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Griffin concludes year as FBLA state officer PDF Print E-mail

By Carolyn Lee

The Imperial Republican

The first week of April, Imperial resident Calen Griffin stepped down from his position as vice president of the Nebraska Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA). His year on the state level ended during the April 3-5 state convention in Omaha.
Griffin, 17, is a member of the Imperial FBLA chapter, under the direction of Chase County Schools business teacher Sandy O’Neil.
When he was a freshman, Griffin said, he thought FBLA was “laid back,” and an easy organization to belong to. “Then I learned more about it.”
He urges students to take advantage of FBLA. “Don’t pass up on opportunities given to you. You can’t get back those opportunities,” he said.
As a state officer, Griffin traveled all over Nebraska, visiting local chapters. He also participated in leadership conferences on the state and national level, traveling to Dallas and Oklahoma City for national fall leadership conferences, and to Anaheim, Calif., for a summer national leadership conference.
As state vice president, Griffin said he didn’t have many specified duties. However, he coordinated social media such as Twitter and Facebook to pass information on to FBLA members. He also helped other officers and was assigned additional duties.
Griffin was elected to his state position by his peers at the 2013 state convention. He had to give a speech before 2,300 students, attend a formal caucus and campaign for the position by handing out brochures, stickers and “freebies.”
Griffin decided to run for the state position, he said because “I thought it would help my career goals in the long run. I could also help Nebraska FBLA by bringing different qualities to the table, and to help them achieve different goals.”
He first ran for state treasurer his sophomore year, but was unsuccessful. He gained a lot of experience from the effort, especially in the speech-making area.
Even at the beginning of his term last summer, Griffin judged his public speaking as “OK.” Now, he’s comfortable with making speeches before large audiences.
That’s one quality he’s improved on as a state officer. He also feels he’s obtained a head start on his future by building relationships with people across the state and nation.
Time management has also improved. For instance, last September Griffin was juggling high school classes and assignments, planning the fall FBLA conference and creating an FBLA music program, all at the same time.
He completed his tasks by using his time more wisely.
However, soccer was one of the things he loves that he had to give up this past year. With late night practices and state leadership conference at the same time he had to forego soccer, and participate less in other organizations, too.
FBLA commitments have taken an average of three to four hours of his week for the past year.
Graduating from CCS this spring, Griffin plans to attend the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, probably majoring in finance.
He also hopes to become involved in the FBLA college chapter, Phi Beta Lambda.
Griffin is the son of Marsie Vetter of Imperial and Eddie Griffin of Omaha. He also counts sponsor O’Neil as “a second mom this year, putting up with my after-school hours and early morning crankiness.”

Former State FFA President plans for more PDF Print E-mail
Spencer Hartman does chapter proud as
he travels Nebraska

By Jan Schultz

The Imperial Republican

After Spencer Hartman gave his retiring address as state president of the Nebraska FFA earlier this month, he played the song “Do Something” by Matthew West.
The song encourages us to take action on issues such as poverty and hunger, instead of waiting for others, including God, to “do something.”
In response, God said, “I did (do something), I created you,” the lyrics continue. “If not us, then who?”
Hartman took those lyrics to heart as he and his officer team spent the past year visiting 143 of the state’s 150 FFA chapters, conducting leadership seminars and representing one of the country’s most vibrant youth organizations.
Along the way, 20 new FFA chapters were formed in Nebraska and membership broke 7,200, a new record.
Hartman himself visited 21 FFA chapters during the year in the northwest part of the state. And, most of that was done in a five-week span.
In those chapter visits, ag education teachers could ask Hartman to give workshops during their classes that day.
Each state officer wrote one of seven workshops offered, and each officer became adept in presenting them on their chapter visits.
Hartman said his two favorite workshops proved to be “Communicating the Ag Message” and “Being an Informed Consumer.”
Despite being a very active member of the Imperial FFA and a year as state officer, Hartman said his perspective changed the past 12 months.
“I came in seeing us as advocates for FFA. I’m going out seeing myself an advocate for FFA education,” he said.
He said his many visits and interactions with FFA members and ag teachers made the three facets of the organization—the classroom, FFA and the Supervised Ag Experience (SAE)—become equally important in his mind.
“I see us now as advocates of all three, not just FFA alone,” he said.
Hartman said he has not come across another organization that prepares a student for the life skills they need than FFA does.
“It’s not just the marketing, speaking or business skills, but another key component of FFA is its emphasis on being engaged in community and service,” he said.
Hartman said it “really hit him” that it was over Saturday morning after convention, following a breakfast with his fellow outgoing officers and the newly-elected ones, one of which is his sister, Blair, a 2014-15 FFA state vice president.
“When I went back to my room and took off my jacket I knew it was for real then,” he said.
He was asked multiple times during the April 9-11 convention if he was ready to be finished.
He really wasn’t sure.
“I loved the work we did and will miss it,” he said.
One of the best experiences he’ll miss will be the traveling to chapter visits and getting to know the host families who housed him overnight.
In seeing the workings of so many other FFA chapters the past year, how does Imperial’s stack up?
“I’ll always have a bias, but Imperial has been among the top 15 state chapters the past several years,” he noted.
And, not surprisingly, as a state officer, Imperial was on Hartman’s list of “powerhouse chapters.”
That doesn’t come without strong community support and good teamwork among its two ag teachers/FFA advisors, he said.
But it’s not just Hartman who has a bias toward Imperial.
“As I travel in the FFA circles, everyone knows where Imperial is,” he said.
Despite his hectic schedule as state president, Hartman was still able to complete 12 credit hours each of the two semesters this school year to remain in full-time student status.
His first semester classes were all on campus, but just one was on campus second semester. The rest were taken online due to the intense travel schedule this spring.
“The professors really worked well with us officers,” he said.
And, it also helped that he entered the University of Nebraska-Lincoln last fall already with 17 college credit hours under his belt from taking dual credit courses through Chase County Schools/Mid-Plains Community College’s partnership.
He also found time the past year to be a member of UNL’s Engler Club for students interested in entrepreneurship.
And, he was elected in mid-March to UNL’s Association of the Students as one of 29 students senators. He represents the College of Ag Sciences and Natural Resources and attended his first meeting last week.
He will complete his freshman year in a couple of weeks, majoring in ag economics with a public policy option and minor in entrepreneurship.
So what’s ahead for this 19-year-old?
It’s not surprising FFA remains in his blood. He plans to seek a national FFA office this fall at convention.
This summer, he’ll be working as a sales intern with Syngenta, a seed and chemical company. He said he’ll be relying again on his family to keep his tomato greenhouse business going. His parents are Rob and Carma Hartman of Champion.
After his college career, Hartman said he’d like to pursue venture capitalism and, eventually, election to public office.


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