It’s no secret that my heart belongs to the cornfields of western Illinois. It’s where I grew up, learned many life lessons, and became the strong and independent young woman that I am today. I owe a lot to the place I call home, and no matter where I go or what I do, here are five reasons why it will always be my favorite place on Earth.
The Ag room is where I spent a majority of my high school career. Early morning Parliamentary Procedure practice, speech writing, resume building, life chats, record book keeping… It’s all happened here. I’ve cried many tears of stress, sadness, and frustration in this room, but I’ve also smiled until my cheeks hurt and laughed until I couldn’t breathe. My Ag teacher, the FFA, and this room have without a doubt helped me become who I am today.
Some of my fondest childhood memories include riding in the semi with my dad and having McDonald’s “picnics” complete with Orange drink or Diet Pepsi. Sick days in elementary school meant riding with dad as he hauled grain to places like ADM and Cargill. He would set me up in the sleeper of the semi, and I would snuggle up with my stuffed animals and watch Disney movies. Then, I took it for granted, but as I have gotten older, I have realized how precious times like that were.
The Fulton County Fair is arguably one of the highlights of my summer. While corn dogs and lemon shake-ups are at the top of my favorite things list, one of the best things about the county fair is the fact that you get to spend time with some of the greatest people. I like to call them my “fair family.” They’re the ones that ask you how your summer has been, are always there when you need a laugh, will lend a hand if you need help in the show ring, and are always cheering you on throughout life.
This picture was taken by my aunt at my cousin’s wedding shower a few years ago. I’m pretty sure everyone from the surrounding counties was there (or at least everyone from church!). The sense of community that comes from small town life is one of life’s greatest blessings. If someone from the family is hurting, someone is always there with a meal. If a child needs help with a 4-H project, there is someone who has mastered the craft and is willing to share their talents. If someone is getting married, you can bet on it that they will be there too!
They say that home is where your heart is. And as you have figured out by now, that couldn’t be truer. I am so proud of the 18 years that I spent growing up and learning from the people around me. I wouldn’t be where I am today without the experiences and guidance. As I grow up and move farther and farther away from home, I know that my roots will always be firmly planted, and the cornfields of western Illinois will always be my favorite place on Earth.
University of Illinois