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Education is something that can never be taken away from you…

Those words made a lifelong impression on me at an early stage in my adult life. Through spending time with my grandfather, a man with only an eighth grade education, I learned a valuable lesson.

During my freshman year in college, I admit that academics were not my first priority. My GPA can attest to this fact. My grades suffered from the boring general education classes (English 101, World Religions, Calculus 1, and Econ 101) that I was enrolled in at Iowa State University.

One day, my grandfather, John K. Turek, picked up on the unrest I was feeling about whether to return to Iowa State for another year of college. Sitting on the porch with him, he asked how college was going for me. He wanted to know what I was learning from my classes and experiences. I told him that I wasn’t sure if college was right for me. I didn’t know whether a four-year degree and all of the general education classes that came with it were worth the effort. In my eyes, it seemed like a waste of time.

He seemed to already know my answers before I delivered them to him. He nodded at me and consumed every word I said to him. Looking at me, he said these profound words that still resonate with me today:

“Mark, the bank can take away your house, the IRS can seize your land, but nobody can ever take away your education. Nobody.” —John K. Turek

With no diploma or college degree, my grandfather was still constantly learning. Many of the roads in the state of Nebraska were initially plowed, graded, and paved by him and his company, Biba Engineering, located in Geneva, Nebraska. For a man who quit school at the age of 14 to work on the family farm, his 50-year career ascended him to president of the company. Not wanting to disappoint my grandfather and motivated by his words of wisdom, I followed his advice and continued to pursue my degree.

At the Iowa-Nebraska Equipment Dealers Association (INEDA), one of our key objectives is education and training. Our team works year-round to offer workshops, webinars, and events as learning opportunities for our equipment dealers as well as educational opportunities for producers at the Nebraska Ag Expo and Iowa Ag Expo. We invite you to attend these educational opportunities and encourage you to offer suggestions and ideas that can help your employees and dealerships, too.

Before I wrap up, I want to express my sincere appreciation to Mark Othmer for his 25 years of service to INEDA. Mark has been a dedicated advocate on your behalf, consummate professional, and friend. Not only did he teach me a tremendous amount during our time together, but I’m confident that he helped many of you along the way, too. The end of this year concludes Mark’s career at INEDA.

Thank you, Mark! From all of us, I wish you the very best in your retirement and many rounds of golf in your future.