March 2016

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Venture Meridian Magazine March 2016







Venture Meridian Magazine March 2016

HEADSHOT Kristen Fields

Toni Osmundson - Editor-In-Chief

Editor’s Note “Good things come to those who hustle.”

- author unknown


ebruary got away from us. Not only that, it is a short month. I cannot believe we have released our third issue. It still feels like a dream to me. When starting a new business you have many doubts and many reservations. Will we make it? Why another roadblock? Am I embarrassing myself? Yes, we will make it. Yes, roadblocks are a part of business. Yes, I am embarrassing the crap out of myself. But it wouldn’t be fun if I weren’t. Starting a new business is frightening, but that’s what makes it a learning experience. If you don’t have fear, then you are doing it wrong. I realized that there’s one quality that makes business owners and entrepreneurs successful: Hustle. A friend sent me a message recently that stated, “Good things come to those who hustle.” Hustle is something you hear time and time again. Everyone is telling you to hustle, hustle, hustle. But what exactly does that mean? Does it mean to continue to move forward after you have been tested to your limits? Does it mean to wake up with the drive to work towards your passion? Does it mean to leave the past in the past and focus on you, your passion and your future? Well to me, hustle means all three of these. Hustle is never giving up, even when giving up looks like

the easy way to go. Hustle is striving to be your best in work, personal life and family. Hustle is spending those few moments you have towards a passion that you live, breath and sleep over. Hustle is the strength to push forward. It doesn’t matter what has happened to you and why. What matters is what you do with that event. That defines your hustle.

@sydneystudiosmeridian @sydneystudiosid

Venture Meridian Magazine March 2016




#DoTheRight on April 8! One day to start a movement of compassion by encouraging residents to do something kind for the person to their right - neighbors, family members, coworkers, or classmates WRITTEN BY

Mayor Tammy


pril 8 is Do The Right day here in Meridian – one day to start a movement of compassion by encouraging residents to do something kind for the person to their right - neighbors, family members, coworkers, or classmates. With bullying and other negativity so prevalent in today’s culture, we are on a mission to encourage people to put a smile on the face of someone else with a simple note, gift, or act of service.

What if… That’s why we are making Do The Right an annual City event– because you never know how one act of kindness can change someone’s life. We live in a giving and compassionate community and we want to keep it that way. This world is full of criticism and negativity and it’s time to focus on the positive!

t h g i R he

T o #D

The City launched Do The Right in 2015, to spur a movement of compassion and kindness after discussing bullying and teen suicide with our Mayor’s Youth Advisory Council. It is something that definitely affects teens in our community and adults as well. In the Fall of 2014, we lost a community advocate to suicide and his death certainly affected those of us in the Mayor’s office who knew him. I couldn’t help but think – what if someone had said something nice to him or left him a nice note?


This year is sure to make an even larger impact than last year’s successful inaugural event. The West Ada School District is once again getting schools involved.The District plans to distribute ‘post it’ notes, so students can write kind messages to one another. Kathy Chambers with State Farm has stepped in with a gracious donation to help us purchase our #DoTheRight stickers to hand out community-wide to people participating in the day. Other businesses helping get the word out include the Meridian Chamber of Commerce, Dutch Bros., Be Kind Idaho,

Venture Meridian Magazine March 2016

and the Meridian Library. The Village at Meridian will hold events throughout the day including a surprise for patrons just after 6pm on April 8. And KTVB has stepped up as a media sponsor. It has been heartwarming to see so many jump on board to make this day of compassion happen! I’m looking forward to participating in Do The Right again this year and I am hopeful that all of you will join me! You can take part by doing an act of kindness for the person to your right – it may be a cup of coffee for your coworker, a nice note for your classmate or even offering a helping hand to your neighbor just let them know they matter. For more information about the event, visit our website, Thanks for being a part of this movement and please share your experience on that day on social media with the tag #DoTheRight. Join us on April 8 to Do The Right.



MERIDIAN WRITES VENTURE PACE 12 16 BUSINESS: BOISE BREWS CRUISE MERIDIAN WRITES FINALIST 22 26 TEACHER SPOTLIGHT: MELISSA WEBB STUDENT SPOTLIGHT: CASEY 30 34 STUDENT SPOTLIGHT: JUSTIN STUDENT CREATIVE: 36 CHARLES 38 NEXT LEVEL COMMITMENT 40 5 WORKOUT FOR COUPLES Vol. 001, Venture is published monthly by Venture Publishing, LLC. 386 E. Producer Dr., Meridian, ID 83646. For customer service or mailing inquires please email Venture considers its sources reliable and verifies as much data as possible, although reporting inaccuracies can occur; consequently, readers using this information do so at their own risk. Although persons and companies mentioned herein are believed to be reputable, neither Venture Publishing, LLC. nor any of its employees accept any responsibility whatsoever for their activities. Advertising Sales (208) 724-3740. Venture is printed in the USA and all rights are reserved. ©2016 by Venture Publishing, LLC. No part of this magazine may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means without written permission of the publisher. All letters sent to Venture will be treated as unconditionally assigned for publication, copyright purposes and use in any publication or brochure, and are subject to Venture’s unrestricted right to edit and comment.

44 MOM-TAGE: SPRING BREAK 52 IDAHO HOUSING MARKET TRENDS Venture Meridian Magazine March 2016



fter the second issue we searched for another round of contributors for the magazine. We again were honored with the outstanding response. We could not have done this without these amazing, wonderful people. From the Venture Family, we thank you from the bottom of our heart.

Dr. Ryan Griffeth


Dr. Griffeth is a sports medicine Chiropractor in Meridian, ID. He is an avid runner and has been for the last 24 years. He has competed at every level from high school to college track and cross-country. Starting at a very young age, he has been dedicated to staying active, whether it is running, mountain biking or hiking in the foothills. Due to the experiences that Dr. Griffeth has had in athletics as well as his education in Exercise Science and Chiropractic, he is uniquely qualified to help athletes, weekend warriors, and those training for everyday life, to perform at their highest level. You can reach Dr. Griffeth at rehabchiropractic/ 208-955-6610 2525 Stokesberrry Ste B Meridian, ID 83647


Venture Meridian Magazine March 2016


“If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t Settle! As with all matters of the heart you’ll know when you find it.“ - Steve Jobs

PHOTO Ali Smith *Submit your photos and quotes for the Inspiration section to

Venture Meridian Magazine March 2016


staff Toni Osmundson Editor-In-Chief Toni is an avid photographer. She is married with three children, two boys and a girl. With her busy schedule, you will find her attending kids sports events throughout the city. She has lived in Meridian for over 20 years. Experiencing the growth first hand has made her aware that the Community is the key to success of the growth of our city. As a full time mother, while working and attending school, she has come to re-evaluate her priorities to focus more on projects that will improve the community where she is raising her children. Toni’s background is in Political Science and is working to finish her bachelor’s degree at Boise State. She can be reached at

Angela Pierce Student/Sports Writer

t n e V

Angela joins our team as our sports and student writer. Her passion is football and sports in general. You will usually find her at a Boise State Football game or volunteering at the optimist fields. She also pops her head into high school sports games when she is scouting future athletes and students for our spotlight section. You can email her at if you know of any athletes, students or teachers in the community who deserve the spotlight.

Mikaela Rencher Writer

Mikaela is mom to Myla and wife to Jeff. Although she resides in Twin Falls, her heart and most of her family are here in Meridian. She visits often and has so many ties within our community. That is why we chose her for our Mom-tage column. As a young mom she experiences everything a new mom goes through. Her column will not only entertain you, but give you hope that you’re not alone.

The Mom-tage will be featured monthly and if you have any questions you would like for her to address, please feel free to email her at

Debbie Shaner Photographer Debbie is a volunteer for the Rocky Mountain Football Association as the team photographer for both the Freshman and Varsity teams. Debbie’s passion for learning photography has lead her to volunteer her time for her local high school. Photography is her hobby and she loves it. Debbie is an outstanding community member volunteering her time when she can. She is a strong support of the boys/girls scouts. You can see more of Debbie’s work at You can contact Debbie at if you like her work and love to work with her.


Venture Meridian Magazine March 2016

Ali Smith Photographer An Idaho native, Ali Smith is a photographer specializing in newborn, family and women’s custom portraiture serving the Treasure Valley for the last six years. She is also a mother of three who enjoys cooking,gardening, and reading. Each year she joins other photographers and volunteers to bring the Help-Portrait event to the area, providing free family portraits to those in need in the community. As the event coordinator, this is a project she is very passionate about and is thankful to be able to use her talents to give back. You can follow Ali and see her work here: Facebook: Instagram: @alismithphotog

e r u t Ronald Kern Writer

Ron is a successful businessman, entrepreneur, author, and philanthropist. He started, and sold, over 7 companies and “retired” when he was 44 years old. He joins the Venture team because of his love of Meridian and his passion to help, inspire, and see others succeed. Ron has been married almost 25 years to the love of his life, Lisa, and together they were blessed with two amazing children, Heather and Tony. Hockey, boating, hiking, and writing are some of his favorite activities.

Ron will be our Venture PACE columnist. He will reply personally to all questions, so email him anytime at

Taylor Walker Social Media Manager

Taylor joins Venture Meridian as our Social Media Manager. She is married to Kyle and is the dog mom to two fluffy schnauzers, Alvin and Henry. To put it lightly, Taylor is a Treasure Valley fanatic. She enjoys nothing more than scoping out a new scene, shop, or watering hole in our community. Raised in Boise, Taylor graduated from Boise State and has spent all of her adult life in the corporate world (although that hasn’t stifled her fun side in the slightest). If you want to learn more about what she’s up to, check her out on Instagram @tayloramazing. You can reach Taylor at

Jessica Hanson Writer Jessica is married to Noah and a mom of two spunky kids. She’s an Idaho blogger, photographer and addicted to coffee. She gains support from her husband, who is often the subject of her photos, and her seven year old daughter, who is mostly behind the camera. Jessica was born and raised in Eastern Washington but now calls the Treasure Valley home. She loves fashion, crafting, thrift store shopping and making good food for people. Jessica joins Venture Meridian as our Food and Fashion columnist. You can reach Jessica at Check out her blog at:

Venture Meridian Magazine March 2016


Feedback INSTAGRAM We had a lot going on in our Instagram world.

The Venture Starts with you! This month we relived our classroom chats, our locker slams, and our home team spirit. That’s right, we’re going back to school. We kick off our Teacher Spotlight featuring the passionate STEM advocate, Melissa Webb. We’ll also highlight local authors and writers from our own backyard and welcome a few new columnists to our Venture Family. Ron will share his business expertise in the Venture PACE column and mouths will water at the sight of Jessica’s amazing recipes. We’re also particularly thankful that Mayor Tammy has joined us to share updates on our beloved city. And last but not least, we welcome Taylor, our new Social Media Manager. You’ll find her sharing all the fun at Venture Magazine and around Meridian through photos, tweets, and Facebook updates.


We ran our first very successful contest on Instagram for a $20 Dutch Bros gift card. We will announce the winner on Saturday, March 5th. You still have time to get in on the action so head on over to our Instagram. We got to spend some time with a local Treasure Valley family. They were not only fun, but they graciously posed for our cover photo. The Hamlins are an amazing family. They have been in the Treasure Valley for just a few short years but they have made it their home.

Our photographer, Debbie, and Editor-In-Chief, Toni, were lucky enough to attend the State of the City address to hear Mayor Tammy’s upcoming plans for Meridian in 2016.

We invite you to enjoy the latest news, recipes, and blog post from Venture Meridian.

Events Check out what’s happening in Meridian and the Treasure Valley. Visit

Blog Each week we bring you mini samples of Venture. Visit

News Updates on all things Venture and Meridian Visit


Venture Meridian Magazine March 2016

TELL US ABOUT IT Our Facebook fans, Instagram followers and Twitter followers are buzzing about what matters in Meridian. Come join the VENTURE. Like us on Facebook: Like us on Instagram: @venturemeridian email:

VENTURE MERIDIAN READERS March is the month for authors and writers here at Venture. We reached out to one of our readers who happens to have just published a book.


”I am a local Meridian gal currently working in the travel industry at a hotel. Previously I worked as a reservation agent with an airline. I have a combined total of 5.5 years of experience. This has given me the opportunity to travel more than I would have otherwise, as my love of traveling grows, and my wonderlist never gets shorter. Growing up, I loved telling stories with the help of photography. The use of photography helps me tell my travel stories in a sequential way. I wanted to tell the story of my trips to inspire myself and others to break out of the normal and go experience new things. My dream book is to recreate some of the photos my grandfather took in the 50s and 60s and do a then and now. He has great photos of Hawaii, Yosemite, and Garden of the Gods in Colorado.”

PHOTO BY: Renee Bartle

Renee Bartle Renee walks you through her expereince of Paris. Her musings and photos make it seem as if you were walking along side with her. A different take on Paris from the eyes of a young lady, it makes you want to board a plane and get on that flight to Charles de Guille.

Venture Meridian Magazine March 2016



Venture PACE WRITTEN BY Ronald Kern

Are you connecting the right way?


want to first say thanks to our Editor in Chief, Toni, and Venture Meridian for allowing me the opportunity to share business expertise with the community that I grew up in, as well as where many of my companies were located. I am hopeful that my column will be of value to those interested in Passion, Advice, Connections, and Entrepreneur related topics. Connections. We all hear about it, know about it, and live it. Many times we are so connected we can barely keep track of passwords, websites, apps, or all of the social media platforms available. Now, put the phone down! Focus! The question you might consider asking yourself is, “Am I truly connected or am I connecting in the right way?” As a business owner you have likely implemented technology to get connected to your audience, customers, and business associates. You have an informative Facebook page, your Twitter feed includes daily tweets, and likely you have added


Instagram, LinkedIn, or Pinterest, to name just a few. You have a fair amount of likes, retweets, and followers that certainly make you feel proud. Is this enough? It is human nature to want to be personally connected, made to feel important, and ultimately have value and worth to those around you. It is the core of the human soul, and without it, it sinks, shrivels, and dies. This is why the ultimate punishment in prison is solitary confinement, as it deprives human touch, one on one interaction, and that “real connection” we all yearn for. Do you receive affirmation by reading a post or having something “liked?” Do you feel as though you truly made an impact by reposting some motivational saying or anecdote? If you had to choose between 100 new “likes” for your page, or to have an hour faceto-face with someone of value, which would you pick? I believe the answer is an easy one and most would choose the one on

Venture Meridian Magazine March 2016

one conversation. If that is so, are you doing anything to make this happen? Are you taking time out of your very busy schedule for that personal touch, personal conversation, or meaningful connecting? If not, why not? I want to share with you some easy ways to ensure you are connecting, at least periodically, in the most meaningful way possible. If you actually do one or more of the recommendations below, you will absolutely see a positive impact and difference, for both you and the people you do this for. You don’t have to do all of these, but pick and choose one or two, baby steps, and see where it takes you. My recommendation is whatever you choose from the below to try, do this without fail and for at least two weeks. Have a phone call or video call with someone, instead of sending an email or text. This allows the phone call to be at minimum 10 times more memorable, and meaningful.

Venture Meridian Magazine March 2016



If you want to grow your business, increase your relationships, and engage with people in a way that will be sincerely beneficial. Handwrite (yes they still make pens and pencils), a thank you card for an employee, friend, or client. If possible, hand deliver it to them personally, if not, mail it to their home or office. Choose a day of the week and only use the telephone when communicating with your clients. I understand this sounds scary and crazy, especially with a large company, but it is doable. At one time, one of my companies had 50 employees and 150+ clients, and we were able to accomplish this. Every Friday our clients not only accepted it, they looked forward to it. Communication became far clearer via voice than written text, for obvious reasons. Meet with a local client over coffee. You might think this is obvious but I’m amazed at how often this doesn’t take place. Invite them, meet with them, and give them your full attention. Be an active


listener and guess what, the entire discussion doesn’t have to be about work! Acknowledge a birthday or anniversary. I know this is old fashioned, however, it works. It works because you took valuable time to write a kind word and mail or give it to them, and that makes the connection personal. When was the last time you received a birthday card from someone out of the blue? How did it make you feel? Trust me on this one, it works, and it works well. Use your contact list or database, or even Facebook to keep track of all of your friends’ birthdays, but acknowledge it with a personal flavor. Yes, you still do a funny message on Facebook, but nothing will come close to getting a personal note. Also,

Venture Meridian Magazine March 2016

you should want to do this, not consider it a task. If you want to grow your business, increase your relationships, and engage with people in a way that will be sincerely beneficial, you must include personal touch and personal communication. It does not have to be your sole source, but if this is an area that might be lacking, consider the above and make it happen. It isn’t difficult, often times not costing anything, and the rewards will extend well past just an increase in sales.

Venture Meridian Magazine March 2016




All aboard the Boise Brews Cruise. If you are picturing a ship, consider four wheels instead. If you are picturing days away from home, how about four hours. If you are picturing thousands of people, think fourteen or less. If you enjoy brew, this is the cruise for you.


he Boise Brews Cruise is locally owned and operated here in the Treasure Valley. The business is owned by Noah and Laura Nesbitt of Meridian. When Venture Meridian approached the owners about writing a story on their business they not only welcomed the idea, but invited our Editor-in-Chief Toni and me to taste the tour. What we found is that the Boise Brews Cruise offers much more than a tour to its guests; it offers an educational experience. Our tour started at Edge Brewing Company in Boise, Idaho. There, we met Noah and the guests who booked the cruise for that afternoon. The Brews Cruise can be booked for any occasion, but this particular group was celebrating friendship and someone’s new job. Noah explained to the group that they


could choose four different beers off the drink menu to sample. Within minutes, each guest was served a flight of beer. I sat there listening and watching each person’s individual experience. I heard the words bitter, spicy, crisp and clean to describe the different beers. I also listened to Noah explain how certain flavors can be achieved in the brewing process.

the bus. As we boarded the Brews Cruise, Noah announced that each of us would have a gift bag sitting on our seat from the business. The swag in these bags was much more than we anticipated. Everyone took their seat and immediately began complimenting the setup inside the bus. Noah began driving away from stop number one and turned on the microphone.

Once the group finished sampling, the first brew tour began. We were escorted through a glass door that dropped us into a warehouse setting. We lined up in between rows of brewing tanks. Our appointed guide began explaining the brewing process and how all the necessary equipment operates. There is definitely a science to brewing. Following the tour, we all headed to

The tour began with Noah talking about how Boise Brews Cruise got its start. He also talked about how he and his wife, Laura, patiently waited for an opportunity to enter the beer scene in Boise. “A friend recommended a brew guide in Bend, Oregon, I did market research and fell in love with the idea,” explained Noah.

Venture Meridian Magazine March 2016

Next stop, County Line Brewing in

Garden City, Idaho. We were reminded as we exited the bus to bring in our Boise Brews Cruise glass from our swag bag to use for sampling The atmosphere inside County Line felt local. In fact, a few people from the tour knew several people who later showed up in the brewery. The flight lineup at this brewery consisted of six different beers. Some light beers and some dark. I heard the owner say chocolate, roast, raspberries and cocoa to describe flavors used in certain beers. For a moment, I had to remind myself that we were still in a brewery and not a coffee shop. When everyone finished sampling their beers we were given another tour. County Line Brewing only has three employees. In fact, two thirds of their staff was working when we visited. Their business is not only local, but family owned and operated. They operate differently than large breweries, but are just as cool. The last stop on the tour was Bella Brewing, also in Garden City. Bella Brewing was setup in such a way that their brewing process was visible from start to finish. They had stacks of

wheat and malt around the perimeter of the brewery and their brewing tanks sat behind the bar top. Their seating

ALL ABOARD was indoors and resembled an old garage. The day was sunny, so several people sat with their backs to the sun as it shined in through the open bays. By this point the tour was coming to an end. The group of friends that took the tour started planning their evenings and their transportation. I rode the Brews Cruise bus back to Edge Brewing and had the opportunity to chat one on one with Noah. I told him how impressed I was with the Brews Cruise and how great it was to see adults having such a great time. The cruise felt like a field trip, but for adults (over 21). When asked what he wants the Treasure Valley to know about the Boise Brews Cruise, Noah said, “We are definitely focused on the education of beer brewing and the brewing process from grain to glass.�. Not only is the tour highly educational, but it encourages people to support local Idaho businesses. The Boise Brews Cruise is a great business venture with a lot to offer its guests. In the future, Noah and Laura plan to open their own bar. The bar would serve and support the local beer and wine industry in Idaho. Until then, they will continue to take people to the beer and provide a personalized and educational experience all while supporting local Idaho businesses. For more information or to book a Boise Brews Cruise visit the website at:

WRITTEN BY Angela Pierce PHOTOS Sydney Studios & Co.

Venture Meridian Magazine March 2016



MERIDIAN WRITES Meridian Library is the first in the state of Idaho to offer a local book award and Megan Egbert is the lady behind the scenes ensuring this program comes to fruition.


e all have our favorite authors and favorite books. Harry Potter and JK Rowling, or Hunger Games and Suzanne Collins. There’s a chance that you have never gotten to see these authors in person. They seem so distant and so far away. Unless you are a die hard fan and have flown to where they are speaking or a reading. Did you know that we have published authors living right here in Meridian? Did you also know we have a Pulitzer Prize wining author, Anthony Doerr, living here as well? That surprised us to know that these amazing writers are living right here in our community. Megan Egbert, with the Meridian Library District, happens to be a writer committed to highlighting and encouraging our local community authors to expand on what they are


Venture Meridian Magazine March 2016

WRITTEN BY Toni Osmundson PHOTOS Sydney Studios & Co.

doing. Meridian Library is the first in the state of Idaho to offer a local book award and the lady behind the program is Megan Egbert.

Meridian Writes is a local author competition that is open to writers who live in Meridian and have published a book in the last five years. The winner of Meridian Writes will receive several prizes, including admission to the 2016 Idaho Writer’s Guild Pitchfest, and their book will be used as our community read for Meridian Reads in 2016.

The authors submit their work and three finalist are chosen. Megan wanted to ensure the community was involved in the selection of the winners. A selected group of community members will vote from the three finalist. They winner is then announced at a Meridian Writes event held at the Cherry Lane Library on March 30th, 2016.

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meets every other Monday. Since the library was already connecting to local writers, Megan wanted to take it one step further by featuring a local published author. They were able to arrange for Anthony Doerr , author of All the Light We Cannot See, to present a keynote at the first Meridian Reads event in 2014. Meridian Reads was the precursor to Meridian Writes. It began to encourage the Meridian community to read a book together, much like a book club. The New York Times Book Review had this to say about Anthony’s book;

Megan hails from North Idaho and has been in the Treasure Valley for 10 years. She has worked for the Meridian Library for five years. She attended Boise State, received her Bachelors in Sociology and received her Masters in Library Science from the University of North Texas in 2012. She is an avid writer and knows the challenges writers can go through, such as worrying about self-promotion, finding a publisher to back your novel and trying to find material to write. She is passionate about programs that promote local writers and Meridian Writes has been one that she has taken the reigns on from the beginning. Megan wanted to recognize aspiring local authors and highlight the program to encourage the community to keep writing. The Meridian Library has an established creative writing group that


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Tackling questions of survival, endurance and moral obligations during wartime, the book is as precise and artful and ingenious as the puzzle boxes the heroin’s locksmith father builds for her. Impressively, it is also vastly entertaining feat of storytelling.

Shortly after the 2014 Meridian Reads event, Megan began to receive notes from the community members of Meridian, which expressed their enthusiasm about a local author being featured. She then asked herself the question “what could we do to replicate that feeling?” Meridian has been a big supporter of writers from in the community. Megan took this feeling from the community and expanded the program. Meridian Reads then became known as Meridian Reads & Writes. In order to keep submissions coming in, they kept the criteria broad.

Any genre is eligible for submission as long as the author lives in Meridian and the book has been published in the last five years. The program does a call for submissions from October to January. During the three months the library runs programs to help authors in the meantime, such as a writer’s bloc workshop, indie publishing panel and NaNoWriMo events, National Novel Writing Month. The three finalist are announced around mid February and the winner is announced March 30th.

Megan Egbert is the programs manager for the Meridian Library District. She oversees large-scale programs as well as training for and evaluation of each programs. Although she lives in Boise, she has dedicated her passion for writing to the Meridian and is an active member of our community.

Continue onto the next page for a bio of the three finalist for 2016 Meridian Writes.

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Devri Walls


grew up in Kuna, Id and lived there for the first 11 years of my married life. We moved to Meridian a year and half ago and although I do love our original town, we absolutely love it here! We have enjoyed being so close to everything as well as the abundance of choices in the school district.

Sure! My family is the reason I get to do what I do. I’ve been married to an amazing man for 12 ½ years now and have two beautiful children. Most people start writing when they’re young, but that was not the case with me. I was a theater major and vocal performer. I still teach voice lessons in fact. Beginning a book was a constant nudge that came out of the blue and wouldn’t go away no matter how many times I told myself that not only was it insane, but I had no idea how! I quite literally opened the laptop that first day to get my inner voice to “shut up”. HA! Turns out, I can write and I love it. It’s exactly what I should’ve been doing from the start and it’s a perfect platform for my gifts and all those things about me that I used to think just made me a little weird. I’m normally inspired by people or places, I write a story and then put a cover with it. But for The Wizard’s Heir the inspiration came a little backwards. I saw the original piece of art first in Phatpuppy Art’s portfolio and knew I wanted to write this boy’s story. I bought the cover immediately and then wrote the book around the amazing character the artist had managed to capture. My first piece of advice to new or aspiring authors is always, finish the book! What makes a novel truly come to life is the editing. But too many look at what they’ve done, decide it’s not any good and quit. Many aspiring authors have piles of half finished manuscripts and nothing more. Finish that book, then edit it—as many times as it takes . Watch your art morph into something you didn’t know you were capable of. The second piece is, stop comparing yourself to other writers. Learn from, but don’t compare. My favorite place in Meridian would have to be The Village. I LOVE The Village. LOVE IT. During the spring and fall I am frequently found working over there, watching the fountains or recharging my laptop at Le Crème. I love the theater too, reservations for movies are the best thing since sliced bread. ( I can show up 5 minutes before the movie and still sit with my family!? What???) And the food, yum! My kids love it when I take them and no matter what we’re doing we absolutely have to stay until the fountains dance. My husband and I are total foodies as well so we love the assortment of restaurants. And although not located in The Village, we spend entirely too much money at SaWaDee. One of my favorite things to do are school visits as an author. I love talking with the kids, not only about what I do, but what THEY can do. I really enjoy laying out the lengthy process that is writing a book and showing them that if they are willing to work, they can accomplish what they want. Dreams are great, but only when driven by work. I’m traveling to Washington for a week of school visits in March and although long trips like this are limited, as a citizen of this community I will always be available to requests from local schools and organizations. I think it’s so important to inspire and teach young people. You never know the great things they’re destined to do.


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Peter Leavell Twelve years ago, my grandfather offered me a job in Meridian. To sweeten the deal, he said I could get my history degree at Boise State while working for him. I took him up on the offer, finished my degree, and decided to stay in Meridian. I traveled a lot in my youth and saw towns all over America. Nowhere compares to Meridian—the friendly folks, the thriving businesses, and the easy access to Boise. I can write all morning, hike in the mountains in the afternoon, and catch a world class ballet from Ballet Idaho in the evening, and then be home in 20 minutes. Incredible! My wife and I have been married 18 years, we have a 15 year old son and 12 year old daughter. The four of us are very close. For example, Valentines dinner involves the four of us! We enjoy each other’s company. So when I first talked about hiding their identities with my publicist, she felt, as a family we researched books, then as a family we can sell books together. Our lives are public!

What was one of your biggest motivations to begin writing?

Prestige. I looked up to people who had something important to say, and could say it in such a way as to change the world. Now that I’m a professional writer, I realize prestige is nonsense. If I can write, anyone can. It just takes dedication and persistence.

What was one thing that sparked you to write this novel?

When getting my degree, I wrote down little stories in history that I felt needed to be told. The story of the Sea Islands off the coast of South Carolina was top on the list. If events at the Penn Center in South Carolina had been duplicated as planned, I believe reconstruction after the American Civil War would have integrated freed slaves into society and we would not see discrimination as we have today. The freed slaves’ stories had to be told, so I wrote what happened on those islands.

What advice could you give to authors out there trying to accomplish the same goals as you?

Persistence. You need to know how to write, but even more, a writer needs to know what to write. Get an education. Then keep learning. Never stop devouring books, films, and listening to stories told over coffee at the table behind you. These things take time, but with persistence, being a writer isn’t what you do, it’s who you are.

What’s your favorite thing to do in Meridian?

Jog. I feel safe, and folks wave as I run. In a short distance I can run through a new development with fresh landscape, and jogging a little further down the sidewalk, you see a tree over one hundred years old that harkens back to Meridian’s rich heritage.

What would you like our readers to know about you as an author and a Meridian community member? Since the first moment I accepted the award for my first novel that offered a publishing contract, I’ve been proud to declare I’m from Meridian, Idaho. My family’s involved in property management in Meridian, and talking with tenants who’ve lived here for decades, I’m not the only one who feels the same!

Venture Meridian Magazine March 2016


Michelle Merrill

How long have you lived in Meridian?

I’ve lived in Meridian for 3 1/2 years. I’ve always loved the Treasure Valley and hoped to live here one day. It’s like a dream come true! The area is beautiful, the weather is perfect, and the community is safe. It’s a great place for my husband and I to raise our family. I have five super cute but somewhat rowdy kids. They’re fun to have around. When I’m not writing they take all my time. My hubby is a ton of help and we couldn’t raise our family without consistent teamwork and a lot of love. We have one pet goldfish named Mr. Chuckles.

What was one of your biggest motivations to begin writing?

I had a story in my head and quite honestly, the characters wouldn’t leave me alone. I’d had random people in my life encourage me to write which was really weird since I didn’t even like reading. Once I jumped on the reading bandwagon, it was only a matter of time before the stories filled my head!

What was one thing that sparked you to write this novel?

I met a little girl with cystic fibrosis and really wanted to help spread awareness. Not having a lot of money limited what I could do. Within a month of finding out she had CF, the story popped into my head and I wrote the first draft in six weeks. I had a ton of help from books and people living with CF to get the details right and stay as true as I could to those who suffer from CF. I know each person with CF has very different experiences so it might not relate to everyone but my main goal was to spread awareness without scaring people with the details too much. I worked with some amazing people and gained a few incredible friends along the way. Even the girl on my cover, Christina Christensen, lives with CF and was in the Ms. Idaho pageant last fall.

What advice could you give to authors out there trying to accomplish the same goals as you?

Keep going! I might be one tiny step ahead but really, we’re all in the same boat! The only person holding you back is yourself. Believe in yourself, set high goals, and look forward. Write because you love writing. Learn as much as you can. Read books about writing. Enter contests. Find critique partners. And keep learning. You can do it!

What’s your favorite thing to do in Meridian?

Live. I don’t know how else to put it. There are so many great things about this city from the people to the schools, the yummy food, the awesome parks, the weather, so many things! They all contribute to life and I love living here.

What do you want our readers to know about you as an author and a Meridian community member?

Something that’s different about me than most authors is that I didn’t grow up wanting to be a writer. I didn’t even like reading. It wasn’t until I had three kids that I ran into a book series that I fell in love with. And that’s okay. I didn’t know how to write when I started but that’s okay too. I learned! I did a lot of reading, a lot of writing (bad and good), and I learned a ton. What does that mean to you? Don’t give up. Find your dream, whether you’re twelve or eighty, and be who you want to be. Don’t let anyone stop you. As far as me living in Meridian, I’d say to be where you’re supposed to be. I would’ve never written Changing Fate if I didn’t move here and meet Regan Kate. This is where I’m supposed to be and I love being here. There’s a quote at the beginning of my book that says, “We are all human beings, but if we don’t learn to be, we can never become.” I truly believe that. Be who you want to be, where you’re supposed to be, and then you can finally become.


Venture Meridian Magazine March 2016

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Venture Meridian Magazine March 2016


“Those who can create relationships are the ones that make the best kind of teachers,” says Melissa Webb. And that’s exactly waht she strives to do each day she goes to work.


Venture Meridian Magazine March 2016

PHOTOS Sydney Studios & Co.


alking into a fourth grade classroom at Barbara Morgan STEM Academy in Meridian, I imagined chaos, screaming children and the sight of squiggle crayon lines everywhere. I have always wondered why someone would choose to teach children. Walking into Mrs. Webb’s class that Wednesday afternoon, the site was the opposite. Students were intently working on a project in their groups. Some were discussing different ways to complete the project, others directed what should be done, and a few were documenting what the outcome was. It was almost as if I had walked into a college science class. When Melissa Webb was a little girl lining up her teddy bears, creating a mini school and even sending them to detention, she realized that the classroom is where she needed to be. Melissa accredits her teachers at Meridian High School for giving her the passion to want to teach. The inspiration she received from those teachers led right to the head of the classroom. She came to realize through her mentors that,

“If I can make any kind of impact on the students that the teachers made on me, that will be the most fulfilling part of my job.” Melissa has been living in Meridian since 1993 when her family moved here from Kansas by way of Colorado and California. After she graduated high school in 1998, she attended Boise State as a nursing major but quickly realized that teaching was her passion. She changed her major and received her degree in 2002 in Elementary Education. She dove right into teaching with the Meridian School District as soon as she graduated. When Melissa’s son was born in 2005 she went to work for her dad at his business, wanting something part-time so she could focus on being a mom. The part-time job still left her wanting more and she soon found herself reaching out to her teaching contacts to get back into the classroom.However, she quickly found the only thing available was a full time position teaching 8th grade science at Eagle Middle School. Melissa was nervous


WRITTEN BY Toni Osmundson

about teaching 8th graders after just finishing with 3rd graders. She wasn’t too familiar with science. She wasn’t sure she was up to the task. When the principal offered her the job he told her,“[You have] stepped up to every single challenge that has come across your plate. You can do this.” After accepting the job, she immediately fell in love with the curriculum, the students at that age level, and the technology and science subjects. Soon after, she began reading about STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) education and was intrigued with its power and how the program creates problem solvers. She returned to school to get her Master’s degree in Technology and Educational Technology. She is also a Technology Integration Specialist making her highly qualified in science. With her desire to return to elementary school and introduce the STEM program at an earlier age, she moved to teach a 4th grade STEM program. The first year there, she was the first teacher to be recognized for integration and problem based learning. She was also named teacher of the year

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her second year teaching there. Melissa didn’t stop there. She is currently an independent researcher for Boise State. They take a look at integrating math into science and vice versa through problem-based learning. She wants to make sure that new teachers have the resources they need to be successful. The research team is currently in the process of writing a manuscript detailing their results to help assist other teachers about the program.


What makes teaching all worth it for Melissa is the lasting and meaningful relationships she creates with her students. She is always excited when a former student recognizes her and stops to say hi. She states, “Those who can create relationships are the ones that make the best kind of teachers,” which makes her one of those teachers that you remember your whole life. Melissa makes the classroom not only full of learning, but also fun. She commands attention even when the kids do not realize she

Venture Meridian Magazine March 2016

is doing it. When Melissa shouts “macaroni cheese,” the students reply with “everybody freeze.” She challenges the students to think outside the box and beyond that. Melissa considers herself a homegrown Meridian community member. Her parents, Greg and Tammi Hartley, live here and run their business in Meridian. Melissa is married to Ben, and with her son, Ethan, and step-son, Aiden, they have chosen Meridian to raise their family and work in this community.

Melissa’s students are working on a problem based project. They read, conduct research, experiement and connect it to math on circuits. Then they discuss what they results are.

Venture Meridian Magazine March 2016



Casey has dedicated her time preparing for college and the Olympics. All the while she managed to start a program for sharp shooting and marksmanship at her high school. Here’s how she does it all.


Venture Meridian Magazine March 2016


chool, work and attending qualifiers for theOlympics. Casey keeps herself busy for sure.

For the past 6 years, Casey has dedicated her time to perfecting her shooting and marksmanship skills. She has been dedicated to Olympic trials, creating a program at her high school for shooting and working a job in between all of this. How does she do it all? Casey and her family moved to Meridian from the East Coast about 6 years ago. She attended a shooting match with her dad and found herself intrigued. After playing soccer for many years she wanted to try her hand at shooting. When it came to shooting once a week, soccer every day, she moved to shooting every day a week. She has kept her focus on it and practices almost every day. Casey stated that she read a study that to become a professional shooter, you have to practice your skills for 10,000 hours. Casey is striving to get to that point. She has put her heart and soul into her passion. “Work hard and work smart” is one piece of advice she has for anyone who wants to pursue what they love. Her family is a big supporter of Girl and Boy Scouts. For Casey’s Girl Scout Gold Award, she wanted to start a scholastic marksmanship club in a school environment. She wanted to show people at her school and her community “that shooting and marksmanship isn’t a bad thing and not what people portray it to be.” She started her freshman year at Rocky Mountain, received a $10,000 grant from Idaho Fish and Game for the program and has about 30 members to date. She was president of the club, but stepped down her last year to focus on Olympic trials and college. Her favorite competition was World Cup USA in Fort Benning, Georgia. With over 100 shooters from all over the world she went up against those shooters that would compete for the Olympic Gold. Her dad has been one of her role models through her entire journey. She states, “He has been all in” since she decided to shoot and be competitive with it. He has dedicated his time to coach Casey, even though Casey says, “I can be difficult.”

STUDENT SPOTLIGHT Venture Meridian Magazine March 2016


PROFESSIONAL Another one of her shooting coaches is Josh Olsen. Josh is a Paralympian. He was hit by a bomb while serving in the Army in Afghanistan and lost his legs up to his hips. Casey says, “He has been everywhere I want to be in life and it’s good to have someone like him to look up to.” Although he lives across the country, Casey stays in contact with him constantly. Casey recently accepted an offer from TCU with a shooting and marksmanship scholarship. She loves the campus, the shooting coaches and the TCU program. Her goal is to make it to the Olympics in 2020 in Tokyo. Her love for the Meridian community comes from their support of her and her sport. She has had enormous encouragement from this community.

We asked Casey a few questions:

What is your Favorite food? Tacos

If you could be an animal what would you be and why?

I think it would be a zebra, because they are cute and I like them.

WRITTEN BY Toni Osmundson PHOTOS Ali Smith


Venture Meridian Magazine March 2016

Venture Meridian Magazine March 2016



Venture Meridian Magazine March 2016

WRITTEN BY Angela Pierce PHOTOS Sydney Studios & Co.


Justin not only plays soccer, but he also enjoys coaching the game. In his spare time he plays the viola and runs track.


eet Justin. Justin is a senior at Meridian High School and will graduate this spring. Over the last four years Justin has balanced the life of being a high school student as well as being a student of music and sports. Justin started playing the viola in sixth grade and has continued to play ever since. Currently, he plays the viola in the Meridian High School orchestra. Justin was inspired to start playing an instrument after seeing the poster for the “Distinguished Student Award.” He recalls the girl featured on the poster with a violin and thought it was cool. When Justin was given the opportunity in school to choose an instrument the teacher asked the class on his first day, “Who wants to play the violin? The viola? The cello?” It was then that Justin learned that he had other options, so he chose the viola. Recently, Meridian High’s orchestra competed in a competition called Festival. “Most of the music comes easy to me,” Justin explained as his reason for not practicing too much outside of school. In addition to playing an instrument, Justin plays and coaches soccer in the Treasure Valley. Justin started playing soccer at the age of four and has not stopped. He admits that he did not take soccer seriously until he was 12 years old, but has taken advantage of the opportunity to play in high school and on a local club team. He primarily plays left and right wing. The club team that he plays for is called Idaho Torrent. The club has presented Justin with opportunities to play against other club teams in the Treasure Valley and experience competition outside of school sports. Justin hopes to continue playing soccer after high school, but also enjoys coaching soccer. Over the past several years, Justin has

been an assistant coach for a younger age club team. Coaching has taught Justin the game of patience. This spring, Justin will pursue the 100 meter on the high school’s track team. In years past he has thrown discus, but is looking forward to adding a new event. One state that Justin hopes to visit more after high school is Arizona. Not only is it a state he would like to visit, but he has cultural roots there too. Justin is Native American and was raised learning about his culture. The Native American tribe in Arizona that Justin identifies with is called Pima and his Idaho tribe is called Shoshone-Bannock. A favorite past time of Justin’s is getting together with his family in Fort Hall, Idaho and celebrating their culture. Justin accredits the people around him as inspiration. One friend that particularly inspires Justin is one who is going on to wrestle in college. “I am happy for him,” stated Justin. After high school Justin plans on going to college. While he is undecided about his major, he knows he wants to go to school. His favorite quote is by St. Augustine, “The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.” This would explain why he hopes to travel as soon as possible after graduating from high school.

Venture Meridian Magazine March 2016



When Charles is not busy with managing his high school sports teams, he’s striving to make a difference in his community.


singer, member of the student council, and avid athlete and fan. Charles makes his activities seem like they come naturally. And for Charles, they probably do. Sitting down with him, you wouldn’t know you were speaking to a freshman at Rocky Mountain High School. He is well spoken and highly engaging. We can see why he’s on the student council. Charles was born in California but moved to Idaho in 2005. He is the sports manger for the basketball team at Rocky Mountain and hopes to try his hand at managing the football team in the fall. He’s up for the challenge of taking on the responsibility that comes with managing the team and he makes sure to attend as many games as possible. Charles is also a singer. Charles’s dad, Charles Senior, states that singing has always been a large part of their family. Charles’ mom was the choir director for their church and eventually convinced the family to get involved.


Venture Meridian Magazine March 2016

It has become the mission of Charles and the Rocky Mountain student council to make sure the teachers feel appreciated by the student body. They also run the no texting and driving campaigns with the school. This past month, Charles attended a weekend long, statewide conference to get some fresh ideas to bring back to his student council team. One key point he took away from the conference was “don’t be afraid to get MAD.” But not the mad you would think, rather the mad that exudes passion. The mad to not be afraid to Make A Difference and promote positive elements of your school, community, sports teams, and programs. The state conference Charles attended was held at Boise State’s Student Union and while Charles was there, he was impressed with the school and looks forward to possibly attending when he graduates high school. He hopes to become Student Council president in the next few years as well. As of now, he plans to go to college and get his teaching degree. He

WRITTEN BY Toni Osmundson PHOTOS Sydney Studios & Co.

accredits his 7th grade teacher, Mrs. Dorothy Van Egmod at Heritage Middle School, for inspiring him to want to teach. Charles feels she was able to make history fun and learning about the world. The movie Remember the Titans inspired Charles to get into football. The brotherly bond on the football team he saw on the silver screen was something he wanted for himself.

Charles has an important message for Meridian: “Stop bullying and speak up. It doesn’t take a freshman in high school to make a big difference […] and don’t be afraid to follow your dreams. Because your dreams can take you as far as you want to go. The only limit is your imagination is how far you make it.”

STOP BULLYING AND SPEAK UP! Venture Meridian Magazine March 2016


NEXT LEVEL COMMITMENT In an effort to recognize the hard working student athletes in our community, Venture Meridian held it’s first ”Meet and Greet” last month at CapEd Credit Union in Meridian. We invited all Meridian and Eagle High School seniors who signed or committed to play sports in college next year to attend the event. We had an impressive turnout despite spring being a busy time of year for high school students. This event gave the students an opportunity to mingle with other student-athletes, get their picture taken and answer a few questions from our student writer, Angela Pierce.

Martha Tooley

Martha is currently an Eagle High School Mustang, but will soon become a College of Idaho Yote. This fall Martha will attend the College of Idaho in Caldwell, Idaho and will join the softball team. Martha’s softball experience has been full of memorable moments including a 5A State Championship win. Martha accredits her late softball coach of seven years, Doug Corta, as her motivation. One piece of advice Martha has for other student athletes who hope to play a college sport is, “Be a student first and follow your dreams.”

Blake McFadden

Blake is a senior at Meridian High School. In the fall, Blake will attend Treasure Valley Community College in Ontario, Oregon. Blake is a pitcher with an 85 mph fast ball and hopes to further develop his talent playing college baseball. While in high school, Blake dedicated himself to numerous hours of hitting and pitching to prepare for the next level. When asked what his most memorable moment in baseball has been, he shared, “Going to Arizona over spring break and making it to state with his high school baseball team.” As Blake prepares to leave for college he wants his community to know that “opportunity comes to Idaho too.”


Venture Meridian Magazine March 2016

Zack Bennett

Zach will be attending Arizona Western College in Yuma, Arizona. This year, Zack is a senior at Rocky Mountain High School and has committed to play football at Arizona Western. Zack plays left tackle and has been playing football for the last seven years. Zack’s favorite professional athlete is Joe Thomas, a left tackle for the Cleveland Browns. Zack’s best piece of advice to other student athletes is “Get your grades first.” When Zack graduates from Rocky Mountain High School, he does not want his community to remember him, but to know about Rocky. He believes, “Rocky is the best team in the state.” .

Lucas Schlake

Lucas will be attending the College of Idaho in Caldwell, Idaho this fall. Lucas is looking forward to college and playing on the Men’s Soccer Team. Over the years, soccer has been an expensive sport to play and Lucas hopes to give back to his parents playing the sport he loves. One piece of advice he would offer to other student athletes hoping to play collegiate soccer is, “If you want to play college soccer you need to send lots of emails, you need to talk to coaches, join a club team, and give your best always.” When Lucas graduates from college and has a solid job he plans on giving back to the Meridian community.

Dante Pennell

Dante is a senior at Mountain View High School, is a soccer player and world traveler. Dante has been fortunate enough to travel the world with his family and watch soccer in other countries. This fall, Dante will start classes at Walla Walla Community College in Walla Walla, Washington on a scholarship. He will also play on the Men’s Soccer Team. “Do Work” is Dante’s favorite quote. “I hope to get my name out there and go on to the next level,” stated Dante. One piece of advice Dante has to offer to other student athletes hoping to play a sport in college is to stay committed and be patient.

Venture Meridian Magazine March 2016




Venture Meridian Magazine March 2016

WRITTEN BY Dr. Ryan Griffeth PHOTOS Ali Smith


ith the fast paced, hectic lives we lead, it can be hard for anyone to find time to exercise. Many years ago, people walked nearly 24,000 steps a day. Today we are lucky to hit 3,000. This lack of motion in our lives can lead to health conditions that we deal with on a daily basis. It has been shown that physical inactivity is a large cause of chronic diseases, so let’s see what can be gained with activity. The Mayo Clinic lists seven benefits of regular exercise: 1. Exercise controls weight. 2. Exercise combats health conditions and disease. 3. Exercise improves mood. 4. Exercise boosts energy. 5. Exercise promotes better sleep. 6. Exercise puts the spark back into your sex life. 7. Exercise can be fun. Number seven is especially important. When most people hear the word exercise, they think of the gym and dealing with the people there. Whether you have never exercised before or are on

a break, it’s time to get back into it. Consider these things when trying to decided what type of exercise to do: find something you enjoy, find a workout partner to help keep you accountable, and take it in bitesized chunks. Even a few minutes each day can make big changes over time. Here are five exercises to perform with a partner to help get you on your way to a healthier life.


Alternating Box Jump • •

• • •

Face each other and place a 6 to 10 inch box between you. Take turns jumping on and off the box in a squat position, making sure to land lightly with each jump. After landing back on the ground, your partner completes the same move. If needed, lightly join hands with outstretched arms for balance. Each partner jumps 15 to 20 times for 2 to 3 sets. Make it harder: Add 3 to 5 pound dumbbells to each hand during jumps.

Remember, sneaking exercise into your day doesn’t have to be hard. It just takes a little creativity and planning. Plus, when you workout with a partner, you have the added benefit of spending time with someone you enjoy and getting in shape at the same time.

Venture Meridian Magazine March 2016




Hook Squat • • • •


Stand back to back with your partner and get into proper squat position with knees over ankles. Squat down together and slowly walk clockwise. Once the circle has been completed, count to 20 and walk in a circle counterclockwise. Do 3 sets. Venture Meridian Magazine March 2016


Plank hold and Jump • • •

Partner A goes face down and raises up to the elbows and toes. Tighten your core. Keep straight line from shoulder to hip to ankles. Partner B jumps or steps over partner A’s legs. Perform for 15 sec. Repeat 8-10 reps.

FITNESS This article was written by Dr. Ryan Griffeth of Performance & Rehabilitation Chiropractic. He is an avid runner and practices sports medicine chiropractic in Meridian, ID. He can be reached at 208-955-6610. Biceps and Triceps

4 • •

Stand facing your partner, approximately a foot apart. Keeping knees slightly bent, grasp a towel in the middle with palms facing upright while your partner holds the ends of the towel. Complete a bicep curl as your partner creates resistance, being sure to keep his core tight and shoulders relaxed, not hunched toward ears. Your partner completes a tricep extension while you create resistance on your way down from your bicep curl. Do 15 to 20 reps for 2 to 3 sets

Push-up high five

5 • •

• •

Face your partner arms length apart. Get in push-up position, hands directly under your shoulders, legs extended, abs engaged. Do a push-up, bending elbows 90 degrees. Push back up to starting position and give each other a high five, extending arm straight out, rather than up. Complete reps until fatigued. If this is too tough, start with your knees on the ground.

Making it fun is the easy part. Consider some of these activities: • • • • • •

Hike the trails in the foothills. Take a bike ride along the green belt. Go bowling. Chase the kids/dogs around the backyard Take a walk around the neighborhood. Play the basketball game “Horse”. Venture Meridian Magazine March 2016


Community Member Spotlight

Mat & Lacey

Mat & Lacey are newlyweds living in the Treasure Valley. They love to travel and they love to do it on a budget. And they share it with everyone on their blog Where are you two from and live currently?

Mat is originally from Boise, ID a graduate of Timberline High School and Lacey is originally from Hagerman, ID. We currently live in a condo in downtown Boise.

What is a passion you both pursue? To eliminate life’s unnecessary stresses in order to make room for amazing life experiences.

Why is it important for you to share your travel tips to your readers?

We believe traveling creates amazing experiences and memories, both of which we feel are far more important than material items. We want to encourage people to spend less time and money on material items, and more on creating memories with family and friends. We know that traveling is not cheap, so we hope that by sharing our tips and tricks that we can convince readers of every budget to make traveling a priority!


Venture Meridian Magazine March 2016

What is your favorite hotspot in Meridian to frequent?

We enjoy watching movies, and so when we first experienced the VIP section at the Village Cinemas, we were hooked! We loved showing up early and ordering delicious food to enjoy during the movie!

What do you love about Meridian? We appreciate how safe and family oriented the Meridian community is.

What do you want the Meridian community to know about you? We want to let the community know that while we promote a fairly specific lifestyle on our blog, that we support any way of living that results in true happiness! Be sure to check out and read Mat & Lacey’s blog at www. and be sure to give them a follow on Instagram and Facebook @ditchingnormal.


@nexusfitness_idaho /nexusfitnessllc

Venture Meridian Magazine March 2016



OH SPRING The guarantee of a Spring Break always brightens my spirits. While some of us flee to warmer and sunnier climates for Spring Break, we all don’t have the luxury.

WRITTEN BY Mikaela Rencher PHOTOS Sydney Studios & Co.


Venture Meridian Magazine March 2016


h, Spring. I’m always SO ready for Spring. Mostly because I envision beautiful, sunny, windless, rainless weather with tulips and daffodils. Then I’m promptly reminded that I live in Idaho where the chances of a blizzard in March and April (and May... and June) are just as high as the chances of sun. The guarantee of a Spring Break, however, usually brightens my spirits a little. And while some of us flee to warmer and sunnier climates for Spring Break, some of us don’t have the luxury. But rather than spend our “break” dreaming of beachier places, we can plan some fun activities and outings with the kiddos to ensure a sane and productive Spring Break. Here are some ideas I’ve come up with to do in our wonderful community.

Meridian Public Library District

In terms of fun activities to do with kids of all ages, the Library is a hidden gem! Starting with our littlest little ones, 0-18 months, the “Baby Bugs” class is sure to be an enjoyable and engaging environment to foster an early love of literacy and reading. It’s also a great opportunity to introduce your little one to new places and people, and is also a great place to meet other parents with young kids. This class is held on Mondays at the Cherry Lane location from 11:30 a.m. to 12 p.m. For our busy and energetic toddlers, the Library offers an 18 month- 3 year old class called “Tot Time.” Think singing, dancing, and great stories. Great for a toddler’s developing social and communica-

tion skills, and burn some of that extra energy. You can attend this drop-in class on Wednesdays at 10 a.m. at the Cherry Lane location. There is a similar class for toddler and preschool age kids at the Silverstone Branch that focuses more on dancing, movement, stretching, rhythm, coordination and self-regulation. Appropriately named, “Silly Song & Dance with Miss Nicole” is sure to be an exciting time for your child. Got a Lego loving child in your family? There’s a class for them! Come to “Lego Club with Damaris”, for free play from 4:30-5:30 at the Silverstone Branch. Kids of all ages are welcome to attend (children under 5 need to be accompanied by an adult). A great way to encourage your little future architects! Want to give your kids a chance to serve others and help out in their community? Come to the library on Wednesday March 23 between 1-4 p.m. to help the “Kiwanis Komfort Kits for Kids!” Your kids can help stuff backpacks with comfort supplies for kids who have been removed from their homes and relocated. Self-sacrifice and awareness of others who are less fortunate than ourselves are two important and wonderful values to instill in our kids at a young age. Not only will it teach them to appreciate what they have, but it will also show them that they can make a difference in their community. What great lessons to teach the future leaders and contributors of our community and our world! Along with all of these classes are classes for just about anyoneall-ages art classes, teen craft class-

es, book clubs, gaming, and even a family pajama story time night!

Discovery Center of Idaho

The Discovery Center of Idaho has some great Spring Break events coming up, including daily events and camps. They’re offering 2 awesome science camps- both camps run from Monday March 21- Friday March 25 from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. The first camp, entitled “Science Myths BUSTED” is for young science-lovers ages 1st – 3rd grade, and will focus on using the scientific method to make hypotheses about popular science myths- and then seeing if those myths are BUSTED! The second camp, “Hacking Electrical Engineering” will give young scientists the opportunity to hack, tinker and take apart household objects and rebuild them in a different way. This camp is for 6th

Venture Meridian Magazine March 2016


places to take the kids over Spring Break. With bowling, video arcades, laser tag, go karts, and more, these are great options for kids that are a little older. And a short walk from Big Al’s is the Village at Meridian. They now have their grassy area up, and have a fun playground for kids of all ages. These are just a few of the many places and activities that can keep the kids entertained over Spring Break. Or, for those extranice days, go to one of the many wonderful parks in Meridian and have a picnic (and you won’t have to spend a dime!) What activities do you have planned for Spring Break? Which Meridian Park is your family’s favorite? Share your awesome Spring Break ideas with us on our Facebook page- we love to hear from our readers!

– 8th graders. Both camps will be held at the Discovery Center. To register for these camps, visit their website at Daily classes will also be offered, free for members or with admission, on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays from 10:3011 a.m. called “Young Discoverers.” With so many different and exciting demos and exhibits, The Discovery Center is an awesome place to take kids to have fun an educational Spring Break!

Zoo Boise


I don’t know about your kids, but my daughter could go to the zoo Every. Single. Day. (She’s also three, and I realize this phase probably won’t last forever.) But with the fun activities, exhibits and animals the zoo has to offer, this is a great place to take the kids during Spring Break! Bowling and Games at Wahooz and Big Al’s are just a couple of the

Venture Meridian Magazine March 2016

Venture Meridian Magazine March 2016


SPAGHETTI SQUASH Spaghetti squash with creamy goat cheese, garlic, green onions and fresh basil


Venture Meridian Magazine March 2016

What’s that you say? A squash recipe that isn’t the almighty pumpkin? Yeah, I know I’ve been on a bit of a pumpkin kick lately, but today I’m branching out a bit I promise.

You will need

1 spaghetti squash, cooked (see instructions here) goat cheese green onions-two or three stalks is fine 1.5 Tbsp pre-chopped garlic (the kind in a jar)

You may remember recently that I showed you how to microwave a spaghetti squash to use as a healthy, gluten-free and paleo noodle substitute. And lord, is it ever delicious. I’ve even got Noah (a former noodle addict) making the switch and loving it. Mostly because of recipes like these! This is my absolute favorite way to serve spaghetti squash. It looks impressive, tastes amazing, and requires almost no time whatsoever. Spaghetti squash with goat cheese, garlic, mushrooms, green onions and fresh basil

Seriously this part feels so redundant, because, you know, all that’s in the title.... ...but I digress!

The process

In a pan, heat your olive oil over medium heat. Add your mushrooms and chopped garlic and saute for about 5-10 minutes, until your mushrooms are a bit cooked and the garlic is a golden brown color. When your mushrooms and garlic are done, pour them over your spaghetti squash “noodles” and toss to coat everything evenly.

mushrooms-1 package fresh basil leaves (optional, but delicious) 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil salt and pepper to taste

Crumble your goat cheese over your noodles, and let it sit a minute so it gets good and melty. Finely chop your green onions and basil and sprinkle them over everything. Salt and pepper to taste, and you’re ready to eat!

Venture Meridian Magazine March 2016


Idaho’s Real

Estate Housing

Market Trends Population is growing and millennials are growing up... So how is the housing market in Idaho looking in the first quarter of 2016?

Samantha Stevens Capital Group broker

Samantha’s Marketing Insights


What shapes the housing market in Idaho?

Population is one of the factors that has shaped the market. Idaho’s population grew by 20,000 people in 2015, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. More and more people are moving to the “potato” state each year and there are two good reasons for that: the low cost of living and the high quality of life. Boise and its surrounding areas, with its country feel, low unemployment rate, affordable housing and public safety are among the top migration spots for the “out-of-staters.” Large companies are also interested in the area, moving and expanding their businesses to the valley.


Venture Meridian Magazine March 2016


Who typically moves to Idaho?

We work with a lot of out-of-state buyers and renters. Usually they come from the nearby states, such as California, Utah, Oregon, Nevada, Arizona, Colorado. However, sometimes we get clients from the East Coast and even Europe.

Is now a good time to buy or sell real estate in the valley?


In general the answer is yes to both! For sellers, prices have risen over the last few years and many homeowners who purchased before, during and after the recession are now in positive territory with the equity in their home. Most sellers will find it relatively easy to sell their home in this market with the limited supply as long as it is priced right from the start.


What about selling properties? What does it take to put up a “Sold� sign?

When it comes to selling a property, partnering with the right listing agent is crucial. It is important to find an agent who will go above and beyond to sell your home, not just post it in the local MLS. I am talking about pricing the property right from the start, taking professional photos and videos of your home and creating an aggressive marketing strategy. A solid marketing plan will help you sell your house in the least amount of time and for the most amount of money.

What is the median home price in Meridian and nearby cities?


The home prices in the Treasure Valley have been steadily increasing in 2015, and we anticipate prices will continue to rise over the next year.

Information provided by Capital Group. Capital Group is a locally owned and operated residential full service real estate agency located in Meridian, Idaho. Its main focus is to provide real estate buyer, seller, investor and property management services in the Treasure Valley area.

Venture Meridian Magazine March 2016