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Life Lessons - Installment # "FOUR"

June 2012 In recent months, I've been reflecting upon various life lessons I've learned while growing up on the farm. Based on the response of readers, there's apparently a bunch of you that can relate! We all have experiences that affect the way that we live our lives. Some are good experiences and some not so good but either way, they shape, mold, influence, and guide decisions, thinking, and behavior.  Now, as I look back upon some of these stories and experiences, they serve to be not only fun memories of ways that I can share cause and effects with my children. (My brother John, after I dedicated last month’s “lesson ”to him, sent to me a note saying “brings back some good memories, seems like we didn't need anything fancy to entertain us” ).  So true, Bro!  I thank the readers as I relive and share some of the “not-so-proud and somewhat embarrassing occurrences” in my life that seem to have made me who I am today. So, with that Preface, it ...

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Manifolds, Manolos and Manure

Sitting at the Dev International School in Nilokheri, India a colleague and I agreed that never again would we growl about hosting a farm visit for foreign dignitaries or other organizations despite how busy or involved in other projects we are. The greeting we received from the parents, families and school personnel was both overwhelming and humbling.  Our group joined the school and community for a presentation, reception and traditional Indian greeting after touring a nearby fish and chicken farm.  Only the group from Illinois seemed to realize that it was, in fact, an eighty-six degree, cloud-free Sunday afternoon when we visited Nilokheri. Throughout our visit to India, we were constantly impressed and humbled by their welcomes and willingness to open their homes, businesses and minds to farmers and farm professionals from Illinois.  To say that we felt like unwilling rock stars might not be too far from the truth. Nary six weeks later and a half a world away, our promise to never again growl about ar ...

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We Appreciate All Teachers

We Highlight “ALL” Teachers This Month May is here! It’s a month I’ve always loved as the weather turns warm, the planting season is upon us, and many celebrations occur including May Day, Cinco de Mayo, the Kentucky Derby and Mother’s Day. I know as children we don’t always appreciate our teachers, but during the week of May 7th, we all celebrate Teacher Appreciation Week. What teachers stand out in your mind from the past? One of my most favorite teachers was Miss Spark. I still remember her from 1st grade as if it was yesterday. She was patient, kind, smart and so beautiful (as I recall). Then, flash forward many years and there was Dr. R., my Geography Professor. Oh how I remember him. For those of you who don’t know, I am “directionally challenged” so having my final exam in Geography requiring you to name hundreds of random places on a world map was not my thing. Not one of my more favorite teacher memories. Most of us can remember many of our teacher’s names and recall stories about them and ...

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Ryan Getting Back to Her Roots.

Countryside, Ill.- Growing up basically ‘out in the middle of nowhere’ has shaped Justine Ryan into the young and independent person she is today. She feels being a farmer’s daughter has its perks, especially when mediating her future. After leaving the rural community of, Wyoming, Illinois, Ryan is planning on getting back to her roots with the help of Cook County Farm Bureau. Growing up she was surrounded by agriculture on a 4800 acre farm about 20 miles north-west of Peoria, Ill. In Wyoming she was introduced to agriculture through her high school education and for several years was an active member of 4-H. Her brothers chose FFA, however, Ryan became a confident leader through Student Council and held a state office. Never letting anything hold her back after high school, Ryan left for Eastern Illinois University. Today Ryan is a determined junior with a good head on her shoulders. Ryan decided to attend EIU because of its size. She quickly fell in love with the Department of Communication Studie ...

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Life Lessons - Part 3

May 2012 In recent months, I have been writing about various installments of the life lessons I've experienced on the farm. These Life Lessons now help guide my life, influence my decisions, affect my thinking, and subtly control my behavior. These stories also frequently are used as examples when I'm trying to influence my children's behavior and choices (ineffectively but I keep trying). These stories have also served to be fun memories now, although at the time when they occurred, they typically were more likely negative in nature. Thinking about these lessons has been enjoyable to me, bringing a smile to my face on a number of occasions and I hope they will do so for you as well. Lesson six: Let wild cats stay wild! This little lesson is dedicated to my “little” brother, John! John is three years my junior and while growing up, was my partner in crime, confidant, cohort and sometimes my conscience. Consequently, we did nearly everything together growing up including working, playing, dr ...

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Did you know th...

Did you know that 80% of strokes are preventable? In the US, strokes are the 3rd leading cause of death. You’re probably asking yourself…am I at risk? Well, if you have 2 or more of the conditions listed below, unfortunately you are at risk. Factors such as age and smoking can double your chances of stroke, PAD, and other conditions. If you have two or more of the risk factors listed below, we recommend you participate in the screenings. Here are a few of the common risk factors for stroke, abdominal aortic aneurysms, peripheral vascular disease, and osteoporosis: • Over 40 yrs. old • More than 20 lbs. overweight • Family history • High cholesterol • Cigarette smoking (past and current) • Diabetes • High blood pressure • Inactive lifestyle • Heart disease • TIAs (minor strokes) • History of broken bones • Women close to or in menopause On Tuesday, May 15th and Wednesday, May 16th CCFB is hosting stroke detection screenings for members to detect your risk for stroke in less than 10 minutes. Call 1-877 ...

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Manifolds, Manolos and Manure

A couple of weekends ago, my husband hosted a tour group at his farm. As his dad was walking the group of about 50 through the history of our third generation dairy farm, I leaned over to my husband to say “Steve needs to keep the natural disasters on the down low.” (Yes, I said natural disasters.) Shortly after my husband and I announced our engagement, a fire consumed our 120-cow stanchion milking barn immediately prior to the evening milk shift. Along with our friends and family, we relocated our entire dairy herd to an empty farm several miles down the road. As ashes settled and embers cooled, we opted to continue our family’s legacy with some minor changes. We added a parallel-double-eight milking parlor and a 150-cow barn with the best technology we could afford at the time. With more time came more cows. And with more cows came wrinkles and more buildings until one hot evening in 2005. As the summer drought continued to crispy-fy lawns, mine included, one tractor backfire started a stack of ha ...

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Happy Anniversary

February and March were special months at the Farm Bureau and especially for Ag in the Classroom.  During February we witnessed the generosity of our school children, teachers and communities during our Food Checkout Day Gear Up toGive School Food Drive.  Giving is alive and well inCookCounty! Just as that event was wrapping up, we began to get ready for our 25th Anniversary celebration of our Ag in the Classroom Program.  In some ways 25 years doesn’t seem like a long time, but in planning for this event I realize just how long ago 25 years is. First of all, I didn’t have any children 25 years ago.  Actually, I wasn’t even married 25 years ago.  I was a carefree gal living in the city and not envisioning where I would be in 25 years.  While I was going to Cubs games (no, not White Sox games) I wasn’t really thinking about the turf or who decided what turf would work best in Wrigley Field. I didn’t think there was a job focusing on that subject, but I sure did admire how the grass looked!  I was often walki ...

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Life Lessons - Part 2

April 2012 Last month, I “regaled” the members of the Farm Bureau with my first installment of the life lessons I've experienced that now guide my life.  In last month's column, I reported to the world that I had been doing some thinking about my life lessons as some of my children “are building their own” these days! “Life Lessons” are powerful and lasting experiences that have a way of shaping the actions, reactions, decisions, viewpoints, and direction of an individual from that point forward. I also confessed to being a self-declared parent of “vast” wisdom. I am pleased to see my children roll their eyes when I shared in an unsolicited fashion the life lessons I've gained growing up. I've concluded that the eye rolling is a sign of vast respect and utter agreement. Perhaps, I will begin using the eye rolling technique to show others my vast respect and utter agreement for their viewpoints. I hear that eye rolling is the latest in business etiquette ...

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Manifolds, Manolos and Manure

At the end of February, I was given a tremendous opportunity. An opportunity I had fretted over. Prepared for. Saved for. Converted currency for. An opportunity I had under packed for. (Yes, I said under packed.) And what an opportunity it was. On a bleak Saturday afternoon in Chicago, I and thirty of my closest friends boarded the first of what would be many flights over thirteen days. Despite a sixteen hour flight halfway around the globe very few things could dampen our excitement and ultimately our desire to get out and explore. Even though we spent five days between Hong Kong, mainland China and Beijing it wasn’t China and its expansive roads, rolling power outages, death defying drivers, or boned-in delicacies that touched me but India. India which is home to about fifteen percent of the world’s population- second only to China- in a space a third of the size of the United States. India, whose terrain ranges from the Himalayan Mountains in the north, to flat river valleys to deserts and whose climate ...

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