I returned home very late Wednesday night after a 36 hour, three state, and over 1000 mile journey. Spending so many hours behind the wheel gives me a lot of time to think. My first thought – I am so fortunate to have the freedom and ability to take off with little notice on this trip. Clients were part of this trip, my trusty Tahoe was my transportation method, and my farmer self did a LOT of crop checking over the miles.

My first destination was Stronghurst, Illinois, to pay my respects to a gentleman who was my Extension Advisor during all my years in Illinois 4-H. He was more than my Extension Advisor, he was my mentor, my head cheerleader when I tried new things not only in 4-H but also my life, and he continued in that role long after high school graduation. He was the one who encouraged me to attend the University of Illinois – a big step for a young girl who was the first to go to college in her family. He was one of the people who said I could major in agriculture at a time when not very many women did. He was the one who pushed me to work hard in 4-H so I could win one of Illinois’ trips to National 4-H Congress in Chicago at that time. He was also the one who encouraged me to apply for 4-H House (a sorority on campus at Illinois) – and I made it! Another decision that would influence my life forever! So many women in my profession of ag communications lived at 4-H House – think Colleen Callahan, first woman farm broadcaster; Holly Spangler, editor of Prairie Farmer; and so many others!

The crops across central Iowa (via US 20) looked very good. Yes, there are a few mudholes, but what year don’t we have a few of those somewhere in Iowa? Eastern Iowa looked good as well. Once I crossed the Mississippi River, the crops were a little more variable but still look pretty darn good.

I spent the night on the Henderson County, Illinois, farm where I grew up and then journeyed to the St. Louis area to visit one of our favorite clients – Novus International. Meeting with the North American Marketing Team as we plan upcoming events is always a great day! Harvest had started in earnest for the farmers east of Hannibal, Missouri, on the Illinois side. There were several fields of corn already harvested.

When I left St. Louis, I headed north, visiting with our Heartland Marketing Group office as I went as well as my husband while he helped babysit our adorable (not biased am I?) granddaughter, Lucy. As usual Ann and the crew at Heartland Marketing had everything under control in Early for our clients. Steve was definitely enjoying his role as grandpa and his time playing Mr. Fix-It for Andy and Sally. And yes – he enjoyed their dog, Hattie.

As the sun set, I realized the crop checking was going to slow down but that was ok, I was back to previously traveled roads so I wasn’t missing anything. But the harvesting in Missouri was well underway. I didn’t stop long enough anywhere along the road to inquire about yields!

When I turned onto westbound four lane US 20, I realized I was “visiting” another of our clients. We have worked for the US 20 Association for over 20 years. We’ve had the pleasure of celebrating the opening of each segment of the four lane over this time. And it won’t be long before we celebrate its completion. That is definitely the way to work yourself out of a job!

After this quick trip I also realized I am so blessed to live in a part of the world that feeds so many people. It’s hard not to be proud of our accomplishments in agriculture, cheer for those who got us there and be excited to be a part of our future!