New adventures ahead

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Do one thing a day that scares you. I cannot remember who challenged me with that statement years ago. I am almost on my 46th birthday this month and still stretch myself to do things taking me out of my comfort zone.

Last year, I campaigned for an office representing part of three different counties. As a wife and mother of four children, this pushed me out of my role of chauffeur, calendar-keeper and CEO of our household. I had to be on the road a lot. I spoke to groups I had never met before. It was terrifying and exhilarating. It was hard work; a daily grind and most rewarding was the new friends I met along the way. The election did not turn out in my favor. The outcome was a disappointment. For the last year, I have been given opportunities and blessings that would take up more column space than the OFN editor could allow me the space to capture here.

One of the people who generously gave advice during this campaign was the state senator from Carroll County. He is a fellow farm kid who doles out the kind of straight shooter advice I have come to appreciate. He encouraged me to apply for a program he had previously been a part of called LeadAR. 

LeadAR is a program designed to help Arkansans broaden their understanding of issues and opportunities facing our state and strengthen their ability to make a difference. It is facilitated by the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture Research & Extension.

I took a risk and filled out the application and went through a short interview with a group of LeadAR alumni and other supporters. I had not done anything like this in a while. After the interview, I knew if it was meant to be, it would happen. In March, I received the news that I had been selected to be a member of LeadAR Class 20. 

This past month, our class met in-person for the first time over the three days at the Arkansas 4-H Center (aka the Vines Center) in Little Rock. The agenda was packed for our first meeting. We were welcomed by several members of the university staff. We introduced ourselves and learned a great deal about each person in our class through leadership and cultural sharing activities. 

One of the most memorable activities was the day the staff from the 4-H ExCEL program came to challenge us with some team building exercises. These included challenging games and bridge building. The final piece was suiting up in rappelling gear to walk through the high ropes course challenge. Some of our new friends cheered us on below and made videos of the ridiculous terror as people came off the course on the zip line. 

After a thorough safety training, I decided I was up for the challenge. I slowly made my way through the high ropes course, encouraging people along the way. Some of it was easy and most of it was difficult for those of us who are fearful of heights. Finally, I knew I urgently needed to get down to use the restroom. The quickest way to the bottom was a ride down the zip line. I waited for my turn, here went nothing! It was an incredible rush.

I’ll periodically share with OFN readers interesting things I am learning in this 18-month class. Lesson one: do one thing a day that scares you, neighbor.

Jody Harris is a freelance communications specialist, gardener, ranch wife and mother of four. She and her family raise Angus beef cattle and other critters on their northwest Arkansas ranch. She is a graduate of Missouri State University. To contact Jody, go to ozarksfn.com and click on ‘Contact Us.’

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