the land has to offer and a chance to reflect on all of the hard work that was put into it. To the world, agricultural states like Kansas, Oklahoma, or Indiana are known as "fly over states", as Jason Aldean points out in his song. He says that people take these places for granted. However, he points out that these are some of the most beautiful places in the country, filled with the most hard-working people that you will ever meet. If you haven't already done so, try to meet "the man who plowed that earth and planted that seed" and thank him for all that he has done.
Whether we live near "a bunch of square corn fields and wheat farms," or we're in the plane that's flying over them, we all have a hand, and an impact, in agriculture. How can we make sure that we are making a positive impact? Do we take American agriculture for granted? How can we show ourselves and others the importance of agriculture?
As FFA members, we have the opportunity to not only experience and learn about agriculture, but to advocate it as well. By developing those qualities of leadership (which an FFA member should possess), our voices can be heard in our communities, in our States, and in our nation. How can we show people what it means to be a part of a "fly over state"?
Here's a picture I stopped to take while going down the (miles and miles of) back roads.
Kansas FFA, we out!
Wednesday, April 17, 2013
1. Quotes- I tend to find peace in the words in rough times
2. Outdoors- Experiencing nature in the most pure form is remarkable every time
3. Music- I get lost in music, the beat and rhythm have the ability to change my mood instantly
In our lives, what are the basics that we can go back to when we have a rough day? What brings us inner peace and happiness? Out of the complicated things in our day to day life, what is the most basic and fundamental thing that brings you joy?
Here are some of my favorite quotes:
Stay Classy Kansas FFA