Jacobs Has a New Found Appreciation For Home After Exploring His Own Backyard
While exploring the communities of Dodge County I discovered more than I had imagined. Isn’t this generally the case when you pause for a moment and take stock of what you have to be grateful for?
At the start of the summer, back when the corn was yet knee high, I started this project of exploring my home county in Nebraska.
With its 544 square miles of land and 10 square miles of water, the county offers plenty of space to explore.
The reason I started my walk across the nine communities of Dodge County was to answer the question of curiosity that filled me, “How well do I know my own backyard?”
The curiosity that led me to explore the world doesn’t disappear when I return home to Nebraska. Instead this inquisitiveness is an ever-flowing current that runs deep within. It isn’t something that I can just turn off with a flick of a switch; it is with me every moment of the day.
Exploring the communities of Dodge County allowed the opportunity for me to satisfy this curiosity. I was able to experience firsthand the kindness and wisdom of being a member of a community and the benefits it brings to one’s personal life.
Each town I explored had its own unique personality. Those who think the communities are identical have not spent enough time listening to the pulse of those towns. I experienced the friendliness of Scribner, the humor of Hooper, the pride of Snyder and the charm of Dodge. I also discovered the spirit of Uehling, the quietness of Winslow, the country feeling of Nickerson and the pride of North Bend. After five hours of walking, I also felt the expanse of Fremont. Each towns’ residents were generous toward me.
One of the most memorable characteristics of Dodge County that I found is the kindness of the people. Here I found people who were willing to share their ideas, opinions, thoughts, hopes and dreams. I encountered people who wanted to stop and talk. They wanted to engage in conversation because they were just as curious as I was.
It is my hope this project has given the readers a moment to take stock on what we have. We need to appreciate the benefits of living in a smaller community. It’s knowing your neighbor will show up to help and many in the community will rally to your support.
Originally, I thought about walking from one side of the county to the other as my final column. A strange look on my brother’s face when I shared the idea, plus the fact that I am running out of time, convinced me to consider another option. When my friend, Richard Vitter, offered to fly me around the county, I jumped at the opportunity to trace my foot routes from above.
The idea to explore Dodge County was born when I was flying to Denver last spring. I remember being able to see almost all of Dodge County from the jet window. I then realized how little I knew about the towns in my own backyard.
After spending nine weeks exploring Dodge County, I now flew over Dodge, Snyder, Scribner, Hooper, Uehling, Winslow, Nickerson, North Bend and Fremont with a different appreciation. The brown and yellow fields marked the end of the summer and my exploration of Dodge County.
Now I am preparing to return to Africa in November to begin a project working for the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International. I will be writing stories and taking photos about the various projects the organization manages in Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
When I go, I will take with me a new understanding of the place I call home and a new appreciation for those who live here. I hope you feel the same about your neighbors as I do.