As mentioned in the July 23 blog entry, there are many great stories to share from our recent 25th Anniversary Staff Tour. I’ve asked other staff to share some of their experiences and favorite moments firsthand from our two days of traveling through southwest Minnesota. Enjoy!
The Corn Capital of the World
That one statement says a lot about Olivia, Minn., our first stop and my hometown. There’s a lot more to say about the businesses, organizations and especially people who make up this community. Each time back, I’m reminded by the warm greetings of so many familiar faces that Olivia was a great place to grow up. I’ve shared before with my family, friends and colleagues that after college, I didn’t really see myself coming back to this area – but now, I wouldn’t have it any other way.
For a community of 2,500 people, Olivia has quite a bit to offer – BOLD Schools, active church congregations, veterans groups and service organizations, nice parks, historic buildings. If you haven’t heard it before, be sure to check out the dramatic story of how Olivia became the Renville County seat.
And don’t forget the unique and successful businesses found throughout the city.
A big “THANK YOU!” to John and Carlotta Eischens (pictured) at The Master’s Coffee Shop for not only the delicious drinks, but also for taking time to tell us about the Christian Community Outreach Center, a past SWIF grant recipient. While the after school youth program is currently not running, the Center is being used by many organizations to help them do great things for others in Olivia and beyond.
Olivia’s location, surrounded by some of the state’s richest agricultural land, makes it THE spot for one specific type of business – seed companies – and people throughout the nation and world know it. About 10 seed companies can be found in the community. Most work with corn and many are international businesses. Throughout high school and some of college, I worked for a soybean research company. At the time, it was difficult to really understand what my work was doing – how did counting seeds, walking fields and pollinating plants really affect our food?
I can say with great certainty that after being exposed to different perspectives as an adult, I have a much greater appreciation and understanding of this industry and the impact it’s felt from right here in my hometown. If you want to get a taste, watch the video “One Hungry Planet” shared by Ron Nelson during our tour of Thurston Genetics. It left our minds reeling in just four minutes.
Regardless of where you get your sweet corn to enjoy at August barbeques and picnics, it likely has some connection to the work being done in Olivia. That’s pretty impressive for one southwest Minnesota community.
But I may be biased…so what do you think?