Saturday, November 29, 2014

Blessed Reminders

As I stare at my to-do list, I feel overwhelmed. It seems as though there is not enough time in the day to accomplish even the daily "routine" activities. Then, out of nowhere, three more items come to mind, and become apart of the to-do list. The list seems never-ending, and I do not even know where to start. I look at the clock, and try to schedule each item for a different time in the day. I feel anxious, but hopeful. I can get this all done...right?

For the past couple of months, I have created many (so many) to-do lists in the optimistic attempt to decrease my stress level while tackling various items. These to-do lists range in length, but always seem to have a thorough compilation of schoolwork, FFA duties and necessary tasks to keep my life in order, like laundry. Even with these to-do lists, I face stress and worry. Am I doing enough? Am I doing too much? Should I sleep more/less? Lots of "what ifs" cross my mind, and pretty soon, I turn into a tense version of myself, and I do not like it.

A couple weeks ago, I had the opportunity to travel from Manhattan to Hill City, Kansas. Hill City is where I attended high school and was a member of the FFA chapter. The Hill City FFA Chapter was conducting their Joint Alumni Meeting, and invited me to present on
my experiences as a state officer and the International Leadership Seminar for State Officers that I am attending in January. When I stepped inside of the school, I was greeted by hugs and "Hello's" from alumni, community members, parents and members. I was almost taken back by the warmth and love. I just smiled and prayed that I would not jumble all of the words trying to escape from my mouth. Sometimes, words are hard.

Throughout the entire night, I was reminded of the support system that I still have at home. My immediate family was present, but I slowly began to realize that my extended "family" was there as well. Every single person in the cafeteria (where the meeting was held) made me feel welcomed, happy and relaxed; something I had not felt in a while. When the meeting ended, all I wanted to do was stick around an bask in the joyful environment that was created.

The moral of my story is this:
When you feel anxious, stressed or your to-do list grows to an immeasurable length, remember that you can turn to the ones that love you the most. When you spend just a little bit of time with them, your worries do not seem so big, and you are able to relax and smile. You realize that you are so incredibly blessed. In fact, you are just too blessed to be stressed. 

How can you be a source of love and joy for others? 


The Hill City FFA Chapter Officer Team
"Guys lets lift her up!" 
So this happened.

Two of the Greenhand Officers. 



Monday, October 6, 2014

Eyes Wide Open

It seems hard to believe that a month ago, the 2014 Kansas State Fair was in full swing! There were families touring the exhibits, carnival rides providing lots of adrenaline rushes and my personal favorite, people showing their animals.

         My fellow officers and I traveled to Hutchinson to assist with the Swine, Sheep, Goat and Beef Barns. Taylor was in the Goat Barn, Nick was in Sheep Barn, Jeff and Bethany were in the Beef Barn and Kyle and I were in the Swine Barn. That’s right. Kyle and I were in the Swine Barn.

        Here is a little background information about me: I never showed any animals. I had the opportunity, but I never seized it.

         I would like to think that Kyle is a pig guy. He showed them, raised them and I will also say that he really does love them. Don’t tell him I told you that! I on the other hand, have little to no experience with pigs. Needless to say, I was just a little nervous when I found out my barn assignment. Kyle also deserves a big “shout-out” for keeping me calm and collected during the walk to the barn.

         When we arrived at the barn, Kyle and I were given separate tasks to accomplish. My first task was nothing too “earth-shattering.” I was in charge of registering the 4-H/FFA members and their animals for the showmanship competition. Later the same night, Showmanship began, and I was given another task. I was to write down the numbers of the placers, and return them to the announcer. Accomplishing this task meant that I was required to physically be in the show arena with the members showing their pigs. After about ten minutes of trying not to be in the way, I relaxed and was able to truly see the competition. The intensity and determination was written all over the members’ faces. Their pigs were very skilled, and were able to move throughout the show arena with ease.
        
         For the next couple of days, I assisted in the show arena by collecting event cards from each member, writing their corresponding numbers down and presenting ribbons to those who were in the top ten. I absolutely loved these jobs. I found myself just wanting to “hang-out” in the show arena with the pigs at all times. I was so impressed by the members and their care for the animals. I remember witnessing one girl squatting down and kissing her pig multiple times because she had just won. In the short time that I was able to assist, I gained a new respect for the people that show and their animals.

         I want to end this post with a simple “thank you,” and a challenge.

         Thank you to those of you that raise animals, show them and care for them. My eyes were opened to the entirety of the hard work, dedication and responsibility it takes to own an animal in general. I learned so much, and I have you all to thank for that. The memories I made while in those barns will stick with me forever.


         My challenge to those of you reading this is to always keep an open mind. When you do this, new information will present itself to you in ways you never thought possible. Trust me on this one.
Look at them go! 

It's show time! 
The Grand Drive! 
I made a friend! 

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

The Servant Heart

Servant leadership; a term that I have heard quite a bit throughout my time in FFA. I remember being asked how I demonstrated servant leadership in one of my chapter officer interviews. I was taken back by the question. At the time, I was not so sure on the exact definition of what "servant leadership" truly was. How was I supposed to answer the question? Well, my answer consisted of a story when I helped serve at a luncheon at my church. I thought that it was a pretty good answer for a question that I was not 100% on! However, I later learned what "servant leadership" really was, and how I could apply it to my daily life. 

Robert K. Greenleaf put the modern servant leadership movement into motion with his 1970 publication of his essay, The Servant Leader. He defined the "servant leader" as follows:
       
       "The servant-leader is servant first...It begins with the natural feeling that one wants to serve, to serve first. Then conscious choice brings one to aspire to lead. That person is sharply different from one who is leader first, perhaps because of the need to assuage an unusual power drive or to acquire material possessions...The leader-first and the servant-first are two extreme types. Between them are shadings and blends that are part of the infinite variety of human nature." He then goes on to say...
      
       "The difference manifests itself in the care taken by the servant-first to make sure that other people's highest priority needs are being served. The best test, and difficult to administer, is: Do those served grow as persons? Do they, while being served, become healthier, wiser, freer, more autonomous, more likely themselves to become servants?"

After my interview, Mr. Lyder (our Advisor) told a few of us interviewees what a "servant leader" really was. Essentially, he informed us that a servant leader puts others first. Their desire is to assist others in growing as individuals and leaders. The knowledge that I gained from Mr. Lyder directly corresponds with Robert K. Greenleaf's essay. Something that has stuck with me from what I have learned about servant leadership is to serve with your whole heart. Nothing else. 

As a State Officer this year, I have challenged myself to make sure that this journey does not become about me, and that the people around me are my top priority. I am confident that when I serve with my whole heart, everything else will fall into place. My challenge to you, the reader, is this:

1. Strive daily to be a servant leader by putting others first. 
2. Smile every day. When you present a happy self, others will follow!
3. Develop a positive attitude. Life is better when you are optimistic!
4. When life seems difficult, PRAY!
5. Turn to others when you are feeling down. 
6. Live every moment to the fullest! 
7. SERVE WITH YOUR WHOLE HEART!

   I have just a couple more things before I end my first blog post! :)

      A few things you should know about me, Chantelle Simon...
         
   1. My family and my faith are my top two priorities. They both keep me grounded. 

My wonderful parents without my younger sister and brother!
   2. I am always moving...always. Just ask the other state officers! :)

   3. I LOVE meeting new people!

    4. My passion is FFA!! :) 

   5. I love my teammates! :) They are all amazing people! 


Kansas FFA, how will you serve with your whole heart? 







Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Agricultural Education Teachers: My CTE Superheroes

As I saw them walk into the funeral home my heavy heart lifted, it was one of those moments in the midst of grief that I will remember forever. You see my dad is an agricultural education teacher, and as some of his students walked into the funeral home wearing their blue corduroy jackets and official dress, I couldn't help but smile and take pride in the actions of members in an organization that I have been part of. This action brightened my day, and it is one of the first things that comes to mind when I think of the relationships ag. teachers have with their students.

* * *

I had the unique experience of growing up with several ag. teachers in my life. Mr. Lierz at Jackson Heights High School was my ag. teacher. My dad, who teaches agricultural education at Rock Creek Junior and Senior High School, was my second ag. teacher, and my grandfather even taught vocational agriculture back in the day.

Among each of these ag. teachers who played a significant role in my life as well as the agricultural educators that I continue to meet, I see some common traits. These special people are not just teachers who educate others about agriculture; they are also connectors who help students connect other skills they have learned in school with “real life” application. These special people are not just agriculture educators; they are life educators. They are in the unique position where they can let students know hats will be taken off when you enter a building as a sign of respect, and they can let students know the importance of a firm handshake and eye contact when meeting new people. These special people are not just “paid professionals” from 8:00 am to 4:00 pm; they are community volunteers oftentimes from 4:00 pm to 8:00 am.


Most importantly though these special people are not just teachers and role models; they are people who truly care and get to know students. They work with students who love school and those who don't. Furthermore, they work with students who are involved in every activity taking place at the school, and students who have their one passion in agriculture education and FFA. These special people are the ones who can take well behaved students and not so well behaved students on a school trip and be assured that there will not be any problems. In addition, these teachers are the ones who can go beyond school and truly see what students are like on long trips with lots of sleep, with little sleep, with lots of sugar and caffeine, and with very little sugar and caffeine.

My dad, like many ag. teachers, knows his students so well that when my grandfather passed away this last fall, his students drove 60 miles to stand in their blue corduroy jackets at the funeral of a man they barely knew because he taught my dad right. My grandfather taught their ag. teacher, “People don't care how much you know, until they know how much you care.”

* * *

The relationship and teaching an ag. teacher provides goes so much deeper than just the typical knowledge that a student gains from being part of a class or an organization.

For this reason my CTE Superheroes are agriculture education teachers like my dad!!



Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Leadership: A Lesson from the Geese

Have you ever tried to define leadership?
* * *
There have been times in my life when I thought that I could define leadership pretty well, or I could point out an example of a leader. I was very shocked then when my definition of leadership was turned completely around during this last semester. It all started something like this…
I was working on a timed group project with a group of classmates. When the facilitator instructed us to begin, my group took off and raced about trying to finish our task quickly. It was fantastic that there were a bunch of leaders in my group, but as we continued to go on with our task this turned out to be a bit of a problem. Whenever one leader would try to speak, five other leaders would either be talking at the same time or immediately agreeing or disagreeing with what the first leader said. At the end of our allotted time, my group had failed miserably. We did finish our task, but we might as well have hired preschool students to create the finished product that we came up with.
Upon reflecting on this experience I realized that even though we had a group of tremendous leaders, we failed because no one was willing to follow. It was like the quote, “A leader without true followers, is simply going on a walk.” Instead of following the leader, we had created a skirmish line that couldn’t decide where we were going. Following this reflection my group had the opportunity to redo our project, but it took us twice as long to tear down, start over, and finish our project. Throughout the rest of the semester we worked on being good leaders and good followers, and we were able to improve in this area quite a bit and accomplish even bigger projects than our first one was.
* * *
Due to this experience my definition of leadership totally changed. As a flock of geese flew overhead one day, I realized that my definition of a leader was: being the front goose leading the rest of the flock. My definition changed then to what geese already knew about leadership.
When geese fly overhead they seem to be changing positions all the time. After flying in the front for a while, the lead goose will drop back into formation and another goose will take their place. When a goose is rested up and strong they lead the flock, but when another goose is rested up and ready to lead, it is their turn. When a goose drops back into formation it doesn’t just quit flying. They keep flying and refine their strengths for the next time they get to lead, and while they are doing this in the midst of the flock, there are other geese flying behind them. Even if a goose is in the middle of the flock and following the lead goose, the other geese can follow the middle goose.
* * *
This is my definition of leadership: being willing to lead when your strengths are needed and being willing to follow when someone else has a strength that is needed.
Or simply put my definition of leadership is: Lead like a goose!
* * *
As FFA leaders, how can we play to the strengths of our chapters in order to keep our flock headed in the right direction?
Brian Tracy encourages us to, “Become the kind of leader that people would follow voluntarily; even if you had no title or position.” - How can we help lead our FFA chapters even if we might not necessarily be the lead goose?

What is your definition of leadership?

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Inspiration

Kansas Farmer

“Cody, you're a Missouri Hillbilly,” my grandpa said.

I was visiting my mother's family in Missouri, and my grandpa reasoned that because my mom grew up in Missouri, I was a Missouri Hillbilly. I thought about this just briefly before responding. “No Grandpa, I'm a Kansas Farmer!” This “argument” went on until I was about to leave my grandparent's that night. My grandpa and I compromised. We decided that whenever I crossed the Missouri River I became a Missouri Hillbilly for the time that I was in Missouri, but whenever my family crossed back into Kansas, I became a Kansas Farmer for the time I was there.

That night as a four year old kid, I stayed awake until about midnight when my family crossed the Missouri river again, and I became a Kansas Farmer!

Grandpa
As I four year old I was excited to become a Kansas Farmer. I found my drive and inspiration for becoming a Kansas Farmer by watching my grandfather. I was always excited to help Grandpa feed cows, start combining corn, or run the skid steer. As I got older there was always a piece of me that held onto the dream of following my Grandpa and becoming a Kansas Farmer. I was inspired to be like my grandfather, a hardworking man who wouldn't always say a lot, but who spoke more with his actions than many people can say in a lifetime of words. I was inspired to be like my grandfather who without hesitating would let his grandsons borrow his mower when theirs was broken, even though there was a good chance his mower would need repairs when they were done with it. I was inspired to be like my grandfather who served his family and friends and would drop whatever he was doing in a heartbeat to do so.

That's What I Want To Be Part Of...
There has always been something about agriculture and rural life that I loved and wanted to be part of. I am inspired by the the way life on a farm teaches people the values of hard work and never giving up, and that's what I want to be part of. I am inspired by the way people in a rural community care for each other, and that's what I want to be part of. I am inspired by the spirit that allows a neighbor to drive just a couple minutes to get to your house, but take an hour to get back home. That is what I want to be part of. I am inspired by the space children have to run around, grow, and learn values, and that is what I want to be part of. I am inspired by the faith it takes to plant a seed in the ground and know that it will come up and you will be taken care of, and that is what I want to be part of. I am inspired by FFA and the way it challenges members to ignite their premier leadership, personal growth, and career success; that is what I want to be part of.

What inspires you?

What do you want to be part of?



Thursday, August 15, 2013

Companions

I really enjoy reading the book With You All The Way by Max Lucado.


In this book a prince sets up a quest for three knights who want to marry a princess. The knights have to prove that they are worthy by traveling through a dreadful forest and making it to the king's castle. This forest is dark, dreary, and filled with hopenots, creatures who make traveling through the forest miserable. The strongest knight asks if they can take anyone with them, to which the prince responds that they may take one companion with them. The fastest knight asks how they will find their way through the forest. The prince pulls out a flute, plays a song, and explains that the king will play the exact same song three times a day and this will help lead the knights to the king's castle. The wisest knight asks if the king and the prince will play the exact same song and if their flutes are identical. The prince replies that the songs are the same and the king and the prince play identical flutes. The next day the knights and their companions set off into the forest. After a great deal of time passes the servants at the king's castle see two men come walking out of the forest, so they clean them up and have a grand feast that night. During the feast the king plays his song one last time, and … the wisest knight walks into the room. The wisest knight explains that their trip was difficult. The hopenots stole their horses, but they kept going. The hopenots attacked them, but they fought back. The trickiest thing the hopenots did though, was whenever the king played his song, hundreds of hopenots would mimic it on their own flutes. The wisest knight explained that he made it through the forest because he chose the right companion. The wisest knight made it through the forest with … the prince by his side. This way he could always hear the kings song because it was with him all the way.

http://www.ewallpapers.eu/view_wallpaper/forest-path-1920-1080-5438.html

Just like these three knights we often set off on quests of many different types, and just like these knights we often run into dreadful hopenots who steal our horses, attack us, and mimic the song telling us which way to go. In the moments when we encounter these dreadful places in the forest it is very important that we have the right companions traveling with us.

Throughout these last 19 years of my life I have traveled life's forest with some amazing companions and received incredible support from them. I have been able to walk alongside my Savior, family, friends, neighbors, ministers, teachers, and countless other people.

Throughout this next year I am looking forward to the quest I have set out on as a State FFA Officer, and continuing to travel with many of my old companions as well as new ones, including my teammates and FFA members across the state of Kansas.

What companions are you traveling through this forest with?


My family: front row, l-r, Drew, Silas, Dad (David), Mom
(Kelly), Kade, Brady. Back row, l-r, Jacey, Cody, Jeremy, Seth.
My officer team: front row, l-r, Chance, Daryl, Cody.
          Back row, l-r, Carrie, Elizabeth, Lindy.