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What I’ve Done
AAEA 2021 National Writing Contest:
Editorial Commentary - 1st Place, Brent Olson
Humorous Column - 2nd Place, Brent Olson
Back page columnist, “Living the Country Life” 2002 - 2016
Syndicated column, “Independently Speaking” 1996 - 2021
Author of four collections of essays, a memoir, and three novels.
Winner, “Best Regular Column” American Agricultural Editors Association in 2010 and 2013, “Best Humorous Article” in 2012, “Master Writer” 2012
Merit Award, Best Regional Book, Midwest Independent Publishers Association 2001
In the past ten years I have filed stories from six continents
Bush Foundation Fellow, 2012
Keynote Speaker for National Association of Rural Mental Health Professionals, College Theological Convocation, Saskatchewan Pork Producers, and many others.
Big Stone County Commissioner for seventeen years
Chair, Pioneerland Library System Board
Chair, Prime West Health
Chair, Countryside Public Health
First Board of Directors, New Life Primary School, Mizak, Haiti
First Board of Directors, Big Stone Wind
First Board of Directors, Northern Growers LLC
First Board of Directors, Big Stone County Pork Producers
Owner, Manager, Executive Chef, Head Waiter at The Inadvertent Café 2012 - 2017
Board of Ordained Ministry, ten years, United Methodist Church
Leader of five international work teams, United Methodist Church
Farmed in Big Stone County, 30 years
Eleven years as youth director, Ortonville United Methodist Church
Married for 46 years, three children with college educations, no student loans, and jobs
Who I Am
When someone offers me help my instinctive response is to say, “No, thanks, I can do anything.” It has gotten me in a lot of trouble over the years.
I still say it.
I once shot myself in the hand with a rifle while preparing for a Norwegian-Philippine-French Independence Day Celebration.
One of my books was in Pete Seeger’s bathroom.
I once took a group of other people’s children to stay in the ghetto of a developing nation where our body guard was a thirteen year old girl named Lauri.
I don’t own a wristwatch but I’m always on time.
I know all of “Silver Tongued Devil,” by Kris Kristofferson.
Of the ten most dangerous jobs in America I’ve dabbled in six.
I once harvested 235 acres of soybeans in 17 1/2 hours. It snowed that night and I had three cups of coffee the next morning before I put on my shoes.
I know what Henry the V probably really said at Agincourt was, “Let’s get ‘em boys,” but Shakespeare’s version always makes me cry.
I can castrate 30 pound pigs by myself, 40 seconds per pig.
I have an email on file from a person who drove three hundred miles to have coffee with me and said that meeting me had been on his bucket list.
I have a letter in my file cabinet that reads, in part, “I’ve completely lost all respect for you as an elected official and as a human being.”
I once drank all the whiskey with a world famous poet and told a story that my wife hates me to tell because she doesn’t like people to know what I’m capable of and when I was done the poet laughed and said, “That’s a poem.”
I’ve buried six dogs.
I love my family.
I can cope.