I don't usually talk in this space about my work off our family farm.  I do that for two reasons. First of all it isn't how I define myself. I am a woman in agriculture who struggles to keep her foot in the soil while working away from it.  My job also involves working with people who may not care to find their name or likeness in one of my blogs.

The work I do off farm is fund raising for a local community college. It has a title with six words that don't even begin to cover all the things that go on in my office. I started the job when the Mini Me was just 4 months old and it was a 20 hour a week job that was just 7 miles down the road and offered an attractive salary for professional part-time work. I thought I would be here until the kids went to school.  There is still plenty of work to do, so 11 years later I'm still learning something about charitable giving and our organization almost daily.

I'm fortunate to work with three governing boards, administration and staff and three affiliated groups that partner with the college.  I counted once and came up with over 70 board members that I could be working with through all of those groups.  That is a lot of people to answer to, but let me tell you...those boards are committed and get things done!

The college I work for is celebrating the campus' 125th anniversary this year.  That is a long-time commitment. 

The state I live in is only 44 years older than the college.  The college has been everything from an academy, four year college, public junior college to now a part of a community college district.  To survive 125 years it takes the ability to adapt and change. The current world of on-line education, the investment cost of higher education and the need for vocationally trained workers means the college I work for can't sit back.  They have to be ready for change and actively evolving to meet the needs of students and employers. 

I can say that what I do professionally off our farm matters to people I may never meet and takes a similar long-term vision that our farm also requires.

As a part of my job, event planning is a significant part of what I do.  Events educate partners and provide the ability for them to make connections to our students, programs and campus and most importantly it gives us a chance to say thanks to so many who continue to give in so many ways.

We just had our Annual Gala.  The center pieces this year were a nod to our anniversary year and the nostalgia of our history with vintage pictures of our students and campus. 

Our local newspaper (the Iowa Falls Times-Citizen) gave great design support to our vision and  took my concept from Pinterest of this photo runnerand some circus  lettering and gave us a great invitation and visuals that I was able to use around the event. 

The lanterns that table sponsors took back to their businesses were Libby 10 inch clear glass vases and a tabloid sized sheet of translucent velum paper  cut to size. My coworker used the scrap-booking adhesive runner product on the two edges of the paper to adhere it to the glass vase. We put canning salt and votive candles in the bottom. On each table we used a 12 inch square of colored card stock and scattered 13 different pictures around the edges of different events, periods of students and special events that we had pictures for. 

The stars of the night were the two students who talked about what scholarships have meant to their education. Both spoke authentically and appreciatively.  I loved hearing their stories. It reminded me after the stress of coordinating the event, why the Foundation's work matters.

A secondary win for me was a new-to-me recipe that we served attendees on their smoked pork chops that we purchased from our local Fareway meat department.  Sweet and Savory Black Cherry Sauce was a winner-winner-pork-chop-dinner!  I wish I could say that I came up with this one, but I didn't.  I accessed it on and I found a similar one on the New York Times recipe site. It would be great on a baked ham or even as the glaze for my favorite hamball recipe.  We served it on 3/4 inch thick smoked chops that were heated in the oven for serving.  Mmmm!  Mmmm!

Sweet and Savory Black Cherry Sauce for Pork


The Groceries:

1/4 Cup Butter
3/4 Cup minced Shallots or Onions
1 1/2 Cup Frozen Sweet Black Cherries, roughly chopped ( I like the Bella Gardens brand also found at my local Fareway)
2 T Red Wine (I used a Merlot)
1/4 Cup Beef Broth
1/4 Teaspoon Dried Rosemary Leaves, crushed

The Process:

Melt butter in medium sauce pan and saute onion and cherries until the onion softens.
Stir in red wine, beef broth, and rosemary and stir until the sauce reduces, thickens and becomes glossy.  It will take about 10 minutes of stirring to get to that point.
Serve warm or room temperature over pork.

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