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Matt Anderson Obituary | Transcript of State FFA Retiring Address
Wisconsin Ag Connection - 08/21/2007

Matthew Douglas Anderson, age 21, died unexpectedly on Sunday, August 19, 2007 following a farm accident. He was born in Madison on December 21, 1985, the son of Douglas and Kim (Greenheck) Anderson. Matt graduated from Sauk Prairie High School in 2004 and was currently a student at UW-Platteville.

While attending Sauk Prairie High School he served as President of his FFA chapter for two years, was a 12- season athlete and a member of the National Honor Society, and was currently on the Chancellor's List at UW-Platteville. Matt was an avid agriculturist, affectionately known as the son of FFA, and will be sadly missed by all whose lives he touched. He was the State FFA Sentinel in 2005-2006 and State FFA President for 2006-2007. He was also the 2005 State Star in Agri-Business Entrepreneurship Winner and the National Agriculture Sales and Service Entrepreneurship Proficiency Winner. He would have received his American FFA Degree this fall. Matt was also a member of Bethlehem United Methodist Church in Black Hawk and Happy Hustlers 4-H.

Besides his parents, Matt is survived by his brother, Brad Anderson of Baraboo; sister Lindsay (Matt Henderson) Anderson of Mazomanie; his fiance Sheri Nelson of East Troy; grandparents John and Carol Anderson of Spring Green and Curt (Ginny) Greenheck of Mazomanie; Great-grandmothers Fern Greenheck and Lorraine Horne, both of Sauk City; and many other aunts, uncles, cousins and special friends.

He was preceded in death by his grandmother, Joyce Greenheck

A funeral service will be held at Bethlehem United Methodist Church in Sauk City at 11:00 a.m. on Thursday, August 23, 2007 with Pastor Kendall Schlittler officiating. Burial will be in Harrisburg Cemetery. Friends may call at the River Arts Center at Sauk Prairie High School in Prairie du Sac from 4:00 p.m. until 8:00 p.m. on Wednesday, August 22, 2007.

In lieu of flowers, memorials are preferred for a scholarship fund to be established in memory of Matt. The Hooverson Funeral Home in Sauk City is handling the arrangements.

The following is a transcript of Matt's retiring address at the 78th Wisconsin FFA Convention in Madison on June 14, 2007

Whether it is by car, truck, bicycle, semi, go-kart, or even a motorcycle we record thousands of miles every year. We are on our way from point "A" to point "B". On the road we find ourselves not only driving, but also multi-tasking. Drivers across the country have turned their vehicles into mobile offices, entertainment centers, changing rooms, and restaurants. Whether your talking on the cell phone, practicing your vocal lessons so that you are ready to be the next American Idol, eating a Taco Bell chicken grilled-stuffed burrito for lunch, engaging in an intellectual conversation with yourself, or just trying to stay awake. How we spend our time in our vehicle can vary quite a bit.

As an FFA member one thing is certain: we multi-task on the road. Whether it is traveling to a speaking contest, judging practice, or an officer retreat, we put on miles of memories. For some of us, we know every road in our county, others barely know what road we live on, let alone what town is up the road. Whatever your geographical knowledge is, we are all different, much like the rust on a truck or the color scheme of a sports car. As the FFA Organization, we are all traveling together in the same direction, but taking different paths to get there. Just like our route to State FFA Convention, we traveled different roads, yet for the last four days our paths have crossed to celebrate the success of all 17,927 FFA members.

Over the past two years, I had the privilege to watch my odometer cycle through many miles. Whatever the time of day or whatever the elements on the other side of my windshield, I spent much of my time reflecting upon my life and the different roads that I have been down. As I look into the rear-view mirror, I can still see vivid memories of the past, like the times on the farm riding shotgun with my father in the old uni-harvestor picking corn, or the first time I attended National FFA Convention, or even the not-so-good times like when I failed sixth grade spelling.

In my life, the road I have traveled down hasnít been straight, level, or even paved. But along this journey there is one event, one massive construction projected that was formed and developed over seven years ago. This project started in the fall of 2000, when I was selected as one of two chapter creed speakers. Along with the opportunity to compete at the district level, I received my very own FFA Jacket with my name on it! I was so excited to wear not only blue corduroy for the first time, but also it was the first item of clothing that I received that displayed both my first and last name in corn gold stitching. As I pulled it out of the box and proudly zipped it up, I became overwhelmed and confused. I looked at my FFA advisor, Mr. Hicken and said, "Did you order it one size too big?" His response is one that I will never forget, he turned to me and said, "Don't worry Matt, you will grow." I am going to grow? I thought to myself and hoped that I would not get any bigger than I already was.

You see, a couple months prior to this event, I sat in the Urgent Care. My blood pressure topping the charts at 210 over 120 and my left knee locked, throbbing, and causing excruciating pain. I thought I had torn my ACL while training for the upcoming football season. But when the doctor came in, he looked me in the eyes and said, "Matt, you don't have an ACL tear. It's not your knee that I am worried about, it's your weight." You see that day I tipped the scales at 315 pounds, well over the average weight of an 8th grader. I was not healthy, my body was sick and begging for help.

That is one road that I never want to travel down again. Taking a little time to sit back and reminisce the past can be the key for our present motivation. Just like the headlights of a trailing vehicle, the events of our past follow us. Some of those lights are bright, indicating some of our proudest moments and pushing us toward successful futures. Other lights that trail appear to be a mere twinkle in the distance, yet these are the memories that you can never seem to shake loose, no matter how fast you go or how many turns you take.

When Mr. Hicken gave me my FFA jacket and told me that I would grow, he did not realize my sensitivity for comments that dealt with my weight. It was not until five years after this event that I realized the comment, "Don't worry you will grow" was not pertaining to my physical appearance, it was so much more. When Mr. Hicken saw me in the jacket, he had a vision that I would grow as a person. He knew that the FFA Organization would be the fuel that would accelerate and change my life.

Over the past seven years, that is exactly what has happened. For me, joining the FFA was like replacing a cracked windshield in a car. Before FFA, my vision was unclear, I did not know what direction I was headed, nor who I was. Never in my wildest dreams would I have the courage to stand in front of you today. This FFA jacket has changed me both inside and out. It is worn; it has seen a lot and has traveled many miles. But along the way it has been my shield from the piercing questions from FFA judges, and my heat source on those hot blistering summer days. The most important thing that this blue corduroy jacket has given me is one five-letter word, FOCUS.

It has helped me focus on where I was, where I am, and where I want to be. It is from those FFA leadership conferences that taught me about the history of our organization, how to prioritize my schedule, and set SMART goals. I learned to focus not only on myself, but more importantly on how to focus on others.

Each and every one of us here today in our blue corduroy jackets has a choice when we travel back home. We can sit back in our seats, and let the road pass us by and not remember our journey over the last four days. Or, we can sit on the edge of our seats, proud of what we took part in and inspired to focus on the road ahead in the FFA.

Earlier in the year, I was challenged by a friend to not only focus on the destination, but also to focus and enjoy the ride. Enjoy the ride? What is that supposed to mean? For a while there I thought it meant stopping at every Dairy Queen along the interstate. Quickly, I realized that wasnít the case. Looking too far ahead ruins what you have in the present.

A good friend of mine, Dierks Bentley, said it best in one of his songs: "Every mile, a memory." The miles behind us are indeed memories, we cannot get them back, yet the miles in front of us are our opportunities; opportunities to set forth and create a brighter future for everyone. Do not look at this next year as just being another FFA member, focus on how you will grow in this organization. Focus on where you see yourself and your chapter heading. Focus on others that you can impact, that you can help motivate to see past their cracked windshield. My challenge for you this summer and into next school year is to think about two FFA members within your chapter that you want to impact and serve. This could be the person that shows up to your meeting all alone with no one to talk to, or it could be an incoming freshman unsure about what the FFA really is. Just as Mr. Hicken spent extra time inspiring me, you too can change someoneís life.

On the road of life, there are passengers and there are drivers. Step up and be the driver, focus on taking your passengers along with you. So one day they too, can take the wheel and help guide someone else along their own path to success. The FFA Organization has given us the tools, but it is up to us to utilize these and set other people up for success. Once you selflessly serve others, you will be surprise on how much you will grow.

Wisconsin FFA members, advisors, parents, and guests, it has been an honor to serve this incredible organization. As I adjust my rear view mirror and look around I am extremely thankful and blessed to be given the support and encouragement to be where I am.

It has been a great ride. Now, it is your time to step up and FOCUS.

Matt Anderson
2006-2007 State President
Wisconsin Association of FFA

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