Sunday, October 25, 2015

Amplify Your Time

With National FFA Convention approaching quickly (State Officers have already left) there are a few things that we should remember during our time in Louisville! First off, each and every FFA member that attends National Convention will be held to a high standard. Yes I’m aware that every advisor has told their members this before, but it really is true. The city of Louisville graciously welcomes us because of how respectful all the members are and because they see how much value the National FFA Organization has to offer.

With that being said, don’t forget to have an amazing time! Between attending sessions, competing, concerts, or even exploring the city, there is plenty of fun to be had! More often than not we will be traveling with some of our best friends which makes everything that much more enjoyable. Many people remember experiences like this for the rest of their lives!

Vet Science Team touring Churchill Downs.
Last year was my first time attending National Convention, but I will never forget my time spent in Louisville. Washington County sent two teams to compete and I loved spending 14 hours in a van with my best friends (advisor included). Between studying and sleeping in the back seat, random games of freeze out started by the guys, or listening to Mr. Kern sing, the drive only seemed to drag on slightly! After arriving and getting settled in to the hotel, our teams drove right in to some final prepping for our contests. In my opinion it’s the little things like this that put individuals and teams at an advantage for their competitions. Also, usually the late night practices in the hotel rooms turn into hours of uncontrollable laughter! I was also able to run into many Kansas FFA members, tour the city, and attend the final session where the National Officers got elected! I understand that not everybody sees National Convention as such an enjoyable time, but there really is something for everyone to do!

Lastly, ensure to double check your suitcase before leaving home; forgetting to pack something is simply the worst. My family always told me that when I traveled all I really needed was a tooth brush and some cash to buy anything that I had forgotten. I’m going to modify that and say all we really need is our corduroy jackets, a tooth brush, and cash for anything that we forgot! I am super excited to see so many smiling faces at National Convention, and wish everyone good luck and safe travels!

See you in Louisville,


Monday, August 31, 2015

Living Passionately

Hello! My name is Gabryelle Gilliam and I am serving as the 2015-2016 Kansas FFA State Sentinel. I am originally from the Washington County FFA Chapter, and the North Central District. The bond that I have already formed with my teammates is so incredible! Here’s a little insight into what I see in my teammates. Karl can always be found with a smile on his face and a ready-to-go attitude. Bailey is the one who keeps everybody on task, but she does so in a way that makes any job go by quickly. Dean may be one of the more creative members on the team, and our common backgrounds allow us to stop and talk livestock at any time. Lane is one of the most loving and genuine people I know; he makes everyone he is around happy. Kyler is definitely the most tech savvy person on our team, and he would do anything for us. Now here’s a little bit about me.

I grew up in Washington County, Kansas, on my family’s farm. The town of Washington has around 5,799 people, and our FFA chapter has roughly 50 people. I previously served as the chapter’s Treasurer, Sentinel, and North Central District Secretary. FFA has been a huge part of my family for quite some time. My dad, uncle, and cousin were all district officers and ran for state office. My uncle was the State Vice President for the 1979-1980 year. When I first joined FFA as a freshman, it was because I wanted to keep that family tradition alive. My love for the organization has grown to a whole new level since my first year as a member. It sure is amazing the things that can be done and accomplished through FFA.

Outside of my FFA activities, I am very involved in 4-H and showing livestock. I have been a member of the Farmington 4-H Club since 2003, and have showed livestock since 2005. I show pigs, sheep, goats, cattle, and horses at the county fair. I also show pigs, sheep, goats, and cattle at the State and National level. I have always been a daddy’s girl, and he pushed me to find my passion showing livestock competitively. My dad showed cattle at both the State and National levels, so we share this love of livestock. My dad is
pretty happy that I will still have livestock at home this fall, because he knows it will make me come home from K-State as often as possible! He reminds me of this daily. I hope that each of you has someone in your life that will push you like this.

I’d like to close with a saying that captures the message behind my post nearly perfectly. “Without passion, life is nothing.” Throughout my time in office I want to motivate everyone to find what they are truly passionate about and help them to turn that passion into something amazing. You never know where that passion could take you.

Until next time…

Gabryelle Gilliam

2015-2016 Kansas FFA State Sentinel

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Smile and Breathe

People often ask me what I enjoy doing in my free time and I always seem to respond "What free time?"  While it may seem like a joke, I am sure that at times some of us have actually felt like this before.  We have a million assignments due, meetings to prepare for, or tests to study for and we just seem to keep working and working and working.  Some of us plan breaks, but just are too busy to actually ever take them.  Others, like me, plan short study breaks that turn into very long breaks.  Either way, it just seems like that we keep stressing and worrying and not being productive.

Well I have found the solution to all our problems.  It's called fratsketball, and it may be the single greatest study break that I have ever found.  Fratsketball is exactly like basketball with one major difference, a 9 foot rim.  Just like basketball when we were kids, a person shoots for teams and then we play half court basketball with one's and two's until one of the teams makes it to 15.  All I do is text a couple friends and then run up and down the halls yelling who wants to play and before long we have 8 people taking a great study break.  The only rule about fratsketball is that you don't talk about classes, we just have fun with those people there  The serious part about fratsketball is the dunking.  It can get pretty intense.  I have seen everything from a 360 dunk to some crazy self toss up slam.  The whole atmosphere of fratsketball is to just have fun and not worry. 

Now some of us may be thinking that basketball isn't our cup of tea, and how does fratsketball even help solve our problems.  Technically it doesn't solve everyone's problems, but the idea and atmosphere of fratsketball can work wonders.  When I play fratsketball, I completely forget about work and take a total mental break.  For me, it's the perfect study break.  I don't once say how much work I have to do or what I could be doing instead, that's not allowed.  Maybe it means playing some Taylor Swift and jamming to Style.  Yeah I've done that!  We can be much more productive if we learn to truly relax as opposed to go nonstop for 8 hours.

Some people fear the word relax, but like my football coach always said, getting proper rest is almost as important as doing the work itself.  Some of us may play fratsketball while others go cruising with our friends with the radio blaring.  Maybe we are studying for a final test or working late in attempt to get ahead for the next day.  Wherever we may be, take a break, look at something that makes us laugh, smile and breathe then attack that to-do list with a smile on your face refreshed and ready to go.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

What Makes You Happy?

American philosopher Pharrell once said, "Clap along if you feel like happiness is the truth, because I'm HAPPY."  He says happy quite a bit in the song which addresses the idea of happiness head on.  But how many times have we heard the song and truly thought about what makes us happy?  How often do we look behind the catchy music and funky rhythms to determine what happiness means to us?

I know that I often forget what happiness really means to me.  Specifically on Monday this week I encountered one of those situations.  It had just snowed so it was cold, and slick and just kind of a gloomy day.  I had put on my cowboy boots because I thought they would give me some tread to walk with and keep me from falling.  I failed to look at exactly which ones they were when I put them on as they were completely smooth on the bottom.  As I walked to class I realized exactly which ones they were as I fell almost 5 times.  I was just letting the hard day of classes and snow get the best of me and ruin my happiness, and I even isolated myself refusing to talk to my friends.  After my test that evening some of my friends and I decided to just hang out.  We drove around town talking and blaring music in the car just having a great time.  For the rest of the day, I did not stop smiling as that little pick me up was all I needed to be in such a better mood.

That day I was just completely tired and grouchy and not very much fun to be around, but that one little bit of happiness made the difference for me.  Blaring music for about 10 minutes just completely changed my whole mood and perspective for the day.  How many times do you find yourself stuck in a rut and being down on yourself?  How many times has someone just made your day because they did something that made you happy?  Whether it's blaring music in a car or walking around town and catching up, find something that makes you happy.  Whatever it is, I encourage you to try to do it everyday.  I'm not saying that you have to read an entire book everyday because it makes you happy, but why can't you take a 15 minute study break to read from that book?  "Clap along if you know what happiness is to you," so I encourage you to find what makes you happy and pursue it everyday.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Hiding or Seeking Your Passions

Eighteen, Nineteen, Twenty: Ready or not here I come!  I stayed hunkered down in my perfect hiding spot.  Now, just to be clear, there are not that many spots that can hide a 6 foot 2 inch 275 pound college freshmen so I had to really pick and choose.  I was at my grandma's house for the weekend and I was playing with my cousins who were very energetic little girls.  I was the last to be found and shortly after we started the next round.

This simple little game got me thinking though.  My cousins, like all little kids their age had played the game with so much energy and passion.  They frantically searched through the house and cheered every time that they found someone.  This game was something that they were obviously very passionate about and they didn't care who knew about it.

Merriam-Webster defines it as a strong feeling of enthusiasm or excitement for something or about doing something.   I've found that the way we look at our passions can be like the game of hide and seek.  We can either hide our passions or actively seek out what we are passionate for and pursue it.  If we choose to seek our passions we may find ourselves living much more involved lives.

When I was in elementary school, I got to watch Marion High School perform Beauty and the Beast.  Secretly I loved the performance and kind of wanted to be a part of it, but decided it wasn't cool.  I wasn't going to seek this opportunity out because I didn't think it was cool.  That all changed with a couple of words.  Brett Billings, one of the lead characters and player on the football team (very cool), said, "I'll be watching you up here in a few years right?", and I of course answered "Yes sir!".  Well, 7 years later as I finished the final musical of my high school career, and all I could see was his face telling me that I could do it.  That little sentence encouraged me to seek my passion rather than hide from it.

Howard Thurman said, "Don't ask yourself what the world needs.  Ask yourself what makes you come alive and go do that.  Because what the world needs is people who have come alive."  Seeking our passions can seem scary at first, but it will reward us much more than we ever thought possible.  People who seek out their passions rather than hiding from them are the people who will come alive.  So I ask you, will you decide to seek your passions rather than hiding from them?

Monday, October 13, 2014

From the Country to the City: A Big Change

    When people ask where I live, I sometimes told them to drive to the middle of nowhere and then keep going.  I lived 20-25 minutes from school, 45 minutes from the nearest Walmart, and 1 hour from the nearest movie theatre.  Now, I walk 3 blocks to school everyday, can make Walmart round trip in 15 minutes, and am 5 minutes from the movie theatre in Manhattan.  It’s my 7th week in the big city, and I am just starting to make sense of city life.  Moving to Manhattan has been a huge change for me to experience.  
Change is a very interesting thing.  Some people strongly dislike change, while others love everything about it.  I am not saying that one is right and one is wrong, but I will say that society is experiencing a lot of it.  How many different types of iPhone’s have we seen just in the past five years?  The important thing about change is to treat is as an opportunity to grow.  In the past week, I had the opportunity to travel to the Southwest District Greenhand Conference where their theme was “Grow in FFA”.  I watched members grow by changing their thoughts about FFA and agriculture.  
How can change benefit you?  What are its negative effects?  What can be accomplished by changing the standard and thinking outside the box?  All these questions immediately come to mind because it can a scary thought to change.  Despite these frights remember that change causes growth.  This week I challenge you to think of one way that you can change something in your daily routine.  Take note of the effects and then begin applying change to those areas of your life where you want to grow.  It can seem scary at first, but it has the power to cause growth.  Gavin Degraw has a song called “Everything Will Change.”  There are a couple of lines that describe change very well.  It’s starting like a fire, tonight you lit the flame.  What will happen when you light the fire of change in your life? 

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Homemade High Expectations

It’s the weekend of the 4th of July.  Like most families on the 4th, we fly the flag, grill some hamburgers, have a little too much fun with fireworks, and my personal favorite, make some homemade ice cream.  Now, I have always used a hand freezer to make the ice cream.  My dad used to do all the work while I sat and watched, but now that I have gotten a little bit bigger I often find myself doing a lot of the work.  “It builds character” is my dad’s response anytime we prepare to make another batch.  

This 4th of July was no different as I took my place in the chair and began to turn the hand crank.  Now you may think that I am a little weird, but I counted how many times I turned the crank.  One hundred with the right and a hundred with the left, it helps me to keep both arms equally as strong.  After about five hundred, it was still really easy to turn so I began to worry.  Like I said, homemade ice cream is quite possibly my favorite part of the 4th so I hoped that I had not ruined it.  I pushed on for another three hundred turns until my dad took over for me so I could go eat supper.  After a couple of minutes my dad brought the ice cream maker in and had that look of worry on his face.  I was terrified.  I had ruined the annual 4th of July ice cream and worse yet, I did not get any!  As my mom took the lid off we waited in suspense to see the finished product.  The result was a ring of frozen ice cream about two inches thick around the edge and a middle of unfrozen ingredients.  

Though I was worried because I did not think there was going to be enough we had just enough for everyone to enjoy the perfect finish to the 4th of July.  When I started, I expected to have everything work perfectly and more ice cream than I knew what to do with.  My little ice cream fiasco taught me that what you set out for or what your expectations are may not always be the outcome.  

How often do we expect one thing, but get another?  Just because we don’t get what we expect does not necessarily make it bad.  I used to be guilty of thinking that if it did not come out exactly as planned, it was a failure.  As we face challenges this year it’s important to remember that they may not always go as planned.  Norman Vincent Peale once said, “Shoot for the moon.  Even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars.”  This year I challenge you to shoot for the moon and don’t be afraid if things don’t turn out perfectly because some of the rewards we get may be just as sweet as homemade ice cream.