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May the luck of the Irish be with you today!

Version 2Oh Ireland how I miss your shores, rolling fields and fences made of stone. I have nothing but the fondest memories of my two trips to Ireland.

Today on St. Patrick’s Day I’m reminiscing about my travels to the Emerald Isle.

Irish Daydreams

Shamrocks & Steins: 11 Days in Ireland & Germany

Please share, what’s your favorite Ireland experience?

 

 

An Ode To Iowa and Tom Brokaw

It’s officially Caucus Day in Iowa. The day when the state becomes the focus of the nation, watching and waiting to see who will emerge victorious. It’s the day when the media takes over downtown Des Moines and the entire state becomes involved in the political process.

I had the pleasure and the opportunity to participate in the Iowa Caucus experience as a young college student from Minnesota at Drake University during the 2000 election (yes, I am totally dating myself). It was an inspiring environment. Rather than people just going and casting a vote in the General Election in November, Iowans are involved in the process months, actually years before the election. They meet the candidates, shake hands with them, attend pancake breakfasts, tea parties and town hall meetings. They talk about the candidates non-stop, and it was truly unlike anything I’d ever seen before. As a student, I worked phone banks, attended big events and small gatherings, including a tea party at the Younker’s Tea Room. It changed the way I view the political process. It made me realize that everyone has a say in the process, that becoming actively engaged with the issues, sharing your perspectives and getting out the message can truly change the world.

It was also during the Iowa Caucuses that I truly discovered the amazing Tom Brokaw. Many evenings I would be in my room studying and have Tom on the NBC Nightly News covering the political landscape that was forming in Iowa. I can’t hear his voice without thinking about my Iowa Caucus experience.

Today, I tuned in to watch the happenings in Iowa, reflecting on my time there participating in the process. Tom Brokaw was on the TV discussing the scene, in his own eloquent way, the way only he can cover the news and elections. The journalist and civic-interested part of me was so filled with joy to hear his take on the day’s events! He brings such knowledge and perspective to the news, it is refreshing. I feel like in general there’s so much rhetoric and finger-pointing on political coverage, but Tom Brokaw brings his own brand to the coverage in a professional and engaging way.

I hope today a new generation of college students becomes forever inspired by the civic process and Tom Brokaw’s classy coverage of the events. But most of all, I hope we as a nation realize the importance of the political process and that we all have a say in who runs our country. Understanding the issues, getting the facts and making your own decision is important to ensuring our democracy runs as it should. Every vote truly matters!

Cheers to Tom Brokaw and the State of Iowa!

Otterly Wonderful Time

In honor of Earth Day, I’d like to share a story about one of my favorite animal encounters.

Last summer I had the unique opportunity to partake in the Sea Otter Experience at the Minnesota Zoo.

It was a hot summer morning when I met trainer Jenny, along with two other participants in the lobby of the zoo. Dressed for 40 degree temperatures in the otter habitat, I was beyond excited to enjoy my birthday gift and get up close and personal with one of my favorite animals.

Our experience started with a presentation about otter behaviors, their habitat and a little Q & A session with Jenny. Then it was time to go to the food prep area. We saw the variety of fish they feed the otters at the zoo and learned how they blend up fish with vitamins and other meds (as needed).

Next up was meeting an otter! Our group worked with Jasper. We went into the training area. We were behind glass, but we got to watch the trainer give Jasper signals and see how he would react. It was fascinating to see how responsive the otter was with Jenny.

Then the exciting part…we got to feed Jasper! For safety reasons, you feed the otter through a small circular hole in the glass. Each person got their own turn and it was so fun to see how excited Jasper interacted with everyone. After the feeding session, it was picture time. Jasper posed behind a half glass wall, so everyone could have a photo to capture the moment.

The final phase of our experience was to set up a learning lab for Jasper. Each of us selected four fishy treats along with some toys, placed them into the enclosure, along with a sled decorated with frozen squid and other fish flavored delights. We left the area, and Jasper was let in to put his playful instincts to work! In no time at all, the treats were gone and Jasper was floating along the water in the sled. Everyone took more photos, and then Jenny brought us to the behind the scenes area of the enclosure to see what the trainers see.

All too soon the experience was over, but what an amazing opportunity!