Recently, I was given an award through my employment entitled “The Culture of Yes”. The interpretation of “Culture of Yes” was a team player, willing to help others, going above and beyond to help those that you served. Being nominated for this award was a tremendous honor and left me very humbled, considering the caliber of individuals that I work with every day; but it also made me think introspectively about my own “Culture of Yes”.
I was raised in the least populated area of the Commonwealth of Virginia, Highland County, Home of the Maple Festival, where there once was, and probably still is, more sheep than people. Virginia’s Little Switzerland. I lived on my family farm with my parents and younger brother, where my dad had been raised and my grandparents still lived. We had beef cattle, sheep and pigs. As I got older, we eventually went into the turkey business managing a flock of breeder hens. I participated in many activities through 4-H: Share the Fun, Public Speaking, Presentations, Make it With Wool, Fashion Revue, State Officer. My favorite was probably my livestock projects and I traveled extensively competing with the livestock judging team. With high school came FFA and more leadership opportunities, serving in many Chapter Officer positions.
My early adult years were spent deciding what I wanted to be when I grew up. Dreams of going to vet school were replaced with hours in the back of an ambulance as a paramedic which stemmed from a summer spent working as an EMT at 4-H camp. This led to nursing school, forensic nursing and eventually a doctorate in nursing practice and becoming a family nurse practitioner. Years of telling my mom, a public health nurse, that I would never be a nurse came back to haunt me as many “I told you so’s” came my way.
My life now is a whirlwind – some days, it seems like, I meet myself coming. I work full time as a family nurse practitioner for Centra Medical Group in Bedford. I serve on several committees for the medical group and the associated hospital. I precept nurse practitioner and physician assistant students and I assist with public education through Virginia Cooperative Extension, including diabetes and the importance of preventative care. I am active in my state professional organization and I also serve as medical advisor for a local rescue squad. I currently serve as President of the Bedford County Farm Bureau Board of Directors. My graduate work was in farm safety and agricultural injuries and I work closely with Virginia Farm Bureau providing programs across the state on these topics, most recently focusing on decreasing the stigma of mental health concerns in agriculture. I live with my husband, WP, and two children, Tater and Katie, and we raise multiple crops on our family farm in Bedford County.
Some might look at this biography and think that a “Culture of Yes” is simply saying yes to everything, that I don’t know how to say no. I’m the one that volunteers for every committee, every opportunity, the go-to person to get stuff done, the reliable one to put in charge. However, as I reflect on where I have been and think about where I am going, I am looking forward to this opportunity that is VALOR to embrace a new “Culture of Yes”. Saying yes to things that make me uncomfortable. Saying yes to opening my mind to new ways of thinking that perhaps I hadn’t considered before. Saying yes to self-reflection and thinking about how others see me as a leader and figuring out if this is really the image that I want to portray. Saying yes to reading a new book, or listening to a new podcast, or following a new blog, or perhaps writing a blog for the first time. Saying yes to (gulp, for my controlled self) coloring outside the lines, thinking outside the box, maybe, just maybe being spontaneous, or even putting down my list and just living for a day.