Friday, August 24, 2012

What I Want To Be When I Grow Up

This week's guest blogger is Shelby (Fisher) Hurst, a proud native of Fairfax, wife, teacher, and momma-to-be.  If you don't know Shelby, you just have to read this and you'll be delighted she chose to come back home!

I never went through the phases of wanting to be different things when I grew up, like a princess, a doctor, or a fire fighter. There was only one thing I wanted to be and that was a teacher. I would play school and I never was just “a teacher”, I was a teacher at Fairfax R3. When asked what I wanted to do when I grew up I would proudly state “I want to come back and be a teacher here.”

When I met my husband, a Tarkio Indian, he thought my love of Fairfax was endearing. I was finishing my last year at Northwest Missouri State University in Maryville, Missouri. I had plans of moving home after I completed the year and student teaching in Atchison County, first pick being my hometown. I had been a substitute teacher in the district for two years and my love of the school and its bright staff only grew.

I was excited and nervous when I found out that I would be student teaching at grand old Fairfax, for first and third grade. I got to know the students, new faculty, and community in a way I never had before, through the eyes of an educator. Every morning I would report to the school, taking on as many responsibilities as I could to get the full effect.

In December of 2011 I graduated with a degree in Elementary Education and a minor in Early Childhood. I also got married on New Years Eve to Brett, the same man who was learning just how passionate I was about my little town. (I think he sometimes questioned which I loved more, him or Fairfax.)

I started working at Tarkio Elementary in January as a Teacher’s Aide. Soon my husband and I found out we were expecting! I thought of all the struggles a first year teacher wades through and worried about juggling it with being a first time mother. My husband and I prayed about it and decided if I was going to work God would have to put my dream job in my hands, otherwise I’d be taking a year off as a teacher and on as a full time mommy.

Time went by and it looked like I would be filling my days with diapers and feedings, instead of math lessons and grading. However, in June I was surprised to find out that Fairfax had a job opening for fifth grade. This was the opportunity my family had been praying for, a way to be at the school I cherished. The only question was whether this was God giving me a ‘green’ light. My husband and I decided I needed to take the jump. So I jumped and was hired as Fairfax R3 fifth grade teacher. A bulldog once more!

My summer quickly went from baby preparations to classroom preparations. I started tackling my classroom, lesson plans, and all the duties that started filling my days as a teacher. On August 13th I had my first day with all the other teachers. I became a sponge for their knowledge.

Before I knew it, the first day of school was here! As the students filed into our classroom I began my first day as a real Fairfax R3 teacher. What a day it was! The first three half days flew by in a blur of classroom expectations, getting to know you activities, and birthdays (there were three in the first week!). As I left that Friday night to head to the park for the Fairfax Fair I couldn’t believe how blessed I was to be starting on the journey I’d dreamed of since I was a little girl; a journey I would get to travel for thirty years. However, I guess this journey started the first time someone asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. A journey that will go hand in hand with raising a new little bulldog!

Friday, August 17, 2012

A Day in the Life of a Happy Atchison Countian

  • 7 a.m.:  Fall out of bed, not entirely happily. UNLESS it is like one of our recent gift days where I walk outside and say, AHHHHHH.
  • 7:30 a.m.:  Feed kitties, who come running from various fields nearby when they hear the food hit the tin.
  • 8:00 a.m.:  Depart for the office. Drive 35-40 mph all the way to town just because I can. Examine crops during leisurely drive. Wave to cows. Watch hopefully for a farm implement. Dodge a deer on Route B, something that’s possible when traveling at such Sunday Drive speeds. Relish the fact that I am the only person on the road. Check out lunch special on board outside of Food Country, checking specifically for inadvertently humorous phraseology or something baby in belly might be interested in that day.
  • 8:30 a.m.: Arrive at office. Good Morning to Cara. Check email. Read Jerry Baker’s Thought of the Day. Delete junk. Check task list. Get to work.
  • 10:30 a.m.: Meet with the ever-kind Representative Thomson (aka Mike) to gain outsider-perspective on our primary interstate exit (improving this is a current personal mission).  
  • 12:00 p.m.: Listen for bizarro siren-honk noise Dad’s cop truck makes when he announces his arrival at back door. Head to Subway, where vegetable gal gives me extra pickles (she has quickly assessed that I need them). Porta-picnic commences. Ride around the county for a while, check out progress on wholesale water project, learn lots of random County tidbits. 
  • 1:00 p.m.: Back to work. Try to decide which task (if any) can actually be checked off list. Research communities that do a great job of attracting their youth back home (another personal mission). Try not to become overwhelmed by number of personal missions.
  • 2:30 p.m.: Fun lady shows up who wants to start a nonprofit in the county. Provide every bit of information that might possibly be helpful. Feel hopeful and happy as I do every time folks are excited to get something started here.
  • 3:00 p.m.: Zip out to McD’s for the occasional small latte (don’t judge, I add extra milk and it’s the only caffeine Jack ever gets) and make the difficult decision NOT to order apple pie (which Jack and I both really, really want). Back to office.
  • 4:45 p.m.: Head home via Tarkio, gotta go to Flower Mill to make copies of some photos and see what apple candles I can find. Have lovely chats with Betsy and Mary Ann. Appreciate that we have such a store in the county…and, more importantly, that we have Mary Anns and Betsys in the county.
  • 5:15 p.m.: Stop by Mom’s on the way up Main Street to see if anything exciting is going on there. Talk baby stuff. Show her some short people pics on Facebook. No night meeting tonight (yay!!), head home to hubby.
  • 5:45 p.m.: Arrive home after traveling amongst corn and bean fields and feel almost overwhelmed (as I do most days) that I get to live in this big old beautiful farmhouse. Greeted by kitties and hubby.
  • 6:15 p.m.: Eat something totally uninspired. BUT enjoy some garden-fresh tomatoes on the side (delivered to our door by nice gardner-landlord).  Nothing better than a tomato grown around here.
  • 6:45 p.m.: Haven’t taken a belly shot for a while, so head outside to take care of this task.  Stand in the yard, looking around…thankful, thankful, thankful.
  • 7:15 p.m.: Hubby and I sit in our dueling recliners. He flips channels, I write out a couple of cards. Kicked back, Jack starts his mostly-nightly show of ricocheting all around my stomach.  We giggle and grin and bask in the awesomeness of this moment that never, ever gets old.
  • 9:30 p.m.: Head to bed, knowing that I’ll be up 3-400 times in the night so might as well crash early.  Listen to the sounds of the country…coyotes, the whoosh-whoosh of the turbine blades across the road, and the otherwise quiet of the night.  Reflect on the day, hoping I contributed something to this place I love so much, pray for an opportunity to make life a little better here tomorrow.


Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Your Summer Checklist

It’s natural to want to escape in the summer.  Kids are out of school.  Work is (sometimes!) a little slower.  Days are longer.  All these things conspire to create a need to GO, to get away for a while.  Many of us have our go-to vacation spots…Colorado mountains, Lake of the Ozarks, weekend getaways to St. Louis or KC.  Escapes are good.  They give us a little recharge and make us ready and willing and able to come back to this place we love and dig in again.

The flip side of vacationitis is that we can so easily overlook the little outings available right in our own backyard.  Admittedly, I should have started this little checklist discussion EARLIER in the summer when there was more time to take advantage of some of these opportunities…but for those of you with short people heading back to school next week, maybe this weekend can be one last hurrah of awesome.  How many of these can you get done before summer’s end?  Ready, Set, GO!!!

    • Ice Cream! Grab a treat from the Dairy Diner in Fairfax.
    • Too hot to play outside? Head to one of the three library branches for FREE DVDs/books/magazines and camp out in your living room!
    • Play a round at Rock Port Country Club or Tarkio Golf Club
    • Head out to Charity Lake for a walk or some fishing
    • Cool off with some inside fun at River Rock Lanes
    • Don’t turn on your oven - take your girl or guy or kiddos out for a burger at Black Iron Grill or Mule Barn Café
    • Check out the shiny new tennis courts in Tarkio
    • Hit the pool in Tarkio or Rock Port
    • Hide inside with some dessert from the Daybreak Café or Rock Port Café or KJ’s
    • Slide, swing or play at any of our lovely city parks; if you’re in Tarkio, pick up some fried chicken from Torrey Pines and make a picnic out of it

    What’s on your list?  What have I missed???


    Thursday, August 2, 2012

    It's Fair Time!

    This week's guest blogger is Afton Demott, an Atchison County native and current president of the AC Fair Board.  A 2005 graduate of Rock Port High and a 2008 graduate of NWMSU, Afton is the Executive Secretary/CSR at Atchison-Holt Electric and Secretary of University Extension Council...AND, she's getting married to a fellow AC native (Chad Schomburg) September 1!  Many thanks to this awesome lady for taking time during this crazy fair week to blog for us!  For information on the Fair, check out the schedule in this week's paper or call the UM Extension office at 744-6231! 

    It is here…Fair week!  It is a time for many Atchison County families to show off what they have been working on.  These families have dedicated countless hours of hard work into their prize projects.  The Atchison County fair is not just for the average farmer, it is a family affair for all ages to partake in.  

    I remember how waking up early every morning during fair week was so exciting!  The chores, washing of the animals, grooming…I couldn’t wait!  I had a routine down after the first few years.  Feed, wash, and get ready for show.  When the hog show day rolled around the nerves hit.  I would tell myself “It’s ok, I got this.”  Walking into the show ring I was now showing everyone what I had been working on since April.  I smiled at the judge and presented my hog for him to judge.  Keeping good eye contact I walked around the ring with pride.  The ring men help pen the hogs and split up the ones that like to fight.  Thank goodness we have such great volunteers to help.  No matter how good or bad I ended up in each class I held my head high because I was proud of my project. 

    The cattle show entitles much more work.  The nerves really hit on this day.  I wanted to do well and showmanship was what I wanted to win more than anything.  After feeding, I would wash my steer, blow him dry and start working with his hair.  All summer I had been rinsing him every morning, noon and evening to get good hair.  Hair on cattle can be what makes or breaks the animal.  I would spray all the necessary accessories on and brush them in and blow them in with the dryer.  Making some last minute touches with the clippers and scissors, I changed halters and headed for the ring with my show stick.  Eekkk!!!  I could not wait to show my steer off.  Entering the ring I made eye contact with the judge as I walked my steer into position.  Using the show stick to set his feet, I watched everyone else enter.  After circling the ring he placed the class and we exited accordingly.  After all the classes and champion driver are over, it is the showmanship classes.  Sometimes the judge will make you switch animals with another exhibitor.  I took pride in the showmanship classes, winning 3 years in a row.  Getting money and trophies are great, but we need to remember to thank these sponsors who willingly donate money to the fair.  Thank you notes are VERY important to write to the sponsors to let them know you appreciate them and what they have sponsored.

    State Fair is another time when the county exhibitors get together and put up a county display.  We all come together and split the costs of the materials to have a nice display and let everyone know we are from Atchison County.  State fair is so much fun because you get to know the other exhibitors better and spend quality time with them.  We all help each other wash and get to the barns and tie outs.  Getting to know others in the county is huge and it helps out in the long run.

    Living in such a great county we have numerous volunteers.  Without all of you who volunteer your time, the fair would be hurting.   Volunteering and sponsoring are two wonderful things this county is amazing at.  Sponsorships not only benefit the Atchison County Fair.  They also benefit the youth of the county and show them what this county can really do.  The people that volunteer their time as superintendants of the species for the show are truly appreciated, as are the ring men.  They keep the events running smoothly and if an animal gets away from an exhibitor they are Johnny on the spot!  The ladies that enter the horticulture and fine arts exhibits spend a lot of their time volunteering throughout the days of the fair.  And the list goes on.

    As far as the volunteers and sponsors, I believe Atchison County has by far the best!  The willingness our county has to want to help others is AWESOME!  You don’t find people everyday like the people of Atchison County.  We also have the best sportsmanship when it comes to the show ring, congratulating other exhibitors on their win. 

    The events that the Atchison County Fair offers are for a variety of ages: greased pig contest, Pedal Tractor Pull, Muttin Bustin, Pie Baking Contest, Parade and the livestock shows of course!  You can participate or come be a spectator, all are welcome!  Come out and give the people of Atchison County a hand!