May 2016

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005- MAY 2016

PRE-FUNK MERIDIAN Gumption, Brewed to Perfection

Miss Idaho Contestants

Keeping It Real Beyond the Crown







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THE FUTURE Toni Osmundson Editor-In-Chief


Expectations are lingering and finding yourself and your voice can be hard with a world that is screaming at you. Taking things one day at a time, and saying to your self “I don’t know,” is okay.


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hen I started college in 2010, I was married and had two little boys. My boys were becoming more independent and were at school most of the day. I had always wanted to go to college and get that higher education everyone expected me to get. When I finally returned to school, I choose Political Science as my major. I wasn’t really sure where I wanted to go, but I knew one thing; foreign policy intrigued me. After diving deep into my major I learned that, although I loved foreign policy, applying it to the real world and a real job was a far reach for me. With my family’s roots committed to Meridian, I wasn’t able to pick up and leave to do a six-month stint at an overseas embassy. I started to wonder if going back to school was a good idea in the first place. I began to take some classes on state and city government. In one of my classes, I had written a paper on the city of Boise and Meridian and realized how complex city governments were. Meridian was such a small town, but then it wasn’t at the same time. Almost like a corporate company, cities needed a strong line of people to make the city run. Then it hit me. There was a need

for me here at home. That was the moment of impact for me. I turned to myself and asked, “What can I do for my city?” Although my desire to get to know the community members of Meridian was always on my mind, this question made it more real. So before I even graduated, I pursued a dream and created a magazine for my hometown to spotlight the individuals that help make this community home. I graduate from Boise State on May 7th with my Bachelor’s in Political Science with an emphasis in American Government and International Relations (say that three times fast). College was and still is a strong part of my life and I am glad I stuck with it till the end. I consider myself a lifetime learner, and will continue to research government and International Relations, along with my photography and writing; those are my passions. What was the top thing I learned through all of this and the best advice I could give to a graduating senior? Never quit what you love to do. To succeed you need hustle and passion. With these two things and your stellar personality, you will succeed in anything you take on. And believing in that last sentence is essential to your journey.

Mayor’s Message Meridian’s Future


eing recognized as the number one city in America has highlighted our area as a place to look for a great community to call home. As a City, we are prepared for growth as we plan well into the future for our water and sewer infrastructure, parks, developments and services. With the City’s new Strategic plan that centers on five key areas - strategic growth; economic vibrancy; responsive government; safety, healthy and securirty; as well as arts, culture, and recreation - we are working to ensure that as more people choose to call Meridian home, we are answering the many and varied needs of our residents. This year we’re adding even more options for residents, with events such as the Youth Farmers Market in Downtown Meridian, which will be held every Saturday from late June - September. We are also focused

on Downtown Development and creating a destination for families to enjoy. Another area of focus is the Ten Mile region. It is a prime area for employment opportunities; we are serious about bringing family wage jobs closer to where people live.

funds to design and construct additional travel lanes and widen intersections starting at Eagle Road, working west. We have growing interest from community partners, ACHD, our county and neighboring cities in this matter.

When it comes to transportation, our next focus is Highway 20/26 (Chinden). We know we can’t build ourselves out of congestion, but these state roadways need to be able to accommodate the existing traffic and incorporate basic safety improvements. As the center to the Treasure Valley, we recognize that all cars drive through us – many along this corridor. To help raise the awareness for improvements on 20/26, we have pulled together a work group that will focus on improving this important roadway and bringing it up to its full potential. Our call to action is for ITD to provide

Partnerships and collaboration are key when it comes to maintaining the high level of service our residents have come to expect. We are focused on our mission: to cultivate a vibrant community by delivering superior service through committed, equipped employees dedicated to the stewardship of our community’s resources. Our vision is to always be a premier community to live, work and raise a family. Check out more at

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Taylor Walker, Writer

Toni Osmundson, Editor-In-Chief

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Mikaela Rencher, Writer/Assistant Editor


Ali Smith, Photography Director


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Angela Pierce, Student/Sports Writer

Debbie Shaner, Photographer

Katelyn Rock, Social Media Intern

Ronald Kern, Writer

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#Ve Jessica Hanson, Writer

Jared Lewis, Photographer/Designer Venture Meridian Magazine


Mat & Lacey Thompson, Ditching Normal

Brandon & Kimberly Frank, Fitness Writers

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#Ve Marissa Wickland, Miss Meridian

Mayor Tammy, Mayor’s Message 8

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Mountain View


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repping to defend their championship title the Mountain View Maverick Girls Basketball team was determined to win that trophy again. This year only eight players had returned, the rest of the team being girls moved up from the JV team. But watching the Mav’s play, you wouldn’t know that it was their first year as a mostly-new team. The connection was there. Everyone was in sync and the support that these girls had for each other showed on the court. Every player made it their personal mission to get to that state arena once again. Their main goal for the season was to focus on working as a team. With new players it is important to work together and learn to trust their new teammates. The team travelled to Phoenix to play a different set of schools. There, they connected as a team and learned to play as one against the tough teams they were matched up against. Being in Phoenix brought the girls closer together, and gave them the drive to win more games back home. They struggled together, they won together and they finished strong together. These girls had drive and determination and everyone gave it their all to win. When asked what they would contribute the season’s success to, they said it was because they truly are a family, and they continue to have faith in each other and support each other. There’s no doubt that we will see them next year and, as many as the girls said, they will be “back strong for sure…people can doubt us, but we have a lot to prove next year.”

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WRITTEN BY Ronald Kern


OLD SCHOOL Are the days of handshaking gone?


ou sit down in front of your computer, ready to start the day. You post something inspiring, and then tweet so many tweets that the person next to you thinks they are in an aviary. Then, of course Google+ and Instagram need your attention, so you do that too. But wait, you aren’t done, not even close. There are the countless emails to respond to, pictures to add to your favorite Pinterest board, and then a couple live broadcasts on Facebook and Periscope. Finally you are finished with a job well done. PSYCH! You of course still have blogs to write, promotional videos to add on YouTube and Vimeo, and you need to provide an update, publish a post, and answer every notification on LinkedIn. Whew, now you are done! Well, at least until something happens worthy of sharing, in which case you have to do it all over again. Besides all of the above being some type of social media or communications platform, what else do they have in common? You are very astute if you agree that although communication is taking place, it isn’t the best form: oneon-one.


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If you have something to say to a person, it’s easy to just text, tweet, or post it. Heck, if words aren’t flowing for you at the time, you use a photo and that’ll suffice, right? However, how many business deals have you truly acquired by these methods? How many new clients or income-generating leads have you received this way? Back in the day, potential clients were met in person and handshakes sealed the deal. This is now known to be “old school”. Ah, those were the days weren’t they? I do love thinking about the simplicity of those types of meetings and how much less hectic it was. No matter how much technology we have at our disposal, there isn’t anything that works quite as well as speaking with someone one-onone, in person, or over the phone. I prefer meeting someone for coffee, or if distance is an issue, speaking with him or her on a video conference call, making it as close to “in person” as possible. You cannot understand a person’s tone or fluctuation of voice, as well as you can in person. More accurately, people often misinterpret text or email,

and a lot of presumptions and miscommunication take place. This sort of miscommunication doesn’t take place as often if you are speaking with them in person. Since non-verbal communication is 80% and the actual words are 20%, you can see why having the person in front of you when communicating is very important. A staggering statistic states that although 99% of Americans have cell phones, only six minutes are spent actually using it for a voice call. 33% of cell phone owners actually prefer texting or sending an email, than to speak with someone. Is it any wonder why today, so many people have major issues when they are forced to speak with someone in the flesh? Let me be clear; I love technology, and use it everyday. I don’t have anything against it, unless it’s your only form of communication. However, your clients are worth more than an email, aren’t they? Wouldn’t you rather cultivate new business in person, seeing them smile and hearing their voice? You owe it to yourself, and your clients, to stop typing and start talking.

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Gumption, Brewed to Perfection

WRITTEN BY Taylor Walker



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hen we were 22 years old, our pantry was home to boxes of macaroni and cheese, packs of ramen, and stale Oreos waiting to be dipped into a jar of peanut butter. And if we are being completely honest, the pantry was actually a small cupboard we shared with our roommates. Our cruiser bikes were more reliable than our cars on most days. Our jobs were at local coffee shops or re-shelving library books as part of the workstudy program on campus. When we were 22 years old, we spent a lot of time saying, “I’m not really sure” when people asked about our future. Cody Cuccia, on the other hand, is someone who is sure. Chances are, when you hear that Cody, at the age of 22, is one of the youngest bar owners in the Northwest, your jaw drops. If you are anything like us, you immediately ask yourself, “How do I do that too?” and wonder if you should have paid more attention during your 8:00 am Economics class. Cody, the owner of PreFunk Beer Bar in Meridian, wasn’t always the beer baron he is today. Nearly three years ago, Cody worked at another Idaho-grown business, Proof Eyewear. PreFunk Beer Bar in Boise, an up-and-coming downtown resident at the time, approached Proof and asked if they wanted to partner up for a future happy hour event. Cody volunteered to represent Proof, but because of his age (19 at the time), he was quarantined to a booth outside of the bar where he hustled glasses to the boozy happy hour patrons. The energy he felt, even from outside of the

bar, reminded him of Cheers. Regulars came and went. Dogs lay lazily under barstools or playfully greeted whoever would pet them. People laughed and socialized easily. It all felt familiar and inviting. Cody, soaking it all in, saw an opportunity to capitalize on something his grandfather always told him, “There are only two recession-proof businesses: beer and makeup.” Now was his chance to put those words of wisdom to the test. Being the outgoing personality he is, Cody befriended the owner of PreFunk Boise and asked a simple question, “What would it take to get this in my part of town?” Fast forward to age 20. With only a $750 limit on his credit card at the time, Cody rolled up his sleeves and galvanized his ingenuity. “Nearly everything in the bar is built by hand,” he says. “These [tables] are made from the original staircase that was here before we moved our entrance to the fire escape.” He hand-poured the concrete bar from a five-gallon bucket. The metalworking and USB ports were a clever addition created and installed by a friend. Cody had to trade and barter as much as he could to achieve the industrial, modern, and clean atmosphere he envisioned for PreFunk. Amidst the streak of sleepless nights prior to the sale of PreFunk’s first beer, Cody learned a valuable lesson he now imparts to other entrepreneurs: “Don’t stop just because someone has something negative to say. Just keep going. Keep pushing

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through the roadblocks.” He emphasizes, “People will tell you to do things differently,” but to Cody, it is apparent that doing things your own way can certainly pay off. The grand opening of PreFunk Beer Bar in Meridian occurred not long after Cody’s 21st birthday. The smoke-free, basement bar is Cody’s first brick and mortar venture and a far cry from his days catching lizards on the side of his mom’s house as a kid, putting them in Tupperware, and selling them to kids at school. Many of Cody’s customers may be surprised to learn that there is more than a mental list of


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upcoming tap rotations under that spiky head of hair. In fact, his vision for the future goes far beyond PreFunk. During his time at Proof, he developed an insatiable appetite for creating and utilizing sustainable resources; a trait that is evident in the reuse and recycle model he employed while building his bar in Meridian. Cody has a passion for eco-friendly design and architecture that benefits the community. “I want to change the way people are doing things because I know we won’t have the same world when my kids are grown up,” he says. From wells and high-efficiency homes, to community-supported gardens and farms, Cody now has the ability to build on a

dream that will reach far beyond the city limits of Meridian, Idaho. Cody Cuccia is someone who is sure. He is surely capable of providing a neighborhood haven that regulars consider an extension of their own homes. He is sure that success can be achieved with far less than people assume they need. He is sure he has an opportunity to develop sustainable resources that will provide a fruitful future for generations to come. Now we are all grown up and finally sure of something too: PreFunk Beer Bar is just the beginning of something great.

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We sat down with three of the Miss Idaho contestants in the Treasure Valley to go beyond the crown and learn what makes them successful women.



WRITTEN BY Toni Osmundson


wimsuits, evening gowns and interviews. Those words are associated with nearly every beauty pageant and are the reasons many people switch on their televisions to tune in. What we don’t know, however, is what happens when these beauties are in their communities, at school, or even at home. What we don’t see are all the things that make these women tick. So, we sat down with Miss Meridian, Miss Boise and Miss Treasure Valley to figure out what happens beyond the magic of the gowns, gossamer, and glitter. Brittany Lock, Marissa Wickland and Katarina Schweitzer are an amazing set of women. Sitting down with each of them, you don’t sense competitiveness, but rather, you feel the immense amount of support they have


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for each other. Their drive, selffocus and mission is inspiring to anyone who speaks to them. The Miss America Organization is relentless when it comes to giving back. They operate on a “Four Points” system that was named after the four points of their crowns. These MAO pillars of excellence are: Service, Scholarship, Style and Success. In addition, the ladies of the Miss America system are required to put their minds to work by coming up with new and innovative ways to raise money for the Children’s Miracle Network. Each contestant must raise a set amount in order to be eligible to compete. Each of these three contestants has participated in events such as food drives and fund raisers. Though this speaks volumes of

their character, this is only one element of the competition. The interview during each pageant is perhaps the most anticipated element, but also the most difficult to prepare for, and each contestant prepares differently. What you may not be aware of is that contestants aren’t just asked about “world peace”. We have all seen the live TV train wrecks of girls frozen like dear in headlights… It’s all fun and games until a panel asks your opinion on a political hot topic in front of millions of people! It should be known that the judges are at liberty to ask an array of questions from community to politics, and education to human rights and contestants do not know what they will be asked prior to the interview. Judges aren’t

necessarily looking for a “right” answer, but rather how you conduct yourself in answering. Just like a job interview, answering a question the wrong way can hurt the contestants. Each contestant is also required to run with a platform that brings awareness to a cause they are passionate about. This can be a charity, organization, or issue that they would like to advocate for throughout their reign. These three ladies are role models for their mission and what the Miss America Organization stands for. Their paths are set in the same direction, but they all bring different passions, personality and spirits. Their platforms are an array of wonderful causes from Preventative Care, Operation Support our Troops

and inspiring others to Be Limitless. Whatever their platform maybe, they do it with a resliance and diligence to push on no matter what may get in their way. These are qualities everyone looks for in a leader. There’s no doubt that you will see these girls in the community making a difference. The Miss Idaho Pageant is June 17 and 18 at the Nampa Civic Center. Be sure to cheer them on as they reach for that crown. Follow the Miss Idaho Organization at www.facebook. com/MissIdahoOrg Continue reading on page 18 for a little more on each of these three ladies. You will not only be uplifted but inspired by their big hearts and passion for their community.

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ne of Brittany’s idols is Miss America 1943, Jean Bartel. Jean may have won the Miss America title because of her beauty, but she wanted to use her newfound fame to raise money for the war efforts. Jean continued to raise money by selling war bonds. She also traveled across the U.S. and met with veterans and community members to discuss how they could help. “She had the ability to do something awesome with this title, and she did.” Brittany states that she wants to continue Jean’s mission to bring to the foreground topics that most people forget about as they go about their daily routine. On overcoming obstacles, she stated, “Once

you overcome your biggest fear, you can overcome anything.” When Brittany started competing for the Miss America Organization she went into Margene’s Bridal to purchase a dress for her first pageant. She fell in love with the service that she received, not only to sell her a dress, but to also be the best that she can be. She started working for Margene’s Bridal because of what their mission to help others and she continues to work there. Her new boss at Margene’s Bridal, Jaylee Patterson, encouraged and supported her in continuing to compete in the Miss America

Organization. She recently won the title of Miss Boise. Brittany will graduate from Boise State in 2017 with a Bachelor’s in Communications, with an emphasis in media production. Her passions are journalism and news media, and she is currently interning at KTVB for the summer. Her platform is a TV show at Boise State called Be Limitless. On her show, Brittany interviews students on how they overcome their struggles in hopes that she can encourage others to do the same. Follow Brittany on Facebook @ Miss Boise Scholarship Program.

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arissa is a Boise High honors graduate who had the opportunity to study abroad in Colmar, France. She was accepted into the Rotary Youth Exchange Scholarship Program during her senior year and she was destined for “La Vie en Rose” shortly after graduation. Contemplating her next steps while on exchange, Marissa’s sister introduced her to the Young Americans College (YA) in Southern California. To be considered for enrollment, she had to make a video audition of her singing, which she ultimately filmed in the bathroom of her French host family’s home. An hour and 10 takes later, she finally got it right and her submission earned her a ticket to YA. During her time at the college, Marissa taught under-privileged and at-risk kids


how to stage, act and execute a production. Through her time working with those kids, Marissa decided that she would make it her mission to teach. After struggling through bouts of pneumonia, a broken nose and the news that her mother had been diagnosed with breast cancer, she returned home in 2012. While caring for her mother she wanted to make an impact in her community and spent her time volunteering and being a public servant. She began competing in pageantry as a vehicle to spread awareness about the importance of teaching and giving back. The new director of the Miss Idaho Organization compelled Marissa to compete and she won Miss Meridian in December 2015. Marissa’s has such a huge caring heart and giving back is something

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that is just ingrained in her being. She finds more satisfaction in seeing others grow and succeed than in her own personal gains. You will often see her in Meridian leading a local charity event or rallying the volunteer troops. Her platform is Preventive Health: The Cure Before the Disease. Marissa’s main message is, “Time and energy are the most valuable commodities you can give.” Follow Marissa on Facebook @ Miss Meridian Scholarship Program.

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atarina is originally from San Diego and moved to Idaho to attend Boise State. She graduated this May with a Communications Degree and is applying to grad school. A friend introduced her to pageantry as a way to get scholarships that would help her pay for tuition. Working and going to school at the same time is hard for anyone. While the Miss America Organization helps to pay for college, it also allows the contestants to give back to the community. Something Katarina loves to do. Just last month she was able to contribute her time at the dance marathon to

raise money for the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals. She tied for first in the dance marathon even though she’s not a dancer.

While at Boise State, Katarina was a part of the sorority Alpha Kai Omega. She states that “being in the Greek community has really helped me developed as a person.” She loved having sorority sisters to lean on and help when anyone was in need. Katarina’s platform is Operation Support Our Troops. Being from a military family, she wants to support and bring awareness to our troops

in the community. There are a massive amount of military including active duty, reservist and veterans here locally that we can help. She wants the Military community to know that we are thankful for what they do for our country and what they have gone through. Katarina is working towards becoming a Speech and Language Pathologist and wants to join the Navy as an officer following her dad’s footsteps, who was in the Navy for 23 years.




Follow Katarina on Facebook @ katarina.schweitzer

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Give a girl a tennis racket and chances are she’ll make you proud.


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f you give a toddler a tennis racquet, chances are she will make you proud someday. She was four years old when she started playing. Now, she is the team captain of her high school tennis team. Skylar, a senior at Eagle High School, is playing in her final year of high school tennis. But, it will not be her last. Skylar will play at the next level. This fall, she will attend Middlebury College in Vermont and play on the college’s tennis team. She described the college as being small and the campus as “... beautiful with lots of trees.” Last year, Skylar met Middlebury’s tennis coach at a tennis camp she attended at Brown University. Shortly after the camp, Skylar played in a tennis showcase at Yale University. The showcase was open to ranked high school tennis players from all over the United States. The tennis players were matched up against various opponents in front of college coaches in hopes of being scouted. Tennis holds several memories for Skylar. One of her best tennis moments was last year, her junior year, when she and her doubles partner won the state championship. Skylar also played on a regional tennis team called Zonals with other student tennis players from Colorado, Montana, Nevada, and Utah. The team traveled to complete against other US regional tennis teams. The experience of playing in Zonals taught Skylar that when you play as a team, “you are not playing for yourself, but something bigger.”

PHOTOS BY Sydney Studios & Skylar

Another great tennis moment for Skylar was when she was a ball girl in the Davis Cup when it was held in Boise. It was not only her first time watching professional tennis live, but she was on the court with the pros. Making it to the next level is something Skylar has been working towards for years. She recalls one of the first times she played tennis with her father. “He set up a net in the drive way and I just started learning to hit balls,” reminisced Skylar. Tennis has been a family thing for as long as Skylar can remember. Her grandfather played and so did her father. Skylar’s father actually won a tennis state championship at Highland High School when he was a high school senior. At seven years old she started taking private lessons. She received lessons from Duane Stotland, a tennis pro at Hillcrest Country Club. “He is one of the best that I know,” stated Skylar. She credits Duane for fostering her love for tennis and for always keeping her lessons fun and full of encouragement. Tennis takes time and practice, but Skylar knows how to make time to enjoy being a high school student. One of her favorite things to do is to go out to eat with friends. She is also passionate about photography. Landscape and lifestyle pictures are her favorite types of photos to capture. Recently, she and her family traveled to San Francisco, California where she snapped beautiful photos of the local scenery.

In addition to spending time with friends and taking pictures, school has always remained a priority. Skylar has learned the importance of being a good student and maintaining her grades. Her favorite class this year is Advanced Placement Psychology, because she enjoys the subject matter and the teacher. When asked what she is most looking forward to about college, she replied, “I am excited to keep improving.” As she reflects on her senior year, Skylar has recognized the benefits of open mindedness. She has learned that you can not judge people, because all people have a back story. One thing is for certain, Skylar plans on playing tennis for the rest of her life. After college, she hopes to become a pro at a local tennis club. She even offered to be interviewed when she is playing at 90. Remember her name and watch her future unfold.

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WRITTEN BY Angela Pierce

PHOTOS BY Sydney Studios


Service is her passion, along with photography, swim and school. How does a high school junior do it all?


f you need any advice on how to put together a steering committee, Cheyenne is an expert. Cheyenne, a junior at Renaissance High School, is actively involved in over 10 different organized groups in the Meridian Community. In addition to her dedication and commitment to the Meridian community, she enjoys swimming, photography and traveling. The Mayor’s Youth Advisory Council (MYAC) in Meridian is one of the biggest Youth Advisory Councils in the nation and Cheyenne has been a devoted member for the past three years. MYAC provides high school and homeschooled students grades 9-12 opportunities to serve in the Meridian community. Through MYAC, Cheyenne has met other youth advisory students and their mayors throughout Idaho. Not only is Cheyenne a member, but she is the Government Affairs Chair on MYAC’s Executive Committee (a sub-committee). As the Government Affairs Chair, Cheyenne is working diligently with other Executive Committee students to see that Idaho’s seat belt law becomes a primary law versus a secondary law. MYAC has also presented Cheyenne with opportunities to travel. In March, she went to the National League of Cities conference in Washington D.C. to network and gain valuable leadership skills.

In addition to her active role in Meridian’s MYAC, Cheyenne is also the Youth Commissioner on the Meridian Arts Commission. Her main role is to create opportunities for Meridian youth to display their artwork. Cheyenne assists with art shows and gets to make decisions about the art pieces that are displayed in Meridian. This summer, during Meridian Dairy Days, Cheyenne will be assisting with an art booth, “Art by The Barn.” The booth will give local youth an opportunity to paint. Girl Scouts of America is Cheyenne’s newest endeavor. In an effort to earn a gold award in Girl Scouts, Cheyenne worked with the Meridian Police Department and the Idaho Athletic Club to put on a free clinic for children 4-12 years old to learn how to swim. The clinic gave Cheyenne an opportunity to raise awareness about the importance of water safety. As a long-time swimmer on the Boise Y swim team and a high school swimmer at Mountain View High School, she was honored to teach others how to swim. There is a good chance you will see Cheyenne working with our youth and serving our community any day of the week, but she is also involved in some great activities at Renaissance High School. Cheyenne is the Junior Class President and gets to assist with fun activities for the students. She enjoys the responsibilities of a class president and the impact of teamwork.

Renaissance High School also has a Leo Club, which is a branch off the Lions Club (a global community service group). Cheyenne is the Leo Club Service Project Chairperson. The club’s focus is in Leadership, Experience and Opportunity. Students who in the club learn the value of community service. When asked how she keeps up with all of her activities, her response was, “I like to be busy.” Several of Cheyenne’s volunteer hours have counted towards various achievements. Cheyenne is a member of the National Honor Society, which teaches students the value of community service and she has earned a couple certificates through the Congressional Award Program. Congressional Awards are presented to students who set and achieve goals in four program areas. Cheyenne plans on continuing all of her activities until graduation next spring. Service is important to Cheyenne. Her goal is to attend a service college. She is hoping to get accepted into West Point, the United States Military Academy, but she would also be happy with a swimming scholarship. Over the years, she has learned how rewarding service can be when you work hard and dedicate yourself. “No pressure, no diamonds” is Cheyenne’s favorite quote because, “Without hard times, you won’t see the best of your abilities.”

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LOOKING FORWARD Be happy as often as possible. That’s the goal right? Negativity has a way of snowballing at times. There are ways you can combat all of the negative thoughts in three easy steps.


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our boss may be a jerk, a rain storm just flooded your basement, and your car broke down. Negativity has a way of snowballing at times. There is a way you can combat all of the negative thoughts and feelings that result when dealing with the daily stresses of life. There really is, and it’s super simple: always give yourself something to look forward to. Yep, that’s it. Always give yourself something to look forward to. You have probably already noticed the positive effect of doing this at some point in your life. Have you ever had a vacation planned and the work week that led up to the vacation was the toughest work week ever? While that week was terrible, in the back of your mind you found comfort with the thought of “I just need to get through this and then I’ll get to do _____ (fill in the blank with your awesome vacation)”. Suddenly the stress of your work week doesn’t seem so bad. In order to stay on top of the ever present stresses of life, you should spend time each week planning fun activities to do for the following week, month or year. If you need a happy thought to help get you through a bad day, you’ll have one to lean on. It’s not realistic to always have a big vacation planned but you can start by scheduling casual meet-ups with friends and family. Perhaps a date night with your spouse. Order that book you’ve been wanting to read and get excited for it to arrive. You’ll be amazed with how even the “little things” can help get you through a tough time. You might be saying to yourself, “Well how am I supposed to enjoy the present if I’m always planning for the future?” Fair question. The confusing, riddle of an answer is this…your future will soon become your present. This will result in you enjoying the present even more than you originally would have, had you not made those awesome plans. You will be enjoying something fun today due to the plans you made a week/month/year ago. If that wasn’t cool enough, when that fun thing you planned is coming to an end, you won’t be as bummed because you’ll already have something to look forward to after that. The amazing cycle of positivity has begun!

DITCHING NORMAL Venture Meridian Magazine


Step 1.

Where should you start? Sit down right now with a pen and paper and fill out the below questions.

1. What do I enjoy doing? (hobby type stuff) 2. What have I always wanted to do or see? (massive ‘fairy tale’ type things)

Read more of Mat & Lacey’s adventures on www.ditchingnormal.


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3. Who do I enjoy spending time with the most? (people that make you happy)

Look at your answers to question one and immediately make plans to do three things from this list. Right now, set a date, time and place to do these activities. If any of these first three items can involve other people, take a look at your answers to question two and start sending out invites. Take five seconds and shoot a text to your best friend with a quick invite to see that new movie you have been wanting to see. By including others, you will increase your level of accountability, ensuring you actually go through with your fun plans. If you’re inviting someone that always makes you happy, it will only boost your enjoyment and level of anticipation to do what you planned. Rinse and repeat each week. Boom! Done with step one.

Step 2. Look at your answers to question two. Are they fantastically ridiculous ideas? Things like “go to the Superbowl” or “take a trip to Europe”, “start a business “ or “remodel the house”? If not, go back and redo your answers. Let me first say that nothing you want to experience is out of the question; it may just require a bit more planning. A lot of us tend to shy away from big goals like this because it takes more effort to accomplish. Big ideas are overwhelming, so take a simple approach. First, find out

WRITTEN BY Ditching Normal

how much it will cost to make it happen. Second, figure out how much money each month you can set aside to put toward your goal. Third, identify your time table for making it happen. For example, if Superbowl tickets are $1200, figure out the amount you will need to start saving each paycheck, in order to be ready to buy you ticket by x date. Login to your online banking profile and have that amount put aside automatically each month. Set a reminder in your phone to “buy Superbowl tickets” on the date that you previously determined. There you go- you’re now headed to the Superbowl. It’s that easy and that same practice applies to any “big” idea you have on your list. Lacey and I have actually found a way through credit card rewards

points to highly discount all of the “always wanted to do” items on our list. We just got back from the 2016 NCAA Men’s Final Four basketball tournament and only spent $200 a piece to do it (flights, hotels, and tickets to all 3 games included). You can learn more by visiting our blog at .

Step 3. Look at the names you wrote down for question three. It’s plain and simple; these are the people with which you should spend your time. These are the people you want to invite along on your adventures. They make you happy, make you laugh, make you feel good about yourself and they support all of your whacky ideas. If you’re consistently spending time with someone

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whose name is not listed in your answer to question three, take a minute and realize that you have a choice in the matter. Decide if you need to make some changes. The whole point of this process is to be happy looking forward to doing something that energizes you. Remember it isn’t always where you are, it’s who you’re with. There you have it. As oversimplified as it may all seem, it works. All you have to do is spend a few minutes every so often to accomplish a higher level of happiness on a consistent basis. Your lows won’t seem as low and your highs will come more frequently. Give yourself an awesome life to look forward to. It’s in your control more than you realize, so please, start making plans to be happy.

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FITNESS Avoid thinking “What did I just sign up for?” with our pointers to help you out on your journey to the starting line and more importantly, to the finish line. Here are some tips to keep stomping the pavement.


our best friend says, “Let’s run a race!” It’s a simple enough statement and you’re excited as you go to the race’s website, click “register” and whip out your credit card. The transaction is over in a minute, you’re beaming with excitement and then reality sinks in: What did I just sign up for!? There are many lessons to take from the training experience that we can apply to life. An exciting yet scary adventure is in your future and you’re not exactly sure how you’re going to get to the finish line. How can you be sure you’ll be ready on race day? How will you break through the wall around mile 20? Here are some pointers to help you out on your journey to the starting line and more importantly, the finish line of your next big venture.

Think small. Don’t think

about the enormity of the goal and instead break it down into smaller increments. Just how the race itself can be broken down into increments (aid station to aid station), the training can be as well. Training for a race is similar to earning a college degree. By


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focusing on one semester at a time, it’s easier to accomplish one objective at a time on your way toward your ultimate goal (college or race).

Equip yourself. Whether

you’re buying good shoes at a running store for your upcoming race or buying a laptop and backpack for your first semester in college, equip yourself with the tools you’ll need to be successful. This could also apply to surrounding yourself with the right people. Equipping yourself with friends who will empower and help along your journey is important.

Join a training group. Find

a running coach or group that will help you get to your running goal with the amount of time and abilities you have. Have you heard the phrase, “misery loves company?” Well, runners love company. Let’s just leave it at that. Carrying on the analogy of working towards a college degree, your marathon training group is that study group you meet with three to four times a week in order to

bond, encourage each other and suck down massive amounts of caffeine.

Eat and sleep well. While

pizza and donuts might sound great for lunch and watching Family Guy until three in the morning might sound like great ideas, your future self might not appreciate it when you have three miles to run or three hours of homework to do. Fuel your engine well with fruits, vegetables, lean protein, nuts and whole grains and let your body rest and recover. Your brain will function better whether training for a marathon, studying for tests or both.

Visualize. Even though the

task may seem daunting, visualize yourself crossing that finish line. Visualize how great you will feel and how proud you will be of your accomplishment. Your next big adventure might be an intimidating one, but keeping these tips in mind will help you achieve your goal(s). Be good to your current and future self as you embark on many adventures.


WRITTEN BY Fleet Feet Meridian

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MOMTAGE The Blessing of Change WRITTEN BY Mikaela Rencher


lthough not as terrifying as bringing home my first child, I still had some anxiety bringing Hartley home. I worried about how she would fit into our family and how I’d be able to maintain my closeness and relationship with her and my husband. There’s something about bringing a new baby home that sparks emotions of all sorts. As some of our readers may know, we brought home our 2nd baby girl, Hartley, at the end of March. Although not as terrifying as bringing home my first child, I still had some anxiety bringing Hartley home. With Myla I worried if I had everything I needed, and worried about how I was going to take care of her. With H, I worried about how she would fit into our family and how I’d be able to maintain my closeness and relationship with her and my husband. The night before I went in to have H, I wrote this in my journal: “On this day, the day before you are born, I am feeling a little anxious, a little excited, and a little unsure. I’m unsure of the outcome [of delivery], unsure of the process, unsure of the


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impact you will have on our family. I’m feeling emotional towards Myla, wondering how your arrival will affect her. But then your daddy said to me, “One day, she will thank us for giving her a little sister.” It’s so true. I’m so glad my parents gave me my siblings. I love them with all of my heart, and my life would have been so much less fun and meaningful without them. They are some of my best and closest friends today. I also think about the immense joy that Myla has brought to daddy and me, and I know that you will bring us just as much joy! Seeing you grow, watching you develop, learning who you are, what your personality is like–these are my favorite things. Seeing you tomorrow will fill a space in my heart that I don’t even know is empty today.” I read that journal entry a couple weeks after Hartley was born, and it put a big smile on my face. I could never have imagined how much more joy and love another little human could bring into our family. “What was I so afraid of?” I asked myself. The answer came so clearly into my mind, it was like a bolt of

lightning: change. Change? Really? I had always embraced change in my life and even looked forward to it. Why was this experience throwing me for a loop? It’s easy to see a big change coming in our future and start letting fear creep in. We’ve all probably experienced this at one point or another–starting high school, starting college, starting a new job, marriage, having a baby, moving to a new city and many others. Each new experience brings with it new challenges, but also new gifts. One of these gifts is growth. The day before I went in to have H, I was having some early-morning

personal development time. With the thoughts and anxiety of the coming day weighing heavy on my mind, I stumbled across some reading that lead me to this idea (taken from my personal notes): “The Importance of Change: We need change in order to grow and develop. Just like stagnant water harbors bacteria, and becomes contaminated, but flowing water stays clean, people need constant change to be strengthened and to help them become purified. When we are stagnant we can get in a rut and our growth can become stunted. We need new experiences for us to reach our best potential.�

I think back to the many important life lessons I have learned, and each one came after I had experienced some sort of change, and the struggles that came with it. One of the biggest, if not the biggest, ones was having my first child. I could write a novel about the numerous ways I grew personally in my first year of motherhood. At the time I felt so much stress, fear and anxiety about this new chapter in my life. Looking back now, I realize they were simply growing pains. Hindsight is 20/20, right? And more importantly, I see the person they made me today. Having this outlook can greatly help us in facing new challenges that arise. As we push ourselves out of our

comfort zones, we can experience the change that is needed to generate positive personal growth. The only certainty in the future is that there will be change. But that doesn’t have to be a daunting thought; rather than seeing a mountain to climb, we can choose to see a grand opportunity to gain a new perspective on the world. Rather than shying away from new opportunities, we can draw on the confidence developed from past experiences and face them head-on with optimism and even excitement. If we get our minds right, we can truly begin to see change as a gift to our future selves.

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y Name is Marissa Wickland and I am Miss Meridian 2016! I was crowned on December 12th 2015, and I will be competing at the prestigious Miss Idaho Pageant on June 18th. The Miss American Scholarship Program has changed my life in such a short period of time. I hope that through my service in the community and the advocacy of my platform, I can give back the wisdoms and humility that I have gained in this organization. As Contestants, we get to choose a personal platform that we support during our year. This can be a specific charity or nonprofit, a national issue, or even a practice that we want to bring energy to in our community. Our national

platforms that all Miss America Organization contestants support are the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals and STEM Education. I have created the platform The Cure Before the Disease: Preventative Health Through Nutrition and Fitness. We as a population have become more and more dependent on instant gratification sacrificing our health and wellness as a result. I, admittedly, have been one of them. I have dedicated my year to this campaign of retraining our brains. It is crucial that we reverse our addiction to sugar and work pro-actively to fuel our bodies with the proper sustenance. Changing your eating and fitness habits is not an easy feat, especially if you have been doing the same things for a majority of your life. In order to increase the quality and longevity of our lives here and now, we must decide that our wellness come first. The human body can be thought of as an incredibly intricate and well-built machine. If we care for it, and keep up on maintenance, it will run efficiently. That being said, the energy needs to trend toward preventing ailments, rather than trying to treat them after the fact. It is time for this momentum of healthy living to become less of a fad, and more of a way of life. Together, we can be the cure before the disease. Follow my journey on social media! Instagram: @Marissawickland Facebook: Marissa Wickland & Miss Meridian Scholarship Program

WRITTEN BY Marissa Wickland PHOTOS BY Marc Reynolds Photography

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WRITTEN BY Jessica Hanson

PHOTOS BY Jessica Hanson


Curry Crusted Steak over Spaghetti Squash Stir Fry

1 spaghetti squash 2 top sirloin steaks 4 Tbsp curry powder 3-4 sweet small peppers 1 package of mushrooms Broccoli and carrots, sliced into spears 1 bunch green onions 2 cups bean sprouts 2 Tbsp sesame seeds 3 Tbsp soy sauce 1 bunch of garlic, peeled and minced 3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil

For peanut sauce:

1 cup peanut butter (chunky) 1/3 cup chopped peanuts 1 cup of soy sauce 1 cups water 1 bunch of garlic, peeled and chopped 1 Tbsp curry powder 1/2 Tbsp Gram masala First, you’re going to rub your steaks with the 4 Tbsp of curry powder. This is easy to do, simply sprinkle your steaks with the curry powder and rub them in until they’re coated evenly. Heat your grill to high and set your steaks on about five minutes on one side, wait until you see them start to sizzle and then flip them. Heat a pan or wok over high with you olive oil, then add your spaghetti squash noodles. Toss them with your soy sauce and garlic. Let them sit to fully crisp on one side, then stir to make sure it gets cooked through. Your veggies should be cooked but still crisp! While your spaghetti squash stir fry is cooking, in a small pot over medium heat, you’ll mix all your ingredients for your peanut sauce. Be warned, this sauce is amazing. It’s good enough that we use it as a salad dressing. A marinade. And there may have been a time or two we were tempted to drink it straight! Let your peanut sauce simmer and your peanut butter slowly melt, until it’s fully combined Serve your steaks sliced thin, garnished with green onions and drizzled with peanut sauce on top of a bed of your spaghetti squash stir fry, and prepare to sit down and relax and enjoy a meal worth savoring!


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a k e t S d e t s u r C y rr

s e l Spaghetti Squash Nood

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