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January 2014 | Volume 12, Issue 03

creating the ICING ON THEpage CAKE 10

MOVING TO virtue page 4

UNWOUND page 5

messages that STICK page 6

Doing it right. by Joshua Bledsoe




any of us enjoy the game of football. High school, college, pro or even fantasy football—we enjoy them all! The talents and skills of running backs, wide receivers, offensive and defensive linemen and the special teams impress us. But we always seem to pay the most attention to the quarterback. As the leader of the team, the quarterback sets the pace. They often are in the media spotlight. Team success is often measured by the quarterback’s success. But how does Peyton Manning or Drew Brees successfully execute every game? We see them for three hours on a Sunday afternoon— in the spotlight—running on the field and making the big plays. But what we don’t see is far more important than what we do see. Do you remember the first state officer you met? More than likely you met them at a state convention or a chapter banquet and were impressed by their abilities. You saw them up front— in the spotlight — showcasing their impressive talents and skills. You probably wondered how they learned to do those things. You saw them for a couple of hours at an event —in the spotlight —facilitating a workshop or making a big speech. But what you didn’t see is far more important that what you did see. Let’s look at a typical week for a successful quarterback. As soon as the game ends, media interviews begin. On Monday, they spend time reviewing the game videos to see what went right and what went wrong. They spend time with the coaches to receive personal as well as team coaching and feedback. They truly want to improve — they want to do better. After coaching, they practice so they can execute plays even better. They take time with their team to learn and improve. They also take time individually to reflect and prepare. They spend some time in the weight room to continue to develop their strength. As the next game gets closer, the quarterback takes time to watch game videos of their upcoming opponent. They study their playbook and make sure they have each play precisely memorized for perfect execution. And in the midst of all those activities, they also take time to rest, rejuvenate and recuperate. All that just for three hours of game time on Sunday. There’s so much to do! But when we think about it, how different is being a quarterback from being a state officer? After each event, workshop presentation or keynote speech, you are immediately working to prepare for the next thing on your schedule. You are spending time to reflect on what you just did. You are evaluating your performance and seeking coaching and feedback from your support group. You take time to develop new ideas and practice your presentation skills and techniques. You are already researching the next chapter visit to learn about what’s important to that school. You are reading materials and expanding your mind to learn new things to share. You are networking with

other state officers and sharing ideas. You are actively involved in planning and conducting the next event with such precision to ensure perfect execution. And in all that, you are taking time to rest, rejuvenate and recuperate. All that just for a few hours of time with FFA members. State officers always have plenty to do. Your task lists are lengthy and seem to grow daily. Make sure while you are busy doing that you are doing the right things. Football players do not take time to practice free throws. Make sure you spend your time wisely to gain maximum results. Doing—more importantly, doing it right — is the key to your success as a state officer. But doing isn’t always glamorous or doesn’t always put us in the spotlight. Preparation is the key to successfully doing — but more importantly, successfully doing it right. Never grow weary in doing; for those efforts provide the rewards of our toil. You’re ready! Learning about you has prepared you for this point in your year of service. Understanding your own strengths, talents and skills helps you understand how you can help others. Once you understand you, then you can help others understand themselves. When you fill your bucket, then you can fill others’ buckets. Learning about your team has prepared you for this point in your year of service. It’s important to learn each other’s strengths, talents and skills that help you work as a smart, cohesive team of officers. It creates synergy and leads to exponential gains in productivity and accountability. Once you understand your team, then you can achieve your collective goals and fulfill your team purpose. Now it’s time to get something done! And when we do, that prepares us for our greatest mission of all — serving others! Remember, “Without labor, neither knowledge nor wisdom can accomplish much.”

Joshua Bledsoe is the chief operating officer of the National FFA Organization. A native of North Carolina, Josh served as a state officer while attending North Carolina State University and majoring in agricultural education. Prior to joining the National FFA Organization as COO, he was an agricultural education teacher, state FFA executive secretary and state supervisor of agricultural education in North Carolina.

Bright Ideas • Volume 12, Issue 3





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 likely to-be-named 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.

DRAWING US IN Virtue incarnate is life-altering 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 alreadysore 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 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.

Tyler Tenbarge is a former state and national FFA officer from Indiana and is currently studying for priesthood for the Diocese of Evansville at Saint Meinrad Seminary and School of Theology. After serving as a facilitator for the Washington Leadership Conference, he has remained involved in FFA by developing and facilitating various pieces of curriculum and content for state FFA officers. He also blogs at

Bright Ideas • Volume 12, Issue 3


AUTHENTIC TEAMWORK Unwound by Dustin Clark Here we are, more than halfway through your year of service. There have probably been some extreme highs this year, and we aren’t so naïve to think that there haven’t been some lows, as well. Hopefully, you can look back at the day you were elected and say that since that day your team has continually become closer as you have worked together. I also hope that, for your sake, your team is in lockstep and successfully rolling downhill. If you are, congrats! You are a great example for every chapter officer team that you serve. If your team isn’t as close as you’d like it to be or if you are experiencing difficulties, don’t worry — you can turn this thing around. How? I wish I had the magic formula, but I don’t. Actually my advice is quite simple, and I’ve seen it work with multiple teams. I’d advise you to simply have fun. Stress and animosity exist in teams largely due to the pressure that comes with trying to successfully perform within the team’s intended framework. To alleviate those stresses, it is imperative to step away from “work.” I know it may seem hard to step away from chapter visits, convention preparation, business and industry visits, etc., but I subscribe to the theory that you will make time for what is important to you. Few things are more important than being an effective state officer team. Be bold enough to step away from your responsibilities



and be willing to let loose and have a little fun together. During last year’s basketball season, we were in our stretch run of conference play with an important two-game road swing ahead of us. Our first game was in Atlanta against Georgia Tech. We had been working hard leading up to that game, and everyone on our team and staff knew how important the game was for the season. It is hard to predict wins and losses, but it is fairly easy to predict if we will play well in a game by how the players are acting, how practices have been going, etc. I didn’t know if we would win, but I was quite confident that we were prepared and would play well in Atlanta. I was completely wrong. Not only did we lose, but we didn’t play well at all. After the game, I readied myself for a paint-peeling tongue lashing from our head coach to the team. This would be a post-game talk for the ages. I braced for an all-night film session, early morning practice, and whatever else could make life totally miserable for our players. Instead Coach Mark Turgeon did something different. He told our team that we had a bad night, but we weren’t going to make one bad night turn into two bad nights. He told the players to take showers and head to the bus. Instead of practicing the next day, we took

the day off and made it mandatory that the players go to a movie together. Much to the dismay of our team nutritionist, the players drank sodas, ate popcorn and candy, and had an absolute blast together. We had a short but sharp practice the next day. Then we proceeded to beat Wake Forest on the road in front of a sold-out crowd, on “Chris Paul Day,” no less. It was a great road win for us and a worthy learning experience for me. Sometimes you have to step away from the business of the team and have fun together. I’ll always fondly remember the task that the National FFA Organization staff mandated to our national officer team. They made us take breaks to conduct our “nights of passion.” I always found that name a bit funny but appropriate. Each member on our team would have one night to dictate the activities of the team. The activities were to revolve around what that person was passionate about. Naturally I chose to find a local recreation center and take the team to play pickup basketball. A few of the other activities my teammates chose included playing laser tag, visiting the zoo, seeing an off-Broadway musical and enjoying authentic German cuisine. At first it seemed preposterous and a bit selfish to take time away from returning emails, penning journal entries, writing workshop content and arranging state visits, but after the first

“night of passion,” we learned that it was well worth it. We learned a ton about our teammates, and the nights enabled us to have fun together. I wish that I was smart enough to understand the logic and psychology behind why teams that have fun together achieve more together. I apologize that I can’t explain it. I’m just asking you to trust me. Be a bit selfish and schedule time for your team to have fun together.

Dustin Clark is the director of basketball operations for the University of Maryland Terrapins. As a past state and national FFA officer, he has shared leadership lessons learned in agricultural education with college basketball players to help them reach their potential on and off the court. Dustin has been a part of highly successful coaching staffs at Texas A&M University and the University of Maryland.

Bright Ideas • Volume 12, Issue 3


REP-YOU -TATION: by Alex Schnabelrauch (Henry) 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.

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!

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.

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?”

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 step-by-step guide to developing a unique, relatable, growth-inspiring RA that sticks with members.


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.


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)?

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.

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 Kool-Aid-drinking listeners or Angry Birds-playing day dreamers.

Answer the question of “how” right after making each point. “You said I should look for daily opportunities to give back. How?”

SEC OND : PICK A MEANINGFUL, STICKY TOPIC 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…)

Now it’s time to add some follow-through.

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.


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.

Alex Schnabelrauch (Henry) is a past state and national officer from Michigan and has served as a national FFA conference facilitator. She graduated from Michigan State University (Go Green!) with a degree in agriculture and natural resources communications in 2012. Alex currently works as communications coordinator for the Michigan Milk Produces Association, a member-owned dairy co-op.



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. 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. 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.








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. 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. 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.

Bright Ideas • Volume 12, Issue 3



FACTORS OF FACILITATION Creating the “icing” on the cake by Becky Fouard (Sullivan)


ver 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.”

Ag girl, leadership nerd and “FFA groupie” are all nicknames Becky Fouard (Sullivan) has been dubbed and worn proudly throughout her career as a state and national officer and conference facilitator for the National FFA Organization. A graduate of Kansas State University, she currently works at the Kansas Department of Agriculture dealing with local food promotions and international value-added food exports from the state.

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 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.

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.

OFF THE SHELF Boundaries for Leaders, by Henry Cloud by Bethany Parker (Bohnenblust) THE READ boundary (noun): Something that indicates limits; a limiting line.

Bethany Parker (Bohnenblust), a graduate of Kansas State University, served as a state and national officer from Kansas. Now she works with The Traveling Team campus ministry, investing in college students across the country and in several countries while helping them to determine their life purpose. She and her husband, Morgan, love their adventures together.

Growing up, boundaries were so frustrating. My brother and I couldn’t play basketball in the streets, curfew meant leaving a friend’s house early, and not being able to spend all of my birthday money on candy left me thinking that all boundaries were bad. They meant I couldn’t do something I wanted. Now, with a few years of maturity and wisdom from author Henry Cloud, it’s evident that boundaries can actually create a positive environment in which to grow. In his book, “Boundaries for Leaders,” Cloud challenges us to think through the boundaries we’ve put in place with our relationships, time investments, feedback, and even the results that you’re marking as acceptable. The book makes it clear that the leader holds imperative responsibility to maintain and build positive boundaries within their team. As we’re willing to work hard to place boundaries in our leadership style, Cloud helps us see the benefits in all areas of our life.

THE REALITY It’s our responsibility as a leader to create boundaries. Our parents, guardians and teachers have been placing boundaries in our lives for years because they believed they were making decisions in our best interest. They had insight that we couldn’t have had at the time. Now as we’re growing into young adults, we have the ability to choose some of our own freedoms and boundaries. I would challenge you now to think that boundaries can actually be freeing. Wait…what? How can boundaries actually offer more freedom? By placing boundaries against the negative things in our life—such as behavior, poor self-talk, destructive habits or even complacency—we can preserve the positives in our life. For example, if I create a budget and know how much money I actually have, I can then make wise decisions to either invest in a business or to be more generous to worthy causes. It requires me to say “no” to frivolous expenses so that I can say “yes” to more important things. Nearly every high-capacity leader I know struggles with saying, “no.” If you have pre-planned boundaries, then you can easily determine if a request falls within your boundaries. If they do, say “yes.” If it doesn’t, you can easily say, “Sorry this doesn’t fall within my boundaries, so I’ll have to turn you down.”


“Good boundaries, both those that help us manage ourselves and lead others, always produce freedom, not control.”

• As a state officer team, create expectations of how to communicate with each other. Identify both acceptable and unacceptable language.

• Create a personal budget and stick to it. • Look at your calendar and determine boundaries on what you want to invest in. • Make a high priority of spending time with people who are pursuing like-minded goals. Boundaries can actually offer more freedom.

Bright Ideas • Volume 12, Issue 3


Bright Ideas National FFA Organization 6060 FFA Drive Indianapolis, IN 46268-0960


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

©NATIONAL FFA ORGANIZATION 2014 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. 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 resource 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.

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