The Man Who Influenced Hundreds

On July 15th 2016 a very influential passed away. Mr. Bryan Lusk from the Sugar- Salem FFA chapter in Sugar City Idaho taught Agriculture education for many years. As I started to prepare and think of things I should do for Teach AG day I started to think about Mr. Lusk who inspired me to be the AGvocate I am today. Mr. Lusk taught me much but taught others lots to today for Teach AG day I would like to share some of the lessons the wise Mr. Lusk taught me and his students.

Being from the Madison FFA chapter I only got to see Mr. Lusk at district events, the county fair state leadership conference, and State CDE events.  One day sticks out in my head extraordinarily well when I think about Mr. Lusk. Over spring break Sugar-Salem was still in school so I took one day to go be his shadow for an afternoon. On this day I learned the patience it takes to be an agriculture educator as his first class started it took close to 20 minutes to get the students to stop talking and to go help transplant the flowers but even then kids complained about the dirt on their hands and many other problems Mr. Lusk never lost patience he always smiled and continued to help all his students while making a friendship with each one of them. The other thing I learned from Mr. Lusk was positivity it didn’t matter what happened during the day Mr. Lusk would always greet you with a friendly face, and tell you his days are always good.

Mr. Lusk didn’t just teach life skills he taught many Ag wonders to having not been in his classes at school I would not be able to tell you what magical wonders he taught in the classroom but from what he showed  me I would infer that his classroom lectures involved stories from growing up on the family farm,  driving tractor with his sister at age 3. To the long jogs he took around the farm to inspect fence, crops or other various farm jobs all while practicing for his next track meet.

MR Lusk helped grow an AGvocate in many members of the FFA not by his words but by his deeds he seemed to appear when you felt down and he would raise you up. He wouldn’t give you success but he climbed with you. He taught many the work ethic needed in the world today but he did so by example he worked and hoped others would follow the example. Mr. Lusk was the AGvocate that many of us need to be around so we could understand the true joy of agriculture life. Mr. Lusk always loved to help those growing around him. He was the Man to influence hundreds of anxious AGvocates.Displaying 13692673_1146891948667188_2745207455177070381_n.jpg

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Randy Clements – Idaho Raised in a Barn Representative.


Eight Thoughts When You Win

This year I have done incredible with showing and honestly haven’t had a clear thought in the past two days from all of the showing going on. I show both pygmy goats and dairy goats and this year I have taken more first than I have ever taken before. There have been so many thoughts and emotions going on but there were a few that keep going through my head still. I even saw it while at my county fairs market goat show this year. So here are eight thoughts that go through your head when you place high.

1. Did this just happen?

Of course this is the first thought that happens because in the moment that you are given your award you are in utter shock. It isn’t as I’d you didn’t work for it but more so the fact that you can’t believe it actually happened.

2. It did just happen!

You are finally realizing that you have won and coming out of shock and can’t quit smiling.
3. I did it! I did it! I did it!

Yes you did do it. All of your hours that you put in paid off and made for an incredible out come and you can’t help but think of how you are feeling.

4. Thank you so much for working with me as a pair. ( while looking at your animal)

You can’t take credit one hundred percent for this win because without your animal You wouldn’t be able to show. Also you have to work well with your animal to be able to do anything in the show ring with it.
5. I can’t stop smiling.

No you really can’t stop smiling and sometimes you almost start to cry actual tears of joy because you are in a place that actually shows how hard you have worked for this win.

6. The hard work paid off.

There really isn’t much to explain with this one because hard work will almost always pay off and be worth it in the end. Without hard work you can’t get to where you want to be and that is what drove you to put in all of those late nights in the barn with your animals.

7. I need to definitely thank the judge and talk to them.

This is a thought that comes to you more often as you get older because you realize that it really is the judge who sees your hard work and without them there wouldn’t be a show. It also is always fun to find out what the judge enjoyed most during the show and to see them smile when you thank them.

8. I shouldn’t have been so nervous before the show.

Everyone has pre-show nerves. Some people almost cry, some can’t eat and it is almost always because they are so nervous about how they are going to do. But at the end of the show you are remembering how much work and effort you put in and see that you actually were more prepared than what you thought you were.


Sarah Doner, Ohio

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Using Setbacks to shape your future…

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It was just a normal day walking from the high school down to the ag barn for one of my last classes of the day. I noticed something a little fishy with the fact that the fire department and the police were down there. We figured it was nothing major with the fact that our ag teacher was sitting at his desk waiting on our class to arrive. We walked in and sat in our desks like the ordinary an then everyone says hey Morgan, your mom is here. I calmly got up from my desk and I walked over to my ag teacher Mr. Shively and asked him if I could speak to her. He calmly assured me that it was cold outside and he handed me the jacket off of his own back, he then lead me outside and to my mom. Once I was close to her I begged to know what was going on. She told me everything was going to be okay and I asked again what was wrong. She told me that the heat lamp in my pigs pen had shorted out and his whole pen burned up. She told me that he was severely burned and saving him would keep him in too much pain. I then asked if I could see him as tears began to flow from my eyes.  I walked to the back barn where the firemen and police men lined up for me to walk past. Once I made it to my wilber I did not have a care in the world how hot or wet everything was. All I cared about was cuddling up with my baby boy one last time. In the instant that I did this tears began to flow from Wilbur’s eyes and he began to squeal when he heard my voice. In this moment all the memories of how my baby boy would run after me when we played around in the barn and how he would always dig around until he realized I saw him and he tried to play it off!

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Anyways…Me standing here three years later realizes that as many times as people say you should not form a bond with these animals its nearly impossible. During all of this I was taking care of my first show lamb too.. his name was Max! Although it seems like I would be crazy to say that my lamb was affected when my pig died ill say it anyways. Max and Wilbur were inseparable and they loved to run around and play together on good days and on the calmer days they just cuddled and chilled together! Sometimes I would go out to Wilbur’s pen to find it empty in the mornings and I would later find him cuddled up close to Max in his pen. The point of me telling this story is to show that these animals are not just creatures that we feed everyday. These animals are the key to our futures. They are the  key to learning responsibility, courage, integrity, honesty, work ethic,  and overall being honest and fair in the game of life. As much as the events in this story hurt me and brought me down they really built me back up. In life you are going to feel super weak and brought down but sooner than you know it you are back on your feet putting one foot in front of the other. It has been three years since that day and every time I am brought down I remember that day and how it changed me and shaped me into the hardworking devoted person I am today. So… remember that next time you are brought down the situation is going to mold you into a better person. These animals are the key to our futures and even when the sad things like this happen we are still learning through the process. It may seem like losing just a pig is not such a big deal but these animals are family too. As my mom always says “never sweat the small stuff, enjoy life and keep putting one foot in front of the other.” So next time you hit a bump in the road remember that its going to help better you for your future and instead of sulking about it and just wishing it would all end, get up and be positive even when its tough!



Oh, the places you’ll go!

There are so many opportunities available through the FFA. This organization has taken me all over the country, given me life-long friendships, helped me become a better person, and so much more! I use to be a very shy kid but by joining FFA, I have come out of my shell. My first year of FFA my ag teacher asked me to give a speech. I was terrified! I hated speaking in front of people so speaking in front of three people who were going to judge me was not something I was interested in but I decided to give it a try. We traveled to many different speech contests all over the state that allowed me to see new places and
meet new people! Taking this chance helped me develop a love for public speaking and the FFA! There are many different conferences  and events to at13325563_1040421399373767_4334584211755725801_ntend in the FFA. There are a lot of different Career Development Events you can compete in which will help you develop many different skills too! Leader Lab is an incredible conference to attend. It’s a two day event where you meet new people, listen to great speakers,learn leadership skills, and much more! State Convention is also one of my favorite events. You get to listen to many great
12191835_883428841705982_2881453541485295086_n speakers, watch members and chapters get recognized for their achievement, and have fun! State Convention my freshmen year was where my passion for the FFA really ignited. National Convention is another one of my favorite events! It is an amazing experience! You get to meet people from all over the nation, listen to great speakers, attend the career show, shop in the FFA Shopping Mall, and so much more! This past summer I had the opportunity to attend the Washington Leadership Conference in Washington D.C. This conference changed my life.13442131_1000540433328155_6238157937822310474_nWLC is a 5 day leadership conference where you have small group sessions, large group sessions, and eye opening experiences. You get to go sightseeing around D.C. and you make a Living to Serve plan. You room with people from other states and make lifelong friendships. WLC is my favorite thing I have done in FFA. There are so many opportunities available through the FFA! It is truly a life changing organization! Don’t be afraid to try new things and take advantage of every opportunity you have in life and FFA!

-Sarah Thomas, Kansas Rep



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An Open Letter to my Officer Team

Pictures from Louisiana State Officer Team, Cumberland Valley FFA Officer Team, University FFA Officer Team, Palmetto FFA Officer Team, and Woodward FFA Officer Team.

To the unforgettable characters I spend my year(s) of service with:

We all know that a bond between an officer team is so much stronger than just being in the chapter together. On the team we are trusted with making decisions to help make our chapter better. We bond over these decisions and start to get what each other wants to see in the chapter. More members, more fundraising, even more community interaction. Each of us has our goals and all of us want to see each other succeed.

We were all elected into our positions, some as first time officers, others moving up in ranks. When elected onto a new team there’s that excitement of being a part of a new page in the chapter history, none of us know how the new year will go but we will try to make it the best we have ever had. Our first real bonding as a team all starts on the officer retreat, whether it be a day trip or a week trip by the end we all become a little bit closer. After the late night discussions, I felt a little more comfortable. After the whole retreat I was prepared to always speak my mind because the moment I don’t, problems occur. We all have the skills and passion to make our year amazing and we are prepared to make it just that. The unforgettable team was ready to take on the chapter.

All of you by now have become my family, brothers and sisters ready to annoy each other and have each other’s backs. I am never afraid of doing something because I know I will have support behind me. Even though we all support each other there are some arguments but once we have a “heart to heart” to get all the feelings out we seem to be right back where we started. You all are a bunch of crazy characters that I probably spend too much time with, but every time we are together it’s unforgettable. The laughs we share and sometimes the serious times are always in my mind and I’m always looking forward to more memories for they will be with me for the rest of my life.

Eventually, we will see seniors graduate and as we move up younger members will fill in our old places but, each and every team is unique and wonderful. I may be a part of a few teams in my career and each one of them holds a special spot in my heart. For without these officer opportunities, I may have had more time for other things but something would be missing. What would be missing is a bunch of people that became family by chance. I thank each and every person I am on an officer team with for the lessons they have taught me and the support they have shown me through my years. I will truly love you all and love to see you succeed

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Chasing my Dreams and Cattle

“Chase your dreams, you might catch one.” -Unknown

As a stock show kid, my dreams have always been different from my other classmates. Instead of dreaming about playing a sport in college, or going pro, I dream about showing at major stock shows, like American Royal, National Western, Fort Worth, North American International Livestock Exposition, Houston, or San Antonio. I never thought about actually achieving my dreams because I knew my family didn’t have a lot of money, and that we didn’t buy the high end club calves that you see at these shows.

“Mom, can I ask you a question?” I said hesitantly. For some reason I felt like I knew what the answer would be already. I braced myself for the “no” that was about to come and waited for her response.

“Sure, go ahead.”

“Can I show at Denver my senior year?” I spit out.

“Maybe. We’ll see.”

In order to convince her that it was a good idea I wanted to go and visit and get a feel of what the National Western was like. We had visited the American Royal in October of 2015 to watch the market steer show, and to get an idea of how everything was run and set up, in case I was able to show there my senior year.

“Catch-A-Calf? What is Catch-A-Calf?” I wondered to myself. I had stumbled the schedule for the National Western and saw a show called the Catch-A-Calf show. I had heard of the American Royal calf scramble, and had a friend participate in it. But I hadn’t heard of Catch-A-Calf. I quickly did a Google search and found a PDF application for the program. I skimmed over the rules and found that unlike the Calf Scramble from the Royal, I was still eligible to participate in the Catch-A-Calf program!

From there I printed and filled the application out and got my 4-H extension agent’s signature. I hoped that my mom would see the initiative I took and would sign it as well.

After a few days of convincing and explaining what the program was* over and over again, my mom finally caved and signed the paper and mailed it in for me.

Since the program is based the number of applicants most everyone gets in, unless they have over 80 applicants. Because I knew there was a chance that I might not be accepted I didn’t tell my friends or extended family just in case.

After weeks of waiting my mom got a call. She picked up and heard the great news; That I had been accepted into the 2016-2017 NWSS Catch a Calf program!!! I got the text from her and I was ecstatic!  I WAS HEADED TO DENVER.

The day that I was to report for the Catch-A-Calf was January 16, 2016. It was a Saturday and I was nervous all day. I hadn’t practiced catching any calves like I had planned on doing and I was nervous I was going to not be able to catch a calf.

2:00 came so soon and I met by the doors that we were instructed to stand by. There were many other just as nervous looking kids standing with me as well. Soon the instructors came and checked us all in and lead us to the Stadium Hall where we were to wait until we were taken to the Coliseum for the rodeo.

At Stadium Hall they briefed us on what we would be doing and the rules. Then they gave us shirts with Catch-A-Calf printed on the back and a number pinned to it as well. That would be our “ID”. My number was 6.

As we jogged out into the rodeo arena my adrenaline was pumping and my stomach was in knots. I was scared as to how this was going to turn out. I was either make it awesome or embarrass myself in front of A LOT of people.

I heard 3, 2, 1! GO! I stood there for a second and then it registered “Oh hey run!” Since the cattle were really only 20 feet in front of me I jogged at them with the other kids. Soon I remembered a piece of advice. “Don’t run with the crowd. Go for the one separated.”

That’s when I saw him standing by himself. I started running at him. At the same time the group of kids that were running at the cluster of calves started herding them towards the calf I was going for. It was the perfect set up. He started to run at me. When I met up with him I opened my arms and I grabbed ahold of him. I wasn’t letting go. I was drug for a bit and the I was able to regroup and get on my knees so that I could get him on his back, so I would have complete control.

In the background I faintly heard the crowd going crazy and the announcer saying “You go sweetheart! Number 6! EVERYONE. LOOK AT NUMBER SIX!”

I got him down and started searching for my halter. I couldn’t find the head part of it but I found the lead rope. I followed the lead rope and found that it was underneath my body. I pulled it out from under me and started stretching it out. So it could go on his head. After a few minutes of loosening the rope, I got it on and got the calf up. I drug him across the line and immediately a sense of relief came over my body.  After exiting the arena, we received a letter of congratulations and an invitation to come back up in May to pick up our steer.

May seemed like forever away. It finally came and my family was headed back up to Denver to pick up my calf that Krebb’s Angus donated to us participants. After a breakfast and a meeting, we were finally able to load up our cattle.

My steer’s name is Crown, and he is the sweetest steer ever. He enjoys eating, running, and hiding behind me. I have taken him to a few shows, and even walked him in our town’s parade. I’m so excited to take him Denver and show him there!

*You fill out an application and send it in. There can be up to 80ish kids accepted. If you are accepted (most everyone is) you travel to Denver during the National Western Stock Show, you are part of the rodeo and they let calves out into the arena. You have a rope halter on you and you must catch and halter the calf and take it across the line. If you are successful then you will come back for a meal and meet your sponsor who will be donating a steer to you and whom you will be writing letters to every month. With this you also must keep records over how much it eats and how much you spend on it. The next January you get to go back to Denver and will show in the special Catch-A-Calf show, you also have an interview and will be judged on a record book as well as your correspondence with your sponsors. Form there judges will chose the Catch-A-Calf winners.

– Andrea Vandever-Moore

Kansas Rep

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From the Rising Sun to Here by the Owl

I ended my FFA career stationed by the rising sun, I am now ending my college career standing here by the owl.

Serving as my FFA chapters President, I had planted my roots in agriculture. I just hadn’t figured that out until after I graduated high school.

If you would have told me four years ago that I would be wanting to go back to high school, I probably would have laughed. I was so excited to get out of high school and go to college to pursue animal science. That plan never worked that way.

My second semester of college I found myself wanting to help students find their calling in life. I was missing a blue corduroy jacket, and watching my little brother start his FFA career. It was around that time I decided I wanted to go back to high school and cultivate young minds. I wanted to inspire kids to find their passion in life, whether that be in the agriculture industry or not.

I began pursing agricultural education as my career. Agricultural education began making me a better person. I

I get excited when I get to talk to kids about pursing agricultural education. I get excited every time I hear an FFA member give the creed that changed it all. I get excited every time I get to say “Here by the owl.”

I am currently serving as the National Teach Ag Ambassador for Oklahoma, and representing Oklahoma State University. I am preparing for National FFA Convention, where I will be working the National Teach Ag Booth. I hope to have students coming to talk to us who are excited to begin this journey.

Some will probably never understand why I chose agricultural education. All I can say is that I am in it for the outcome, not the income.

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Cody is a senior at Oklahoma State University majoring in agricultural education. #osuAGED17

Cody Dawson