Tuesday, February 5, 2019

"Get to Chasing" by Sara Toal, State Vice-President

February Blog

Ever since I was a child, I’ve always been chasing after something. Of course, when I was younger, that something was most likely a wild, escaped lamb or one of my even wilder, little siblings. In elementary school, I was chasing after the title of “Biggest Taylor Swift Fan” amongst my friends and that first place ribbon in the Spelling Bee.. or is it “Be”... I don’t know, it’s safe to say I didn’t win either. Junior High was filled with me chasing the school’s record for most books read in a year… which I did achieve at the expense of my social life. In high school, I was chasing after summer breaks and that beloved diploma… only to find myself months later in college chasing after the same thing all over again. I think it’s safe to say that everyone has something to chase after, a goal that we see at the end of the race, waiting for us to reach it. Now, as FFA members, that something doesn’t have to be big banners and shiny trophies, but something more self-fulfilling. I’m talking about degrees.

Now, now, hold up a minute. I’m not talking about those degrees that keep you up all night worrying about essays, math homework, and chemistry exams. I’m talking about a much more fun take on it: FFA degrees. Whether you’re a freshman, sophomore, junior, senior, or even already a high school graduate, you can add an FFA degree to your list of accomplishments. Sara, what are these things you’re talking about? Great question, you read my mind.

FFA degrees are opportunities that show everything you’ve worked so hard to achieve throughout your time in the blue jacket. They even have a tier system so that you don’t have to wait four long years to receive this honor. As a freshman or a first-year FFA member, you can qualify for the Greenhand FFA Degree. All you have to do is learn about the FFA Creed, what our motto, salute, and colors are, and know a few FFA history facts. If you think you’ve got that down, grab the closest FFA manual and go the “Greenhand FFA Degree Requirements” and make sure you can check off everything on the list, and you are good to go! Next time you see your ag teacher, ask them how you can apply to receive your Greenhand Degree because every chapter is different! You might even walk home with a fancy certificate and new pin for your jacket from your end of the year banquet too. Holy cow, look at you go!

Okay, now I’m talking to my Sophomores or second-year members who have already received their Greenhand Degrees. You, my friends, are now eligible for your Chapter FFA Degree. Since you already have received your Greenhand Degree, there are only a few more requirements you have to meet in order to advance to this next level of achievement. Make sure you have a well functioning SAE (if you don’t know what this is, go check out Kerington’s blog last month!), have 10 hours of community service, and have effectively led 15 minutes in a group discussion in your chapter. Again, take a look in one of your chapter’s manuals to make sure you have everything you need, then hit up your advisor to see what steps you need to take to apply for Chapter FFA Degree.

Alright, my Juniors and Seniors, I need your attention on this one. You of all can apply for your.. drum roll please.. State FFA Degree! Now, this is entering into the “big leagues” of degrees. Have you ever been to State Convention and thought to yourself, “Wouldn’t it be cool if I was up there?” Well, good news, you can be! Since you have already earned your Greenhand and Chapter FFA Degrees, you can apply and be awarded your State FFA Degree on stage at Convention with some very easy steps. If you have 25 hours of community service, can demonstrate 10 parliamentary law procedures, have participated in five FFA activities/events above the chapter level, and have only a handful of other requirements down, you are on the right track to getting that gold pin and certificate. Just go onto the Louisiana FFA website page, scroll down to “Awards and Degrees”, click on “State FFA Degree”, and start applying! After you’re done, ask your advisor to look over your application, and once they give you the thumbs up, submit it! Your application will be reviewed, and if accepted, you’ll be walking that stage at Convention in no time. Only 10% of members ever get their state degree, so remember that this is an extreme honor, so give it your all!

Now for my high school graduates and college students, you might not have known that there was anything after the state degree, but do I have news for you. After you are awarded your state degree, you can start working on your application for the highest honor in the National FFA Organization... your American Degree. This award is given to the best of the best in the country, and that can easily be you. Make sure to keep hold of your SAE records and get in contact with your advisor to help you fill out your application. This will give you a chance to be one of the elite 1% of members that are awarded this honor and give you the opportunity to travel to Indianapolis and walk across the stage at the NATIONAL FFA CONVENTION! Way to represent Louisiana! So if you have hung up your FFA jacket and are thinking of one great way to wrap up your FFA career and also make Louisiana shine, make sure to look into applying for your American degree, and make your chapter and state proud!

Everyone chases after something, and I can say from experience that the feeling of catching that dream or goal you’ve been after is one you’ll hold onto for the rest of your life. Don’t just go through the motions, step up and stand out. Rise above in everything you do. And when you slip on that blue jacket, remember that you are apart of something extraordinary, and therefore, YOU are extraordinary. So give yourself the recognition your extraordinary self deserves and apply for that degree, and chase that gold standard.

Stay awesome my friends,
Sara Toal

Monday, January 7, 2019

"Step-up to SAEs" By
Kerington Bass, State Vice President

January Blog

Chores - everyone has them, and only some of us actually complete them, but they undoubtedly exist. Day after day, we do our chores. This continuous cycle has made me wonder, what's the point in doing them and how will this benefit me or my future? My daily chores included feeding my livestock, tending to my grandparents’ garden, and taking care of my many dogs. After a while, I saw no joy in doing these tasks and saw it as a big waste of time. It wasn’t until my advisor introduced me to the acronym SAE. She explained that SAE stands for Supervised Agricultural Experience, or agriculture outside the class, like my daily chores. My advisor showed me a list of SAEs
(https://www.ffa.org/participate/awards/proficiencies) and how many I actually could be apart of.

My advisor also showed me that with any SAE I can apply for a proficiency award. This organized my SAE by detailing what my responsibilities are, the challenges I faced, impacts this SAE has had on me, skills I have obtained from it, and so on. After completing the application, I was able to compete with other members in the same category. Similar to any CDE I have competed in, the top four placings are given a banner.  Besides the banner, I also got a check which I used to improve my SAE in the upcoming years!

Before learning about SAE, I saw my chores as useless, tedious tasks. Now I see the value and have pride in my work. Time management skills are practiced when caring for my livestock in my Diversified Livestock Production SAE. From each new insect infestation, I was able to learn which treatment works best for each bug when tending to the vegetable garden for my Vegetable Production SAE. I was able to add new pens for my dogs in my Small Animal Care SAE with the money I won. These accomplishments will not only help me in the coming years of my SAE, but also in any career I finally decide to go into.

Many of you probably feel the same as I once did about your own chores or job. I encourage you to check if you fall under an SAE category and complete a proficiency application so you are able to find a sense of purpose in your chores.

Best wishes,

Here are some more resources:

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

"What Do I Do After High School?" By Makayla Caswell, State Parliamentarian 

December Blog

     Senioritis-a supposed affliction of students in their final year of high school or college, characterized by a decline in motivation or performance. Anyone who is a senior this year, in high school or college, knows exactly how this feels. Celebrating your last year, having fun with your class, and preparing for graduation are all things to look forward to during your senior year, but what exactly happens after you finish high school? I’ll tell you...COLLEGE!!! Now as exciting as college may sound, it can become costly. And yes, you should worry about this now! If you don’t already know what college you want to attend or what to major in, that’s totally fine, but you should start looking into scholarships and grants that can be used wherever you want to attend. 
I know what you’re thinking: “Writing essays and filling out information sheets are boring."  I know that this may not be at the top of everyone’s “fun list," but it’s totally worth it in the long run! And this kind of thing is super easy to do, especially being an FFA member. If you head on over to National FFA’s website not only will you find scholarships through FFA, but you can find a list of all the National FFA sponsors. Many of the sponsors on this list also offer scholarships you can apply for as a member! While scholarships are a great way to pay for college, grants are equally as easy to obtain. TOPS is a grant only offered to Louisiana students who have meet the requirement of a 20+ ACT score. Study buddies and tutors for the ACT can really go a long away in helping you meet the requirements for TOPS. The Pell grant is offered to students based on your parents' income. You can get more information on this grant and how to apply at studentaid.ed.gov/sa/fafsa. I hope you all take the time to check out some local scholarships and grants in your area, as well as all the opportunities FFA has to offer when it comes to funding your education. Be careful throughout the rest of your year, though, because senioritis is a real thing, and it catches you off guard!

Good luck,


Thursday, November 8, 2018

"But What If You Fly?" By Taylor Perrodin, State Reporter

November Blog

     Picture this: it’s time to announce the results for the 2016 State Dairy Cattle Evaluation CDE and the small room is overcrowded with hopeful contestants and advisors. Zoom in to the right side of the room and you’ll see a very nervous group of sophomore girls from Crowley. In that moment, everyone is just wishing they would hurry up, but for my team and I, time stopped. Crowley is known for winning this CDE, but what if we don’t live up to the expectations? What if we fall short and disappoint our advisor and previous teams?  All these doubts were running through my mind and I began to feel overwhelmed, but it was time. They called 4thplace, not us. Then 3rd, our second team. Then 2nd, not us. We all closed our eyes and then BAM! “1stplace...Crowley Blue! My eyes opened wider than ever before and I shot up to receive our banner. It was so exciting that my chair even came up the aisle with me. In that moment, all those “What If’s” disappeared and all I could feel was happiness.
            In our everyday lives, we probably ask ourselves “What if?” when trying to make decisions. These “What If’s” are the reason people don’t go for opportunities, or the reason they doubt their abilities. I cannot count the number of times I’ve heard and said myself “What if I fail?” If you really think about it, that question can become extremely unsettling. Our minds become boggled with memories of all the times we have failed before and evaluations of our past actions that we believe weren’t good enough. We even keep these thoughts to ourselves and don’t allow the people around us to tell us the truth and encourage us to conquer whatever it is we are struggling with. 
            I am saying no more. No more doubt, fear, or hesitation. It’s time to forget about the things holding you back and believe in yourself. It’s time to take action and do those things you’ve been avoiding because of your “What If’s”. Take a moment to think about every time you stopped yourself from doing something because of your own thoughts. Now think about how different you would be had you just taken those chances. I challenge all of you to take a chance this month and post a picture of the outcome regardless of what it is. Go ahead and ask that girl to the dance or compete against someone that wins that CDE every year. You see, we are always asking ourselves “What if I fail”, but it is time we stop and start asking “What if I fly?”

Wishing the best,


Wednesday, October 3, 2018

"Developing Your Leadership by Facing Your Fears " By William Gaspard, State Vice President

October Blog

Let’s take a trip back to this year’s leadership camp. When it was debuted that we would have a zipline everyone was stoked but me. Heights and I do not agree. Airplanes, stairs, and of course, ziplines trigger an uneasy response in my chest like no other. On the last day of the last camp it was finally time to do the zipline with my officer team. We were given our harnesses and took the horrific walk up the platform. As we went higher and higher, I went to turn around, but my team wouldn’t let me...in fact, they made me go first. I was hooked up to the strap, and it was go time. I looked at Sara...she looked at me. I looked at my team...they looked at me. I looked at the ground, and it didn’t look back up at me. I was scared; I was stricken by F.E.A.R. At this point in time, I had two options: Forget Everything And Run or Face Everything And Rise. I rose to the occasion and charged down the zipline and felt a rush of adrenaline like no other.
When faced with fear, we have those two options. The things that we fear usually have the greatest rewards at the end. The number one fear out of all others is public speaking. The thought of standing in front of a crowd and speaking scares more people than standing on top of the Empire State Building. Public speaking is a big part of the FFA and can have such great rewards. Public speaking is powerful. By using our voices we can make an impact and project what we believe in. In addition to this, we can gain pride, communication skills, and confidence. All of these are skills that will last a lifetime. I was talking with a good friend of mine and she told me, “Knowing that your voice can impact an entire world of people and using your ability to speak to others with hopes of making a meaningful difference in their lives can open up numerous opportunities both in your professional career and in your private life. Public speaking is a broad spectrum of everlasting tales that you conduct. It’s knowing you have the power in your words and NOT being AFRAID to use them.” Take that chance and participate in a Leadership Development Event this year. Whether it’s talking about an agricultural topic in Prepared Speaking, speaking about the future of agriculture in Creed, creating a lesson plan and teaching in Geaux Teach Ag, or debating and learning meeting room procedures in Parliamentary Procedure, public speaking gives you a platform to use your voice. I credit most of my success to the experiences and knowledge I gained through competing in LDEs. Because of Employment Skills, I am confident in an interview. Because of Parliamentary Procedure, I have no problem defending my ideas. And because of Creed, I know what it feels like to speak about my passion. The rewards are abundant, and it can be the best time of your life. If I didn’t go for it and zip down the zipline, I would never have overcome my fear heights. From this experience, I feel invincible and that I can face my fears and try to inspire others to do the same. Take that chance and compete in an LDE. Overcome your fear of speaking and be invincible. The impact you can make by using your voice will elevate you to the next level of leadership. Just go for it...you’ll thank yourself later!

   Good luck,


Saturday, September 1, 2018

"The Importance of Livestock" by Madison Sittig, State Treasurer

         September Blog

Life without animals is a life none of us want to live. Have you ever stopped and thought about what the world would be like without any animals? Think about farm animals especially. Without them, we would not have milkshakes, omelettes, Raising Canes, or bacon. We would all be hungry! Animals that are raised to provide food are called livestock. Livestock is a major part of agriculture, and students are even able to be involved in it through livestock shows. Where are they held? How do I participate? What do I need to start? Where do I start? These questions and more may be running through your head. Since show season is just around the corner, I’m here to help guide you through the world of livestock shows. This will be your one-stop shop for all things livestock!
Livestock shows are events that are held all over the United States. They are a place where FFA and 4-H members, parents, grandparents, family and friends gather and spend some quality time together. Members can show swine, cattle, goats, sheep, horses, chickens, and even rabbits. Some of us only exhibit one specific species, while others may show multiple. In order to show livestock, we must begin by deciding which animal we would like to exhibit. For example, I own a pig operation so I prefer to show swine. After we pick out our animal or animals, we take them home and raise them. Showing livestock is a huge responsibility, so we have to be fully dedicated. Everyday our animals need to be fed, watered, and exercised. We also have to bathe our animals a few times a week. After our animals have been raised and taken care of, we prepare for the best part... livestock shows. Livestock shows are a time to see all your friends, show your animals, and have a grand old time. At the shows we exhibit our animals in front of a judge and then are ranked according to various factors.
To add onto all of the fun, showing livestock is also my SAE. Yes, doing what I love is also my supervised agricultural experience in FFA! Showing livestock has taught me many valuable lessons. Responsibility, time management, and dedication will come naturally as a result of your hard work. In order for us to succeed, we must put in the work. Showing livestock requires a lot of time and energy, but when you love spending time with your animals, you won’t even see it as work. You will have to find a way to balance your time. Between feeding before school, exercising and feeding after school, studying for school, and doing extracurricular activities, you are going to be busy.Time management will play an important role in raising and showing livestock.
The livestock industry is a vital component of the agriculture industry. What would the world be like without any animals, especially livestock?
I hope many of you want to start showing livestock and discover its importance! Ask a parent or your FFA advisor how you can get started! I promise, you won’t regret it!

Stay involved guys, 

Thursday, August 2, 2018

"Greaux through Leadership"by Zachary Mayfield, State Sentinel

August Blog

The lights are dimmed. The Chicago Bulls theme song starts. You’re sitting in the crowd impatiently awaiting nominating committee’s report. Minutes later the report is finished and confetti is covering the individuals on stage. In these moments, thoughts are running across your mind, and you are thinking to yourself, “I want to be up there one day. What do I have to do to be up there?" You have now become so motivated to run for office but then you think to yourself, "But what if I lose? I’ll make a fool of myself. I’ll be left in that circle and everyone will think I am a failure.” I started off just like you worrying about what others would think, better yet what I would think if I failed. Then I ran for area office for the first time, with my confidence through the roof, only to feel disappointed as my name was not among the eight called. My mind was racked with thoughts, questioning my confidence and worth. I was sitting in the back seat of my advisor's vehicle heading home with my headphones plugged in thinking I am not good enough, thinking to myself that I should just give up. I let those thoughts get in the way of thinking what I can actually reap from serving as a leader in the FFA. 

That is the first mistake we make. We allow what others think of us to discourage us from doing something we have always dreamed of doing. And by doing this, we will never know what it's like being an officer in the FFA. Time passed and I got over the tough loss. I worked tirelessly throughout that year and it came time to turn in my area officer application again. I doubted myself, but I ran anyway. I went through the process and it was time for the report. “For the office of Junior Vice President…… Zachary Mayfield of the Creekside FFA Chapter!” I could not believe it. I finally had done the unthinkable. All of those thoughts running through my mind were now gone and things of the past. Moments like these are something we will never forget - that feeling that you actually did it. But how would you know what these moments feel like if you do not take those chances, in this case, running for office? If you take the opportunity to run for office, bountiful growth is prone to happen. If you believe you can, you’re halfway there. Do not let anyone keep you from running for a leadership position in the FFA or achieving your goals. You never know what lies ahead if you simply take those risks. Your potential teammates might become your closest friends, or you might find your future career through these positions. I challenge you to take that chance, even if you’re just thinking about it. Take a chance because this organization can lead you to some pretty amazing places like it's led me. I hope that if you are a member, you seriously consider running for office. It will be one of the greatest experiences of your life, I guarantee it. 

Stay high quality,