Heartland LIVING Magazine June-July 2022

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Heartland LIVING June & July 2022

Inspiring Okeechobee

Call Now For An Appointment

(863) 763-3937 Dr. Charles W. Bartels

Board Certified Optometric Physician

l Comprehensive Eye Exams

l Diabetic Eye Exams

l Contact Lens Fitting

l Cataract Evaluations

l Variety of Colored Contacts

l Foreign Body Removal

l State of the Art Optical Service l

Test & Treatment for Dry Eye

l Glaucoma Exams & Treatment l Glasses Available Same or Next Day

Walk-Ins Welcome Our On-Site Lab allow for Most Prescriptions to be finished in One Hour!

Dr. Janna Lanae Parramore Board Certified Optometric Physician

We Accept and Bill Most Major Insurance, Medicaid, Medicare & BlueCross Blue Shield Healthy Kids

606 North Parrott Ave  Okeechobee  863-763-3937  www.biglakeeyecare.com

“I called Gilbert when I was ready for a new vehicle and the customer service couldn’t have been better. I was there for about 30 minutes and then we did most of the purchasing process through email. I signed the papers and was out the door. It was that easy.”

- Megan Mattson

3175 US Highway 441 South • Okeechobee, FL 34974 (863) 763-2121 • www.Gilbert-Ford.com

Owner of Nutmeg’s Cafe


June & July 2022 3

The Villages of Highlands Ridge

is home to 635 families that live in beautiful homes with beautiful views. There are 150 completely ready to build homesites available. All infrastructure is in place. This is a golf cart friendly community. Actually, it is a golf cart preferred community. A full-time event coordinator keeps everybody as busy as they can be. Not to mention, besides the golf courses, there is bocce ball, pickle ball, basketball, tennis, shuffleboard courts, and two swimming pools, two restaurants, two club houses and two pro shops. Lake Bonnet is adjacent to this property. There are two piers on Lake Bonnet, one is for watching beautiful sunsets; the second dock is next to the private boat ramp. Before we talk about the golf courses and the home sites, there are over 2 miles of natural hiking trails. You get a chance to step back in time and see where the Seminole Indians roamed and lived. There is wildlife galore. Florida Whitetail deer, Osceola turkeys with their big 8-inch beards, owls, hawks, eagles, ospreys and then of course you have your residence squirrels, possums, armadillos, raccoons, bobcats, and you might even get lucky and see a Florida panther. Five of our nature trails take you down a small hill to the creek bed where you can have a picnic at one of the picnic tables overlooking the creek. Go to www.highlandsridgenewhomes.com and watch the new video!


36 Holes of Championship Golf | Golf Driving Range Two Club Houses | Community Center North Tavern Restaurant | 3 Gens Grill Two Heated Swimming Pools and Hot Tub Walking Trails Lighted Tennis Courts | Shuffleboard, Pickle ball, Horseshoe Pits, & Table Tennis 260-Acre Lake with Boat Launch Ramp Dock with Slips | RV Boat Storage Area Gated Community with two entrances Active 55+ Community

For More Information

(863) 784-3313

New homes in Highlands Ridge - Avon Park, Florida by M.E. Gose, Inc.

With Dr. Maye joining our team, we now have more availability to accommodate your child’s dental needs!

We know that everyone is eager to get back to normal and we are excited to announce that we are open for business. Please call our office to schedule an appointment! ¡ Preventative Care ¡ Emergency Dental Treatment ¡ Restorative Dentistry ¡ New Patient Exams ¡ In-Office Sedation ¡ Interceptive Orthodonic ¡ Dental Care for Special Treatment Needs & Medically Compromised Patients ¡ Extractions Melissa Kindell, DMD

Frank Maye, DMD

OKEECHOBEE 863-357-7338 FAX: 863-357-7342

Serving infants, children, teens, and patients with special needs in Okeechobee County, Highlands County, and the surrounding areas!

SEBRING 863-382-0340

2029 Hwy 441 North Okeechobee, FL 34972

Most insurances are accepted and emergencies are welcomed.

5606 US Hwy 27 Sebring, FL 33870


FAX: 863-357-7342

June & July 2022 5


Florida Wildlife Corridor Update By Christy Swift



June & July 2022 Volume 11  Issue 3


Crawford Brothers Inspiring Okeechobee By Bridgette Waldau


Have You Heard About Florida's Elephants? By Christy Swift


Coffee, Love and Kidlit By Christy Swift

40 June & July 2022 7



June & July 2022 Volume 11  Issue 3


A Scoop of History, a Sprinkle of Science By Rebecca Maglischo


Evan Neal NFL Watch Party By Jennifer Lafferty


Fresh Healthy Summer Recipes By Cindy Adams


10 Letter from the Publisher 16 Behind the Scenes 20 From our Readers

Heartland LIVING June & July 2022

COVER Crawford Brothers, Jonathon & Kutter

92 8

Heartland LIVINGMagazine.com

Cover Art Design by Bridgette Waldau Inspiring Okeechobee

Your Smile is our Passion! Cosmetic & General Dental Services Laser Treatment and Digital Imaging Orthodontics Invisalign ® Full-mouth Rehabilitation Same-day Crowns, Root Canals, Bridges & More Zoom! ® Whitening Sedation



June & July 2022 9


etter fromTHE PUBLISHER I love to read and find inspiration in all things in life, especially amid these uncertain times. Honestly, I don’t know what to make of “these times,” so I try to take my heart and mind to what matters. I look at my family, my friends and my job publishing as precious and as blessings in my life. Appreciation and gratitude go a long way in life for me. Working with other businesses and the community helps everyone grow and blossom. Since our local businesses might be struggling a little, competing with big corporations, community support truly allows local businesses to thrive. Our communities are very important to us. We all help each other out. I would like to dedicate this issue to our advertisers.

In 2012, while talking with some of my advertisers, listening and discussing the creation of a new lifestyle magazine, I decided it needed to be offered to the readers for free. To make it happen I sought out local businesses who shared this vision and invited them to collaborate with us by advertising their services and products. To this day, most of these same devoted supporters, who had faith in me, continue to reserve their space in every issue of Heartland LIVING. They have come to rely on us to help them spread the word about their local businesses and I am forever grateful to all of YOU. Looking back, I am most grateful for the relationships I have developed, not only with our advertisers, but with our readers and the hundreds of people we have interviewed and showcased. My philosophy from the very beginning was to fill the magazine with compelling stories about the people, places, and events that make the Heartland area truly unique. Working as a team, I’m always open to what my staff has found in the communities of the Heartland as well as stepping outside the box for a little adventure and travel stories. I believe they have done it again in this issue, bringing you interesting and inspiring stories throughout our communities. Instead of sharing all these stories here in my publisher’s note, I invite you to turn the pages, enjoy the stories and photos. I would, however, like to make a comment about the cover of this issue. Deciding on our covers is always a challenge, but my Creative Director, Bridgette Waldau, went above and beyond to create a beautiful cover representing the Crawford brothers and their inspirational story. She fused two photos of Jonathon and Kutter together into a collage and, using an oil painting graphic tool, made it look like a work of art. It is amazing to me, and I thank her for creating this unique cover. Bridgette is another one of my grateful relationships that has developed through this journey and I’m so thankful for all she does for the magazine. Believe me, so much more behind the scenes. Thank you Bridgette for all your talents. God Bless,


Heartland LIVINGMagazine.com

Cindy Sebring Adams

June & July 2022 11



Heartland LIVING June & July 2022

June & July 2022

Volume 11  Issue 3 Inspiring Okeechobee

CEO | Publisher Cindy Sebring Adams

Creative Director Bridgette Waldau

Editor Christy Swift

Photography Director Rafael Pacheco

Feature Writers Rebecca Maglischo Christy Swift Bridgette Waldau

Cover Design Bridgette Waldau

Published by

Heartland Publications & Marketing, Inc.

Feature Photographers Minna Maillakakis Jaunyce Priester

Contributing Writer Jennifer Lafferty

Photographer Sharon Cannon Jones

Proud Recipient of 18 Contact: 412 Rest Haven Road, Zolfo Springs, FL 33890 863-781-0344

In the Following Categories:


Best Overall Design

Cindy@Heartland-Living.com Become a fan on facebook


Charlie Awards

2014 - 2021

Best Department Design (2) Best Feature Design (4) Cover Photo Illustration Best Traditional Illustration Best Self-Promotional Ad Best Table of Contents Best Department Design Best Photography Image (3) Best Overall Writing Best Custom Publication (2)

Florida Magazine Association

Heartland Living Magazine is published bi-monthly by Heartland Publications & Marketing, Inc. Copyright 2022, all rights reserved. Reproduction of contents in print or electronic transmission in whole or in part in any language or format must be by expressed written permission of the publisher.

All articles, descriptions and suggestions in this magazine are merely expression of opinions from contributors and advertisers and do not constitute the opinion of the publisher, editor or staff of Heartland Living Magazine, and under no circumstances constitutes assurances or guarantees concerning the quality of any service or product. Heartland Living Magazine specifically disclaims any liability related to these expressions and opinions. Heartland Living Magazine is not responsible for any unsolicited submissions. The advertiser agrees to hold harmless and indemnify the publishers from all liability.


Heartland LIVINGMagazine.com


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June & July 2022 15

Behind the BEHIND THEScenes SCENES Creative Director

BRIDGETTE WALDAU has been a graphic

and fine artist for over 30 years. She received her A.A. from the Ft. Lauderdale Institute of Art and a Bachelor of Fine Art degree from Stetson University. She moved to Okeechobee in 1994 where she opened her art studio. Bridgette has been creative director for several publications, working with Heartland Publications & Marketing as art director since 2011, winning eleven Florida Magazine Charlie Awards (2015- 2021). She is Arts & Culture Alliance Director (17 years) for Okeechobee Main Street. Bridgette is married to James Waldau, a retired firefighter from the City of Hialeah.

Editor | Writer

CHRISTY SWIFT has been a freelance

writer for over 13 years, working as an award-winning newspaper correspondent, magazine article writer, and web and social media content provider. She is also a soon-to-be published author of Young Adult and Adult fiction. You can find her at www.christyswift.com.

Writer REBECCA MAGLISCHO is a wife and mother of two boys. She holds a Bachelor's degree in Early Childhood and Elementary Education and a Master's Degree in Human Movement with an emphasis on Corrective Modalities. She has completed a two year study in Full Body Systems through the Holistic Nutrition Lab and a certification in Functional Range Condition through the Functional Anatomy Systems.

June & July 2022 Photography Director RAFAEL PACHECO I am a Pisces and was

born on the island of Puerto Rico. My dog thinks I am crazy for locking the door so many times in 10 seconds and my cats think I am made of catnip. Everything I wear is black, gray or blue. If I put on something colorful I must have been in a hurry. Photography is how I have let my artistic visions come to life since the early 90’s. Patience, kindness, sharing, sacrifice, love and not to judge- I saw my mother practice these and they stayed within me. We are collective energy and all from the same Source. I don’t see the world through my eyes. I see it through my soul.



passion has always been photography. She is an award-winning photographer having transitioned from amateur to professional in 2010. She is a member of Okeechobee Main Street, on the arts and cultural committee. Recently married to Ronald, Sharon has lived in Okeechobee for many years, and has one son, Karl. “I love the history of our little town. I want to preserve all of our ‘todays’ through the lens of my camera, for our future ‘tomorrows’.”

Photographer JAUNYCE NICHOLE (pronounced

Jaw-Niece) is a marketing professional with a background in photography and writing. Specializing in brand clarity and copywriting, Jaunyce assists clients with developing creative ideas and articulating dynamic vision.



"Every GREAT design begins with an even BETTER story."


- Lorinda Mamo, designer

Heartland LIVINGMagazine.com

teacher and artist living in Southwest Florida. She enjoys exploring nature and loves all animals. The majority of her art focuses on marine and animal life, captured in inks or acrylics, but she also works in watercolor, mixed media, and photography. Minna’s artwork has been exhibited at the Catalina Island Museum, the Sidney Berne Davis Gallery, the Ft. Myers Beach Art Association and Gallery, and the Huntington Beach Art Center. She also facilitates art classes for seniors.

Licensed & Insured Lic. No. CAC058656

863-453-4741 www.americafirstac.com

Drug Free Workplace Se Habla Español

2153 St. Rd. 64 West • Avon Park, FL 33825

June & July 2022 17

Messieh Orthopedic Clinic Leader in Hip & Knee Replacement Surgery in Central Florida since 1991

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The Anterior Hip Replacement Approach causes less trauma than traditional techniques, making recovery easier for the patient.


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Heartland LIVINGMagazine.com

June & July 2022

from our


Heartland LIVING

April & May 2022

April & May 2022

I love the cover for the April-May edition! And we're enjoying sharing issues without our clients. -Marjorie Baggett, Edward Jones Investments One of my favorite covers -Jessica Adams Pleger

This cover is Amazing!

-Cathy Turner Albritton, ADVENTHEALTH

This is so awesome! Great article! -Kim Welch Strickland

What a great article. She is awesome. Way to go Harley. -Karen Gates

Wow, what a beautiful picture! -Diane King

Love this picture Cindy -Jacqueline Condo

Real Florida -Robyn Durran

t the end of the day, it doesn’t matter what we win, it’s the quality of the person that we’re trying to raise. That’s our end goal for me and her mother. -Weston Pryor


By Christy Swift Photography by Jack Morton If you pass by the Lake Wales Arts Center in the summer months, you might get to hear magic happening. That’s because the MusicGirls camp is in session, and girls from Polk County and beyond have come to learn to play folk music. The camp lasts a week, with a session for younger and a session for older girls. All skill levels are welcome. The goal? To inspire girls ages six to 19 to develop music skills, creativity, and self-esteem.

Harley Pryor and “Nammer” (2012) - Photography by Rafael Pacheco


April & May 2022 49

I love, love your magazines! 66

Heartland LIVINGMagazine.com

-Joy Witten Salinder

April & May 2022 67

A work of Art it is and always has been. -Kim Hall

If you would like to share your thoughts, please leave a post on our Facebook page or email us at Cindy@Heartland-Living.com 20

Heartland LIVINGMagazine.com

VINTAGE w ELEGANT w WEDDINGS Southern Grace is designated by the state of Florida as a century pioneer family farm and has been a homestead to the Gill family for well over 100+ years. A premier all-inclusive historic wedding venue, where every detail on our estate grounds, includes event planning design+styling for an exquisite wedding celebration. Love is in the details, and it’s the little things and extra touches, flawlessly executed, that are sure to exceed your wedding day dreams!

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Every Minute Matters Know where to go in an emergency. From stopping a heart attack in its tracks to treating a stroke at the first sign of symptoms, our team is ready to provide award-winning emergency care 24/7. So when minutes matter most, you never have to delay getting the care that can save your or your loved one’s life.

To find an AdventHealth ER near you, visit



defying comparison

Dr. William Chen and the dental professionals at Chen Dental are pleased to introduce you to our practice. Chen Dental was established in 2005 and is conveniently located in Sebring, Florida. Chen Dental strives to be a “Category of One,” defying comparison in all aspects of our practice, from inside our office to the community around us. Chen Dental started out with one doctor, and three staff members, working out of 3 dental suites. Within the past 17 years, we have outgrown two offices, and we currently have 17 dental suites and 35 team members, including 5 doctors. Patient care is our top priority. We want to make our patients feel at home. When patients walk in, they are welcomed by a friendly face, our patient concierge, and invited to relax in our living room. There is a refreshment bar for patients to help themselves to snacks and drinks. There is even a serenity area complete with a massage chair, essential oil diffuser and blankets. We want our patients to always feel comfortable and relaxed. When it comes to having dental treatment in our office, our utmost priority is a pleasant experience. During each and every visit with us, we ensure that the health and beauty of each patient’s smile shines through.



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Inspiring Okeechobee

By Bridgette Waldau Photography Courtesy of Four Seam Images, Boston Red Sox and the Crawford Family is summer, and in small towns everywhere, the sound of youth baseball is in the air. The ball fields are full of excited kids playing baseball as parents cheer them on. In Okeechobee, they are also gearing up for a summer of T-Ball and Little League baseball with hopes and dreams of many kids making it to the pros. When a player from a small town makes it as a professional, it is a big deal. When two brothers in a small town both achieve their dreams, it is exciting and very rare. I am not a sportswriter, and this story is not about baseball stats or play-by-plays. Gritty details about professional baseball players can be found all over the Internet. This story is about two brothers, Jonathon and Kutter Crawford, their path to the pros, and how they have been an inspiration for Okeechobee.

Kutter (4) & Jonathon (9)


Kutter Crawford

Jonathon Crawford



Heartland LIVINGMagazine.com

Jonathon Crawford is a professional baseball pitcher for the High Point Rockers of the Atlantic League of Professional Baseball. He had previously been a player for the Detroit Tigers and Cincinnati Reds organizations. Jonathon attended Okeechobee High School and then enrolled at the University of Florida, where he played college baseball for the Florida Gators. The highlight of his time there was when he threw a no-hitter against Bethune-Cookman in 2012. During that same summer, he played for the United States collegiate national team. The Detroit Tigers drafted Jonathon in the first round of the 2013 Major League Baseball draft. “This was an exciting moment, getting drafted first round into the pros, and that was huge for me,” Jonathon said. He made his professional debut that season with the Connecticut Tigers. He has pitched for the West Michigan Whitecaps, Cincinnati Reds, AZL Reds, and Daytona Tortugas. Due to injuries, he was placed on the disabled list off and on for three years. Jonathon signed with Team Texas of the Constellation Energy League (a makeshift independent league created because of the COVID-19 pandemic) in 2020. He went on to play with the Chicago/High Point of the American Association of Professional Baseball (2021) and is now with the High Point Rockers of the Atlantic League of Professional Baseball for the 2022 season.

June & July 2022 27


Heartland LIVINGMagazine.com

Kutter Crawford, younger brother of Jonathon, also made it to the pros. He was drafted by the Boston Red Sox of Major League Baseball (MLB) in the 16th round of the 2017 MLB draft. He made his MLB debut in 2021. Kutter attended Okeechobee High School and Indian River State College, then played college baseball at Florida Gulf Coast University. He made his professional debut in 2017, with the Class A Lowell Spinners of the New York–Penn League, splitting time with the Class A Greenville Drive and Class A-Advanced Salem Red Sox. Kutter was promoted to the Portland Sea Dogs of Double-A. During this time, he underwent Tommy John arm ligament surgery and did not pitch professionally during 2020, due to cancellation of the minor-league season. Kutter was later promoted to the Worcester Red Sox of Triple-A. Between Worcester and Portland, Kutter made 20 minor-league appearances and played in the Dominican Professional Baseball League during the off season. The Boston Red Sox added Kutter to their roster to start the 2022 season. I asked Kutter what it felt like that first day pitching in one of the most iconic stadiums in history, Fenway Park, and he said, “It was all kind of a blur, but when you walk on that field and you look around, it's different than any other stadium in the league because of the colors and the history there. I remember after I was done pitching, I looked around, I kind of took it all in and thought it doesn't get any better. This is the best of the best right here, a long way from Okeechobee... a long way.” When asked about his proudest moment, Kutter said, “For me it was probably making the opening day roster because I really felt like I earned a spot on the team.” And he did earn that spot. Okeechobee was watching as Kutter had his first win in the big leagues pitching at Yankee Stadium on Sunday Night Baseball where he struck out New York Yankees Anthony Rizzo and Aaron Judge. He ended up pitching two innings, giving up four hits, striking out three while not walking a single batter.

June & July 2022 29

Both brothers have come a long way since playing ball in Okeechobee. Jonathon and Kutter were given a solid start playing sports. Parents Kristy and Neal Crawford met while playing in adult softball leagues. Kristy said, “We love the game, that's how Neal and I met. There was a time when Jonathon was in his little walker in the dugout while I played women’s softball. We all were together, so they grew up at the softball field.” Kristy, vice-president of loan review officer at SouthState Bank and Neal, a skilled carpenter, are proud of their sons’ accomplishments. The Crawfords did their best to make sure their sons had what they needed. “We taught them the basics of character and balance in their lives. Yes, they always wanted to be professionals, but we had the Plan B, and they both said they would finish college, and they did,” Kristy said. Neal’s drive was simple—to keep the boys busy and active. Baseball was great, but the character of their sons was more important. They were not pushy parents, but active parents. Kristy said, “Nothing came easy for either of them. Neal and I had to be sure to keep their confidence up.”

Kristy Crawford and Kutter (6) at T Ball game

There have been many coaches guiding the brothers through the years, but without hesitation, both brothers say their parents’ coaching helped them the most. Jonathon said, “They worked hard to give me this opportunity. It was their everyday work ethic that kept me grounded and that helped me to see everything through. They never pushed us to do something we didn't want to do, which was nice. We were able to fall in love with the game on our own.” Kutter said, “I’m super grateful for all the time and money they put into helping me get to where I'm at now. Growing up when I was younger, my mom was my coach, and as I got older my dad guided me, both just being open to saying yes when I asked. This said a lot about them, putting me and Jonathon before themselves and being wonderful parents.” The Crawford Family (L-R): Jonathon, Kristy, Neal and Kutter


Heartland LIVINGMagazine.com

Eighteen East

... a restaurant and bar!

Best Steaks Around American (Traditional) Sandwiches Steaks - Seafood Full Top Shelf Liquor Beer and Wine

We’re Just a BIG Time in a Small Town! Entertainment “Call for Live Music”

863.453.1818 Jonathon (6)

Open Tuesday - Saturday 4 pm - 8 pm

18 East Main Street Avon Park, FL Facebook/ Eighteen East … a restaurant and bar



Kutter (10)

SFSC FOUNDATION | 13 E. Main St., Avon Park foundation@southflorida.edu 863-453-3133 June & July 2022 31

The admiration both brothers have for each other is obvious. “I couldn't be prouder. Growing up in Little League he (Kutter) always played up a level in age group, always pushing himself and challenging himself. We've encouraged each other throughout the years,” Jonathon said. Kutter’s respect is mutual. “Jonathon is persistent and dedicated to the game, even with all the injuries he's gone through. (Baseball) was a dream of mine growing up, obviously, but when Jonathon got drafted the light bulb went off and I was like, okay, if he can do it, I can do it.” (Left): Jonathon took time off to attend his brother's first game with the Boston Red Sox. Shown here at Fenway Stadium with Kristy and Neal.


JonathonLIVINGMagazine.com and Kutter Heartland

is an internationally recognized structural repair company with the latest foundation repair technology and a tradition for the highest standards in customer care. Our patented ICC-ES approved helical anchor and driven pier systems have been proven on countless homes and in a wide variety of pre-construction and commercial applications."

Above: Kutter's first day pitching in Boston's Fenway Park (2022) Below: Jonathon pitching at University of Florida, when he threw a no-hitter against Bethune-Cookman (2012).

te! a D e ave th The Herd is


Coming Home!

Okeechobee Main Street’s Cattle Drive Sculpture Art Installation Dedication!

Celebrate with us on the National Day of the Cowboy

Saturday, July 23, 2022

Presented by

Follow us for more details, including times & activities. www.OkeechobeeArts.org or Call 863-357-6246

June & July 2022 33

Kutter autographs young fan's baseballs

Many friends and family members attend the games, including Jonathon's fiance, Julianna Bonarrigo, shown here with Kristy, Neal, and (front row) childhood friend, Tyler Finney and his mom Renea Finney.


Kids here in Okeechobee are inspired. One mother posted a picture on Facebook of her child pitching, stating her son asked, “Is my pitch like Kutter’s?” Jonathon and Kutter were happy to give advice for young players. “Have fun but you must work hard, once you move on and get to play with better players you need a good foundation and a good work ethic. Be coachable and listen to your coaches; be a sponge,” Jonathon said. Kutter said, “I think the big thing is just staying consistent in your work and never giving up. If you're good enough, if you put in the work and developed your skills, professional level scouts don't care where you came from. Have fun. Those dreams are in your heart for a reason.” Okeechobee is proud of these two young men, and it is their upbringing in Okeechobee that keeps them grounded. Traveling, along with the cultural changes, have been exceptional experiences for them. However, they take Okeechobee with them wherever they go. Kutter said, “It’s humbling being from a small town and that's my fuel.” When both brothers get a chance to get together, naturally baseball comes up, but not 24/7. They like to spend the time fishing or playing golf. Family time in Okeechobee is important. During off season, Jonathon’s home is in Hobe Sound, FL where he recently announced his engagement to Julianna Bonarrigo, a real estate agent and model from Jupiter. Kutter spends his off time in Okeechobee. The Crawfords are grateful to the family members, friends, and the community for their support throughout the years, especially to those who have followed Jonathon and Kutter and traveled to all their games. Through her tears, Kristy said, “We are all proud and humbled.”

George A. Hall Devon P. Donaldson GeoDev Pizza, Inc.


935 Sebring Square - Sebring, FL June & July 2022 35


Heartland LIVINGMagazine.com

It’s humbling being from a small town and that's my fuel. -Kutter Crawford

Cow Creek Ranch

June & July 2022 37

ResLocall tau y ran Owne t a nd d Bar

Steaks - Seafood - Pasta We serve Chairman’s Reserve Certified Premium Steaks!

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Hours: Monday - Thursday 11-9 pm Friday - Saturday 11-10 pm Sunday - 11 am-8 pm

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June & July 2022 39


Heartland LIVINGMagazine.com

By Christy Swift Photography by Minna Maillakakis and Myakka Elephant Ranch

Among the moss-covered pines and rattling palm trees of sleepy Myakka, Florida roam three giants. They like apples. They like sweet potatoes. And they love bath time. 41

Meet the Elephants Lou is the boss. Shipped to Miami from Zimbabwe when she was a year and a half old, the 36-year-old African elephant was orphaned by ivory poachers. She’s the youngest of the three elephants being cared for at the Myakka Elephant Ranch, but she’s been with the Barreda family the longest, and she’s the most confident and serious. That doesn’t mean she doesn’t enjoy snuggling up for a trunk hug, though. When she’s feeling especially relaxed, she purrs like a cat. It’s a sound that only African (not Asian) elephants can make due to differences in the structure of their tongues. And only about one out of every seven African elephants will do it, so it’s a pretty special thing to get to hear it.


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Forty-six-year-old Carol eyes ranch founder Lou Barreda before leaning in for a trunk pat. She’s more emotional than the others. An Asian elephant, she has far smaller ears than Lou (yes, man and elephant share the same name—both were named after Lou’s grandfather). She’ll flap them excitedly and squeal a greeting to a favorite human whom she hasn’t seen in awhile. Carol and Patty (the third member of the trio) grew up on the same farm in Thailand and worked together in show business, appearing in Smokey and the Bandit II as well as at state fairs, circuses, and traditional Indian weddings.

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Patty, also 46, is taller and leaner than Carol, and very much likes her routines. Today, she was scheduled for an afternoon bath and took her spot in the breezy pole barn to be hosed down, sprayed with special moisturizing soap, and scrubbed from top to tail with long-handled brushes by the participants in the afternoon “Elephant Spa Encounter” group. When it was time for her pedicure, she dutifully lifted one front foot at a time onto a stool so visitors could paint a moisturizing solution on each of her enormous toenails.


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We have elephants in Florida? First I’ve heard of it! If you haven’t heard of the Myakka Elephant Ranch before, you’re not alone. It only came into existence in 2019. Lou Barreda had just finished up a marketing degree at Florida Gulf Coast University. Growing up alongside Lou the elephant, Lou the boy developed a passion for elephant education and conservation. By combining his love for these intelligent creatures with his knowledge of business and marketing, he was able to create the Myakka Elephant Ranch, a non-profit, family-run conservation and education center where the public can interact with these majestic animals in a special way they might never be able to otherwise.

June & July 2022 45

During the VIP experience, visitors, including Kim and Henry Martin, their daughter Tyler Concepcion and their granddaughter Alexis Concepcion, chopped up vegetables as a treat for Lou and Carol. The elephants eat 200 pounds of hay per day as well as grass and tree branches, but the fruits and veggies are a treat. Each person held out an apple or other piece of fruit on the palm of their hand, and an elephant gently accepted it with a nimble pluck of their trunk. Meanwhile, Lou pointed out the differences between African and Asian elephants. African elephants have two “fingers” on their trunk, while Asian elephants only have one. That means that Lou can actually pinch a piece of fruit out of a person’s hand while Carol uses a different, twisting motion. “Asian elephants have smoother skin and sometimes this freckled appearance,” Lou explained. “And they have two to three times as much hair. They are actually more related to the wooly mammoth than they are to the African elephant.” He pointed out more differences, including that African elephants have saggier, wrinklier skin and that the African females have long, impressive tusks while Asian females have much shorter tusks—so short he had to move Carol’s trunk aside to reveal them.


June & July 2022 47


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In addition to feeding and bathing elephants, each VIP encounter visitor got a chance to go inside the gate and spend one-on-one time with Lou. They pet her, talked to her, and felt the soft skin behind her ears. All the time, Lou purred away, clearly relaxed and at ease with the entire experience. “Meeting new people and smelling new smells is part of their enrichment,” Lou explained. The entire ranch has a peaceful quality to it. Everything that visitors do is part of normal elephant care, including the bath. “It’s important for an elephant to get a full bath every day,” explained Lou’s father, Jorge, as he ushered visitors into the corral to pick up a hose or a long-handled scrub brush. “By law, it’s a requirement.” “Does she have any tickle spots?” one woman asked, looking up from where she was scrubbing Patty’s belly. “No tickle spots,” Lou reassured her. After Patty’s bath, the group wandered outside to watch the elephants do their normal elephant thing, which included eating hay, hanging out together, and eyeing the 80,000 gallon water hole. Of course, when you don’t have to walk miles to forage for food, elephants, like people, can tend to get sedentary. “We hide fruits in the branches of trees to encourage scavenging and exercise,” said Lou’s sister Julia Braren, COO of the ranch. Sometimes they even throw apples in the watering hole and let the elephants “bob” for them. “It encourages healthy habits,” Julia said.


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Besides providing a beautiful, safe, comfortable environment for elephants to thrive (the ranch is currently the seventh largest habitat in the U.S. and the family hopes to expand on that), the mission of the ranch is to support global elephant conservation. “There are 300 elephants in the U.S. Our entire population dies in three days in Africa, due to poaching,” Julia said. In Asia, the problem is a humanelephant conflict, with both populations competing for resources. “The goal is to create a safe, healthy way for people and elephants to co-exist,” Julia said. Gesturing to Lou, Carol, and Patty, she said, “These elephants are ambassadors to those in the wild.”


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Lou has partnered with The Elephant Foundation on global elephant conservation efforts. In March of this year, the Myakka Elephant Ranch presented a $10,000 check to the Foundation and has committed $50,000 for 2022. The money will be used for building anti-poaching ranger stations in Uganda and projects aimed at mitigating the human-elephant conflict in Asia. Another way the Barreda family is supporting global elephant conservation is by appealing to the next generation through an innovative art exchange program. Elephant lovers on this side of the Atlantic create elephant-themed art pieces, and the best are sent to schools in Africa. The children receive the artwork and send back letters. “We’re trying to change the narrative for these kids,” Julia explained.

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“Unfortunately, elephants are seen as more of a nuisance. Elephants aren’t native to Florida, but there are people here drawing and painting and having a connection with elephants, and the kids are seeing how blessed they are to have that wildlife. Hopefully they won’t become future poachers.” While the Myakka Elephant Ranch is relatively new, word is spreading fast, and elephant encounters are booked a couple of months out. There are different levels of interaction. To secure a slot, you’ll find everything you need to know at www.myakkaelephantranch.org. The Myakka Elephant Ranch is also active on Facebook and Instagram. Perhaps the mission of the Myakka Elephant Ranch is summed up best with this quote by Senegalese environmentalist Baba Dioum, featured on their website: “In the end, we will conserve only what we love; we will love only what we understand; and we will understand only what we are taught.”


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Photo by Lauren Yoho 58


If you recall from our last edition, we promised an update on the Florida Wildlife Corridor conservation effort based on the outcome of the March 29th Florida Cabinet meeting. Good news! The Governor and Cabinet approved funding for over 16,000 more acres in the Florida Wildlife Corridor, with a large part of that located in the Heartland!

Seven new properties were added to these protected lands, which will be left undeveloped so that Florida’s natural beauty and wildlife can continue to thrive.


This 501-acre conservation easement on the Charlie Creek Cattle Company’s ranch in Hardee County will provide wildlife travel corridors for gopher tortoise, burrowing owl, and swallow-tailed kite. This acquisition brings the total percentage of protected land on this ranch up to 67%.

Photo by Katie Bryden


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This 932-acre conservation easement is located in Okeechobee County on the property of the Clemons family, fifth generation cattle ranchers. Conservation photographer and one of the founders of the Florida Wildlife Corridor project, Carlton Ward, Jr., recently photographed the property. “Pete Clemons died in 2018, and it was one of his dying wishes to have that land protected for the future,” Ward says. “His son Todd was able to see that through.”

Photo by Carlton Ward Jr.

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Two new conservation easements in the Lake Wales Ridge Ecosystem Florida Forever project area totaling 354 acres are now protected, helping to preserve this unique and ancient scrub habitat.

Photo by George McKenzie, Jr.


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This 11-mile-long corridor through the Lykes Ranch in Glades County connects conservation lands along the Caloosahatchee River to Fisheating Creek. This acquisition, which will aid in the northward recovery of the Florida panther, was aided by the Nature Conservancy and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection. “It’s a really important piece of the puzzle,” Ward says.

Photo by Carlton Ward Jr.

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The landowner, Trust for Public Land, and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection came together with help from the U.S. Forest Service Forest Legacy Program and the Knobloch Family Foundation to secure this 3,610-acre property in the Florida Panhandle. Adjacent to the Blackwater state forest, this land hosts longleaf pine habitat and pitcher plant bogs, as well as provides a home for gopher tortoises.

Photo by Lauren Yoho 64

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Photo by Lauren Yoho

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PROTECTION ZONE These three parcels totaling 313 acres are located south of Tallahassee in the Wakulla State Forest and are home to the southeastern fox squirrel, Florida black bear, and bald eagle.

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CONSERVATION AREA This 4,132-acre conservation easement on the shore of Lake Miccosukee near the Georgia border is owned by Tall Timbers and is the first acquisition in this critical part of the Florida Wildlife Corridor.

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ard says the latest additions to the corridor are “a real win,” but there’s still a lot of work to do. “We need to pick up the pace a little more from that over the next year or two. It’s estimated that we need 10,000 acres per month to save the corridor.” Ward adds that as more funding becomes available, he’s confident the legislature will take further steps. Meanwhile, if you want to help support the Florida Wildlife Corridor, here are some things you can do. ▶Support groups like Path of the Panther, The Florida Wildlife Corridor Foundation, the Nature Conservancy and Conservation Florida. ▶Stay informed by following these organizations on social media so that you can take part in calls to action related to upcoming legislative sessions. ▶Share information about the Florida Wildlife Corridor with your family and friends and through social media to help raise awareness. ▶Thank your legislators for the work they’ve done and encourage them to continue it.


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Photo by Carlton Ward Jr. 69

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Coffee Love




By Christy Swift Photography Courtesy of the Koehlers and Jaunyce Priester

If you hit up Mitchell’s Coffee House on North Kentucky Avenue in Lakeland, you can get a tasty cup of coffee... and you can get it for cheap if you keep a cup on the wall. That’s how author, artist, entrepreneur, and Sebring native Fred Koehler used to get cheap coffee when he was a college student at Florida Southern 15 years ago. He’d run up a “bar tab” with owner Mitch Harvey in exchange for illustrating the posters in their windows, then sit down to a nice breakfast and a coffee while he people-watched and got inspiration for his writing and art.

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years later, Koehler is a staple of the Central Florida children’s author community, and he still loves to draw and write amidst hustle, bustle, and the rich scent of roasted coffee beans. In fact, the idea for his first picture book, “How to Cheer Up Dad,” was conceived at Mitchell’s. It’s a story about a charmingly oblivious little elephant trying to help his dad feel better after a bad day. Koehler still remembers the day he sketched the illustration that would eventually turn into a starred review picture book: “I remember I had my young son, who was two at the time, at the coffee shop with me. I was sketching in my sketchbook, and I wanted to be that cool, artsy dad who had his kid with him, and he was literally having none of it. He was dumping out the salt and pepper shakers and drinking the hot sauce. I remember being frustrated, pacing up and down, and when I got home, I saw I’d done this sketch of two elephants trunk to trunk, staring each other down.” That sketch became the cover of the book. Fast forward eight years, and Fred now is author/illustrator of three books and illustrator of numerous others, including “One Day, the End,” a Boston Globe-Horn Book Award winner (basically the Emmys of children’s books). He volunteers with the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCWBI), helping other artists turn their doodles into children’s books. And he developed and runs a program for authors trying to break into traditional publishing called Ready Chapter 1. But life, just like a good story, is better with a romantic subplot, and Fred’s started seven years ago when he decided he wanted to write a novel.

e Once upon a time, there was a math teacher living in Virginia. Her name was Sarah McGuire, and she was the soon-to-be published author of a fairytale retelling of The Brave Little Tailor entitled “Valiant.” A shy person, she had also joined her local SCBWI chapter and signed up as a volunteer. “I found that volunteering gave me a script, gave me a way to interact with people,” she says. She had applied for a scholarship to an intensive novelwriting program out in Hood River, Oregon run by well known author and literary agent Donald Maass. There were two scholarship recipients— a first place winner and a second place winner. She was the first place winner. Guess who took second? “We never have to argue who the better writer is,” Fred jokes. 75


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Mary Kay

was the good student in the front row and Fred was “the cool guy in the back with his sketchbook,” Sarah recalls. It was love in the first person. Every couplet rhymed. It was a meet-cute for the books. By the time the trip wrapped up, they both were ready for the next chapter. But there was a plot twist! Sarah had signed up to be a math tutor on the Semester at Sea program. It would take her over land and ocean for months. But Fred was a traveler, too. He’d lived in West Africa as part of the Peace Corps and knew it was an opportunity Sarah couldn’t pass up. In fact, while she was sailing the coasts of Vietnam and Morocco, Fred traveled from Lakeland, Florida to Lakeland, England for a backpacking tour to study the structures and ships he was illustrating for his next book, “Flashlight Night.” When Sarah disembarked in Southampton, England, Fred was there to meet her (grand gesture, anyone?). They were married the following March, and Sarah got to add her own coffee cup to Mitchell’s wall.

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Oh, and Sarah’s second book, “Flight of Swans” (the one she was writing in Hood River) was named a New York Public Library Best Book for Kids, received a Kirkus starred review, and is an Oklahoma Library Association Intermediate Sequoyah masterlist selection. Fred’s novel, “Garbage Island (The Nearly Always Perilous Adventures of Archibald Shrew)” also came out of that session to top ratings and a starred review.

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June & July 2022 77

These days both Sarah and Fred continue to work on children’s books, volunteer with SCBWI, and help support the writing community in Lakeland and beyond. Fred is the illustrator coordinator of SCBWI and Sarah manages the technical equipment for conferences and workshops. Fred is running the very first Ready Chapter 1 Novel Academy, an intensive online course for authors writing or trying to publish a novel. Both of them speak at author workshops and show up to support other authors during book signings at Pressed, a local indie bookstore. They travel. And sometimes, on Saturday mornings, they head over to Mitchell’s for a cup of coffee.


Books authored and illustrated: How to Cheer Up Dad; Super Jumbo; Garbage Island (The Almost Always Perilous Adventures of Archibald Shrew) Books illustrated: One Day, The End; Puppy, Puppy, Puppy; This Book is NOT About Dragons; Flashlight Night; What if? Then We... Where you might find him: Mitchell’s Coffee House, Black and Brew, Pressed Favorite book as a kid: The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis Other passions: Conservation Favorite place visited: Lake District (Lakeland), England Website: www.ilikefred.com Website, for authors: www.readychapter1.com

Books authored: Valiant; Flight of Swans (under the name Sarah McGuire) What she writes: Fairy tale re-tellings and fantasy for school-aged kids Favorite books: The Discworld series by Sir Terry Pratchett; The Last Cuentista, by Donna Barba Higuera (not an exhaustive list) Favorite place visited: The Isle of Skye, Scotland. (The Stanley Glacier hike in Canada takes second place) What she tells her students when they’re scared to try something new: “It’s okay. This is what an adventure feels like.” Website: www.sarahmcguirebooks.com


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of History, a Sprinkle of Science By Rebecca Maglischo

On a hot summer day in Florida, the line at the ice cream shop starts before opening and holds steady until the doors close. July may be National Ice Cream Month across the nation, but Floridians see no reason to limit their love to a mere 31 days. Florida holds steady in the top 5 states for ice cream consumption, and it's no wonder considering the warm temperatures, prolific sunshine, and culture of spending time outside. But that simple scoop of deliciousness has a long and interesting history that isn’t so simple after all...


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June & July 2022 83

hile there is no formal written history of ice cream, the basic idea of cold and delicious treats can be traced back to a few different locales. As early as 3000 BC, in ancient China, crushed ice was flavored with fruit juices and spices. Around this same time, records indicate that on cold nights in the Sahara, water would be flavored and frozen, too. These humble beginnings were the first indications of how far humans would go to acquire cold and delicious treats. A few thousand years later, Ancient Greeks added their twist with a popular honey and wine flavor, and by at least 400BC, royals in Persia indulged in cooled, pudding-like syrups blended with snow, rose water and thin rice noodles. Other unique flavors were also added to the mix, including spices like cardamom and turmeric, orange blossom, rosewater, jasmine, nut flavors, and musk. Back then, anything that could be used as a perfume could be found in food, too. Sherbati, as it was called, more resembled the snow cones and icees we enjoy today but involved a LOT more work! Making sherbati included a trek to the mountains to gather the snow needed to create it. Or, as recorded in one sailor’s journal, a harrowing trip to the closest iceberg to claim a chunk of ice! Considering the resources required for its production, eating ice cream was a grand display of wealth, a rare and coveted treat. These slushies, a far cry from today’s ice cream, marched across the globe taking on nuance and variety in virtually every civilization that experienced freezing temperatures. Iced treats, enjoyed almost exclusively by the wealthiest circles, didn’t reach the general population until the 1600s in France, when several recipes were first published to the masses. “Iced Cream” concoctions, which ranged in consistency from sherbet and sorbet to yogurt and gelato, became the rage of cafes across Paris.


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he first recipe for “ice cream” as it is most widely known today was published in 1718 in Mrs. Mary Eale’s Recipes. First appearing in England, this recipe was brought to the United States where it was enjoyed by colonists and notable historic figures alike. Governor Bladen, of Maryland, was known to serve ice cream to his guests as early as 1700, and First Lady Dolly Madison even served the popular dessert at the 1812 Inaugural Ball!

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of Ice Cream It only takes a quick look at the science of ice cream to understand why it took thousands of years to become a household item. A little chemistry knowledge also illuminates why good ice cream is really really really good, too! Ice cream is actually quite a complex and multifaceted composition – it should be solid, yet soft, and should preferably stay that way while melting slowly. Easy, right? Yet, every person has had a taste of ice cream that was just, well... meh. Ice cream is a frozen emulsion of 5 key components: ice crystals, fat, sweeteners, air, and other solids (such as flavorings). Looking at these base components highlights what is truly fascinating about making ice cream: it is mainly a matter of making a successful emulsion–the process of combining different substances which under normal circumstances would separate from each other (like oil and vinegar) and instead turn them into a smooth, lightly thickened mixture– the ice cream base! While there are a lot of variations, a typical balanced base is about 60% water (including the water you’ll find in milk and cream), about 15% sugar, about 10% non-fat milk content, and somewhere between 10-20% milk-fat content. A good base must include emulsifiers. In the home kitchen, egg yolks are a key ingredient while commercial ice cream uses sorbitol or oil extracts. Pasteurization (heating to kill any bacteria) and homogenization (evenly distributing the fat droplets) are followed by an aging period when the base rests in refrigeration for up to 24 hours to allow the individual fat droplets to partially solidify and become coated by proteins. Then, it’s into the ice cream churn where the cheapest and lowest calorie ingredient is added- AIR. Believe it or not, this one component accounts for a huge difference in texture from one kind of ice cream to the next! In the industry, “overrun” is the technical term used to indicate how much air an ice cream holds. Ice cream with low over-run is more dense and could contain up to 3 or 4 times the amount of key ingredients as ice cream with high over-run. High priced, premium ice creams generally have low over-run and are more dense, thus they contain more fat and calories per scoop... that’s ice cream speak for “delicious!”

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the once royal and now common treat, has traveled the globe, spanned the ages, and experienced more iterations than any other food item. And perhaps this is why it continues to be the darling of the gustatory world. It’s a common ground linking nations and generations. It’s nuanced, allowing us to agree on dessert and yet express our personal flavor and style. Ice cream is a shared memory and a happy moment that travels on sprinkles, slips down waffle cones and sticks to our hearts.

Thanks to our readers for submitting photos of your kids enjoying ice cream. Look for more photos on our Facebook page.

June & July 2022 89


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2020 Annual Report Heart & Vascular Center AdventHealth Sebring

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2250 Little Lake Bonnet Road Avon Park, Florida 33825 June & July 2022 91


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Fresh Healthy Summer By Cindy Adams

FLAVOR—it’s what takes eating from something we must do, to something we want to do. I’m keeping these summer recipes using fresh as much as I could find, simple and flavorful. Here’s a selection of recipes with seasonal herbs, summer fruits and veggies, and tons of flavor!

Fresh Spring Rolls - Recipe on page 94


Fresh Spring Rolls Bursting with veggies, these colorful fresh spring rolls are much easier to make at home than you might think! Just don’t forget the peanut sauce! Not to be confused with egg rolls (which are deep-fried) fresh spring rolls are so, well, fresh! You’ll need to boil some water, but beyond that there’s really no cooking involved in making them. Fresh spring rolls are made of rice noodles, lots of fresh, crunchy veggies and (often) shrimp or tofu. I opted to use shrimp because it’s what I usually order and because it’s so colorful and beautiful. You can use tofu if you’d like. If you haven’t worked with spring roll wrappers before, you might be a little nervous about it, but it’s pretty easy! And remember, it’s just food! You’ll still be able to eat it, even if your first attempt at rolling a fresh roll isn’t quite restaurant-level pretty. And you’ll get better and better at it as you go along.


Vermicelli rice noodles Shrimp Carrots Spring roll wrappers Butter lettuce Persian or English cucumbers Fresh herbs: cilantro, mint, basil, or green onions.


Use warm water to soften the wrappers, but not boiling hot! It doesn’t take much to soften them and get them ready to use. Ten seconds in that warm water is plenty— don’t over-soak them! It may sound strange, but they tend to break if they get too soft.


Prep all your fillings before you begin to think about wrapping and rolling the spring rolls. Make one fresh roll at a time, and work on a damp surface. At the edge closest to you, layer on a bit of lettuce, noodles, carrot, cucumber, some herbs and a few pieces of shrimp. Roll about half way, and then fold up the shorter sides. PEANUT AND SWEET CHILI SAUCE are a must. They only take a few minutes to whisk together. All you’ll do for each sauce is basically combine the ingredients with a fork or whisk, so they really are simple. Here’s what you’ll need to make a sweet chili sauce & a homemade peanut sauce for dipping:

Ingredients: Brown sugar

Peanut butter. Rice vinegar Low-sodium soy sauce Toasted sesame oil

Chili garlic sauce Ground ginger Granulated sugar Fish sauce Lime juice


Sweet corn may be the star of this delicious, bright, colorful chopped Tex-Mex salad, but the jalapeño-tinged oregano dressing packs some serious star power, too. Fresh sweet corn, boiled and cut off the cob right before being added to the salad, is what really makes this salad recipe stand out.


FOR SALAD Sweet corn Romaine lettuce Avocado Cucumber Pickled onions Radishes Monterey Jack cheese Crispy tortilla strips or crushed tortilla chips

CREAMY OREGANO DRESSING Extra-virgin olive oil Mayonnaise Jalapeño Fresh garlic Garlic powder Onion powder Lemon juice Parmesan cheese


You can make the pickled onions and the creamy dressing ahead of time. You can even boil the corn and cut it off the cob a day or two ahead of time. Slice and dice! Chop everything—radishes, avocado, cukes, romaine. Toss everything together and voila! Salad is served.


Blackened Salmon with Mango Salsa and Avocado The best blackened salmon, For all your summer get-togethers. Healthy, fresh, vibrant and so satisfying.

Cajun Seasoning Ingredients Brown sugar Paprika Garlic powder Onion powder Dried oregano Dried thyme Ground ginger Sea salt Cayenne pepper



Mix all the spices for the blackening seasoning. You can do this months ahead of time, if you’d like. Whip up the mango salsa. You can do this up to a week ahead of time, if need be. Prep the salmon. Rub it all over with oil, then the blackened seasoning. Get it nice and coated.

Berry Cobbler You will never find a Berry Cobbler easier than this one! It only takes 5 minutes to put it together.


FOR THE BERRY FILLING 2 pounds mixed berries Zest from 1 lemon (optional) 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice 3/4 cup granulated sugar 1/2 cup all-purpose flour 1 tablespoon cornstarch FOR THE TOPPING 1 box yellow cake mix 1/2 cup butter melted (1 stick)


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. In a 9x13 inch pan, add the frozen or fresh berries. If they are frozen there is no need to thaw. Add the zest of 1 lemon and 1 tablespoon lemon juice. Add 3/4 cup sugar, 1/2 cup flour, and 1 tablespoon cornstarch Stir the dry ingredients into the berries.* In a separate bowl, melt the butter. Add the dry cake mix and stir slightly, it's okay if there are some dry spots. Spoon the mixture over the top of the berries. Bake the cobbler at 350 degrees for about 40-50 minutes, until the top starts to turn golden and the berries are bubbly. Let cool for a few minutes, then serve warm with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream! 97

Ruby Queen Cocktail Ingredients

1 1/2 ounces Scotch whiskey 1 ounce fresh red beet juice 3/4 ounce honey syrup 3/4 ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice Fresh dill sprig, or tarragon sprig, for garnish Lemon twist, for garnish


In a cocktail shaker, add the Scotch whiskey, beet juice, honey syrup, and lemon juice. Fill with ice. Shake vigorously for at least 30 seconds. Fine-strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a sprig of fresh dill or tarragon and a lemon twist. Serve and enjoy.


ENJOY with summer fruits and veggies, and tons of flavor!


Champion for Children Youth Award Recipient—Miguel Arceo.

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The Wells Fargo Home Projects credit card is issued by Wells Fargo Bank, N.A., an Equal Housing Lender. Special terms apply to qualifying purchases charged with approved credit. The special terms APR will continue to apply until all qualifying purchases are paid in full. The monthly payment for this purchase will be the amount that will pay for the purchase in full in equal payments during the promotional (special terms) period. The APR for Purchases will apply to certain fees such as a late payment fee or if you use the card for other transactions. For new accounts, the APR for Purchases is 28.99%. If you are charged interest in any billing cycle, the minimum interest charge will be $1.00. This information is accurate as of 01/01/2022 and is subject to change. For current information, call us at 1-800-431-5921. Offer expires 12/31/2022.



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June & July 2022 101

Evan Neal's NFL Draft Watch Party Okeechobee County Agri Civic Center

Every young child who plays little league football dreams of one day playing for the NFL. On April 28th, that childhood dream became reality for an Okeechobee native, Evan Neal, who decided at a young age that he wanted to play in the NFL. Upon graduating high school, Evan was one of the top 10 football recruits in the country. He was offered a scholarship to play at the University of Alabama and was a 3-year starter playing left guard and offensive tackle while working towards a degree in communication. During his time at Alabama, Evan would go on to win the College Football National Championship in 2021. After the 2021 football season Evan announced that he would enter the 2022 NFL draft.

Photographer David Becker: Getty Images

By Jennifer Lafferty Photography by Sharon Cannon Jones

Evan Neal on draft day in Las Vegas, NV.

Mayor Dowling Watford

Yani Smith, Lindy Harwas, Alyssa Madrigal, and Angely Acosta.

102 Heartland LIVINGMagazine.com

Going into the NFL draft on April 28th, Evan was projected to be selected in the top 10 picks of the first round. For Okeechobee, this was a big deal to see one of their own represent the community in such a big way. While Evan and his parents attended the NFL draft in Las Vegas, Okeechobee came together to show support at a draft watch party that was held at the Okeechobee County Agri-Civic Center. The event was sponsored by local businesses which allowed for the community to watch the draft event on a jumbo screen. The evening was filled with door prizes, trivia games, photo booths, a mobile gaming truck, face painting and free food. As the draft event started, all eyes were glued to the TV screen. The community watched in suspense as each number was called. Evan was selected by the New York Giants as the 7th pick in the first round. Upon his name being called, the agri-civic center erupted in cheer. Evan who stands 6 foot 7.5 inches tall, not only made it to the NFL, but he is also considered to be one of the top offensive linemen.

Co-Chairmen for the event Jennifer Lafferty, Bertheia Smith, Regana Agnew and Jean Sherlock

Family members Bertha Tolbert, Mary Moses, Arphia Graves, Emma Mike, Ruby Cunningham and Robert Mike anxiously wait for the NFL announcement.

Above: Okeechobee County Sheriff Noel Stephen and his son Kodi Stephen. Right: Okeechobee High School Brahmans Varsity Football team came out to show their support.

From the Publisher: Congratulations to Okeechobee's Evan Neal. Heartland LIVING will be following and watching where his career takes him with the New York Giants.


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June & July 2022 105

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June & July 2022 107

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