Highlanders in the News: Week of July 18
Every week, our Highlanders are using their education to do extraordinary things. Here, we’ll highlight some notable mentions from local, regional, national and international news media. Whether our students, alumni, faculty and staff are featured as subject matter experts in high-profile stories or simply helping make the world a better place, we’ll feature their stories.
The Lions’ king
It’s only been about a year and a half since Joshua Bolling ’02, M.A. ’04, joined Lions Club International, but he’s already off to a fairly amazing start with the organization.
Bolling lives in Knoxville, Tennessee, and works as a senior geologist for Strata Environmental Services, conducting soil and groundwater investigations and remediations.
Earlier this month, he was named president of the Karns, Tennessee, Lions Club.
But Bolling also recently scored a hat trick of sorts when he was named 2021 Lion of the Year, first for his chapter, then for his district, and more recently for the entire state of Tennessee.
That’s not a bad track record, just 20 months into his membership.
A July 11 story for the Knoxville News Sentinel talks about how Bolling did it – his fundraising efforts, his promotional activities and the family ties that led him to join the international service organization in the first place.
“I plan to keep growing the club. We need new young, energetic members … especially with fundraising experience,” Bolling told the newspaper. “The more money we raise, the more we can give back to the community.”
Flowering against adversity
Virtually every business operating during 2020 had to weather the challenges of the pandemic and try to hang on.
That’s a phase of economic history that Stephanie Duncan ’07 knows all too well.
Duncan and her sister, Jessica Hall, own and operate Harmony Harvest Farm in Weyers Cave, a town in Augusta County, Virginia.
Harmony Harvest ships fresh, direct-from-farm flowers, a tricky undertaking in any climate, but they also focused on bulk deliveries for weddings which, this time two years ago, became a ghost town on a business level.
Nevertheless, Duncan and Hall’s farm has not only survived a rough period; it has thrived and expanded.
On July 16, the sisters launched an on-site farm store that sells bouquets, arrangements, wreaths and flower frogs – small accessories that help keep flowers in their place and are popular collector's items.
So how did the sisters do it for themselves? On July 11, local writer Stephanie Spernak published an expansive piece in The Harrisonburg Citizen that tells the whole story, from the business’ origins to the present day. It covers a range of topics, including the eye-popping success they’ve experienced of late, a business grant they were the sole Virginians to receive and their efforts to craft their own flower frogs by starting a foundry on their farm.
“We wanted to save these American-made mechanics,” Duncan said of the frogs. “We had such an appreciation for sustainability and heirlooms that we didn’t want to see it fade away.”
Life’s rich pageant
Kirby Smith has a lot going on, to put it mildly.
In addition to pursuing her post-master’s certificate in educational leadership at Radford University, Smith teaches English at Bath County High School and is also raising three children. Active in her church, she leads the children’s ministry and also does volunteer work for a number of community projects.
She even hosts a podcast called “Go After It,” whose theme, fittingly, is accomplishing goals. It launched in February on Spotify and iTunes, and Smith recently posted its seventh episode.
On top of all that, next month looks even busier, according to a recent story by WSLS-TV in Roanoke.
That’s because in May, Smith won the title of Mrs. Virginia America and will now advance to compete for the next tier, Mrs. America, on Aug. 20. The event will be livestreamed on the pageant website, and the winner of that contest will compete to become Mrs. World.
“The best advice I received while preparing for Mrs. Virginia was to do it scared,” Smith told WSLS-TV. “Being on stage is kind of a scary situation to be in, and it can be uncomfortable. But I don’t think you should let scary things stop you from chasing after things you want. Do it scared and do it anyway.”