I was born July 22, 1996 in St. Louis Park, Minnesota. I grew up feeling like an only child, as my siblings were much older. My relationship with my siblings was good, but I didn’t see them very much. And for that reason, my parents were my best friends. They taught me to be adventurous and ambitious, raising llamas and bison on our hobby farm in southeastern Minnesota. When I was really little, Mom was my go-to. As I got older, Dad became my world.
I always felt safe around Dad. In his own words, Dad was 6’4” and sensitive — and it was true. To this day, I’ve never met a man as physically strong as my Dad. He could hold an 80 lb fence-post pounder with one hand while he used his other hand to steady the pole, as if it were just any old hammer and nail. He also had a lot of endurance. I didn’t know much about Dad’s professional career, but I knew that every man we were acquainted with admired him. Most of the people who worked for him were high school dropouts. He took them under his wings and made them feel included. I wanted to be exactly like him when I grew up.
So, Dad and I were a team, like Batman and Robin. At nine years old, I became Dad’s shadow on the farm, soaking up every minute of the outdoors with him. Mostly, Dad taught by example. Fencing, operating farm equipment, wood working, small farm engines — I learned the ins and outs of it all.
By seventh grade, I had my entire life pretty much figured out. I would go to the University of Minnesota (where my dad had gone), get a degree in sustainable farming, and come back to help operate the family farm.
When I transferred to University of Minnesota in the fall of 2015, I don’t remember ever expecting the worst.
College was hands down a fabulous experience, and in its atmosphere of growth, I began to search for something spiritual. While attending a Bible study on campus, I met Ellen. She was also pursuing a degree related to agriculture, and I was immediately smitten by her…