Elizabeth Meyer delivers State President’s Retiring Address

Welcome Home

The radio is blaring and air conditioning is turned 974A4336 copytowards full blast to try and keep me awake for the remainder of the drive. I could do the route with my eyes shut, but figure it’s best to keep them open. The trek home from college is only about an hour and a half, but it can seem way longer at times. As I drive, my mind wanders through all that has occurred in my life lately: Successes, failures, stress. Finally rolling up the gravel driveway to my house, this all subsides until I am left with pure joy at the sight of her. My little sister sprints to the window of my car with a huge smile across her face. When I step out of the car, she attacks me with a tremendous hug and squeals of “you’re home! You’re home!” The best part – she does that every. single. time.

My sister greets me in a way that makes me forget all the mistakes I have made or worries I have. She doesn’t care about any of that – all she cares about is me arriving home to spend time with her. This love and enthusiasm makes me let go of all those mistakes also and instead try and accept myself the way she accepts me. At the same time, whether she knew it or not, my sister was creating an atmosphere where I felt welcomed and like I belonged.

Growing up, my summers almost always consisted of some type of camp. 4-H camp at Rock Springs, Church Camp, Girl Scout Camp, Basketball Camp, CYLC Camp, SCCL, and countless others filled my schedules each year. It was not uncommon for me to enter these camps without knowing anyone. These were my favorite because it was like going in with a clean slate. I felt like I could be myself – my overly energetic, crazy, loving self – and not be judged. But this made me think: why wasn’t I being that same person at school? I was worried that I would not be accepted if I showed all my quirkiness to the wrong people. I soon came to discover that most of the criticism I was worried about was that which came from within myself. I will admit it: I am my own worst critic to an insane amount. Why did you miss that shot?! Looking pretty rough at school today, aren’t we? Wow, you just acted like such a spaz. Try to tone it down and be more professional. You seriously don’t have anything together – you just aren’t good at anything.

In these moments, I think of something my softball coach once told me: Don’t say anything to yourself that you wouldn’t say to your best friend. It’s okay to not be perfect because there is beauty in the imperfections. It can be difficult, but know that you are never too much and always enough. Embrace all that you have to offer the world because no one will ever exist to be just like you. Our personalities are unique and deserve to be shared with those around us. We each have gifts, but it is how we use them that makes us who we are. The wise Dr. Seuss once said “Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind.”

It may be simple or difficult, but we can always find those parts of ourselves that we are not embracing like we should. Maybe that is looking at yourself in the mirror and evaluating whether or not you truly do accept yourself. We will not be perfect at everything we do, but that’s okay! We don’t have to be the most athletic, the best actor, prettiest, smartest, or most popular person in the school to appreciate what we do offer. We all have parts of ourselves that we do not like, but we also should have parts that we admire. Accept yourself because life becomes so much easier when you do. What two qualities about yourself do you value? This could be your comedy, your intelligence, your creativity, your responsibility, or something different. Whatever thought jumped into your mind, hold onto it and do not let it go. You are wearing that on your sleeve – let it stay there. Bring all that you have to offer the world and embrace it.

As we learn to accept who we really are, there is an opportunity and obligation to go help others do the same.

No one lives this out more for me than a woman by the name of Margaret Wilson. Margaret is a wonderful lady in her mid 70s I grew up knowing through church with my family. She knew my family lived 25 miles outside of town, which was too far to travel home between practices and meetings during the week., so she continually invited me to pass the time at her house instead of waiting in my dad’s classroom. I hate intruding on others, but she was so kind and persistent that I eventually accepted. Every time I walked into her house, Margaret greeted me with a smile, hug, and an enthusiastic “Hey girly girl!” She cooked delicious meals, listened as I talked, shared laughter, encouraged me to try new things, offered great advice, and made me feel loved. Her hugs made it hard to leave, but I would always walk out of her house feeling renewed and inspired. What started as a small, thoughtful gesture on her part ended up making a significant impact on my life.

It doesn’t take a huge gesture to create a welcoming feeling for others – it could just be through repeated small acts. All it took to make my day or week was Margaret going out of her way to make me feel welcomed. Her actions helped me see the parts of myself that I should value. Like Margaret, we can all contribute to making others feel accepted. Who wouldn’t want to make a place where everyone feels they belong and can be themselves?! Not only can you have the joy of making someone else happy, but it can also help everyone continually perform better. People are more likely to be their best when they feel accepted and safe from judgement. Go out of your way to spread more kindness and embrace the diverse personalities of those around you.

As FFA members, we have the opportunity to do this every day. Have you engaged new FFA members in your chapter? Make them feel just as important as other members because they are. Share encouragement or a smile with other members while competing at CDEs. Start a conversation with an FFA member you have not met. At school, work, or home, we can make someone feel special with a compliment or quality time spent together. The person sitting alone at the lunch table, the friend who’s having a rough day, or even the person who appears to have everything together – make sure you take the steps to embracing those around you. How can you make others feel welcome? Many of us have heard the golden rule “treat others the way you want to be treated.” At the end of the day, we should be able to reflect on our actions and be proud of how we treated others, but there is always room for growth.

After making that drive home from college, my fears and insecurities instantly leave when my little sister comes to greet me. When she creates a place where I can accept myself for who I am, I instantly feel welcomed. FFA members, let’s make it our responsibility to welcome others home the way my sister does for me. Take time to embrace and love who you truly are. Accept that it is okay to not be perfect, and focus on the qualities you do bring to life. Find those ways to make everyone feel as though they belong, by going out of your way to let others know it’s okay to be themselves. Live a life that helps others feel wanted and know that you are too. Welcome to a life that celebrates you – welcome home.

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Local FFA Members Compete in Agriscience Competition

Kansas FFA members from across the state competed in the state agriscience fair during the 89th Kansas FFA State Convention, May 31–June 2, 2017, on the Kansas State University campus.

The agriscience fair is a competition for Kansas FFA members interested in the science and technology of today’s agricultural sector.

Students can compete in the Kansas agriscience fair in one of six categories:

Winners in each category are as follows:

Animal Systems, Division 3: Kim Achilles, Haven FFA, 1st place; Kara Hays, Ellsworth FFA, 2nd place; Macy Hoskinson, Haven FFA, 3rd place.

Animal Systems, Division 4: Brooke Nafziger and Alyssa Burkholder, Goessel FFA, 1st place.

Animal Systems, Division 5: Lukas Sebesta, Ellsworth FFA, 1st place; Braelynn Lemon, Hill City FFA, 2nd place.

Environmental/Natural Resource Systems, Division 3: Morgan Carmichael, Haven FFA, 1st place; Delica Ewert, Goessel FFA, 2nd place.

Food Products and Processing Systems, Division 3: Jerah Schmidt, Goessel FFA, 1st place.

Food Products and Processing Systems, Division 4: Gattlin Spellman and Serena Chantra, Fairfield FFA, 1st place.

Plant Systems, Division 3: Alexandria Nickel, Goessel FFA, 1st place.

Social Systems, Division 5: MiKayla Deters, Sabetha FFA, 1st place.

2017–2018 Kansas FFA Officer Slate


Aidan Cairns | Marion-Florence FFA

Skyler Denio | Hoxie FFA


MiKayla Deters | Sabetha FFA

Riley Sleichter | Abilene FFA


Garrett Girk | South Central FFA

Quentin Umphenour | Jayhawk Linn FFA


Katie Lybarger |Anderson County FFA

Marie Reveles | Hays FFA


John Kennedy | Jackson Heights FFA

Eli Ohlde | Clifton-Clyde FFA



Jacob Grinstead delivers State Reporter’s retiring address

Good Enough

͞Push yourself! You can do better! You can do more974A3372 than that! I believe that you can achieve more! The little voice in our heads that wants us to be the best version of ourselves that we can be. It’s that little voice that helps us to continue moving forward, improving, growing as individuals. It’s awesome to tell ourselves that we can do better on our own and to know that we can achieve amazing things. It’s pretty special to have the motivation to want to achieve greater things or improve on your abilities. But what happens all too often is that we start telling ourselves other things as well.  You aren’t good enough. You should be improving faster. Why aren’t you better? Our self-motivation can easily become self-loathing. We sometimes push ourselves so hard that we begin to feel inadequate. Our “we can do better” causes us to ask ͞why aren’t you better͟, and our goal to grow turns into the thought that we were never good enough in the first place. Where do we find the line between choosing to push ourselves and feeling secure with who we are? Do we make the decision to keep growing, or do we choose to simply accept who we are in the moment? Maybe we don’t have to pick one or the other. We can choose to continue pushing ourselves and still achieve personal happiness. We can make the decision to find a balance between the two and allow ourselves to have both. When we choose to find that balance we can grow as individuals while still feeling fulfilled. I remember a story about

I remember a story about an African American kid in 1950s who had his bike stolen. When he sought help, he was directed to a local police officer named Joe Martin, and the boy said when I find who stole my bike, I’m gonna whoop him. Joe decided that this would be the perfect venue to teach a brash young boy about discipline, as he also ran one of the only de-segregated boxing gyms in the area. The kid must have really enjoyed it because he was good. Really good.  So good that he would win six Golden Glove titles in his home state of Kentucky. So good that he would win two national Golden Gloves titles and an Amateur Athletic Union national title. Cassius Clay was so good that in the summer of 1960 he took home an Olympic gold medal in the light heavyweight division. Now for most people, a gold medal would be the perfect high to an above average boxing career. This was barely the start, however, for a man who would change his name to Muhammad Ali, win multiple world titles, become one of the greatest boxers the world had ever seen, and use his fame to fight for equality and justice. All of this came from a little kid who was mad because someone had stolen his bike. Ali had so many opportunities to say ͞I’ve done enough͟ and quit. But he never did. The secret to his success and our success is the drive to not settle and not be satisfied with where we’re at. Satisfaction can seem like an easy path to take, but the reality is that when we settle for ͞good enough͟, we are cheating ourselves and our peers out of our full potential. It is when we decide to settle that we find ourselves becoming stagnant and fail to truly grow and express our strengths and talents. Each of us has areas in our lives where we can push ourselves more, go that extra mile, and choose not to settle for ͞good enough͟. In FFA it could be pursuing new leadership positions, trying new CDEs, growing our SAEs, or working to become more involved in our communities. It could be studying harder to push ourselves academically, practicing to become better at our passions, working to develop ourselves as leaders and individuals, or making conscious efforts to reach out to others. Challenge yourself to never become complacent. Where in your life should you seek the most improvement? In which areas do you have the most room for growth? Where in your work, school, places of worship, relationships or home life could you work harder to achieve your goals? Where are you settling? When we identify those areas, we have to put in the work to truly push ourselves. Make an effort to grow and improve every single day. However, as we are working to improve ourselves, it is important that we never let self-improvement become

However, as we are working to improve ourselves, it is important that we never let self-improvement become self-destructive. I’ve always had a natural tendency to be really

I’ve always had a natural tendency to be really self-critical and almost obsessively seek improvement. Whether it was working to get good grades, attempting to achieve more in FFA, or trying to improve my roping, I was good at telling myself how much more I could do. Over time, the ability to seek growth evolved into a habit of being really hard on myself. Fast forward to this fall, as my first semester at Kansas State University began. I had set all these goals for myself that had been accomplished. I was at the college of my dreams, preparing to compete on a college rodeo team, and serving Kansas FFA as a State Officer, and on paper, everything should’ve been perfect. These goals that meant so much to me had been reached and a great network of people surrounded me. Logically, things should’ve been great. However, deep down I wasn’t happy with myself. The question Why aren’t you better consumed my mind and controlled my attitude. And it doesn’t matter how much you try and hide it when a person isn’t happy with themselves it isn’t long before their struggle starts to show. My mindset became more and more negative and as a result, I treated myself and the people around me a lot more harshly. I would project my unhappiness on others because it was hard to understand that this feeling wasn’t a result of anyone else’s actions, but my own. It’s a good thing that the people around me are pretty great people because they had to deal with a person who wasn’t as grateful, joyful, or enjoyable in general as he should have been. I had to make an active decision not just to push myself, but to appreciate myself as well. When this happened, I found myself acknowledging the blessings that filled my life, and happiness seemed to be more of a constant condition rather than this feeling that came around only on occasion. Often, we are so good at not settling on good enough that we start to think WE are not good enough. If we choose to simply rely on achievements to bring happiness, we’ll find ourselves drained. When we choose to take control of our attitude, it becomes a lot easier to feel happy. We have to decide to acknowledge the things that will bring us happiness. That might mean acknowledging how much progress we have made in achieving our goals or choosing to focus on what’s going right instead of just focusing on what’s next. Choosing to take control of our attitudes might mean finding joy in things as important as family or as seemingly inconsequential as personal hobbies. I’ve never met someone who has not done something to better themselves that they should be proud of. Where have you grown as an individual? What’s one part of your journey that has brought you happiness? Make an active decision to invest in your own happiness. We choose how we motivate ourselves and we choose how we view ourselves. We create our own success when we consistently set higher goals to reach. If we truly wish to reach our potential, then we have to always seek continuous growth. However, it’s equally important that we make a decision to be happy with who we are. We are all capable of finding a balance between our desire to achieve greater things and having a positive self-perception. When we find

We choose how we motivate ourselves and we choose how we view ourselves. We create our own success when we consistently set higher goals to reach. If we truly wish to reach our potential, then we have to always seek continuous growth. However, it’s equally important that we make a decision to be happy with who we are. We are all capable of finding a balance between our desire to achieve greater things and having a positive self-perception. When we find balance between telling ourselves how we can be better and being happy with who we are, we gain the ability to consistently push ourselves while still finding personal fulfillment. Our “I can do better” doesn’t have to lead to an “Why aren’t I better”. It’s essential that we always choose to push ourselves, yet choose to be happy. Continue moving forward, yet stop to find the things to bring us joy. Always seek growth, and choose to pursue genuine happiness. The goals you set don’t have to be “good enough” to rest on, but we can all be good enough for ourselves.


Day Two of the 89th Kansas FFA Convention – Thursday, June 1

Watch the video recap here!

FFA members returned for the second day of the 89th Kansas FFA Convention where members heard remarks from three of the 2016–2017 state officers, awaited the results from several LDEs, celebrated proficiency award winners and more.

Second Session

During the second session, members heard from State Secretary Grace Luebcke as she delivered her retiring address, “Get Back On.” National FFA Vice President Ashley Willits also traveled to Kansas to share her remarks with Kansas FFA.

Members also celebrated the accomplishments of half of this year’s state Proficiency Award Winners and recognized chapters with the National Chapter Awards in Building Communities.

Announcing SAE Grant recipients, Leadership Information awardees, Helping Community Grow Chapters and the Kansas Farm Bureau Community Grant recipients concluded the session happenings.

Third Session

Laser lights and music filled McCain Auditorium to signal the start of the third session of the Kansas FFA Convention. Clara Wicoff, Kansas FFA vice president, gave her retiring address, “Small Things.

The Chapman FFA chapter won first place in the state scrapbook competition. The scrapbook competition gives FFA members a chance to showcase their chapter’s accomplishments throughout the last year.

Natalie Harris of the Chapman FFA chapter earned top honors in the Employability Skills Leadership Development Event (LDE). The event challenges members to prepare a detailed resume and professional application and to participate in mock interviews. After finishing first in Kansas, Harris is eligible to compete at nationals.

The announcement of National Chapter Awards in the Growing Leaders division followed.

Dr. Michael Wesch honored convention attendees with his insights as a renowned cultural anthropologist and distinguished professor at Kansas State University.

Members of Kansas FFA received recognition for their academic achievements through scholarships from Kansas FFA Alumni, Orscheln, Midwest Ford and the National FFA Association.

The second half of proficiency award winners were also celebrated for their accomplishments for their SAEs.

Fourth Session

The fourth session followed the incredible performances of the State FFA Convention Chorus and State FFA Convention Band. After the concert, Katelyn Bohnenblust, State FFA Treasurer, gave her retiring address “Love Does.”

Thomas Hemmer, Tom Meek and Susan Metzger were awarded Honorary Kansas FFA Degrees while Sharon Schwartz received the VIP Award. Each of these individuals has made outstanding contributions to the FFA, agriculture and agriculture education.

John Kennedy, from the Jackson Heights FFA chapter, was announced as the winner of the Kansas FFA Extemporaneous Speaking LDE. Dowd excelled with the ability to present on a current agricultural issue after only 30 minutes of preparation.

After submitting a manuscript and bibliography, FFA members competing in the Prepared Public Speaking LDE present a 6- to 8-minute speech and answer questions about their selected speech topic. Michael DowdSpring Hill FFA chapter, was awarded first place with his speech.

Alexa McCurdy of the West Franklin FFA chapter earned first place in the Discussion Meet event.

National Chapter Awards were awarded in the area of Strengthening Agriculture.

Wrapping up the evening, Melvin Adams, the fourth session’s keynote speaker, gave FFA members motivation and inspiration.

The fifth session of the 89th Kansas FFA Convention will begin at 8 a.m., Friday, June 2 in McCain Auditorium.

Katelyn Bohnenblust delivers State Treasurer’s retiring address

Love Does

I was sitting in my 8th-grade ag class, and it was974A2748 copy.JPG just announced that this week we would be covering one of the most important lessons that anybody could ever learn. This week, we would be learning the art of swing dancing. The person who would be teaching these swing dance lessons would be my ag teacher, also known as my dad. The worst part was that, as his daughter, I was the automatic choice for the swing dance demonstration. My dad took my hands and started throwing me in all different directions. Usually, in swing dancing, this works, except I have never gone swing dancing before and I am some who likes to feel in control. Every time my dad tried to lead in one directionI would stand still and make the whole dance look awkward. When he would try to spin me one way, I ended up spinning the other way. When he threw me in the pretzel, my arms were as stiff as a board. Basically, I was a horrible dance partner. It would have been really easy for my dad to become impatient and frustrated with me, yet during this time when I was being difficult, my dad extended patience, grace, and compassion to me by taking the time to allow me to understand the different moves, and by not embarrassing me in front of all of my classmates. At times, it can be difficult to extend patience, grace and compassion to others, but when love guides our actions, it all becomes natural.

My senior year of high school, my basketball team was well on its way to an undefeated season and a trip to the state tournament. Basketball had been a huge part of my life since the second grade, and my teammates and I were determined to make the most of this final season. We stayed late, taking shots on the shooting gun, running extra to increase our endurance, and we spent hours watching film on our opponents. By Christmas, we were 7-0 and preparing for a mid-season tournament we were sure we could win. During the first two games of the tournament, we had to win two tough games to move on. These teams were scrappy. They were competitive and they were talented. But with our efficient offense and our in your face man-to-man defense, we found a way to win. Finally, it was time to step on the court for the championship game. We would be playing the team that had won a 3A State Title the year before. It was going to be a challenge, but our team was up for this challenge. My grandma, grandpa, aunt, uncle, sisters, brothers-in-law and parents were all in the stands to support me. The game was tough. Each team fighting hard to win the title. Full court press, man to man defense, this game would come down to who could find a way to score against the stellar defense. Going into half time, it was anybody’s game. My team and I fought hard, but it just wasn’t enough. Too many shots were missed and mistakes made. Devastated, I made my way to the locker room with my teammates, but instead of joining my family after the team left, I stayed hidden and thought about everything that went wrong during the game, everything that I did wrong. The last thing I wanted to do was go and tell my family how appreciative I was that they had come to support me. I was embarrassed of the way that I had performed and the thought of facing my family was not appealing. Eventually, I did come out, and when I did, it only got worse. I was short, irritable, and rude. I answered their questions with quick, blunt responses. I said “thank you for coming” in the least sincere way and I hardly even wore a fake smile. This mood would last until I woke the next morning when my parents brought me back to the reality that basketball is just a game but the relationships I have and the way I treat others is essential. Several times I have made decisions that have disappointed others, yet the people I disappointed did not push me away, they showed me compassion. In the moments after my basketball game, I was most definitely acting selfish, inconsiderate, and insincere. The way I was acting was unlovable, but my family loved me anyways. I hate to admit it, but I used to push people away who didn’t think the way I did, or that disappointed me with their behaviors. I have learned that when others make decisions we do not agree with, we must just extend compassion and forgiveness. We must look past the unlovable behavior, and love the person.

I am sure we all have people in our lives, who it seems at times, are hard to love. Like the person who drives 45 in a 65. Or the sibling who will not quit stealing your clothes. Or the student who seems to think they are way more knowledgeable than the teacher. Or the classmate, who cheated on the last test. Or the friend, who went out drinking the other night. However, we must remember that it is not the person that is hard to love, it is the behavior that is hard to love. It’s not the person; it’s their slow driving, their clothes stealing, their attention seeking, their cheating, their drinking behaviors. In fact, I bet most of us just had someone pop up in our mind, and that is okay. The question now becomes how can we embrace others with compassion instead of pushing them away? Love looks past the unlovable behavior and extends compassion to the person. Whenever I am struggling to love relentlessly I turn to Colossians 3:12 and 14 which says, “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience… And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.” That’s my source of encouragement. What is yours?Demonstrating compassion looks different for everyone. What behaviors do you find hard to love? What can you turn to as a reminder to show compassion, even when it’s hardest to do? Remembering to show compassion isn’t enough. Each day, we are given the opportunity to be compassionate through simple, small actions.

Over spring break, I traveled to the country of Nicaragua on a mission trip. We were spending the week building a church, and one afternoon, one of the church members, Coni, came and requested that a few of our team come to her house and pray for her son. Our team decided to send three mothers from our team, including my own. Their experiences as mothers helped to prepare them for what they were about to walk into. Nine years ago, Coni, had given birth to a healthy, beautiful baby boy, named Emanuel. When her son was just a few months old, he became ill and while in the hospital, contracted meningitis. Meningitis is an infection of the membranes covering the brain and spinal cord and left Emanuel severely disabled. Now at the age of nine years old, Emanuel weighs only thirty pounds and experiences no improvement of brain functions. When the three ladies went to visit their home and pray for Emanuel, they watched as Coni scooped Emanuel into her arms. Right as she did, Emanuel’s face broke into a beautiful, glowing smile. He knew he was in the love, protection, and care of his mother’s arms. The three women came back and told our team of their time with Emanuel and his mother. All were humbled by what they had witnessed and were still in awe of how the love was shared between a mother and her son by simply scooping him into her arms.

Later in the week, Coni came to the church with pans of rice pudding for each of us. She wanted us to know how thankful she was that we had come and visited her son. When she showed up and started to pass out these gifts of thanks, I stood amazed by this woman, the strength she possessed, and the love she shared. She was the one with a sick son. She was the one living in the poorest country in that region of Central America, where about 30% of the population lives below the international poverty line, earning less than a $1.90 per day. Yet she was the one extending grace to me. In that moment, when she handed me the cup of rice pudding with an encouraging smile on her face, I felt a love that cannot be described. During the eight days I spent engaged with the culture, I was reminded of the importance to show love to others just by simple actions. The people of Nicaragua may be poor in materialistic things, but as you can tell through the actions of Coni, they are rich in love and joy.

In today’s world, we can find ourselves getting caught up in grand gestures. During my time in Nicaragua, I learned that love is not just shown in those gestures, it is shown in the small, intentional actions that we do every single day. Coni showed her love by making rice pudding for our team and by scooping her son up into her arms. Each one of us in this auditorium has the ability to show love to others. For the parents, maybe it is doing another load of your child’s laundry, even after they told you they would do it last week. For the advisors, maybe it’s extending patience to the student who somehow always finds a way to push your nerves. For the members, maybe it is engaging in a conversation with someone you have never talked to or reaching out to younger students who may need some guidance. Maybe it is simply smiling at strangers as you walk down the street. The point is no love is the same. No love is perfect. However, love is simple and is shown through our everyday actions. The way I see love is shown in 1 Corinthians 13: 7-8 which says, “It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always preserves. Love never fails.” This week, where have you seen others demonstrate small acts of compassion? What small and simple actions can you take to show compassion every day?

Love involves sacrifice. It is patient. It is relentless. Love shows compassion and grace. I once heard that, “We can’t love anybody until we love everybody”. Like my family, show compassion to others, even when their behaviors are hard to love. Like Coni, show love each day through simple, small actions. Let’s live in a new normal where we have compassion for behaviors that are hard to love. Let’s live in a new normal where we can reach out to people who are different from us and be friends. Let’s live in a new normal where we intentionally show our love in simple everyday actions. Let’s let our actions be the proof of the love we have for others. Let’s live a life of engagement where we don’t just talk about love, but our love actually does.

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Clara Wicoff delivers State Vice President’s retiring address

Small Things

Every time we turn on the news, it seems like the 34879097962_2191523ba7_ostory gets even worse. As a “creature of habit,” one of my daily routines involves reading the USA Today at lunch every day. But lately, the stories within the pages of these newspapers seem to be getting darker. Famine in South Sudan. Tension with North Korea. Civil war in Syria. Hunger in Venezuela. It is easy to feel engulfed by powerlessness. According to Harvard Business School professor and social psychologist Amy Cuddy: “Powerlessness engulfs us – and all that we believe, know, and feel. It enshrouds who we are, making us feel invisible.”

But here’ s the thing: we are not powerless. By learning to look at what is in front of us, acting locally, and thinking globally, each of us has the potential overcome that feeling of powerlessness and have a significant impact. All we have to do is start small. Because normal, everyday people like you and I have the potential to transform their communities and our world.

Let’s take a second to soak that in. Normal, everyday people like you and I have the potential to transform their communities and our world. This includes each and every one of us sitting here in McCain today. It also includes my teammate, Liz.

A few months ago, Liz and I were getting ready to an FFA event. We were both pretty hungry, so we decided to grab some food on our way there. As Liz was buying a slice of Casey’ s pizza, she was given an extra slice of pizza for free. I was pretty focused on my lunch, so I didn’t think anything of it. But as Liz and I started to leave on our way to that FFA event, she pulled the car into a parking lot and stopped. She grabbed the extra slice of pizza and exited the car. As I watched Liz take the food to a young woman, sitting in the cold with a thin jacket and a cardboard sign, I was reminded that we do not have to hold high positions or have important titles to have an impact. We just have to learn to look.

Unlike Liz, I had not noticed this young woman. I wasn’t looking, so I did not see a need to take action. How many of us do this in our own communities? We are so focused on getting through each day and making it to the weekend that we do not see anything wrong in our communities. And when we don’t see anything that needs to be done, because we are not looking, we have no reason to act.

Normal, everyday people have made significant impacts in our world. Kansas FFA members and guests, we are not powerless. Each of us has the potential to make a significant impact in the world we live in.

Someone once asked Mother Teresa: “The problems of the world are so vast. How can you possibly hope to solve them?” She responded: “You do the thing that’ s in front of you.” So, what’ s in front of you? For the next few moments, let’ s each picture our own community. Look around. What is in front of us? What is one need we can address in our communities? Maybe it’ s hunger or food insecurity. Maybe it’s homelessness. Maybe there are young children in our communities who are struggling with reading. Maybe there are problems with bullying in our high schools. Maybe there are students with special needs in our high schools who could simply use a friend. Maybe there is an abundance of stray animals, with nowhere to go. Maybe there are seniors living in our retirement homes, wishing to tell their stories but with no one to talk to. Maybe the need we see is something else entirely. What needs do we see? Think of a specific need in your community. Keep this in your mind, we will be coming back to it later.

Now, you may be thinking: “Okay, so I can definitely think of a need. I know that there are things in my community that need attention. Great. But how do I do anything about it?” It all comes down to four simple words: act local, think global. Let me explain.

As an agriculturist and someone who is extremely passionate about food security, it’ s especially hard for me to wrap my mind around the fact that quite a few people in our word today struggle at times to put food on the table, especially when I think about the impact it has on children. According to Feeding America, 13.1 million children in our country live in food-insecure households. For many of these children, the meals they eat at school are the only meals they know they will receive. So what happens during the summertime, when they are not in school? The United States Department of Agriculture funds the Summer Food Service Program, which provides free meals to youth 18 years of age and younger during the summer. For the past two summers, I have volunteered with my local summer food service program. I will be the first to admit it – by volunteering to count the number of kids who came to eat lunch and filing reports of this number for program reimbursement, I did not change the world. I was pretty discouraged by feelings of powerlessness. I began to wonder – how much impact can one person really have?

When I think about the impact one individual can have, I often think of Mother Teresa. In his book Changing the Face of Hunger, Tony Hall tells the following story. “Someone asked Mother Teresa, ‘Don’t you think what you do is kind of a drop in the bucket?’ And she answered, ‘No, it’s a drop in the ocean. But if I didn’t do it, it would be one less drop.’”

When I read this quote from Mother Teresa, I came to a new realization. While volunteering with my summer food service program, I was just a drop in the ocean. But that’s the thing – I was a drop. While thinking about global food insecurity, I acted locally. I did the thing that was in front of me, and that’s preparing me to do the next thing and the thing after that.

By doing what was in front of her and being that one drop, Mother Teresa embodied the “act local, think global” concept. Each of us can “act local” by taking action in our communities, while also taking the time to “think global” and consider the global context. As Robert C. Groom, a journal editor writing about acting locally, once put it: “thinking globally and acting locally, in its simplest form, is a commitment to personal change.” It’s a commitment to transforming our world by starting in our local communities. As high school students, it is pretty difficult to do something that changes the world. When we “act local, think global” and do the thing that is in front of us, we not only have an impact on our communities, but we also become better prepared to have a larger impact in the future.

Kansas FFA members and guests, it is time for us to make this commitment to personal change. We must “act local, think global.”

According to Amy Cuddy: “When we’re deciding whether or not to do something – ask a person out on a date, raise a hand in class, even volunteer to help a person in need – we focus on one of two things: either the possible benefits of the action (e.g., a new relationship, expressing ourselves, or the gratification of having helped someone) or the possible costs of the action (e.g., having our hearts broken, sounding foolish, or looking foolish). If we are focused on the potential benefits, we’re likely to take action, thereby approaching the positive. If we are focused on the potential costs, we’re likely not to act, thereby avoiding the potential dangers. Power makes us approach. Powerlessness makes us avoid.”

Kansas FFA, we are not powerless. So, let’s go back to that specific need in your community that you identified earlier. Now, what is one small thing you can do to address that need in your community and make a positive change? Maybe it’s volunteering at your local food pantry, or organizing a blood drive at your high school. Maybe it’s helping out an elderly neighbor by mowing their lawn, or raking their leaves in the fall. Maybe it’s spending time getting to know the seniors at your local retirement home, or volunteering as a mentor in your local elementary school to help children learn to read. And maybe it’s none of these things – maybe it’s something that’s never been done before in your community. Whatever that one small thing is, grab onto the thought of it and hold onto that thought throughout the rest of this convention. And when you get back home, take action! Act locally, and think globally.

One of my favorite authors, Roald Dahl, wrote: “If you are interested in something, go at it full speed ahead. Embrace it, hug it, love it… Lukewarm is no good.” Kansas FFA, we are not powerless. Each of us has the power to incite change. It is pretty clear that our world is in need of a transformation. Lukewarm is simply no good. It is time to go full speed ahead. By doing the small thing that is in front of us, acting locally, and thinking globally, we can have an impact. We can transform. When we do the thing that is in front of us, the smallest things can make all the difference.