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“Don’t twist a “point” to fit a story. Using a story that doesn’t directly lead to your points equals cheating your audience.”

January 2017 | Volume 15, Issue 03


by Bethany (Bohnenblust) Parker

CREATIVITY, INC. As we head into state convention season, our focus will turn to how we celebrate our members’ accomplishments while creating a dynamic, unforgettable experience for all in attendance. In this issue, we turn to Bethany Parker, a past state and national officer, to share one of her favorite reads on the subject of tapping into our own creative genius! THE READ Produced by Pixar Animation Studios, the blockbusters “Toy Story,” “Finding Nemo” and “Up” have been favorites at the box office. As a dominant player in computer animation for the last 20 years, Pixar has secrets of success to share. Ed Catmull, co-founder of Pixar, tells the story of how an inspired college student, along with Apple genius Steve Jobs and other technology greats, finally put the impossible on the big screen. Follow these dreamers as they build their company, protect its identity, and reap great success, even with recent big hits like “Wreck-It Ralph” and “Frozen.” Even if you’re not a tech buff— no worries, neither am I—you’ll love this book. You gain a greater appreciation for the films we enjoy and for the scientists who have

given their lives to combining physics, computer science and storytelling. You get unique insight into the creation of characters we’ve fallen in love with, like Woody and Ellie and Carl! Any team can benefit from the lessons learned in the 1996 merger of Pixar and Disney. Their willingness to evaluate and keep dreaming allows everyone to be bought into these creative principles: Story Is King and Trust the Process. THE REALITY Everyone notices creativity. But so few risk enough to be creative. Catmull addresses the root fear people have of change. “For many people, changing course is also a sign of weakness, tantamount to admitting that you don’t know what you are doing. This strikes me as particularly bizarre — personally I think the person who can’t change his or her mind is danger.” Are you afraid of change? I can be. But change is the only thing that is certain for the length of our lives! Just think, without creativity we wouldn’t have cellphones, Wal-Mart, or laser shows at convention. We need creativity to keep moving ahead. We’re grateful for founding men like Henry Groseclose, but aren’t we grateful that FFA has grown beyond those 33 men in Kansas City in 1928? Progress comes from an environment of creativity. Catmull says, “The goal then is to uncouple fear and failure—to create an environment which making mistakes doesn’t strike terror into your employee’s heart.” How much more of an experience could we give our FFA members if creativity was a trademark of your team? THE RESPONSE • Create a team “Braintrust”— a safe arena for candid responses for developing projects.

Bethany (Bohnenblust) Parker lives in India working with college students in the areas of leadership and character development. She grew up in Kansas, serving as a state and national officer. Bethany and husband Morgan enjoy traveling, eating spicy foods, checking off their bucket list and raising their young daughter, Elle.

• Do a “PostMortem” (Pixar’s word) after a big event. This offers a rare chance to do analysis that wasn’t possible in the heat of the project. Use a kitchen timer to limit and focus responses. • Never stop learning. Watch Ted talks, read the newspaper or take a course outside of your major.


by Becky Fouard


EFFECTIVE WORKSHOPS: ICING ON THE CAKE. Ever since Pinterest was created, one of my friends has been obsessed with finding cupcake recipes and baking these sugary treats for all of her friends (and making new friends in the process). One day I asked my friend, “What makes your cupcakes so hard to resist? I don’t even like cupcakes, but there is something special about yours.” Her response: “The key to an enticing cupcake is a solid cake batter, one that is just the right amount of richness and substance. However, the secret to making people appreciate the cake batter is in the icing…my icing is unique and always the right amount of taste and presentation to make any person want to try a bite.” Being the nerd I am, weeks later while discussing what makes a truly great workshop, this analogy came to mind. A great workshop must build a rapport with the audience, have conscious content that relates to the audience and be purposeful. The icing to a workshop is the delivery. To entice students to want to get to the cake batter (or the foundation) of our workshop, we must make it sweet, fun, adventurous and engaging.

The way we say it… • Adapt your voice, rate and pitch based on the excitement or reflectiveness of the workshop. • Use a long pause to make a key point sink in. • Ask open-ended questions. • Use inclusive language like “we” and “us” instead of “you” and “I” (this shows we are on their level and we are taking the workshop journey alongside them). • Facilitators are guides—let students speak most of the time. We should be active listeners. • Use action verbs like “grab,” “pull,” “catch,” and more. • Use language that entices the senses, such as “take a snapshot of this,” or “chew on that for a bit.” Our actions… • Anything we ask our students to do, we should do as well—jump into activities and write in workbooks when you ask them to. • Listen…and ask deeper processing questions based on student responses. • Make eye contact, nod your head to show you are listening and thank students genuinely when they share. • Physically—use your modality allies (visual alley is farthest from the students, auditory is the middle of the room and kinesthetic is closest to students).

To read more about delivery techniques, check out the book, “Quantum Teaching: Orchestrating Student Success,” by Bobbi DePorter, Mark Reardon and Sarah Singer-Nourie.

The third factor of facilitation is in the delivery, or the icing on the cake. What are some key delivery techniques to incorporate into the facilitation of our workshops? Let’s check some out in categories.

Kansas girl, FFA geek and leadership nerd are just a few of the nicknames Becky Fouard has earned. Becky grew up in Kansas where she found her love for agriculture and received her agricultural communications and journalism degrees from Kansas State University. Becky currently works for Elanco Animal Health in Indianapolis and is tasked with global corporate communications with a specific focus on agricultural advocacy, food security and consumer trends.

Bright Ideas • Volume 15, Issue 3



by Tyler Tenbarge

In the early 1990s, a beautiful, strong-willed young lady dreamt of making a career out of her love for singing and performing. She found a few other young ladies with similar visions, talents and will, and—after failing a few times—struck a deal with Columbia Records. Destiny’s Child was born. Today, Beyoncé Knowles reigns as one of the most popular artists. In 2013 Time magazine named her one of the 100 most influential people in the world. Just a few decades before Beyoncé’s rise to fame, a middle-aged nun in India heard a voice that asked her to quench the thirst of others. This nun knew the only way to help Calcutta’s poor was to be with them, giving up everything she owned except for a few pieces of clothing. A later Nobel Peace Prize laureate and Catholic “Saint,” Mother Teresa went to help those who would also help her become what she was called to be: poor. A powerful pop diva contrasted with a prayerful nun demonstrates the power of virtue for the good of personal and corporate success. That is virtue: moral excellence for the good of oneself and of all. ALL ABOUT DISTINCTION Character is about distinction—being so excellent that you literally impress or imprint upon others the goodness that your life embodies. It is this power of living virtuously that sets someone apart from others. In my previous two articles, we talked about the inspiring character of Nelson Mandela and Pier Giorgio Frassati, yet no one needs a lesson in evaluating what is positive or negative character. Like the excellence of Beyoncé’s stardom and Mother Teresa’s holiness, virtue is obvious. Maybe there’s reason.

Father Tyler Tenbarge is a farm kid from southwestern Indiana who served as a state and national officer from 2006-08. In June 2016, Father Tyler was ordained as a Catholic priest and currently serves at a parish church in Newburgh, Ind., and as a high school chaplain. When he isn’t preaching or ministering, Father Tyler gets away to bike, pray or work on becoming like the saints he so often reads about.


DRAWING US IN Virtue incarnate is life-altering and magnetic. It stands out against corruption, suffering and the evil we all encounter, and we are drawn toward the excellent lives of others. By simply seeing or hearing of another becoming virtuous, we actually make changes in our lives to follow suit. Others help make justice, faith, creativity and other virtues, well… real. It’s as if they have reached out into an other-worldly realm and, as if breathing in something divine, showed us how to do it. Others living out virtue both remind and compel us to take that seemingly ethereal truth and make it real ourselves. If they could, why shouldn’t I? People of legendary character literally put flesh on a truth that we cannot see with our own fleshy eyes. And we are drawn to it. Children hang posters of their favorite athletes and consume the products they endorse. When young FFA members see state officers move into another room or listen to a particular song, don’t they often follow? Especially-driven members will even find out what officers did to get elected and try walking the same paths. Maybe you did, too. USING WHAT WE’VE BEEN GIVEN In his TED talk, “The Surprising Science of Happiness,” Harvard psychologist Dan Gilbert explains how only human beings have the ability to simulate outcomes in our brains and, therefore, choose what will make us happy. Ancient philosophers came to the same conclusions even without the technology of today. So, let’s use these natural powers! Unlike any other being in all of creation, human beings have reason and personal agency. We have these abilities so we can choose to do and become good. We can even choose to do something painful for the sake of something heroic: something no other creature can consciously choose. The few that do—like praying mantises that die in the process of reproduction—are wired to live this way. We are free to choose it. Like athletes choosing to lift with already-sore muscles or tired state officers choosing to run through conference sessions one more time before bed, we can choose to make personal sacrifice for the sake of our or another’s good. LIKE BEGETS LIKE If I want to become courageous, I won’t get there by shying away from risk. Beyoncé wasn’t going to become a better singer and performer singing alone at family events, and the saintly


Sound Character

Mother Teresa would have found it difficult to quench the thirst of poverty without moving into the slums. When it comes to living virtuously, nothing is more certain than “like begets like.” We gain hope by being hopeful. We learn to run and climb by running and climbing. Like begets like. Harvard will only continue to attract the best and brightest if it has the best and brightest. And the tallest of trees will soon lose limbs and eventually be blown down when the rest of the forest is cleared around them.

So, with what or whom do you surround yourself? Where do you choose to freely and reasonably place your wealth, time, love, energy? What posters are on your walls? And, where do you need to go—to a singing trio, a soccer team, or the slums— to become as virtuous as you know you can be? Stay tuned: In our final article, we will focus on how to persevere in virtue, especially when we are pressured to fall or can’t seem to find motivation to live rightly.

Bright Ideas • Volume 15, Issue 3



by Mark Jewell



hen I had the privilege of serving as a state FFA officer, one of the best ways to stay in touch with FFA members I met was to send them a handwritten note by mail. Truth be told, this is still the best way to let someone know you’re thinking of them. However, you are probably well aware of other relationship management tools available today. Let’s face it. With the schedule you keep, being able to simply text someone or shoot them a Facebook message is much more efficient, right?

Well, I’ve picked up some pretty fancy tips and tricks for managing personal and business relationships through technology. In this article, I’ll cue you in on a nifty list of actions that not only make your relationship management more efficient, it sets you up to make the most of your network and helps you bring maximum impact to members you want to influence!



Influences Through Actions

BE PURPOSEFUL Relationships are the cornerstone to your success as an FFA officer. However, that doesn’t mean that by frantically adding people as Facebook friends you are truly growing those relationships. Here are a couple of critical checkpoints to consider: 1. Are you proud of the information you are sharing online? If not, clean it up — or don’t connect. 2. Have a plan. In the next Bright Ideas, I’ll share a relationship management plan that is sure to change your life. In the meantime, make sure that you are planning time daily or weekly to nurture your relationships. Relationship building in person or online is fun, but to ensure success we must approach it with purpose! 3. Online tools are only one drawer in your toolbox. You have lots of other commitments, so don’t let this dominate all of your time. BE AUTHENTIC Remember to share your passions. You are an inspiring young leader in the greatest youth organization on earth! It’s okay to wear your heart on your sleeve once in a while. Tactful sharing of your passion for agriculture, leadership, FFA and other areas benefit those that follow you. Encourage others to do the same. And most importantly, never try to be someone you’re not. Above all else—when growing relationships online, authenticity is important. SEVEN TIPS FOR SUCCESS 1. Categorize. Sites such as Facebook and LinkedIn let you create lists, which are slick ways to segment your friends so you can easily check into them and see what is going on. I like to make lists of new Facebook friends based on where I met them (like a camp or conference). It helps me remember their names when I meet them in person down the road. 2. Lists of Influence. You can use Facebook lists here again to make a short list of members you really want to impact. Maybe there are a couple of people you know who could be future state officers. Perhaps someone opened up and shared a special goal with you. It is your responsibility to follow up. Make a list of people you really want to see grow and then, once a week, check in or drop a quick note to see how these members are doing. 3. Chat. This probably seems a bit obvious, but FFA members understand that you have a lot going on. When you take five minutes to have an IM conversation with someone that looks up to

you, that is huge for them! Just remember to be polite and be a steward of their time as well as yours! 4. FaceTime. Web-enabled video is a great way to have an online chat session with your officer team or with individual members. Skype is a great free tool that lets you chat or call from computer to computer. There are a few others like it too, such as Google Chat. With Skype, you can conference in up to nine people, and each can have video, if that’s an option. 5. Texting. I love dropping a text message on my buddies after their favorite football team has either won or lost a big game. Text messages are great for short, informal communications. Here’s a question for you to follow up on: What are best practices for using text messages to communicate with friends, colleagues, advisors and FFA members? Do you text one differently from another? *Find this question on the State FFA Officer Facebook Group. 6.

Collaborate on a Cause. We are a servicedriven organization. FFA members love to do good! What if you could collaborate on fundraising efforts that members you know are interested in? Check out to see how you can build social networks around each other’s passions and special causes.

7. Engage Our Sponsors. Many of our sponsors have social networking profiles for personal and/ or business use. This provides a great opportunity to go above and beyond the call of duty by connecting with them online. When you “like” a company profile, that helps communicate that organization’s brand. If you connect with a sponsor you met during a business and industry visit, you’ve strengthened the synapse between you, them and FFA.

Mark Jewell is an expert trainer, business consultant and solutions designer with experiences ranging from American classrooms to international development in Eastern Europe to the executive boardroom. He’s also a past state officer from the state of Minnesota and now resides in Omaha, Neb., with his wife and children.

Bright Ideas • Volume 15, Issue 3



by Anne Knapke

CRAFT YOUR MESSAGE. A research report recently released by the U.S. Farmers and Ranchers Alliance showed that U.S. consumers care about the way farmers and ranchers produce our food. People want to understand the methods being used, and they wonder frequently if the food they buy is safe. It also might then be a safe assumption that many do not understand the significance of agricultural education in preparing the next generation of agriculturists. We’ve got a lot of work to do! Remember, many people are very disconnected from agriculture… perhaps even people in your family or friends circle. Because many people do not understand agriculture, advocates within the agricultural community must work to build trust by understanding issues through transparent and articulate communication and through listening. Let’s start with the latter. Listening.

Transparent and articulate communication.

A quote I came across several years ago by Dale Carnegie, the Sometimes when we get engaged in a conversation about leadership training guru, reads, “People don’t care how much you an issue, we want to jump too quickly to messaging we know know until they know how much you care.” I can also remember and are comfortable with. It’s always important to think about my agriculture teacher your audience first and meet them where they telling me I have two are mentally. What do they know? What do they Sometimes when we get engaged ears and one mouth for care about? For example, in a conversation with in a conversation about an issue, a reason. someone who is skeptical of biotechnology, sharing we want to jump too quickly information about how technological advances are Listening to someone’s to messaging we know and are critical to feeding a growing world population may point of view lets not resonate as much as first sharing a story about comfortable with. them know you care the agricultural education class you took where about understanding you learned about different production techniques their perspective and including organic. concerns. What is desperately missing from the debates on many important issues that involve agriculture today are people willing to listen to each other. People are curious, and when different stakeholders are engaged, we get to share information, experiences, beliefs and even fears. And we can all learn from it — and develop greater trust.

An application exercise. You can do some planning now so you are better prepared to communicate when opportunities present themselves. Take a moment to think through your key messages for different audiences. • First, let’s capture the audiences you’ve thought of on a piece of paper. • Now ask yourself what each of those audiences’ cares about.

Anne Knapke is originally from Oxford, Ohio, and was a member of the Talawanda FFA Chapter before serving as a state and national officer. Anne graduated from The Ohio State University and holds dual master’s degrees from the University of Chicago. She lives in Washington D.C., and serves as legislative director for U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar. She’s passionate about working on solutions to global food insecurity, developing young leaders, running and yoga.


• Brainstorm on paper what your key messages might be, and how you can back those up with facts or personal stories or concrete examples. Keep working on perfecting your ability to be an advocate by keeping the concepts of “transparent and articulate communication” and “listening” at the forefront of your mind.


Serves as an Advocate

Bright Ideas • Volume 15, Issue 3



by Alex Schnabelrauch

It’s true, I’ve been captivated by my fair share of retiring addresses (RAs). I’ve laughed when the speaker cracks jokes, cried during their sad stories and cheered for their successes. By the end, I’m inspired to grow in some way and know the action steps to get there. Then there are…the other ones. The RAs that contain nonstop, cliché Pinterest quotes and jump from topic to topic, trying to tell too many jokes and sappy stories. RAs that leave me…confused. Been there? Want to hit your RA out of the park, build (or reinforce) a positive reputation and avoid the clichés? Then ditch your preconceived notions of what an RA “should” or “needs” to be. Check out this stepby-step guide to developing a unique, relatable, growth-inspiring RA that sticks with members. Profile Your Audience Whether we realize it or not, we grow and mature during our year of service. So take just a few minutes before writing to rewind and remember what it was like to be a student at state convention. What mattered most? What would have made you listen? What were you feeling at this point in the convention program (tired from the night before, anxious for the dance, sick of speakers)? Fill out an audience profile target (like the one featured above) to pinpoint what your audience is going through and how you can best connect with them. Trust me, it only takes three minutes to fill out but could be the difference between an auditorium of KoolAid-drinking listeners or Angry Birds-playing day dreamers.

After profiling your audience, the next step is to pick a goal. (WARNING: Speech stories come later in the process. Don’t marry a story before committing to a goal. Story divorce is messy…) Reflecting on the responses captured above, what take-home message do middle/high schoolers need to hear the most? What do you wish someone would have told you as a freshman? What message pulls at your heartstrings and gets you fired up? Voilá— that’s your goal!

Shorten these sentence-long objectives to nugget-size sayings that your audience will be able to remember (points). Explain each point in three to four powerful sentences, describing the key takeaways of your RA in a concise, bite-size way. Bite-size messages are powerful, and they stick. Make It Real Now it’s time to add some follow-through.

Pick a Meaningful, Sticky Topic


The objectives of your speech help guide your audience from their starting point to the goal. Most speeches and RAs include two or three objectives (points). When drafting objectives, ask yourself, “What do the students have to know, do or realize before they can accomplish the goal?”

It’s our responsibility as speakers to give our listeners a tangible, concrete way to make our points a reality. This is called the application, and it’s where things get real. Answer the question of “how” right after making each point. “You said I should look for daily opportunities to give back. How?” Be specific and help your audience discover “how” they can put your message into practice in their local communities. Keep it personal, simple and realistic.


Demonstrates Professionalism

Camouflage Your Point Now for the part we’ve all been waiting for: the stories (supports)! Stories are like bubblegum-flavored medicine—they deliver the important stuff in a fun way so members don’t even realize learning is happening. Using each of your points as a springboard, brainstorm relevant personal experiences.

Bottom line: Don’t twist a “point” to fit a story. Using a story that doesn’t directly lead to your points equals cheating your audience. Start and End With Duct Tape So we’ve got the stories (supports) that lead to our objectives (points) and are then driven home by our follow-through steps (application), but how do we get things started and wrap things up? With duct tape, of course.

Word to the wise: It’s always a good idea to opt for stories where you learned a lesson “the hard way” through failure. Failure is relatable and authentic. Telling stories about your many successes can get boastful and lack depth.

Everyone enters the convention hall with baggage—life experiences, struggles and FFA assumptions. The first part of your RA (connection) should hook the crowd and get everyone on the same page, then introduce your goal.

RA stories (or supports) don’t have to be about traumatizing experiences (death, tragedy, etc.) to be effective. Sometimes the most common everyday occurrences (fender benders, awkward social fails, little kid shenanigans) can be the most relatable.

Find some quick, relatable way to funnel the entire audience’s focus to your goal. My connection of choice is using a pop culture reference. Instead of trying to grab peoples’ attention on my own, I like to let the popular music, TV and technology scenes do it for me.


The ending (review and close), should be equally as sticky, recapping the points covered throughout the speech and empowering the audience with one last action-mobilizing charge. Try to avoid “I challenge you” (it’s overdone and seems sort of condescending). Start the last few sentences with direct, powerful action verbs—go, create, serve, be. It may only be January, but it’s never too early to start profiling your audience or brainstorming your goal and points. RAs can be a little piece of our state officer legacy. Take the time to make yours one they will remember.

Alex (Henry) Schnabelrauch grew up in Michigan and spent time serving as a state and national officer in college. She now manages programs from discussion meets and leadership conferences to professional development trainings and public relations for 18- to 35-year-old Michigan Farm Bureau members. In her spare time, she enjoys camping, hiking with her dogs and traveling to new places with husband Matt.

Bright Ideas • Volume 15, Issue 3



Bright Ideas Magazine is sponsored by CSX as a special project of the National FFA Foundation.

The State FFA Officer Programs are made possible through sponsorship from the following organizations as a special project of the National FFA Foundation.

STATE OFFICER HIGHLIGHT Lauren Millang | California FFA Vice President



Q: Where do you find your inspiration? A: When I need a refresher or quick inspiration,

I tend to think of my grandfather. At 82 years old, he is still farming walnuts and working hard! I love his stories, but most importantly, I cherish the moments I spend with him. Poppa reminds me to value faith and family, and to work hard for everything.

Q: Who do you model your leadership style after? A: My FFA advisor, Luke Vanlaningham of the Woodland-Pioneer chapter, has

always reminded me of the importance of remaining humble, dedicated and patient. His leadership style has served as a great example for me and many others.

Q: During your year of service, are you enrolled in classes? A: In California, we defer entering college to serve as state officers. Next fall, I plan

to attend Oklahoma State University for agricultural communications and business.

FFA MISSION FFA makes a positive difference in the lives of students by developing their potential for premier leadership, personal growth and career success through agricultural education. THE AGRICULTURAL EDUCATION MISSION Agricultural education prepares students for successful careers and a lifetime of informed choices in the global agriculture, food, fiber and natural resources systems. The National FFA Organization is a resource and support organization that does not select, control, or supervise state association, local chapter or individual member activities. Educational materials are developed by FFA in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Education as a service to state and local agricultural education agencies. The National FFA Organization affirms its belief in the value of all human beings and seeks diversity in its membership, leadership and staff as an equal opportunity employer. © NATIONAL FFA ORGANIZATION 2017 The letters “FFA,” the FFA emblem, Future Farmers of America and Forever Blue are registered trademarks of the National FFA Organization and cannot be used without permission.

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