A new milestone for the big guy
In spite of a less than ideal training schedule, I’m proud to say that I achieved a new personal milestone on April 2 as my wife and running partner Andrea and I completed the Lincoln Presidential Half Marathon in Springfield. Over 1525 runners from 33 states and Italy endured the cold temps and 40-45 MPH wind gusts on the terrific 13.3-mile course that wove through the capital city’s historic districts and spectacular residential neighborhoods. The race shirt was awesome and the finisher’s medal even better – a giant replica of a penny with the race info on it. I was pleased at how good I felt after the race and in the days to follow, and I’m excited as I look ahead to my next half in Galesburg in early June.
An even more exciting development is the news that Andrea and our son Dave were selected through the lottery process to compete in the prestigious Marine Corps Marathon on October 30 in Washington D.C. Our daughter-in-law Andrea will also be running the race by virtue of her solicitation of cash donations to earn a spot, and I will be chief cowbell ringer and proud supporter. It sounds like a tough but rewarding course that runs through many of the historic areas and ends with a Marine salute. It’s truly shaping up to be a memorable year of running!
FFA members enjoy conference
Five Stephenson County FFA members accompanied me to the annual Illinois Farm Bureau and Affiliates Youth Conference on April 4-5, this year at a new location at the wonderful Embassy Suites Hotel and Conference Center in East Peoria. This conference has continued for over 50 years (I attended in 1974) and brings young people together to learn leadership and personal development while becoming more familiar with the Farm Bureau family. Keynote speakers, breakout sessions, and social activities were among the highlights. The new venue brought a downsizing of the attendees allowed from each school, and representing Stephenson County were Paige Fuchs and Meg Tessendorf (Pearl City), Lily Schierloh and Shianne Stietz (Lena-Winslow), and Kaylen Miller (Orangeville).
A great night in sports
April 4 was a fulfilling evening of sports highlights for me, beginning with the NCAA men’s basketball championship game pitting North Carolina and Villanova. Both teams had similar records and were peaking at the right time, but NC came in the favorite based on talent and reputation. A hard-fought back-and-forth battle saw NC’s Marcus Paige hit an incredible double-clutch 3-point shot to tie the game at 74 with 4.7 seconds left, but Villanova moved the ball deftly downcourt and dished to Chris Jenkins, who sank a perfect 3-pointer at the horn to dash the Tar Heels’ hopes and make the game an instant classic. After an amazing March Madness featuring many epic games and amazing finishes, this one went down as one of the best title games ever.
As a fitting transition from the end of basketball season to the start of baseball season, my beloved Chicago Cubs kicked off the 2016 regular season with a dominant 9-0 thumping of the Los Angeles Angels. The high hopes for the Cubs appear to be genuine as they looked solid and ready to make some noise this year – GO CUBS!
Rural medical opportunities
To help combat the rural medical professional shortage, Illinois Farm Bureau, in partnership with the Illinois State Medical Society, administers two programs: the Rural Illinois Medical Student Assistance Program (RIMSAP) and the Rural Nurse Practitioner Scholarship Program. Both programs help encourage and develop the pool of rural health practitioners to help meet primary health care needs in rural Illinois by offering scholarship and financial assistance.
Since 1948, RIMSAP has been dedicated to bringing more physicians into rural Illinois communities, and has helped more than 800 students with a recommendation for acceptance to medical school and assistance with loan monies. Students must be willing to specialize in family practice, or another approved primary health care field. Students who are in their fourth year of college, or who will have completed study for a bachelor’s degree, may apply by November 1, 2016.
Now in its 24th year, 70 registered nurses have received scholarships from the Rural Nurse Practitioner Scholarship Program. Each year, Illinois Farm Bureau awards five $4,000 scholarships to qualified candidates who are willing to commit some of their career to practicing in rural communities. Registered nurses who are enrolled in or accepted into an accredited nurse practitioner program may apply by May 1, 2016. In both cases, students who receive help from the programs must practice for a prescribed time in an approved rural community in Illinois. For more information on both programs, or to access application forms, students should visit www.rimsap.com, or contact their local county Farm Bureau.
Pasadena trip filling quickly
Our Pasadena Rose Parade trip with Lindstrom Travel planned for December 30, 2016-January 3, 2017 is over half full with less than 25 seats left, so don’t delay if you want to join us on this spectacular outing. I just spoke with someone who had been to the parade recently and saw the floats up close, and they were raving about the experience. Details are posted at www.stephensoncfb.org or at the Farm Bureau office.
Bruce Johnson is the manager of the Stephenson County Farm Bureau