Saturday, August 11, 2012

Spirit of Champions~NPower 2012

Pictures  of the gym for general assemblies during

July 9-14 found the state officers along with 80 students from 4-H, DECA, FBLA, FCCLA, HOSA, SkillsUSA, and NHRI in Aurora for NPower.  *Take note, this is one conference that has no acronym...crazy, I know?! 

NPower is...
Nebraska's youth leaders
Networking to
iNfluence community change and
iNitiate positive action for the 
Next generation

Over the 3 day sessions, students experienced leadership and personal growth, and of course had a whole lot of fun!  It wasn't out of the ordinary to see us running around with water balloons for water olympics, pick up lines being exchanged after the dating workshop, peanut butter being cleaned out of student's hair during the dining workshop, or swing dancers in the lobby practicing what we learned at the dancing workshop.  To understand how fantastically amazing NPower truly is, check out these videos of all the fun that went on during the 2 sessions of NPower 2012:

Glenn's Gang

We all know that when you get state officer teams from 6 different states together for NLCSO that a gnome named Glenn is bound to be smashed, right?!

Okay, maybe you're a little confused?  That's probably a good thing.  It got your attention though, didn't it?! :)

National Leadership Conference for State Officers (NLCSO) was held June 19-22 in Aurora for state officers from Nebraska, South Dakota, Iowa, Minnesota, Kansas, and Colorado.  We were given the chance to identify strengths and weaknesses as a group, learn advanced interpersonal communication strategies and presentation and delivery techniques.

NLCSO also strengthened our bonds as individual teams and allowed us to form new bonds with other teams.  Some of the greatest people I've ever met were attendees of NLCSO!  From dancing outside in the parking lot using someone's car for a stereo system to watching Smokey and the Bandit, those 3 days are full of memories that will never be forgotten!

Now, for the explanation of this gnome tidbit from before...whichever team put forth the most effort each session was awarded Glenn (the gnome) to keep until the next session.  Unfortunately, Iowa broke the gnome~no further comments on this subject will be made at this point. :P
No gnomes were actually harmed in the participation of NLCSO. 

The team with Seth Pratt (back left),
the National FFA Western Region VP

The Leadership Games~COLT 2012

So, I must apologize... it's been waaaay too long since my last blogging activity! :/

Over the past 4 months, the Nebraska FFA State Officers have been busy with Chapter Officer Leadership Training (COLT), the National Leadership Conference for State Officers (NLCSO), NPower, State President's Conference (SPC) and Business and Industry visits (B&I's)...yes, you will soon come to find out that we here at Nebraska FFA love our acronyms!  Keep reading to discover what COLT is all about and look for my future blogs devoted to the other previously mentioned summer activities. 

The main stage for COLT 2012~The Leadership Games

Our four COLT sessions were held May 17-30 in Aurora, NE.  COLT is for FFA chapter officers to learn how to effectively serve their chapters.  Focus is on individual leadership skills, as well as how to work as a chapter officer team.  Officers experience hands-on leadership activities, share and learn great ideas, and create an action plan for their year of service. 

While I had been to COLT two times before as a secretary and then vice-president for the West Boyd FFA chapter, never had I gone as a chapter president.  Not only would facilitating COLT be a new experience for me, the president's position was new to me too...needless to say I was a little worried about how COLT 2012 would go.  I had nothing to worry about though~my presidents were all AMAZING groups!  I am so blessed to have gotten to know each member at COLT and what makes them tick as officers of the largest youth organization-FFA.

<-- The walls of the gym -->

During each of our last sessions together, we decided to take a few minutes to capture our thoughts as to what we all took away from COLT.  Here's a few of the thoughts we came up with:

  • Bake a big enough pie for everyone! :)
  • COMMUNICATION is key in every situation.
  • Welcome change to better our chapters and our lives.
  • Make our own story, go against the grain, experience our own life~be ourselves!
  • It is our duty to tell our own stories about agriculture.
  • To be a great leader we can't have all the power to ourselves...we have to share it.
  • The things we learned here at COLT will help us, not only in our year as FFA chapter officers, but in our daily lives. 

So, for all COLT presidents and other officers~I absolutely loved getting to know everyone!  The growth that I saw over the 3 short days of each session was amazing...I can't wait to see what we all accomplish over this next year!  

 These would be the four amazing sessions of COLT presidents. :)

Monday, April 9, 2012

The Torch of Leadership Has Been Passed

And now...Nebraska FFA...your 2012-2013 State Officer Team:

L to R: Johnny Ference-Secretary, Alix Mashino-President, Maci Lienemann-Vice President,
Amber Burenheide-Vice President, Brooke Jindra-Vice President,
Andrew Ambriz-Vice President, Doug Larsen-Vice President

See that girl, 2nd from the left? Yeah...that's me! :) I am extremely ecstatic to serve Nebraska FFA with these 6 other amazing individuals that I get to call my teammates! On March 30, 2012, our lives were changed forever as we heard our names called during the last session of the 2012 Nebraska State FFA Convention. Since then, we've all been a little busy...

The 7 of us have been hard at work since convention brainstorming, planning, and just getting to know one another.  We just wrapped up Images training on Friday.  We now have a couple weeks to catch up on school and things back at home before heading to Aurora for SOD (State Officer Development) at the end of this month.  After that will be Pre-COLT (Chapter Officer Leadership Training), starting on May 8th, with COLT starting on May 17th.  

Throughout this next year I hope to keep everyone up-to-date on the happenings of your Nebraska FFA State Officer team. I am SO excited to see what this year has in store for us, as well as Nebraska FFA!  We can't wait to get out there and meet all of the awesome members that make up the Nebraska FFA Organization!  

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Agricultural Issues Academy

v. ag-vuh-keyt  n. ag-vuh-kit

1. to advocate for agriculture

1. a person who upholds or defends agriculture

If you would have asked me what this word meant a year ago, I would have had to look it up in a dictionary. But you see, the problem is that the definition above won't be found in any dictionary or on Merriam Webster online.  The true definition of this word lies within those involved in the agricultural industry who strive to tell the TRUE story about agriculture to the world.

One of the first times I ever heard this word used was about a year ago at the Agricultural Issues Academy which kicked off the 83rd Nebraska FFA State Convention.  What is the Agricultural Issues Academy?  For me, it was the spark that lit a fire within me for the agricultural industry, the change in prescription that enabled me to see the need to tell my own agricultural story, and the kick in the rear that I needed to become an agvocate.

This week, I had the privilege of being asked to do a radio promotion for the Ag Issues Academy during the Nebraska Corn Grower's Association's weekly radio spot that airs on rural radio.  Check out the Nebraska Corn Kernel's blog ( in the coming days (like Friday) to learn more.  Here's a few pieces of the radio promotion:

Not the most flattering picture of myself, but here I
am AGvocating about beef feeding environments
 during the dinner for the Ag Issues Academy. 
I was one of 36 participants in the inaugural Agricultural Issues Academy held the day before the Nebraska State FFA Convention last year. The academy began as an idea formed from the founding organizations, which include the Alliance for the Future of Agriculture in Nebraska, or A-FAN, and Nebraska Cattlemen, Nebraska Corn Board, Nebraska Corn Growers Association and the Nebraska Pork Producers Association.  Other supporters include the Nebraska Soybean Board, Nebraska’s Natural Resources Districts, Nebraska FFA and Tyson Foods.

It was developed to provide FFA students, like myself, an opportunity to work on our advocating skills while learning about current ag issues.

Prior to attending the Ag Issues Academy participants review materials related to the misconceptions and misinformation of animal agriculture, network with a local industry representative and begin building a knowledge base about a particular agriculture issue of interest to them.  

Last year, I chose to center my "misconceptions and misinformation" research around beef feeding environment: feedlot and backgrounding situations.  We were asked to come up with about 10 talking points that we could use to inform and educate others about the topic we chose.

The academy itself is broken into sessions where students learn how to conduct a media interview, including in front of a T-V camera, plus how to use print and social media to convey a message. I can tell you from experience that the media training was a challenge – but the experience was priceless!

Students also visit the state capitol with ag lobbyists. This provides a great introduction to the legislature and an opportunity to meet with our own state senator and discuss important topics.
Because of the Ag Issues Academy and other agvocating experiences like it, I have chosen to pursue career paths around agricultural education, and possibly agricultural journalism.  The bonds I formed with other students who are passionate about agriculture, as well as bonds formed with agricultural industry members, are ones that will last a lifetime.  

So to all my fellow FFA members, consider applying for next year’s academy. You’ll love it! And to the parents and organizations who support the academy and the FFA organization-THANK YOU! 

Until next time...go out and AGVOCATE! :) 

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

March Madness

March Madness. This phrase usually refers to a month full of basketball, basketball, and well, more basketball. What does my March Madness consist of? I'll give you a hint: it isn't basketball...

Alright, so I take that back. The 2nd weekend of March I spent in Lincoln, NE because West Boyd made it to the state basketball tournament...Go Spartans! :) While on the whole school note, another huge part of my March has been devoted to the Speech team. Tomorrow I am headed to Kearney, NE for Nebraska State Speech to compete in extemporaneous speaking.

State Officer application all ready to go!
Well, now that all of that stuff is out of the way, let's get to what has been the most exciting part of March Madness for this girl...Nebraska FFA! :D March 1st was the deadline to get in Nebraska FFA State Officer applications.  While I had been working on mine on and off since Christmas vacation, this deadline still snuck up on me way too fast!  No worries though, the application was to Nebraska FFA right on time! :)

Old and new friends coming together
 at preliminary interviews :)

On March 16th I made the 3 hour trip to Kearney, NE for preliminary State Officer interviews.  I was joined by 25 other State Officer candidates in Kearney and together, we went through 7 rounds of interviews on Friday and Saturday.  These interviews ranged from one-on-one interviews with individual nominating committee (nom comm) members, to group teamwork interviews, to individual interviews in front of all 10 nom comm members.  The nom comm was made up of past Nebraska FFA State Officers, agricultural educators, and other agricultural industry leaders.  I remember coming out of one of the interviews seriously contemplating calling my mother to ask her what else I knew about myself because I felt like I had just given my life story 20 times over...needless to say, the interviews were extremely intense, but it was such an amazing experience!  I think my Facebook status sums it up pretty well:
32 hours, 1 iPod on shuffle, 360 miles, 7 interviews, 10 nom comm members, 25 bonds formed/strengthened with some of the greatest FFA members, 3 hours of sleep, and tons of memories later...I am finally home from FFA State Officer interviews in Kearney. :) It truly was one of the greatest experiences! Now, it's a waiting game till Monday morning. :/

Email informing me I had been chosen as a finalist.
I have never been so excited to receive an email in my life!
After anxiously waiting all of Sunday and part of Monday morning, I received word at 10:30 that I was chosen as 1 of 14 finalists to interview at the Nebraska State FFA Convention March 28th, 29th, and 30th! :D The seven 2012-2013 Nebraska FFA State Officers will be announced during closing ceremonies on the 30th.  Until then, I will be prepping for 3 days of interviews.  No matter what happens, this whole experience will be something I will never forget! :)

Saturday, February 25, 2012

The FFA Creed: Part 5

Even though this was supposed to be Friday's post, I figure as long as I had it done by the end of FFA week it still counted right? :) Here it is, the last paragraph of the FFA Creed...

The FFA Creed
By: E.M. Tiffany

5th Paragraph
I believe that American agriculture can and will hold true to the best traditions of our national life and that I can exert an influence in my home and community which will stand solid for my part in that inspiring task.

Photo Credit-Keeping it Real: Through the Lens of a Farm Girl

3 lines...41 words...180 letters~1 belief!  

~*~ "I believe that American agriculture can and will hold true to the best traditions of our national life...": If I had to choose one thing to believe in, after God of course, I would choose agriculture!  Because of the kind of individuals involved in this great industry, its future has never been brighter!  There is no question that American agriculture can and will hold true to the best traditions of our national life.  What are the best traditions of our national life you ask?  Well, in my opinion, these would include the values of honesty, hard work, respect, etc.  

~*~"...and that I can exert an influence in my home and community which will stand solid for my part in that inspiring task.": With technology today, not only are we able to exert an influence in our home and community, but we can exert an influence around the world!  While one may think that their voice doesn't matter, I am here to tell you that IT DOES!  I'm just a high-schooler from a small town in Nebraska, but I have the privilege of getting to share my views on agriculture through this blog.  With over 500 views, I am reaching more people than I could have ever imagined!  All you have to do is take a chance, make an effort, and let your voice be heard.  It is up to each of us to take an active role in our part of this inspiring task!