“I bit my tongue ‘til it bled.” My mom said that a lot! You never had to wonder on which side of the fence she stood. She was outspoken. My dad was firm and true to his convictions and opinions as well, but he was more of a diplomat. I like to think I am a blend of the two. And I believe each would be disappointed in me if I didn’t speak up and speak out about our current public discourse. No - I’m not headed down a political path here. I’m headed down the path of civility. That old saying, “Sticks and stones will break my bones, but words will never hurt me,” is not true! Words hurt. Words discourage. Words insight.
But words also comfort, reassure, unite. And sometimes, using no words (“biting your tongue”) is the best choice.
So as we begin a new school year and begin to shape a new generation of leaders, let’s remember and remind that “Everything I Needed to Know, I Learned in Kindergarten.”
Colleen's Kindergarten Portrait
Congratulations to the new Illinois FFA Officer Team - all women! While there have been seven women presidents at the state level, this is the first all-women team in the 90-year history of the organization.
So why do I title Colleen Comments “Almost 50 Years Later”? Let me answer by asking another question. Do you know when women were permitted to be members of the Illinois FFA? It was June 1969. I may forget a lot of events in my lifetime, but not that one. Why? Because I graduated from high school in May 1969. That means the month after I graduated, women received permission to join the then Future Farmers of America. I was permitted to take ag classes in high school, but I could not contend for any recognitions.
I don’t know any of the 2018-19 officer team, but I do know that each of them has a competitive spirit. And I know that none of them set out to be a member of the first all-female officer team. That was happenstance. The goal of each was to have an opportunity to learn more about agriculture and agribusiness and its relationships to everyday living. To have an opportunity to learn about themselves, determine their areas of particular interest, and hone their skills through competitive events. To have an opportunity to chart a career path in agriculture. To have an opportunity to perform and not be pre-judged on their abilities or capabilities or deemed unqualified because of their first name or gender.
I’ve had many firsts in my professional life. None of which were goals. It just turned out that way. But I want to believe each of those “firsts” was a consequence of my determination, my genuine desire to inform and educate through a communications platform, my stick-to-it attitude, and because I had the encouragement of my family! I’m confident the current members of the FFA officer team each sought the same opportunities I did. They, however, had a different path to travel. Despite dissimilar routes, my hope for each is that this leadership opportunity will propel them to the same work gratification that I’ve experienced. An experience that began...almost 50 years ago!
I met Jon Carson in March of last year, shortly after I learned about the Future Energy Jobs Act, passed by the Illinois legislature. Jon is the Founder of Trajectory Energy Partners, one of the only Illinois based solar developers. Jon’s degree is in engineering. Mine is in communications. But I knew we could work well together, because we have the same roots. We’re both farm “kids.”
As Trajectory Energy’s consultant, I make connections with property owners who may be interested in installing solar on their land. From farmers to municipalities, from schools and churches to cemetery districts, Trajectory seeks projects with strong community support, integrated into the local landscape.
Once sites are identified and leases are signed, the emphasis moves to community Open Houses where we inform and educate about solar. Working with local leaders and elected officials, we ask and answer questions and share the opportunities that solar creates for the area.
25% by 2025! That’s Illinois’ target. Generate 25% of our energy from renewable energy sources by 2025. Trajectory Energy Partners and Colleen Callahan Consultancy are working together to meet the goal.