The last couple of weeks I've been attending our county annual meetings. I accepted a new job earlier this month. So this as our state president has said is my "No Tears" Tour. Problem is I cry every time because when you work along side amazing people for eight years they become family and it's hard to say goodbye knowing that yes you will still see them but not regularly. I think of it as sending all my counties off to college hoping they are well prepared for the next phase.
My first stop of the tour was with Pima County. Stefanie Smallhouse and I started eight years ago with just a few other people and we worked hard, Stef more than me, to build it up. We met with elected officials, worked on issues and promoted ag. I have so many memories of those first years but two really pop out at me. The first one was a Food Check Out Day event we used to do with the grocery stores. We always picked the Super Bowl weekend and this one was no different. We would have our display just inside the door in the produce section, and people would come in the door and spin the trivia wheel and ask a question. It was a huge success that year, I think it was mostly that Stef intimidated the customers to come over and spin the wheel. You can't really say no to pregnant woman who in the next few days would give birth to her son. And there are a few cool memories of her son that I have from when he was little- him getting so excited for his milk bottle and the time he snatched Stefanie's sandwich off her plate.
The other story involves her daughter. We spent so many times meeting and working to build the county and learn together as we were figuring how to make the situation work and be positive that she was always telling her daughter that she was headed to meet me for a Farm Bureau meeting that I just became known as "Meeting Lady number 1." Stef and Andy's daughter also has holds many fun memories for me as well. They have turned out to be great kids and have grown up so fast.
The next stop on the tour was with Cochise. In the beginning I struggled with Cochise. It was personalities but you don't get to pick who you work with and from those struggles, I learned a lot about board dynamics and how the board can interact with the community. They too have come a long way. They have really worked hard to become part of the community and work on local issues and be an organization that is looked to for leadership within the community. From them I learned that sometimes the person in charge is not always the person who runs the meeting (from an influential position). With them I tended to say the stupidest things. Such as, I was headed out to their meeting several years ago and had just come back from spending time with family in Florida. As I was passing a car it hit a deer and the deer flew up and over my truck spraying my hood and windshield with blood. Seeing their car in the rear view mirror I pulled over to call 911 and wait with them. I made the mistake of mentioning when I finally made it to the meeting that for a split second I thought the deer looked like an alligator as it flew over my windshield. They haven't let me forget it.
But I'm super proud of what they have grown to be and know, just like with all the counties, they have so much more potential. They stepped up when tragedy hit the community and pushed safety campaigns. The looked at the new industries within ag that were coming into the community and saw a need for grain bin training and worked with my counterparts in Mississippi to train and educate both farmers and first responders.
So as I look back with fond memories on these two counties I am grateful and feel blessed that I could live life, work along side them and cheer them on for accomplishing so much. It's been an honor to work for them all these years.