Why FFA is Actually Awesome

An article has been circulating the social media-sphere the last couple of days, and I have seen several negative comments from outraged FFA members everywhere. I will admit: I was pretty upset at the things the article said, as well. I also know that FFA has taught me so much more than not only the things the article said, but also the things other FFA members are saying about that article. It has been nearly five years since my last FFA event as a member, but the lessons learned and friends made will last a lifetime. With that being said, here is why I know FFA is actually awesome.

1.”Develop my potential for premier leadership, personal growth, and career success.”

This is what FFA is all about, man. I really can’t say enough about how much FFA has helped me in these three areas. After learning about leadership in my first couple of years in FFA, I was a chapter and district officer, as well as an officer for my cattle breed’s affiliate and national association, and a Texas Beef Leader. And that’s just the high school leadership experience I have. As for personal growth and career success (I combine these two because I believe they go hand-in-hand), I learned how to search for careers, write a resume, interview for a job, hold a conversation, be independent, be accountable, and so much more. And, I still use all of these skills even to this day in my career.

2. “Make a positive difference in the lives of others.”

FFA is where I had my first experiences with community service. Heck, that’s a requirement for many chapters as well as for getting a degree. There have been several opportunities I have had, but there is one that really sticks out in my mind. Way back in 2008, Hurricane Ike hit my hometown pretty hard. We evacuated before it hit, so all of our livestock were okay, and for the most part there wasn’t too much home damage farther inland where my house is. However, a few of our chapter members lost their homes, and there was a lot of tree damage everywhere, as well as a lack of electricity. Several of my chapter’s members, including those who lost their homes, spent the week we got home cleaning up trees in community members’ yards, churches, schools, etc., and manning stations where we handed out water, ice and MREs. We had so much feedback about how much of a difference we were making for people who were physically unable to do these things themselves, and it was one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. And, again, I carry this value of service close to my heart to this day.

3. “Dress neatly and appropriately for the occasion.”

It’s strange that this needs to be said, but it is incredibly valuable. From wearing Official Dress to learning how to dress for a stock show, this value has taught countless FFA members how to take pride in their appearance and dress appropriately for work, conferences, meetings, outings, dinners, etc.

4. “Respect the rights of others and their property.”

FFA members learn from day one that respect is important and necessary. Anyone who, like me, was blessed (even if we didn’t think it at the time) with a parent for an ag teacher, learned this lesson even earlier when we were dragged along to state convention, the VATAT conference, and any other event our parents were required at. If we weren’t respectful to everyone we encountered or we didn’t value that their property, be it vehicles, show supplies, or even a pen, is just as important as our own, we were in big trouble. I have heard on numerous occasions from folks outside of the organization that FFA members are the most respectful kids they have ever encountered, and that is something I’m proud of.

5. “Be courteous, honest and fair with others.”

Remember what I just said about folks saying FFA members are the most respectful people they have encountered? That applies here as well. FFA is where I learned how to share, tell the truth, smile, open a door, carry a water bucket, loan a belt, and so much more.

6. “Communicate in an appropriate, purposeful and positive manner.”

This one is especially important to me, as I am now in the communications field. I said earlier that FFA taught me how to hold a conversation with someone. Well, it also taught me how to make that conversation mean something by tailoring the way I speak to whomever that person is and giving my words a purpose. From Creed Speaking to Public Speaking, to Chapter Conducting and every other leadership contest there is, FFA members learn how different communication channels are appropriate for different purposes, and they learn how to make that communication clear and positive.

7. “Demonstrate good sportsmanship by being modest in winning and generous in defeat.”

I will be completely honest here: this one was always hard for me. I like to win, plain and simple. But, just like Ricky Bobby, I learned that “if you’re not first, you’re last” isn’t always entirely accurate. I earned my fair share of second and third place ribbons all the way down to being culled from a class before I even entered the ring. That’s tough, man. But, I learned from it every time, whether it was that I needed to spend more time practicing the Creed or that I should have fed my pigs a little differently. When I was defeated, I always made sure that I found the winner and congratulated them. And, I earned plenty of buckles, banners and trophies as well, and in those cases I still learned something.

8. “Make myself aware of FFA programs and activities and be an active participant.”

There is always something going on in FFA. As a stock show kid, I did my best to show as often as possible; I would have been at a show every weekend if I could. There are also numerous LDE and CDE contests, as well as practice events leading up to those contests. Chapter events from running the rodeo’s concession stand to meetings and banquets were always a highlight, and everyone was always excited to attend. As an adult, this willingness to seek out events and participate has proven valuable in meeting people in new places and making connections with people I would have never met otherwise.

9. “Conduct and value a supervised agricultural experience program.”

SAEPs are an incredibly educational experience, and the scope is so varied that a member can find something to do regardless of if they live on a ranch or in the middle of a huge city. Personally, I raised beef heifers and market hogs. I learned the entire process of raising animals from breeding to feeding to showing to veterinary care to selling to harvesting and more. Not gonna lie, eight-year-old me bawled like a baby when I sold my first hog, Oreo (that’s a good tactic for cute kids to get higher bids, BTW). But as sad as I was to see him go, it taught me that it’s a part of life and gave me a greater understanding and appreciation for those animals and the care they deserve.

10. “Strive to establish and enhance my skills through agricultural education in order to enter a successful career.”

I learned so much through my ag classes in both high school and college that I still use in my career today. Not to beat a dead horse here, but FFA and ag taught me how to speak to people, how to write, and how to develop myself to use any learned skill to the best of my ability.

11. “Appreciate and promote diversity in our organization.”

Diversity can mean a lot of things, and I’m not going to get into all of them now. What I will say is that I built relationships with other members from so many backgrounds, and those friendships are what got me through high school and college and onto my career. Without FFA, I wouldn’t have known a single person when I moved off to college. Without FFA, I wouldn’t have as great of an appreciation for diversity in people, careers, hobbies, and everything else as I do now.

I feel like this was a pretty long-winded way to say that FFA was the foundation of my college and professional careers, and that FFA taught me so many things that I will use forever. It is difficult to come under attack from other organizations who are trying to destroy us, and it is easy to lash out with harsh words and anger. But, if we’re being honest, anger does absolutely nothing for our cause. FFA taught me to appreciate other people and respect them despite their beliefs and values, and that is how I feel. There is a better way to educate the world about what FFA and modern agriculture is trying to accomplish than with the anger I have seen expressed over this new article, and I hope I can do just a little to make a difference in that aspect.

Opinions

In one  of my classes I am learning to write opinion pieces. That should be pretty easy for me, because I am definitely an opinionated person. And that might be an understatement.

For example, I think people are too sensitive, especially when it comes to someone having a differing opinion.

I have always been passionate about agriculture, and I just realized that I have never really talked about that on here. And what better post to start on than this one?

I recently read an article concerning the health differences in meat-eaters and vegetarians. And your prediction on this article: “Don’t eat meat, it’s so bad for you, vegetarians are healthier, blah, blah blah.” Well, you’re wrong. Finally, there is a study to show more than just BMI and cholesterol differences. This study focuses on the other health issues related to vegetarian diets, such as allergies, cancer, heart conditions, and mental conditions.

“Overall, vegetarians were found to be in a poorer state of health compared to other dietary groups,” according to the article.

The article also explained that people with a vegetarian diet tend to make poorer health care choices than those who eat meat. They tend to avoid vaccinations and preventive care.

Reading the study, the most overwhelming statistics were the percentage of people with a vegetarian diet who suffer from mental health problems and allergies. 9.4% of vegetarians suffer from some mental health condition, while those eating a carnivorous diet are in the 4.5-5.8% range. 30.6% of vegetarians have problems with allergies, while the number of meat-eaters is only 16.7-20.3%. The meat-eater range is made up of three groups dependent on the concentration of meat, fruits and vegetables consumed.

I also read in the study that vegetarians have an overall lower quality of life than meat-eaters based on social interactions, physical health, and environment. Although vegetarians do tend to have a lower BMI, they also tend to report more chronic illnesses than meat-eaters.

I came across this article on Facebook, and many of the comments accompanied with it were along the lines of “finally, an article saying what we already know!” Well, I would have to agree. I have always felt that all of the meat-eaters I know are generally happier and healthier than the few vegetarians I know.

I remember an anecdote I heard a few years ago from my show calf breeder. She said she ran into someone she knew after several years of not seeing them. She noticed that he didn’t look as healthy as she remembered – he was still pretty young, but his hair was white, his skin was thin and gray, and he was thin and sickly-looking. They got to talking, and it turned out he had stopped eating meat and switched to a vegetarian diet several years back. As soon as she heard this, she knew that was the explanation for his appearance.

Everything I have ever learned about eating meat points to it being the healthiest lifestyle overall. I am glad this study came about, because it is statistical data stating the same thing agriculturalists teach and learn, and the comparison is between vegetarians and meat-eaters consuming varying levels of meat, fruit and vegetable consumption.

This study really does tell us what we already know – bacon is equal to happiness.

bacon

If you want to check out the article and the study yourself, here’s the URLs.

article:http://atlanta.cbslocal.com/2014/04/01/study-vegetarians-less-healthy-lower-quality-of-life-than-meat-eaters/

study:http://www.plosone.org/article/fetchObject.action?uri=info:doi/10.1371/journal.pone.0088278&representation=PDF

Just some rambling

I should really blog more. 

I do have a good reason for not blogging in over a month, though. I promised to write about recipes and crafts, and I haven’t done much cooking or crafting either one lately. I don’t want to disappoint. I’m only thinking of you. 

But, I’m not talking about either of those things tonight. Sorry.

On a brighter note, it is officially my last class registration week. Well, at least as long as I register fast enough to get all of my classes. That’s right, I will be graduating in December. 12-13-14, to be exact. I thought that was pretty cool.

I really just hit me that I am almost done with college. Like, I was just in high school. But I guess it was actually a few years ago. And I have absolutely no idea what I am going to do after I graduate. I guess just chill in Lubbock and work at Dion’s so I can keep living the college life without all the homework. Sounds like a great plan. 

Oh, and I am going to Italy in May! I will definitely have to write about that a lot more. I have never been out of the country before, so I am super excited to go. We are going to Rome, Venice and Florence and staying in some pretty neat looking hostels. And on the way home there aren’t any planes leaving from New York the night we land there, so we will have to stay the night there. Darn. I am so upset the flights worked out so that I would have to explore NYC for a night. 

In other news, my birthday is exactly two months, two hours, and six minutes from the time I wrote this sentence. Not that I’m counting or anything. I will finally be 21, and time is dragging right now. I start classes the day after, and that makes me a little nervous about the festivities. Ehh, I’m sure my professor will understand. 

I am going back to Albuquerque for work tomorrow, and I’m looking forward to having a couple days off school. Oh, and hopefully making my boss watch Frozen for the first time, because it is almost as great as Cinderella. 

I know this post was just a lot of rambling on my part, but you can look forward to reading my experience with everything I rambled about. Frozen will probably be first, btdubs.

Don’t worry, I haven’t forgotten to include an eCard. I think this one accurately describes why I haven’t been blogging lately. 

 

Image

Back at Starbucks

I just really want a Venti Iced Hazelnut Macchiato with an extra shot right now. Too bad I’m broke.

So I am really really really really REALLY excited about the next few days. Tomorrow: satellite. Friday: payday and internet. Saturday: short shift at work. This is seriously going to be the best weekend ever. It will totally make up for having to be up by 8 in the morning to wait for the Direct TV installer to get to my house at who knows what time. Oh well. It will be better for me than my typical morning routine as of late. I have been waking up around 9:30 to let Bitsy outside with the other dogs and then going back to bed until around 12. Oops.

In my boredom at home today, I decided to curl my hair and dig around for some spare change so that I can get a corndog on the way to work. 99 cent corndogs during happy hour has made my life incredible. During my search, I found two quarters in my car and got so excited that I think I almost had a heart attack. So yeah, I’m a bit broke. And now I’m sitting here in Starbucks waiting until it’s time to leave for work. It’s not nearly as cold in here as yesterday, which is nice, but the coffee smell is driving me bonkers because I know that I can’t have any. Dear Starbucks, I pinky promise that I will be back on Friday to actually BUY something instead of just using your free wi-fi.

Most people know that I am pretty addicted to coffee. I have been having issues with my coffee maker lately, and that is causing issues with my ability to tolerate people. But maybe I will put a dent into breaking this addiction by not being able to have a cup every morning. Not that it will do much good since school starts in like two and a half weeks and I will just go right back to drinking half of a pot every day. And the whole Starbucks between home and work thing is probably not going to be good on my wallet.

This is probably the most pointless post to date. I think that I just really wanted everyone to know how much I want coffee right now. Because I think that everyone in the world cares about my life. Ha. Anyways, just about time to go get my corndog and go to work. Later, y’all!

 

It would be!

The Internet is Evil

Everyone has heard the saying “you don’t know what you have until it’s gone.” I have realized the truth of that over the last couple of weeks having to live with no internet or cable.

I really shouldn’t complain. I have an amazing house with electricity, running water, a huge backyard, a great kitchen, an air conditioner that works extremely well, a wonderful roommate and three loving dogs between the two of us. I also have a job that is going incredibly well and some fabulous friends. I really am quite blessed. However, it is soooooooooooooooooooo difficult to go from having cable and wi-fi to having nothing. And it doesn’t help that all but one of my DVDs are being held hostage by my best friend who is currently out of town. I may have accidentally run down about 90 percent of my cell phone data for the month in about two weeks and I have watched the same movie about 20 times. But hey, at least I have an excuse to be productive when I am not at work. I have also re-played every single level of Candy Crush, burned myself out on Minesweeper, gone through a couple hundred levels of FLOW and become addicted to Bejeweled.

So, I have spent a lot of time at the nearest Starbucks lately. I kind of feel bad for using their wi-fi without buying anything, but not bad enough to not do it. I will just come in on Friday after I get paid and buy a Venti-sugary-overly-expensive-delicious-frappucino-macchiato-something-or-other. That should make up for my hours on end of freezing in here just so that I can stay connected through the world through Facebook and Twitter. I mean, I needed to take care of school stuff, too, so that makes all of this totally acceptable, right? Right.

I just can’t wait until Thursday when Direct TV gets installed and Friday when SuddenLink gets installed at home. Best. Days. Ever. I was thinking about how dependent people are on the internet, though, and it’s kind of depressing. The fact that I can’t go ONE day without checking up on everyone through social media just shows that the internet pretty much runs our lives. It has probably been good for me to not be able to constantly be plugged into the internet. I almost want to give it up for a couple of days or something, but that just seems like an awful idea, although an extremely good one at the same time. Instead I am just going to try to be more productive with my time online and limit my usage of social media and Netflix. That means more blog posts!

In other news, my friends are returning to town, so I am not quite so alone in this big city anymore. School starts at the end of this month, and I FINALLY got my issues with Financial Aid worked out and got registered for classes. By the way, I got Financial Aid to admit to me that they were wrong, which I feel is a HUGE accomplishment. I’m loving my new house and the area in which I live. It takes 4 minutes to drive to work-AMAZING! Of course, it will be a little farther to school, but that’s okay. My family was in town last weekend and it was great to be able to spend some time with them. My mom did an awesome job on my furniture and I have already gotten a lot of compliments on it. Check out her creations, y’all. You won’t be disappointed. Speaking of my mom, she just got a new job as an 8th grade science teacher! Hopefully this will be less stressful on her; I know she will love it. And Josi is just doing an amazing job with her jewelry making. I wish I could have kept everything she brought up here to show me, but they wanted to make me pay for it…like, seriously? I’m the best big sister ever…I shouldn’t have to pay…right?

I’m pretty over the freezing temperatures in this Starbucks right now and I’m pretty much starving, so I’m going to sign off for now. But, I promise that I am going to try to write more…since I know everyone just LOVES reading what I have to say. Or at least that’s what I’m telling myself.

Does your Business #Internet make you feel like this? Contact #BCT today! www.broadconnect.ca www.broadconnectusa.com

Office internet is down. It's Candy Crush o'clock.

Changes

So, it has been an extremely long time since my last post, and a lot has happened in that time. For one, my living arrangement plans have changed twice, but more on that later. I decided let Leroy live in Jones Creek, which is kind of sad, but it will be better for him. I took a week-long trip to Albuquerque for work and I have spent the last two days moving. Needless to say, it’s been pretty hectic around here.

I spent the second weekend in July in Albuquerque for AIT classes. I had never been there before and I was shocked at how pretty the Mountains around the city are. It was also really neat to get to see the Dion’s Home Office and Commissary and meet a lot of people from the company. We also got fresh cookies from Commissary and they were pretty dang delicious. And in my free time I got to hang out with Taylor and Carlos and got a little tour of UNM with some insight to Carlos’s conspiracy theories which I think might be slightly true. 

Back to the living arrangements: the first time they changed, I had found a new roommate who happens to be one of my coworkers and we were able to find a really great place right between school and work. We were both super excited and waited a couple of weeks to find out when we would get to move and what unit we would be in. Countless phone calls later, we decided to go in to see what was going on; it turns out they double booked us and lost our application, so we were left with eleven days to find a place and get moved in. It’s funny how God works though, because the next day we found a little house that is absolutely perfect. We were the first people that had even called on the house and we were able to sign and start moving in yesterday. So, I have gotten just about all of my stuff moved over there and I am waiting for my family to bring me my furniture this weekend- so not only will I get furniture and get my house set up, I will also get to spend time with Mama, Daddy and Josi…BEST.WEEKEND.EVER. 

As crazy as the last few weeks have been, I am happier now than I have been in a long time. Everything is finally falling into place, and hopefully it’ll stay that way for a while. All of these changes have been happening for the better and I know that I am so blessed to have everything that I do. 

right!

I definitely felt this way this last weekend when I was majorly stressed about finding a place to live.

The Trouble With Living Alone

When I moved out here nearly two years ago I was too excited to think about the problems that I would encounter with living alone. Of course there is the whole missing-your-family and the fact that when you get sick you have to take care of yourself because Mama isn’t there anymore, but as soon as I ran out of graduation money I discovered the biggest problem of all: the food sucks.

I am blessed to be from a family of good cooks. Both my Nana and my Grams have kept me well fed throughout my life, my Mama makes better food than anyone except those two, and there is no barbecue in the world that can compete with my Daddy’s. Fortunately, they taught me how to cook, but that didn’t help me much when the only kitchen I had was a mini-fridge and a microwave. Freshman year was spent eating in dining halls across campus. I did happen to live in the complex with the best dining hall at Tech, but even the best food in a place gets old when it is all you eat every single day. When I started working at Dion’s, I got free food a couple times every week, but pizza and subs every day isn’t very substantial. I moved into an apartment last summer and was so excited to have a full kitchen to use. However, I still had a couple of problems: 1) it is difficult to cook for just one person; 2) it’s hard to buy food for a reasonable price that won’t go bad before you have a chance to use it; 3) I didn’t really know what groceries to buy for myself; 4) it is so much more convenient to stop by Taco Bell on the way home than to have to cook.

Living off of fast food didn’t last me very long either- I soon discovered that it isn’t nearly as cheap as I thought. I tried Ramen, but no matter what I added to it I just couldn’t make it edible. I finally discovered Velveeta microwavable mac-n-cheese and Banquet pot pies. I also figured out that Chef Boyardee is pretty cheap. I survived off of those three things for months. Then I made a deal with a friend that they could use my Netflix account all they wanted and they would feed me a couple times a month- and they are really good cooks too, so that was probably one of the best arrangements I have ever made. I started working more shifts that allowed me to get free food, so that helped. But there were still times that I was completely broke and not really sure what I was going to eat next. I remember one day I took a jar of peanut butter to campus with me to eat at lunch time- I had also eaten it for breakfast and I found some chicken nuggets in the back of the freezer for supper.

The best part of going home the entire time that I have been in college is that I always know that Mama will make me biscuits and gravy or Nana will already have waffle and hamburger stuff bought in preparation for my visit- Nana’s waffles and Mama’s/Grams’s biscuits and gravy are my two favorite things in the whole world, so I ALWAYS get them. I also make sure to learn some new recipe or food tip nearly every time I’m home.

This summer I finally got sick of living off of the same old things and started experimenting. The best discovery that I have ever made is that two pork chops cost about three bucks and an ear of corn is twenty cents. That means that I can have two meals for $3.20. Amazing. I also started buying hamburger meat in bulk, portioning it out and freezing it so that I can have it when I need it. I still eat out at least once a week, mostly as a treat, but tonight I found myself wishing that there were more options because I am so sick of everything that there is; I guess I have just burnt myself out on all of the good fast food (Taco Bell, Whataburger, Rosa’s, Cane’s, Wing Stop) and I am not willing to lower my standards. I know that I still have a lot to learn about feeding one person on a budget and I welcome any and all advice that I can get. I just know that I am glad that I have decided to start experimenting more so that I can have more variety and hopefully some healthier meals without going completely broke.

You might be a broke college kid if…

Today I had a “I shouldn’t be broke enough to know that” moment and it made me think of all of the other similar moments I have had since I have been living on my own. Therefore, I have created my own little spin-off of Jeff Foxworthy’s oh-so-famous “you might be a redneck” jokes. If you can relate to any of these, you might be a broke college kid, or at least at one point in life you were. 

You might be a broke college kid if:

  • You know exactly how far you can drive after your gas light comes on
  • You have ever used Taco Bell hot sauce to make Raamen Noodles better
  • You have ever survived a day or two on nothing but old popcorn and peanut butter
  • You know exactly how much the cheapest meal in town is because you have dug exact change out of your car multiple times
  • You have abandoned your resolve of never using public transportation because the campus bus is free
  • You accept any free food, no matter what it is
  • The majority of your wardrobe consists of t-shirts that you got for free at campus events
  • You have ever sold your blood*
  • You feel rich if you find a five dollar bill
  • Freezer burn doesn’t bother you
  • You have ever had to decide whether food or a prescription is more important
  • You plan your day around Sonic’s happy hour
  • You started working at a restaurant just for the free food

Honestly, this is a very minimal list. But, I think I have hit the high points of being broke. It makes it tough sometimes, but I always make it through my super broke times, and salvation always comes just as I am getting desperate, usually in the form of payday or birthday/Christmas cards. It also helps to know that I am working hard towards a degree so that hopefully one day I won’t have to worry about these things and will maybe be able to have a real supper every now and again.

*This is the only item on this list that does not apply to me personally, although I have considered it many times and only opted out because of my irrational fear of needles.