About My Blog

This blog was created in conjunction with my digital resume and portfolio.

This blog contains feature articles written for local publications including Auburn Family and Extension Daily.

Read my stories by clicking on the page links in the menu to the right or by clicking on the different story categories. To return to my digital resume and portfolio please click the link in the top navigation bar.

Thanks for visiting!

A September to Remember

Originally Written for Cammies & Canines

Cammies & Canines is a nonprofit organization that benefits homeless veterans and rescues unwanted dogs; and then pairs the two together in a 6-month rehabilitation program.

September was a month filled with ambition, gratitude, support and life-changing announcements. The Cammies & Canines Team set out with the goal of raising $350k to close escrow and secure the 289-acre sanctuary they’ve been operating from. For the past month, the team has been quite busy raising awareness, serving our community and hosting multiple fundraising events.

The HIKE

The month launched with a 215-mile awareness and fundraising hike; from Point Magu Naval Airstation to the sanctuary in east county. Founder Kalani Creutzburg, along with his partners, Nathan Schoemer, Cammies and Canines Master Dog Trainer, and Stephanie Rowe, professional bodybuilder; hiked 22 miles a day in honor of the 22 veterans who commit suicide per day. It was their goal to show veterans they’re not alone. During each day of the hike, each of them carried 50-pound packs; representing the suicide rate among those who’ve served is 50 percent higher than those who haven’t served.

Throughout the hike, the three were joined by county firefighters, other Cammies & Canines team members, supporters and many other patriots who wanted to join the movement. The team crossed the finish line on Sept. 11 to honor those who gave the ultimate sacrifice. The Cammies & Canines team couldn’t have succeeded without the support from donors, those who followed their journey on social media, participated in the finishing celebration, took the time to hike with the team and those who literally took the weight off their shoulders. The community support gave the team hope and motivation to not give up; because of everyone, Cammies & Canines was able to raise over $90k for veterans and their sanctuary.

Life-Changing Moments

Quickly recovering from the hike, Cammies & Canines hosted a Celebrity Chef Cook-off, a dinner fundraiser to raise the needed funds to secure the sanctuary. Hosted at a beautiful La Jolla residence, the night was filled with delicious food, wonderful people and big announcements. The team was pleased to have raised over $18k from generous donations during the event. It wasn’t until the end of the event when the life-changing announcement that answered the team’s prayers was made.

Michael Sean Brown – Airforce Veteran, social architect, visionary and supporter of Cammies & Canines – heard about the hike, the mission and announced during the dinner that he was generously buying the sanctuary property outright. The Cammies & Canines team is extremely blessed Brown heard their battle cry, believed in their vision and teamed up with the organization to change the lives of veterans. The team could not be more pleased and humbled by the outcome of this event! A huge thank you goes to – Dog is Good and their fearless leader Gila Kurtz, Judge and Chef Derrick Fox, donors, participating chefs, the Cammies & Canines team, all attendees, VIPs and of course the guest of honor, Michael Sean Brown.

To those who have donated to the events and joined along through social media, your support has not gone unnoticed. Each of you has played an important role in reaching our goal and making an impact in veterans’ lives. It’s because of your continued support that Cammies & Canines is able to provide the resources needed to sustain the ranch, provide for veterans, rescue dogs and support the staff so they can continue making a difference.

Joining the Movement

The month left the team with hope and excitement for what’s to come. The Cammies & Canines journey doesn’t end here! The team is always looking for new partners and volunteers to join their mission. Join the organization at upcoming events, find them at local community festivals, follow their journey on social media and share your love for Cammies & Canines with your network.

Nurturing Lead Generation into Opportunities

Many businesses are struggling with finding the right growth opportunities. While some believe it’s because of the always changing economy and fluctuating prices, the root of the problem lies within lead generation. Lead generation is the process of attracting the interest of prospects to increase sales and grow profit. It’s the first and crucial step of the sales process.

When it comes to generating leads that best support your business, both quality and quantity need to be considered. Quality leads are ones that sales have a higher chance of closing. Even with a list of quality leads though, the quantity matters because sales won’t be able to close every qualified one.

Where to Start?

Without leads, a sales team can’t be successful. A lead is a person or business that has shown interest in the services or products your business provides. For a prospect to become a lead, you need a lead generation program in place. Often handled by the marketing team, the idea of lead generation is warming up the potential prospects and leading them on the path to eventually buying. The biggest challenge facing most business though is finding the right target or buyer persona to sell to. Salespeople run out of momentum because they feel they’ve hit the limit of people and businesses to sell to. More often than not, this happens for three main reasons: (1) they are looking in the wrong places or audiences for new business; (2) they don’t have a process for qualifying or disqualifying leads; and (3) they don’t have their buyer personas identified properly.

Generating the Right Leads

By implementing a lead generation program, doesn’t automatically mean you will gain quality leads and immediately increase profit. This takes time and effort to maintain. A lead starts out as a simple contact, and based on the interest levels of that contact will determine lead potential. If the contact is identified as a lead during this phase, then it needs to be added to a list that receives promotional materials. Leads need to then be categorized by hot, cold or warm leads depending on the lead’s activity to the promotional material. Hot leads are your highest chance of closing, warm leads are secondary only needing a little more interaction to convince them to buy and cold leads have shown minimal interest but aren’t completely disqualified.

From here, your marketing team or lead generation manager needs to determine who will follow up with each category of leads. Most often, sales takes over the hot leads first and then moves to the warm leads. While marketing handles the cold leads and keeps them under promotional campaigns to keep them available, but not the main priority.

Leads to Opportunities

Once leads are identified, the process doesn’t stop here. It’s important to maintain your lead lists and continue activities that attract new contacts. Qualify, nurture and transfer those new contacts into leads. The more qualified leads you gain through this process, the stronger your sales will be with selling opportunities to those leads.

It’s critical to review your leads and lead generation program to best benefit your business growth. For most small businesses it’s ideal to review your leads a minimum of twice a week. This way you can remain on top of nurturing those warm leads into hot leads and those hot leads into revenue for your business.

Developing a lead generation program that best suits your business, isn’t always the easiest project. To increase the success of your program, it’s essential to have sales and marketing supporting each other. Your team needs to follow through in maintaining and overseeing the leads process. We recommend working with a business advisor who can provide clarity and guidance along the way. When you’re ready, we’re here to help.

A Handful of Hope: 5 “Must Knows” for Volunteering

Originally written for Project Sanctuary.

Itching to get involved with an organization that benefits our nation’s heroes and their families? Project Sanctuary is your answer. Even if volunteering is not your go to, there is something about this nonprofit that keeps you coming back for more. You do not want to miss out on the difference this organization is making for our military families.

I first volunteered at Retreat #72 at Winding River Ranch in Grand Lake, CO, only knowing about Project Sanctuary based on reading their website. Creating ideas of what to expect, I planned to dive all in the moment I arrived. I was excited to meet new people, expand my knowledge about Project Sanctuary, assist with any activity and make a difference for the families in any way I could. Had I not been ready to put my all in, I personally would not have left volunteering with the incredible impression I did. It left me hungry for more – more enthusiasm to share the hope this organization provides and of course more involvement with Project Sanctuary. Since this retreat, I have volunteered at two more retreats as well as volunteered on the O.P.S. Gala Committee. I urge you to take the leap and volunteer. Before you do, though, there are five “must knows” to keep in mind, which I learned during my first retreat.

1. What you give is what you get

The expression, “the more you put into a situation directly correlates with the more you get out of that situation” holds true in all circumstances while volunteering with Project Sanctuary. From getting to know the families to assisting with a variety of activities, volunteering is worth experiencing. It’s the minor activities you least expect that bring the most fulfillment, too. Just observing families grow together throughout the week was the number one take away from my experience – it’s something special you simply cannot describe.

2. Healing for all

While retreats are focused on reconnecting families and helping them transition from battle ready to family ready, volunteers can heal during retreats, too. It cleanses the mind and soul as you take a step back from the hustle and bustle of your everyday life. Enjoy the great outdoors, enjoy the relaxation of it all, and most importantly, enjoy knowing that you are making a difference in the lives of others. Seeing volunteers relaxed and soaking up all the retreats offer often inspires families to feel more comfortable and inclined to do the same.

3. Step on up

Throughout the week, volunteers are assigned different activities and asked to step up to the plate even when not assigned. If there is an important piece of advice I can give, it is do not be intimidated or upset by your schedule. You truly do not know what to expect until you are mid activity. I can honestly say, some of my biggest laughs occurred while working in the kitchen with other volunteers whom I now consider great friends. We were not even assigned dish duty, but we saw the need for that and filled the void. We figured even if we were not communicating with families, we were still doing something that needed to be done, something that assisted families in the simplest way and something that allowed families to easily prepare for their next family bonding activity.

4. Be free

Yes, free time is real! Volunteer schedules are laid out to give breaks to relax and recharge. It is highly encouraged for volunteers take these breaks seriously. With early wake ups and back-to-back activities, taking time for yourself will keep you healthy and energized throughout the week. This was probably the toughest concept for me to grasp while volunteering. I am one who loves to volunteer, excels with a full schedule and enjoys to constantly move, so I figured I did not need to follow this advice closely. I quickly learned, though, this was not the case. Honestly, I was afraid to miss out on any experiences, but I learned by taking my free time – even 15 minutes of sitting outside by the river – I could give twice as much for the next activity I was assigned. This moment to myself, this moment of realization, is something I grew to love about volunteering with Project Sanctuary.

5. Positivity is key

Positive attitude. Open mind. Encourage. Confident. Outgoing. Support. Comfort. Energetic. Empathy. Motivate. Inspire. Respect. Just to name a few… These are positive characteristics and emotions volunteers should bring to the table as well as expect to feel throughout the retreat. Positivity is a two-way road. Always have a positive mindset because families can feed off that positivity and will feel more comfortable to return that emotion. Some families who attend retreats are nervous and anxious at first, but with positive volunteers and a reinforcing sense of comfort, families learn to open up and relax, allowing them to gain that much more out of a retreat. Even the simplest form of positivity can make a difference.

Best of luck with your next volunteer adventure!

Mountain Bliss & Outdoor Adventures

The outdoors is a big adventure with surprises and beauty waiting around every corner. From hiking and camping to swimming and kayaking, there is an entire playground out there waiting to be discovered.

Colorado is a larger-than-life outdoor adventure that attracts visitors and world travelers, to witness the beauty around every mountain peak. When planning a visit to the Centennial State, focus on the wonders of the wilderness. With 11 national forests, 11 national parks, 44 state parks, the world’s largest flat-top mountain, the world’s highest highway, the world’s largest natural hot springs pool and hundreds of trails among many others, Colorado is an outdoor masterpiece.

Find an area to explore and remember “not all who wander are lost,” because those who wander discover much more. Amphitheater

Must-Sees

1. Maroon Bells
2. Rocky Mountain National Park
3. Black Canyon of the Gunnison
4. Garden of the Gods
5. Million Dollar Skyway

Must-Dos

1. Hike to Hanging Lake
2. Workout or watch a concert at Red
Rocks Park & Amphitheater
3. Hike a Fourteener
4. Camp in a national park
5. Explore the many vibrant & different
Hanging Lake mountain towns

Life through a Lens

A photograph can say 1,000 words. A photograph can tell a story. A photograph can share a moment. A photograph can capture a lifetime. A photograph is a work of art.

Photography allows individuals to express their individuality and personality with a push of a button. Photography teaches lessons that are hard to learn in other settings. It teaches to look beyond the foreground, the value of patience, the importance of never giving up and it teaches you to witness the beauty of the world whether you have the camera in front of you or not. Photography expands limits, challenges the individual and encourages risk for reward.

So next time you travel, grab a camera, go off the beaten path. Explore. Wander. Capture. It will open your eyes to the beauty around every corner!

Meals Made Easy: Food Preparation and Meal Planning

It’s Tuesday at 6 p.m. and you are just getting off of work, too tired to go to the grocery store or make dinner but not wanting to spend a lot of money to eat out. What can individuals do to change this habit? In today’s fast-paced life, this happens quite often for many individuals.  How does a person curb their hungry and keep their budget in check? The answer is simple, food preparation and meal planning.

Benefits of Prepping and Planning

With busy schedules, individuals tend to eat out more and lose sight of proper nutrition. Meal preparation and planning can be incorporated into a person’s schedule to counteract this habit. Both food preparation and meal planning are two components of a healthy lifestyle.

“Whether you are cooking for just yourself, one to two people, or a larger group, planning meals is a good place to start improving your food choices. Taking the time to plan a healthy evening meal can help you avoid a less healthful “drive-through” dinner,” according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Meal planning allows a person to keep track of a nutritional diet by determining their food plan prior to a busy week. Planning meals can also assist a person with balancing and fulfilling their diet with the essential food groups.

Research from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) states, “planning healthy meals ahead of time can help you stick to a healthy eating style. If you’re new to meal planning, start small and work up to more.”

Not only is prepping and planning beneficially from a health standpoint but both are important for financial reasons too. With meal planning, you create a grocery guide so you do not buy unwanted foods or items already in your pantry. Planning helps you stick to a food budget and limits the amount of money you spend eating out at restaurants. Following a plan will help a person receive the most bang for their buck.

“Making a plan before heading to the store can help you get organized, save money and choose healthy options,” according to the USDA’s research on Healthy Eating on a Budget.

Meals Made Easy

Even with a busy schedule, food preparation and meal planning can be managed. For most, Sunday is the most opportune day to plan meals for the week. With meal planning, you can prepare larger recipes that will provide multiple meals for the week, making you learn to love your freezer and leftovers. The USDA provides many tips that can make food preparation and meal planning easy for a person to follow. When meal planning, it is important to know what your pantry holds, what your schedule looks like and recipes to follow. (Photo, right: courtesy of Sara Turnley)

With social media and technology constantly growing and becoming ingrained in daily lives, meal planning has never been easier. Buzzfeed, an Internet media company, even has a site – Tasty – dedicated to food preparation and quick, easy meals. Tasty’s goal is to make cooking accessible to everyone by creating demonstration videos for making different recipes.

Originially written for Extension Daily.

References:

U.S. Department of Agriculture:

Healthy Eating On A Budget. (2017, April 18). Retrieved from Choose My Plate

Plan Your Weekly Meals. (2017, April 17). Retrieved from Choose My Plate

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services:

Planning Meals. (2015, May 15). Retrieved from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention

Buzzfeed. (2017). Retrieved from Tasty

5 Reason to Travel during your College Career

5. Travel Benefits your Health

From a health standpoint, travel can positively impact your mental and physical health. For mental health, traveling allows you to rid your mind of impurities, fill your mind with knowledge and increase your happiness and pleasure. Traveling is truly good for the soul. (Photo, right: courtesy of Sara Turnley)

“It was nice to take a weekend break from school right before finals to unwind and destress,” said student Trystan Harris.

As for physical health, most places you travel you will be roaming around towns, exploring new places or adventuring through the outdoors. Walking becomes a constant activity associated with traveling. With a calm mind and a happy body, your sleep habits can improve as well.

4. Travel Expands your Limits

 “You learn to test your self-imposed limits and expand your mind to new experiences that break you out of your comfort zone. It provides different experiences that you aren’t familiar with,” said student Daniel Bandy.

Traveling teaches you lessons about yourself. It allows you to learn what you can handle but then encourages you to jump the line and expand those limits. Travel explores ways to break your comfort zone and shake up life in an exciting way.

“On my trip to Disney World with friends, travel allowed me to learn a sense of responsibility yet enjoy a care-free lifestyle,” said Harris. (Photo, right: courtesy of Trystan Harris)

When you expand your travel comfort level you are often rewarded with a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction. This boost in confidence is a feeling that is hard to learn in a classroom.

“Over fall break I went to Asheville, NC with one of my friends since he lives there. I saw the Biltmore Estate and experienced the life of a local. I had never been that far north before so it was a great experience. It’s important to make these connections with friends so you can experience new places like I did. Also, driving seven hours was new for me and truly allowed me to expand my comfort level,” said student Molly Vines.

3. Travel Provides Perspective

Travel is always an exciting adventure that allows you to expand your view on the world. The way of life in the United States is completely different from that of other countries. Through travel, you are introduced to new cultures, people and places that broaden your vision of the “outside” world.

“My weekend trips with friends gave me the freedom to explore new ideas and adventures. It was fun to make lifelong memories with friends, something every college student should experience” said Harris.

When you travel, you free your mind of the blind spots and the ideas that we have been told make up the world. You get to build your own perspective of reality and other ways of life that you might not have been aware of before witnessing it with your own eyes.

2. Travel Opportunities at Auburn

Auburn provides its students with multiple opportunities to travel. From studying abroad to traveling to away games with friends, Auburn presents adventure around every corner. Auburn Abroad, Auburn’s Office of International Programs is a great resource for students to find information about abroad programs, calm the nerves about studying abroad and learn information about counting your study toward your credit hours. In fact, Auburn students have studied on every continent including Antarctica. Additionally, Auburn offers involvement opportunities that send students on service trips during spring break. Students have traveled to the Dominican Republic, Jamaica, Honduras, Mexico and even Nicaragua.

If these trips do not interest you do not worry there are other ways to incorporate travel during college. One major travel opportunity Auburn offers in the fall is traveling to away football games. From driving to Atlanta to go to a kickoff game or driving to an away town just for the experience, away games can make for a fun travel weekend. You do not even have to buy a game ticket to travel to the game. Many students travel with friends to experience a new place but watch the game from outside the stadium.

“Going to an away game not only allowed me to travel to a new place, but it also allowed me to make memories with close friends,” said student Spenser Tonarelli.

Aside from study abroad, service trips and away football games, there are other opportunities to incorporate travel during your time at Auburn. Whether it is traveling to Atlanta for big city adventures, traveling south for a relaxing beach weekend or traveling 45 minutes to the capital of Alabama, there are multiple ways to fill your college career with adventure. (Photo, right: courtesy of Sara Turnley)

1. Travel is Educational

Travel allows you to expand your knowledge, enhance your skills and experience challenges that increase your learning abilities. Traveling teaches a person life lessons that a class could never teach. It provides applicable lessons and experiences that you can hold true in any opportunity you are presented. Traveling opens your mind to new cultures, people, food and new ways of life. You learn the value of getting lost and the importance of spontaneity. Traveling does not always go as planned and when in new places it is easy to get lost, but you learn that is acceptable. In fact, getting lost makes travel more fun and teaches you to go with the flow. It can also teach you to make decisions quickly and problem solve efficiently. Travel educates students on all subjects in hands-on environments that are just waiting to be discovered.

This post was originally written for Auburn Family.

Social Media Release

Project Sanctuary: Operation Project Sanctuary Gala

Pitch:

Project Sanctuary will host their second annual Operation Project Sanctuary (O.P.S.) Gala to benefit military families. The gala will be held at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science on Armed Forces Day, May 20, 2017. The gala will consist of a banquet dinner, silent and live auctions, entertainment and surprises while honoring our nation’s heroes and their families. The inaugural O.P.S. Gala raised over $140,000, but this year the O.P.S. Gala Squad is striving to make a bigger and even stronger impact on our military families.

Background:

Project Sanctuary is a Colorado-based nonprofit organization that supports military families through therapeutic retreats and family activities. They focus on taking the military family from battle ready to family ready by ART – assessing the needs, reconnecting the family and thriving into the future. Heather Ehle, founder and CEO, started Project Sanctuary in 2007 because she realized there was not a military organization that supported the entire family. Alongside veterans and a board of directors, Heather’s goal was to listen to what the family needed and then structure programs to support those needs.

Important O.P.S. Gala Facts

  • The 2017 O.P.S. Gala presenting sponsors
    • First Command Financial Services – a long-term Project Sanctuary partner, granting program funding, providing facilitators and materials for Project Sanctuary’s “Money Matters, Family Matters” class. First Command also provides financial services for families for two years following the retreat.
    • Aimco Cares – the corporate citizenship arm of Denver-based Aimco, one of the largest owners and operators of apartment homes in the country. Aimco Cares is a long-term Project Sanctuary supporter, providing employee volunteers and granting program funding
  • The keynote address will be delivered by Lt. Col. (Ret.) Barry Bridger 
    • Lt. Bridger is a United States Air Force veteran and survivor of six years in Vietnam’s “Hanoi Hilton” prison camp
    • January 23, 1967 – Lt. Bridger and his co-pilot were flying over North Vietnam when their F-4 Phantom Jet was hit by a surface air missile. They were considered “missing in action” until Hanoi stated he was there in early 1970. After 2,232 days in captivity, during Operation Homecoming, Bridger was released on March 4, 1973.

Project Sanctuary Facts

  • Project Sanctuary operates primarily on donations and all services are free for participating military families
  • It costs roughly $30,000 to send 10 families on a six-day, all-inclusive therapeutic retreat
  • With the gala fundraising efforts, Project Sanctuary hopes to lower their wait list of over 1,800 military families
  • Project Sanctuary in the numbers since 2007:
    • Over 900 military families benefited
    • More than 3,400 individuals served
    • Only 1 fallen warrior to PTSD
  • In 2016, Project Sanctuary hosted their inaugural O.P.S. Gala as well as their 100th retreat
  • With constant growth, support and positive results, Project Sanctuary has expanded retreat locations
    • YMCA Snow Mountain Ranch, Granby, Colorado (original location)
    • Winding River Ranch, Grand Lake, Colorado (original location)
    • Mount Hermon, California
    • Bronfman Family Recreation Center and Ranch at the National Ability Center, Park City, Utah
    • The Retreat at Balcones Springs, Marble Falls, Texas
    • Beaver Hallow Conference Center, Java Center, New York (home of The Biggest Loser)
    • Historic Banning Mills, Whitesburg, Georgia
    • CCK Kentucky, Scottsville, Kentucky

Quotes

  • “We are honored to have a person [Lt. Bridger] of such stature and perseverance speak at this year’s O.P.S. Gala,” said Heather Ehle. “It’s important that our attendees hear how military veterans can overcome obstacles and continue to thrive in their communities.”
  • “Mark my words:  the O.P.S. Gala on Armed Services Day is going to be THE hottest ticket in town.” ~Heather Ehle
  • “In many ways, my service to Project Sanctuary is a journey back in time. It’s an opportunity to be for military families what I wish someone had been for me…My work for Project Sanctuary is inspired by healing the heartache, calming the fear, building the memories claimed by years spent apart, and helping to put the pieces back together – even when those pieces seem to have changed.” ~Kara Pappas, Chief Development Officer
  • “People from all branches, all generations, all ranks, all ages, and all unique combinations of families come to Project Sanctuary to be together and get the opportunity to be themselves, to relax, and to reconnect with their tribe in a meaningful and impactful way. I continue to feel deeply honored and grateful to work with PS and our resilient, courageous, beautiful families!” ~Michelle Kaye, Counselor

Multimedia & Social Media


To learn more about Project Sanctuary, visit https://projectsanctuary.us/

To learn more about the Humans of Project Sanctuary, visit Team  and People

Finding your Home Away from Home

When deciding what college to attend, it’s important to choose the place where you feel most at home. You should consider the different factors that will fill your sense of comfort. If you could choose any school in the country to attend, what would be your perfect home for four years? In making this decision, though, let go of your comfort zone, step out of your “bubble” and find that one place that can truly be your home away from home.Auburn University Est. 1856

“For as long as I can remember I’ve always wanted to be that outgoing and involved person, but my introverted reputation in the small town of Stuart, Florida preceded me. When it was time to choose a college my first thought was, ‘Finally! An opportunity to go somewhere that absolutely no one knows me so I can become the person I really want to be.’ I was the only one from my graduating class to come to Auburn, and only one other person from my whole county chose Auburn as well. That meant a clean slate and new beginning. The rest is history,” said student Victoria Jackson. (Photo, right: courtesy of Sara Turnley)

Stepping out of your Zone

In college, you are faced with challenges, presented with opportunities and introduced to people from all walks of life. The years you spend in college are the time you learn life knowledge, you discover your purpose and you learn a lot about who you are as an individual. It isn’t until you step out of your comfort zone, though, you truly learn about yourself.

“I think it’s important to step out of your comfort zone to experience new things, meet new people and gain a more positive outlook on life,” said Grace Bonacum, a student from California.

Challenging your self-imposed limits is essential to personal growth, and when choosing the college that will be your home allow yourself to test those limits. Focus on the factors that fill your sense of home, then jump the line and open your mind to new possibilities. Whether it’s attending a university in a different state or the same state but expanding your friend group outside of high school friends, there are multiple ways to achieve personal growth when choosing where to attend.

“I chose to go to an out-of-state school because I wanted to meet new people. A lot of my friends were going to University of Georgia, Georgia College & State University or Georgia Southern and I wanted to do my own thing,” said student Ashton Wilkes.”Getting involved and finding a place to plugin really helped me find my niche. I found some of best friends in my sorority and in some of my major classes! In my four years here, my friends pushed me out of my comfort zone, encouraged me to try new things and wanted me to be my best self.”

Finding your home at Auburn

Auburn University has many factors that positively fill a sense of home. From meeting new people through involvement to using the many student services provided, making Auburn home is simple yet it will leave a lasting impact on your life.Through rich tradition and small-town family feel, Auburn has the ability to be the home away from home for anyone.

“My mom went to Auburn, so I knew all the fun experiences and traditions I could be a part of. Auburn has been an incredible home away from home, and I can’t imagine my life any other way,” said Wilkes.

“If there’s one thing that makes Auburn a great home away from home it’s the community. Not to mention southern tradition and everything that encompasses, like food and hospitality, are a plus too” said Bonacum.

Of course stepping out of your comfort zone and finding your college home can have its challenges, but when you find the right place to attend these challenges won’t stop you. OCM Auburn Image

“There were times of homesickness. Homesickness is hard and no fun, but the lowest of lows will never compare to the highest of highs that my experience at Auburn University has given me,” said Jackson.

Take that leap of faith, expand your comfort zone and find your second home at Auburn University. (Photo, right: courtesy of Auburn University Office of Communications and Marketing)

Jackson said it best, “Thank you, Auburn, for teaching me to not just step, but run, out of my comfort zones. For being the best place on earth and for being my home away from home. Best decision I’ve ever made!”

This post was originally written for Auburn Family.

Milk it for all it is Nutritionally Worth

Are you looking for a perfect thirst quencher? Open the fridge and reach for a cold glass of milk. For most, milk is not usually the first beverage choice. However, because of the nutrients it offers, you should consider reaching for milk before anything else. Milk nutrition composition contains calcium, protein, vitamins and minerals—almost every nutrient your body needs. There are many types of milk, including soy, almond, fat-free (skim), low-fat (1%), reduced-fat (2%) and whole milk. With so many varieties of milk, which ones provide the best nutritional benefits?

Choosing your Percent

“The bottom line: when choosing a “milk” beverage, a lot of it comes down to a taste preference – which obviously varies from person to person. If you don’t have any allergies, then all of them can be included in a healthy diet” said Helen Jones, a regional Alabama Extension agent in REA, Human Nutrition, Diet and Health.

According to Jones, whole, reduced-fat (2%), low-fat (1%) and fat-free milk are the most popular. The percentages indicate the amount of fat by weight.  The government sets minimum standards for milk production. For example, reduced-fat milk must contain all the nutrients of whole milk without any added water.

“The amount of calcium in milk changes very insignificantly with the amount of fat, however, it is recommended to choose low-fat milk and milk products,” said Onikia Brown, an Extension Specialist Assistant Professor in Human Nutrition, Diet and Health.

“Whole milk is an excellent choice for children who are 1-2 years old because it is a way to get more fat which helps with brain development. Otherwise low-fat or skim milk is better due to the common high-fat diets of Americans,” said Brown.

Milk is Good for the Bones

Yes, “milk builds strong bones”,  but milk provides other nutrition benefits as well.

“Milk and dairy foods are highly nutritious foods. They contain a unique package of nutrients that are an essential part of a healthy eating plan. Research continues to identify positive ways that milk impacts health. In addition to dairy building healthy bones, consuming milk, cheese and yogurt can boost immunity, lower blood pressure, reduce the risk of diabetes, reduce the risk of some cancers and help maintain your weight,” said Jones.

Additionally, milk is a source of high-quality protein, vitamins and minerals. It provides three of the four nutrients – calcium, vitamin D and potassium – that many Americans’ diets lack.

Jones shared research from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) guidelines for 2015 to 2020. “Beverages that are calorie-free—especially water—or that contribute beneficial nutrients, such as fat-free and low-fat milk…should be the primary beverages consumed,” according to the USDA dietary guidelines. “Most individuals in the United States would benefit by increasing dairy intake in fat-free or low-fat forms, whether from milk (including lactose-free milk), yogurt and cheese or from fortified soy beverages (soy milk),” said the USDA.

Milk is a beverage people either love or hate. Yet with so many health perks, next time you are looking for a refreshing beverage, choose milk.

This post was originally written for Extension Daily.