For those of you not in Adair County, my dad, Brian Rohrig is running for Supervisor to represent Orient and southeastern Adair County. Many of you know that I consider my dad to be very influential in my development personally and spiritually. He is my life advisor. :) This post is the letter that was published in the Adair County Free Press this past Wednesday.
Recently, a friend asked me, “If you could choose to live in a small town or a big city – which would you choose?”
Without hesitating, I said, “At this point in my life, a small town.” She was surprised given that I currently live in a large city. However, I could answer so confidently because of the lessons that I have learned from my dad, Brian Rohrig.
After completing his degree at Iowa State, Dad returned to our family farm in Orient. My parents believed so strongly in the value of higher education that even during the farm crisis of the 80s, as young farmers – they invested in college funds for each of us. The foresight and sacrifice of my parents, along with grants and scholarships, allowed me to graduate college debt-free.
However, it wasn’t enough for my dad that his kids could go to college. Working with the members of the Orient Men’s Club, he helped establish a scholarship program for other Orient graduates to pursue higher education. Many O-M grads have benefited.
Dad’s belief in educating students in Orient motivated his service on the Orient-Macksburg School Board from 2006-13. As an O-M graduate, I am thankful for the opportunities and education afforded me. However, as small schools began consolidating and creating county-wide schools, I became skeptical that O-M could survive. My dad, on the other hand, was not. He ran for the School Board because he recognized the importance of the school to our community. His commitment to Orient was impressed upon me as result.
My dad demonstrated to me the importance of community involvement. Beyond his years of service to the Men’s Club, he also has served in nearly every leadership role and committee imaginable at the Orient United Methodist Church over the last 30 years. His service extends beyond the Orient community to the county: Pork Producers, Farm Bureau, Corn & Soybean Association, and Gideons. He has served in leadership roles and on several state committees. He taught me that community service was not something you fit in to your schedule IF you have time; it is simply a necessary part of being a member of a community: you make time for it.
Early on, my dad showed me the value of integrity – doing what is right even when no one else is. In the early 1980s, my dad decided to start no-till farming, even when everyone else was still tilling their land. He did so because he recognized the value of preserving the soil. He understood that being a good steward for the future meant enduring some criticism and skeptics in the short-term.
As renewable energy became a buzzword, Dad noticed opportunities for growth. He initiated a partnership between the Adair Co. Corn and Soybean Association and Honda Motor Co. LTD for cellulosic ethanol research. As wind energy swept the land, my dad, acting with a group of others, decided to invest. Putting in hours of grant-writing and planning, they developed an opportunity for investors across the county to capitalize on our abundant wind resource. Where many wind-farms profit energy companies, Adair County has 8 jointly owned wind turbines that benefit our communities.
As I think upon these lessons, I realize that the #1 lesson that my dad has taught me is this: people have the power to change their lives. People working together have the power to change their communities. These two beliefs guide my life – and they are why I encourage you to vote for Brian Rohrig as an Adair County Supervisor on November 4.
Jessica (Rohrig) Kiesling