I just wrapped up several days covering and photographing area youth at the Poweshiek County Fair. It is one of the highlights of my year.
I am sunburnt, tired, my feet hurt and I am ready for an extra nap. But I’m not hungry thanks to the Crazy Granny’s Kitchen at the fair. They kept me well fed and happy.
This is my 23nd Poweshiek County Fair to take part in and my 26th overall since moving to Iowa in December 1997.
I take great pride in playing a part in the lives of area youngsters through my camera, pen and paper and photography judging work. I also take great pride in encouraging area youngsters and congratulating them on their hard work.
That is what the fair is about, at least to me, giving youth a chance to learn and grow through their 4-H and FFA projects, both livestock and indoor judging.
In addition to my work at the county fair, I have served as a 4-H photography judge since 2012. I have judged every year but one during that 11-year span.
I have judged in Poweshiek, Mahaska, Davis, Washington, Warren, Marion, Iowa, Benton, Johnson and Linn counties. I also judged 4-H photography at the Iowa State Fair in 2019. Every photo that advances to the state fair is judged a second time. I have also been the open class photography judge in Poweshiek County for about 10 years and twice in Iowa County. I enjoy working with 4-H’ers.
I’ve received my share of awards and honors through the years, but the best honor is being a difference maker and helping youth grow and go on to do great things in this world.
When I look back on my life, I am amazed what God has done. He’s been so good to me. I could share so many stories of working through challenges and having a “can do” never give up spirit to see projects through to the end.
I’ve shared this story before, but it is a good reminder that opportunities still exist in our world.
It was in my second semester at the University of Missouri-Columbia. I was working nights for the postal service as a temp employee and going to school during the day. It was a challenge.
Anyway, MU had hired a new chancellor, Dr. Charles Kiesler the previous summer.
Many students were complaining that he got a car and other benefits and that it raised their tuition. Money has to come from somewhere, but I don’t know the connection.
I decided to write Dr. Kiesler a letter and thank him for the opportunity to be a student at MU. I told him I came there to earn a degree. I also said that I think students don’t understand that he was in their shoes one day years ago.
I sent the letter off and about three weeks later, I received a personal response from Dr. Kiesler. He wrote to invite me to his office in Jesse Hall, the main administration building on the MU campus, to visit. He wanted to try and help me.
You can’t get any better than having the university chancellor write you a letter and offer to help. Here I am a city boy from Tulsa, Okla. attending college in my 30s and I had an appointment with the university chancellor.
I remember my advisor calling me when he heard about my meeting. “Do you know that the vice provost of extension services can’t even get a meeting with the chancellor,” he said.
I think he was amazed.
All I did was write a letter.
It would be another six weeks before I could get an appointment to the chancellor.
I remember the day. I believe it was a Tuesday. I wore my jeans and pullover shirt and carried my backpack with me.
I stepped into his office. He offered me a cup coffee, which I kindly declined. He asked how he could help me. I told him a needed a job and that I had applied at the university before.
“You have the employment office send me your file,” he told me.
I had applied for jobs before at the university and they kept a file on me.
So, I stopped at the employment office and made the request. I think the fellow behind the counter that I was some kind of nut.
I don’t know what happened, but somehow the chancellor got my file and it wasn’t long when I was hired to push a broom and clean toilets. I went on to hold that job for more than four years while working toward my degree.
I always said that I swept my way through journalism school.
Whatever it is that you want out of life, go for it. Turn off the television and quit listening to the naysayers. You have what it takes to see your dreams fulfilled.
Have a great week and always remember that “Good Things are Happening,” every day and always.