This month we had the honor of hearing from Dr. Wee, President of Northeast Iowa Community College. He was willing to share his journey of how he got to where he is today.
He started off by telling us about growing up in Singapore where his parents wanted the best for him. Following his service in the Singapore Armed Forces the search for a college education ensued. He applied to colleges all over and took the first acceptance letter he received. On July 4, 1983 Dr. Wee arrived in the USA and studied at University of Arizona, Tucson.
Dr. Wee has been an educator for more than 25 years. He taught at the University of Arizona, Luther College. and since 2011 he has been the president of Northeast Iowa Community College. It was evident in listening to Dr. Wee that he is very passionate about the community he serves and every student that crosses his path.
During his talk with the YP group he spoke about following the voice inside you. When you feel like you're not happy with your career, relationship, etc. then it is time to move on. He continued to relate to his experiences and times that changes told him it was time to go do something new. Dr. Wee expressed that happiness is a large key to life. He told us that he truthfully never knew what he was going to do next, but his heart was saying it was time for something new.
Towards the end he was asked to repeat something that they had heard him say before: life isn't short, it's long. This was a new way of looking at life. Looking around the room, I could tell that others were digesting this bit of information and realizing that his reasoning made a lot of sense. Every time I hear Dr. Wee speak he always has new bits of wisdom that I take away and really process. He has an amazing way of opening your mind and making you think in a new ways. If you ever have the chance to hear from Dr. Wee you should definitely listen.
If you would like to learn more you can visit the YP Decorah Facebook page, or contact me everyone is welcome.
Thank you to Dr. Wee for speaking with us and to T-Bock's for hosting us.
When people ask me how things are going in the Visitor Center I usually respond with, “It’s going great,” followed by, “very busy though!”
Throughout the year we have welcomed visitors from over 39 states and 8 countries. How in the world did little Decorah in the Northeast corner of Iowa attract all these people?!
I began working my dream job at the Chamber of Commerce in February. It may not be the typical dream job, but I get to welcome travelers of all kinds to this beautiful place while supporting local businesses in a town I love. Throughout the year we arranged visits for groups ranging from bikers to bloggers, and Norwegian ancestry meetings to a women’s Corvette club. I am passionate about facilitating memorable experiences in the Decorah area.
The volume of our walk-in traffic drops with the temperature, but it’s also when we are able to put in the most work on our projects. Looking back at the tourist season, we are able to take into account visitor center data and frequent requests to better serve our visitors. This year we developed and maintained 10 unique brochures and guides to assist folks in their discovery of Decorah. I particularly enjoyed making a scavenger hunt style brochure for kids who get bored very quickly while their parents look over maps and talk about which brewery to check out first.
It has been very interesting to see what attractions pull people to this part of the world. First time visitors usually hear about one big point of interest like Seed Savers, Vesterheim, or the eagles and come to the area to check it out. Once they are here, newcomers quickly realize an afternoon in Decorah simply isn’t enough time to fully experience all it has to offer.
The hardest question to answer when people walk through the door is, “What is there to do in Decorah?”
How could you possibly sum up every answer to that question? I try to steer the conversation to narrow down the choices. Do you like nature? Are you interested in museums? Do you like independent boutique shops? Are you here for biking? As soon as I can determine a topic of interest, out comes the city/county map and I start circling and highlighting all the places to go with little notes and tips written everywhere. My map folding skills have increased quite significantly over the last 9 months.
If I were to pinpoint the best part of working at the Chamber, it would be the feeling of being in a community hub. I regularly interact with dedicated community leaders striving to improve the place we live. And while I am able to work in close proximity to these leaders, I am also able to immediately see the benefit their efforts have on our visitors. I see the smiles when a father/daughter duo completes the Trout Run Trail for the first time; I hear the excitement in the voice of an angler who is new to the area and picking up a fishing guide; I listen to the many, many stories Decorah High School and Luther alumni tell about how much things have changed for the better in the years they have been away.
Thanks for doing great things Decorah, it makes my job a lot more fun!
Seriously, I feel like we've been working on holiday decorations for a LONG time. And I guess if April feels like a long time ago to you my sentiment is justified!
One of my takeaways from 2017 is the community has a lot to say about holiday decorations. The DACC has been organizing and funding holiday decorations for the community for as long as I've been a part of the organization. And this may date me a bit, but that's been at least 20 years.
In the past, the holiday season was a time that I bribed my son's friends with pizza and silver cord hours if they would help me prep decorations. We pulled all the wreaths down from the shelves. Remove them from boxes. Check lights. Replace lights. Fluffed up the branches. Line them up by the door for the Street Department. We checked hundreds of light strands and replaced several bulbs. Trust me, it was a filthy, thankless job. Except for the pizza.
The beloved wreaths and garland of the past were very worn and deteriorated to a point of being unusable. I'm happy to say we were able to recycle most of the materials. Strands of lights that were still functioning have been saved for future use.
Which brings me back to April. After processing all the feedback on the 2017 tree lighting project downtown, it was time to rally people to create a new vision. We formed a committee and debated the pros and cons of owning decorations versus outsourcing the project. The lists were long. Ultimately it was decided that owning the decorations and supplies was the way to go.
Ownership also means we need to plan for all the behind the scenes stuff. We will store the decorations here at the DACC office and prep them for display each year. We will also need to continuously seek donations to properly maintain and replace when needed.
For today, the new decorations are up and I can't wait to see them lit up after dark today. Sometime right after lunch....thank you day light savings time!
A huge thank you to the local SSMID Board (Self-Supporting Municipal Improvement District) and the Depot Outlet for providing generous contributions that allowed us to place an order by August 1st. And of course the Street Department crew for their time in putting the decorations up.
If you enjoy them too, consider a donation. Private funding is the only way we will be able to expand and maintain this project.
I sincerely hope the 2018 holiday season is full of family, food, laughter, and friends for all of you!
Growing up standing beside my dad in the alleyway watching the tractors pull in while dad opened the doors on their wagons and watching the corn or beans spill out into the pit was one of my favorite pass times. After the tractor pulled out of the alley and if there was no one waiting dad would hand me the push broom and I would start sweeping the rest off the floor into the pit. I remember watching in amazement as my dad walk across the grate of the pit, I would always walk around scared somehow, I would fall in. I learned to get over my fear of heights quickly, because I would always want to ride with my dad up in the man-lift to walk across the catwalk while he was checking bins. There are so many memories I have from going to work with my dad or stopping by with supper for him during the long fall nights.
Agriculture has and will always be such a large part of my life whether it be through my dad or all our friends and family, it will repeatedly impact my life. I heard the following phrase once and I can’t think of anything truer. “Despite all our achievements we owe our existence to a six-inch layer of topsoil and the fact that it rains” –Farm equipment association of Minnesota and South Dakota. When I started my career with the Decorah Area Chamber of Commerce there was a lot to learn, but after a half a year or so I was presented the opportunity to be liaison to different committees and programming. I was ecstatic to take on the Ag Committee to be able to give back and show appreciation to farmers in this area.
This is my second year delivering during our Stay Safe project, but it is my first year leading the committee. Having the privilege to be apart of our Ag Committee holds a special place in my heart. This year I drove and had Gabriel with me out delivering bags. Our area to cover was in the Highlandville to the state line corner of the county. There may not be a lot of farm land in that neighborhood, but there was enough to put smiles on the faces of everyone that we found. One of the farmers we stopped even mentioned to us that his crew and him were just talking about the program the other day while doing something they knew wasn’t probably the safest. It’s nice to hear that the thought of safety translates into thinking about this program.
The Stay Safe and Take a Break program was started in 2004, so this was our 14th year going out and delivering bags. Some of the original people that implemented the program are still on the committee and still find it to be very incredible event to take place. It is such a rewarding experience to give back to the agriculture community. Farmers have the craziest hours during the fall and being able to hand them a bag full of goodies that our members donated is a very fulfilling experience. Everyone that receives a bag is always so appreciative of us taking the time to come out and remind them to Stay Safe and Take a Break. It was another success, as we delivered 180 bags out to the hard-working farmers in the Northeast quadrant of Winneshiek County.
While all the farmers are out pushing hard to put 2018 harvest in the books, the Ag Committee and I are here to remind you to Stay Safe and Take a Break.