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Finding beauty in the U.S.

Prairie Post: Sometimes it takes a visitor to remind us how good we have it.

Kevin Schulz, Editor

July 15, 2023

3 Min Read
Bryce Canyon National Park in Utah
BEAUTY ABOUNDS: Bryce Canyon National Park in Utah offers a different beauty than the kind found in Minnesota, but beauty just the same. Kevin Schulz

As I write this on the eve of our country’s 247th anniversary of independence, there is a lot to absorb of what is going on in the U.S., from crime to economic uncertainty to Supreme Court rulings. It can be hard to see the good.

We just returned from a vacation in another great part of this nation, taking in the sights of Zion and Bryce Canyon national parks in Utah, enjoying the southwestern cuisine of Santa Fe, N.M., standing on a corner in Winslow, Ariz. (if you know, you know) and strolling along the southern rim of the Grand Canyon.

Such fine sights to see remind me of the beauty that can be found in this great nation. A flight from the Twin Cities transported us from the local landscape of corn and soybean fields of southern Minnesota to the heat of the streets of Las Vegas. They say “It’s a dry heat,” but sweltering is sweltering — regardless what the thermometer or the hygrometer say.

Beyond the sweating, the beauty of the national parks makes you forget about the outside world, for a bit at least. Though I’m happy to report that the television sets in our rooms were never turned on, our cellphones were always with us, reminding us that the outside world carries on.

Blended with the natural beauty of our country was the constant reminder that our world is so, so small — as the number of foreign languages we encountered boggles the mind, including a deaf-school reunion that we stumbled upon.

Outside looking in

One night at our motel, fellow travelers were enjoying a cold one outside their room, just a few down from us. The gentleman and I shared the universal sign of welcome — each hoisting our respective cold ones.

As soon as we joined them, I knew they weren’t from southern Minnesota, only to learn that some of their ancestors certainly could have been. Though our new friends had spent some of their careers in the United States, they were currently visiting from their native Sweden.

The gentleman had spent years working in the U.S. for Volvo, but the extent of travel here was for work. Now that they live in Sweden, the couple can visit our country and travel for enjoyment, and they enjoy every single minute of being here.

They see coming to the U.S., though only for a short visit, as a reprieve from the bleak situation lingering in their home country. Their true love of America showed through when I asked how long they were staying, and he shared, “A mistake on our part, but we’re leaving on July 4.”

I said, “Well, you don’t celebrate the Fourth of July anyway.”

“Oh no, we love America, and we want to celebrate this country, so much better than what we have at home,” he responded.

There appears to be truth in the old saying that no matter how bad you have it, someone has it worse.

With all the negativity in our country, we have to remember that there is beauty around every corner — physical as well as introspective. Our local physical beauty would definitely be enhanced by a little (or a lot) moisture, and certain external pressures paint a bleak picture; but as my new Swedish friends remind us, this land of the free is pretty great.

You just may have to look deeper to find the beauty.

Comments? Send email to [email protected].

About the Author(s)

Kevin Schulz

Editor, The Farmer

Kevin Schulz joined The Farmer as editor in January of 2023, after spending two years as senior staff writer for Dakota Farmer and Nebraska Farmer magazines. Prior to joining these two magazines, he spent six years in a similar capacity with National Hog Farmer. Prior to joining National Hog Farmer, Schulz spent a long career as the editor of The Land magazine, an agricultural-rural life publication based in Mankato, Minn.

During his tenure at The Land, the publication grew from covering 55 Minnesota counties to encompassing the entire state, as well as 30 counties in northern Iowa. Covering all facets of Minnesota and Iowa agriculture, Schulz was able to stay close to his roots as a southern Minnesota farm boy raised on a corn, soybean and hog finishing farm.

One particular area where he stayed close to his roots is working with the FFA organization.

Covering the FFA programs stayed near and dear to his heart, and he has been recognized for such coverage over the years. He has received the Minnesota FFA Communicator of the Year award, was honored with the Minnesota Honorary FFA Degree in 2014 and inducted into the Minnesota FFA Hall of Fame in 2018.

Schulz attended South Dakota State University, majoring in agricultural journalism. He was also a member of Alpha Gamma Rho fraternity and now belongs to its alumni organization.

His family continues to live on a southern Minnesota farm near where he grew up. He and his wife, Carol, have raised two daughters: Kristi, a 2014 University of Minnesota graduate who is married to Eric Van Otterloo and teaches at Mankato (Minn.) East High School, and Haley, a 2018 graduate of University of Wisconsin-River Falls. She is married to John Peake and teaches in Hayward, Wis. 

When not covering the agriculture industry on behalf of The Farmer's readers, Schulz enjoys spending time traveling with family, making it a quest to reach all 50 states — 47 so far — and three countries. He also enjoys reading, music, photography, playing basketball, and enjoying nature and campfires with friends and family.

[email protected]

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