Wellbeing isn’t something to achieve and check off a bucket list. Instead, it’s an ongoing journey that varies with each person. Iowans can find their own way in a new program from Iowa State University Extension and Outreach Poweshiek County.
“What About Me? My Wellbeing” is a four-week educational workshop series beginning May 4, in Montezuma. The introductory, research-based program covers taking time for oneself, relationships, finances and physical health. Each workshop is one hour and begins at 10 a.m. at the Montezuma Public Library. The remaining workshops are set for May 11, May 18 and May 25.
To register for the program go to https://go.iastate.edu/LBFYNO . The registration deadline is April 29.
“Wellbeing is not an end, it’s a journey. Your needs will fluctuate depending on where you are in your life. This program can be applied at any point,” said Karie Foster, a human sciences specialist with ISU Extension and Outreach.
“It’s all about taking time out of your busy schedule to reflect on the lifestyle choices you’re making to meet your own goals for your relationships and your financial and physical health. This is not about us telling you what you should be doing. It’s about you figuring out what you should be doing based on your own individual goals,” Cathy Drost said.
“You’re going to learn some new information, but what’s more important is that the program allows you to take time to focus on you,” added Ryan Stuart.
“After completing the program, you’ll have the tools to keep working on your own wellbeing,” said Cathy Lents, Poweshiek County ISU Extension and Outreach.
For more information about the “What About Me? My Wellbeing” workshop series, contact Cathy Lents at Poweshiek County ISU Extension and Outreach, 641-623-5188 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Montezuma FFA Farm Business Management Team continued the program’s winning ways by capturing a state championship honor and gold rating at the 94th FFA State Leadership Conference, held April 11-12, at Iowa State University in Ames. Mia Boulton was the high individual overall in the CDE competition with Maguire DeJong, Colton Benson and Madison Johannes capturing second, third and fourth places in the state. Owen Cook, not pictured, was an alternate on this year’s team. Pictured are, from left: Madison Johannes, Colton Benson, FFA Advisor Rick Swenson, Maguire DeJong and Mia Boulton.
By J.O. Parker
The Montezuma FFA Farm Business Management team finished with a sweep of the top four spots while capturing a state championship and gold rating at the 94th FFA State Leadership Conference, held April 11-12, at Iowa State University in Ames.
Mia Boulton was the high individual overall in the career development event (CDE) competition with Maguire DeJong, Colton Benson and Madison Johannes capturing second, third and fourth places in the state. Owen Cook was an alternate on this year’s team.
FFA teams from 100 chapters participated in this year's CDE designed to provide the student an opportunity to display their agricultural knowledge and skills in the area of Farm Management. The 367 individuals who participated in the event each completed an objective test which had three sections: economic principles, records and analysis, and risk management. All team members worked together to solve a problem related to break even analysis.
The state championship by the Farm Business Management team was one of four captured by Montezuma FFA students at the state conference.
Also capturing state honors and a gold rating was the Montezuma FFA Ag Communications team. Members of the first-place team included Madison Van Zee, Alivia Cline, Camryn Brennan and Makenna Johannes.
High individual for the web design practicum was Madison Van Zee. Alivia Cline was named the high individual for the video production practicum. The team also captured top honors in the team presentation and team practicums categories.
FFA members from 20 chapters participated in this year's career development event. The event provided students the opportunity to display their agricultural knowledge and skills in the area of agricultural communications. The 80 individuals who participated in the event completed several activities including demonstration of skills and problem solving in web design, video production, journalistic writing, and opinion writing, as well as presenting a team media plan.
The Montezuma FFA Chapter brought home a state championship and gold rating in the Marketing Plan CDE. Team members include Haylie Moore, Abby Pope and Kallie Robison.
Participants had to develop marketing skills through the development and presentation of a plan that promotes a current or proposed product, supply or service. The Montezuma team’s project focused on FFA Advisor Rick Swenson’s show pig business, Hilltop Farms.
Montezuma was named a top team in written plan and team presentation categories in the contest.
The Montezuma FFA Floriculture team was also recognized as a state champion following the team’s competition in 2021 at Kirkwood Community College in Cedar Rapids. Team members Makenna Johannes, Madison Van Zee, Alivia Cline and Camryn Brennen beat out more than 20 schools to capture first place and punch the team’s ticket to nationals. Makenna was top individual overall and Camryn finished fourth overall.
The Montezuma FFA Ag Sales team brought home third place honors and a gold rating at the state convention. Team members included Matthew Ranfeld, Korrinn Kehoe, Sawyer Tindle and Jaemi Hartman. Matthew was the second place individual and Jaemi finished in third overall.
Montezuma was among 79 FFA chapters who participated in this year’s CDE designed to provide the student an opportunity to display their agricultural knowledge and skills in the area of Agriculture Sales. The 312 individuals who participated in the event each completed an objective test, made a sales presentation, and performed a customer relations practicum. All team members worked together to prepare a marketing plan and make an oral presentation of the plan to the judges. The team worked together to sell community tower gardens, a product for growing herbs and vegetables outdoors or in a greenhouse setting.
The Montezuma FFA Conduct of Meetings team wrapped up the state convention with a third place finish and gold rating. Team members included Ellen Cook, Emily James, Elizabeth DeJong, Bryson Stockman, Taya Sincox, Addyson Probasco and Kylee Larmore. Taylor Wickham served as the team’s alternate.
Teams participating in this event were composed of seven members organized to act out the duties of an officer team. Teams were required to perform opening ceremonies, demonstrate two parliamentary procedure abilities and successfully close a meeting. This event aids in the development of leadership abilities of young members for present and future chapter activities.
The Montezuma FFA Experience the Action team earned a gold rating with their Toy Story presentation at this year’s state convention. Team members included Madison Cheney, Jordan Ranfeld, Ashlee Eilander, Sam Bos and Laila Kercheval.
Proficiency Area: Agricultural Mechanics Repair and Maintenance - Placement
Montezuma’s Sawyer Tindle was the winner in the area of Ag Mechanics Repair and Maintenance Placement SAE. Throughout his SAE, Sawyer worked at Glens Tractor Repair in Montezuma and Van Wall Equipment in Grinnell where he would maintain tractors, planters, combines, balers and tillage equipment. Sawyer gained skills in problem-solving with electronic control systems, equipment, and a power source system while performing preventative maintenance. Upon graduation, Sawyer plans to attend Northeast Iowa Community College to become an agricultural technician at Van Wall Equipment.
Iowa Degree recipients
Montezuma had four students who earned their Iowa Degree. They are: Korrinn Kehoe, Haylie Moore, Matthew Ranfeld and Sawyer Tindle.
The four state championship teams will represent Montezuma at the FFA Nationals, Oct. 26 – 29, in Indianapolis.
The Montezuma FFA Ag Communications team was one of four teams who brought home championship honors at the 94th FFA State Leadership Conference, held April 11-12, at Iowa State University in Ames. Pictured are, from left: Alivia Cline, Madison Van Zee, FFA Advisor Hannah Garland, Makenna Johannes and Camryn Brennan.
The Montezuma FFA Ag Sales team finished with a third-place honor and gold rating at the 94th FFA State Leadership Conference, held April 11-12, at Iowa State University in Ames. Pictured are, from left: Matthew Ranfeld, Korrin Kehoe, Sawyer Tindle and Jaemi Hartman. The team worked together to sell community tower gardens, a product for growing herbs and vegetables outdoors or in a greenhouse setting.
The Montezuma FFA Chapter brought home a state championship and gold rating in the Marketing Plan CDE at the 94th FFA State Leadership Conference, held April 11-12, at Iowa State University in Ames. Pictured are, from left: Kallie Robison, FFA Advisor Rick Swenson, Abby Pope and Haylie Moore. The Montezuma team’s project focused on Advisor Rick Swenson’s show pig business, Hilltop Farms.
The Montezuma FFA Floriculture team, from left, Madison Van Zee, Alivia Cline, Camryn Brennen and Makenna Johannes, brought home top honors at the state floriculture competition in June 2021 at Kirkwood Community College in Cedar Rapids. The team’s state competition win was recognized at the 94th FFA State Leadership Conference, held April 11-12, at Iowa State University in Ames.
The Montezuma FFA Conduct of Meetings team finished with a third-place honor and gold rating at the 94thFFA State Leadership Conference, held April 11-12, at Iowa State University in Ames. Pictured are, from left: Taya Sincox, Elizabeth DeJong, Ellen Cook, Bryson Stockman, Kylee Larmore, Addyson Probasco, Emily James and alternate Taylor Wickam.
The Montezuma FFA Experience the Action team earned a gold rating with their Toy Story presentation at the 94th FFA State Leadership Conference, held April 11-12, at Iowa State University in Ames. Pictured are, from left: Ashlee Eilander, Laila Kercheval, Jordan Ranfeld, Sam Bos and Madison Cheney.
This junior high group explored convention, watched their fellow members compete, and even packed meals. Pictured are, from left, front row: Analeece Kerchevel, Vivian Cook, Rylee Wolford, Krista Cheney, Back row: Leah Urfer, Sydnee Burgess, Easton Hudnut, Rett Pargeon and Broox Stockman.
Two members of the Deep River American Legion Junior Auxiliary were recently elected to 5th District offices at the Junior Conference held in Oskaloosa on Sunday, March 20. Pictured are, from left: Melissa Houseman, 5th District President; Jocelyn Nigg, Sergeant at Arms; Jaidyn Rugg, District Chaplain; and Doris Jackson, Iowa American Legion Auxiliary Department President.
Jacki Bolen, the Deep River American Legion Junior Auxiliary Leader, left, gives instructions to the newly elected officers at the March 5 meeting. Elected junior officers are, from left: Ava DeWeese, Chaplain; Desi Roberts, Secretary; Madison Cheney, Treasurer; Krista Cheney, Vice President; and Jaidyn Rugg, President. The junior auxiliary meets in Deep River on the first Saturday of the month at 10 a.m.
Three Montezuma students were nominated for the Individual All-State Speech Festival held at UNI on Monday, March 28. Pictured are, from left: Kelly Kaup, speech coach; Lydia Singleton, who received a double nomination in both Acting and Solo Musical Theater; Marty Knox, Poetry; Kaya Latcham, Storytelling; and Liz Van Gorp, speech coach.
Montezuma High School had three students nominated for the Individual All-State Speech Festival held at UNI on Monday, March 28. Only 464 performances were nominated for this honor from more than 9,000 selections from across the state. Marty Knox performed in Poetry. Kaya Latcham performed in Storytelling and Lydia Singleton had the high honor of a double nomination, performing in both Acting and Solo Musical Theater.
Montezuma student pictured with the 2022 IHSSA All State banner are, from left: Kaya Latcham, Storytelling; Lydia Singleton, who received a double nomination in both Acting and Solo Musical Theater; and Marty Knox, Poetry.
The always popular Montezuma Backwood Boys returned this year after a breakout performance last year with a Johnny Cash number, “Ring of Fire,” at this year’s variety show. Pictured are, from left: Jack Brenner, Matthew Ranfeld and Sawyer Tindle, all seniors.
Kelsie (Sheets) Parton, left, is joined by her sister, Kiegan Watts, and her late dad, Tom Sheets, at the first “Night of Stars” prom for special needs individuals in May 2017. The prom is operated through Launching Arrows, a non-profit organization that funds the event. Parton, along with her family, friends and volunteers are gearing up to host the fourth “Night of Stars” prom on May 14 from 6 – 9 p.m. at the Vermeer Global Pavilion in Pella. Tom Sheets passed away on Jan. 24, 2021.
By J.O. Parker
Life’s experiences have a way of taking people on unexpected journeys. Just ask Kelsie (Sheets) Parton, a 2007 Montezuma High School graduate now in her eighth year teaching special education at Pella Middle School.
In 2014, Parton’s sister, Kiegan Watts, had volunteered to do hair at one of Tim Tebow’s “Night to Shine” events in Des Moines.
“She invited me to tag along to paint fingernails because she thought it was something I’d enjoy,” recalled Parton. “I fell in love with the experience and came to a realization that I was in a community that could make this happen for individuals with special needs, bypassing the application and selection process (of attending a “Night to Shine” event).”
Working in the field of special education, Parton went on to say, “I felt in my heart that this was something I could recreate in our area and attempt to show these individuals how much they not only meant to my life but others around them as well.”
Parton and a host of volunteers held the first “Night of Stars” prom for area residents with special needs in May 2017. Attendees come from Pella, Oskaloosa, Knoxville, Grinnell, Newton and as far away as Moulton.
The event also took place in 2018, “because word got out and we had such great momentum,” Parton said.
Following the 2018 event, Parton decided to make the prom a bi-annual event.
“In 2020, we had to cancel the in-person event due to COVID, but we provided a virtual opportunity for attendees and delivered baskets containing a T-shirt, a crown, snacks, and small decorations so they could have a prom of their own,” Parton said.
The fourth “Night of Stars” prom is slated for May 14 from 6 – 9 p.m. at the Vermeer Global Pavilion in Pella. As with past in-person proms, attendees arrive at the pavilion where they are introduced while walking the red carpet with their dates, friends and family. They are greeted by members of the Knights of Columbus who are in official attire with swords drawn in an arch.
Once inside the venue, prom attendees are crowned king or queen followed by a formal photograph. There is a DJ and dance, games, food and each attendee receives a “Night of Stars” T-shirt with the donors advertised on the back. Each registered attendee also receives a gift basket with items donated from members of the community and put together by volunteers.
“Registered attendees get their names put in a big jar and we draw names every half hour,” Parton said. “Once their name is drawn, they will take their name tag over to the gift table and attach it to the basket of their choice.”
Earlier in the day, volunteers provide makeup, hair and nails for the young ladies attending the prom. A dress drive is also held so each young lady can have a free dress to wear to the prom. Many of the male attendees wear suits and tuxes.
Launching Arrows is a non-profit organization based in Oskaloosa under Parton’s leadership that covers the financial needs and organization for the “Night of Stars” event and other inclusive opportunities. The 2017 “Night of Stars” was the first event sponsored by Launching Arrows.
“It (Launching Arrows) was originally created to make sure no students were held back from being in activities due to financial hardship,” Parton said. “Over time it became more targeted to providing opportunities to individuals with special needs.”
In addition to “Night of Stars,” Launching Arrows hosts all active events such as community peer PE and inclusive baseball games.
“We also have a branch called TeamKeegs that raised money and purchased five adaptive carts so that individuals can participate in running events such as a 5k or 10k, despite any physical limitations they may have,” said Parton. “We also have an adaptive cart that can be pushed or attached to the back of a bike so that individuals can participate in triathlons.”
Planning, volunteers and memories
Parton said planning for the prom generally takes about nine months.
“By fall, we have our date and venue, DJ, and a general timeline for the event,” noted Parton. “In January, we select a date for the dress drive, begin to collect dress donations and send donation letters to local business. Invitations get mailed out in early March and it all happens pretty fast after that! Attendees start registering, T-shirts get ordered, catering gets set up, etc.”
When asked about fundraising, Parton said the event is fortunate to have a lot of support from Pella and the surrounding communities.
“We send our business letters out in January and donations come in the mail,” she said. “We also have used GoFundMe to raise money for the TeamKeegs adaptive bikes.”
Parton said the prom would not be possible without the volunteers.
“Our surrounding communities jumps in with both feet and lend a hand,” Parton said. “We usually have around 20 volunteers that show up to help decorate and then around 40 to help chaperone and assist at the event.”
“Everyone always has such a great time that we have never really have trouble getting people involved,” added Parton. “Many people say that their hearts are full after the event and start recruiting family and friends to join.”
When asked about her most memorable moments hosting the prom, Parton said there are many moments that she wish she could relive, but there are a few that stick out to her.
“I remember during the promenade at our first event, there was a gentleman dressed in a suit and the sidewalk was lined with people taking pictures and cheering,” recalled Parton. “The Knights of Columbus were dressed in their official attire with their swords raised in an arch. When he approached the red carpet he got the biggest smile on his face and ran down the carpet. There was so much joy and excitement in that moment, and that alone made it all worth it.”
Parton said another memory that stands out to her was from the second “Night of Stars” prom.
“Our gift baskets were lined up on the table and two volunteers were working hard to the attach names as they were drawn,” said Parton. “At one point I looked over and the volunteers were laughing, yet also wearing looks of uncertainty. When I went over to check in they informed me that they had a woman who was repeatedly coming up to the table and asking them to hide multiple baskets under the table for her. We still laugh about it to this day. It also represents how important each piece of the bigger puzzle is to some of these attendees.”
Making a difference
After graduation from MHS, Parton attended Central College where she graduated in 2011 with a teaching degree. She holds a Masters in Special Education from Morningside, graduating in 2013. Parton taught two years at Montezuma before accepting the special education position at Pella Middle School.
“I originally received an endorsement in special education to be more marketable in my career,” Parton said. “When it became time for my first job, the only job I was offered was in special education.”
Looking back, Parton said she now knows that was God’s plan for her all along because she fell in love with it.
“I knew right away that I would never want to do anything else,” she said. “There is so much to enjoy about my job but I would say what I enjoy most is the students. They demonstrate unconditional love every day and bring joy and celebration to even the smallest milestones. Working with these individuals has taught me to embrace our differences and truly understand that everyone was created with a specific purpose in life. That is a lesson that will forever impact my life.”
By J.O. Parker
A former Montezuma attorney has been named the first female president of Grand View University in Des Moines.
Dr. Rachelle Keck, the current president of Briar Cliff University in Sioux City, was named the 14th and first female leader of the private four-year Des Moines-based Grandview University during a news conference on Tuesday, March 22.
She was one of four finalists for the post.
Dr. Keck will take the reins of the university on July 1, succeeding President Kent Henning, who will retire at the end of June after 22-years at Grand View.
An Iowa native, Dr. Keck is a first-generation college student and holds a bachelor of arts degree in psychology from Wartburg College. She went to earn her juris doctorate from the University of Iowa and her doctor of philosophy degree in education from Drake University.
Dr. Keck began her career as a prosecutor before establishing her own law firm. She also served on the Wartburg College Board of Regents where she developed a passion for higher education that led her to philanthropy roles at the University of Iowa Foundation as their Director of Planned Giving, and then to Indian Hills Community College as their Executive Director for Philanthropy and Alumni Relations before joining Briar Cliff in 2017. She was named president of Briar Cliff in July 2018.
At Briar Cliff, Dr. Keck has led the expansion of academic programs and developed a comprehensive campus master plan. She also led several key fundraising initiatives centered around academics, athletics and campus beautification. In addition, the use of technology both in and out of the classroom has expanded, the endowment has grown, enrollment has increased and grant dollars applied for and awarded have increased during her tenure. Dr. Keck also brings extensive strategic budgeting and organizational leadership experience to Grand View.
“Rachelle is a proven leader with a collaborative, entrepreneurial and transparent leadership style that will serve Grand View well,” said Chris Littlefield, Chair of the Board of Trustees.
“The Board was fortunate to have an incredibly strong pool of final candidates,” added Chris Murray ’98, GV Board of Trustees member and chair of the search committee. “Dr. Keck is a dynamic leader whose vision and values mirror Grand View’s and will help us build on our rich tradition of accessible and inclusive higher education. We are excited to welcome her to the Grand View family.”
“This presidency is the culmination of a calling I felt nearly 15 years ago while serving on the Board of Regents for my undergraduate alma mater, Wartburg College,” said Dr. Keck. “The opportunity to lead a private Lutheran university in my home state of Iowa is truly a dream come true.”
Dr. Keck and her husband, Jim, have four children, three of whom live in the Des Moines metro. For more information about Dr. Keck, please visit www.grandview.edu/new-president.
Sabrina Peyton, the Poweshiek County Soil Health and Water Project Coordinator based in Malcom, right, enjoys visiting with attendees at the Montezuma Business Boosters Expo on Tuesday, March 22. The interactive display is designed to teach youngsters and others how runoff effects county waterways.