Effingham Daily News, Effingham, IL


September 27, 2012

Visitor back after 12 years

WHEELER —      Nancy Cao discovered it’s a small world.

     The Chicago resident visited the homestead of a Jasper County friend earlier this month.

     Little did she know the visit would reunite her with the farming family she visited 12 years ago during a class trip.

     The reunion was prompted by a discussion during dinner one night at the home of Tyler Holsapple, who she befriended while attending the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.

    “I told his mom I had been to a dairy farm in fifth grade,” said Cao. “She told me about a nearby farm that hosted school trips but couldn’t think of the name. I told them I visited the Bierman farm, and she said ‘that’s it.’”

    The next morning, Holsapple and Cao drove to the Bierman farm to see the place Cao had visited as a fifth-grader at Robert Healey Elementary School in Chicago.

    The reunion put to rest a curiosity Denise and Roger Bierman had about at least one of the students after they left the farm.

    “We always wondered what happened to these kids,” said Denise.

    Cao also wondered about the Biermans but was unable to contact them because she did not know the address.

    The Biermans began inviting school kids in 1991 to their farm after seeing a Farm Bureau notice asking farm families to adopt a classroom. The couple were connected with Robert Healey Elementary, located near White Sox stadium. Every spring, fifth-graders from the school would visit the farm and were treated to a homemade lunch of pork and hamburgers, pickles, cookies and a goodie bag.

    Like others, Cao had never set foot on a farm before. So, her memories of the trip remained vivid, especially one.

    That day on the farm something caught Cao’s eye. She saw the horse she was afraid to ride during her first trip to the farm.

    Cao has since overcome her fear and rode the horse around the farm.

    “It was exciting,” she said.

    The visit triggered more memories for Cao, including of hats the kids were given.

    “As she stood here, she remembered more stuff,” said Denise.

    “It was so nice catching up with them,” said Cao.

    A photo of the reunion Cao posted on Facebook sparked reaction from former classmates she still is friends with via the social network.

    The reaction prompted another reunion. Cao is planning to gather the fifth-grade class she hasn’t seen since eighth grade and have them meet with the Biermans, this time in Chicago.

    “They seem very excited,” she said.

    The group is planning to meet in December.

    Denise said they also hope to meet with teacher Barbara Sisto, who facilitated the trips.

    Cao is not the only one in her family to visit the Biermans’ farm. Her sister and brother also visited the homestead, and Cao hopes the three can coordinate a another visit to the farm before the December reunion.

    Although the Biermans no longer host the trips, the visits have left a lasting impression on not only the students but them as well. Denise has kept the letters all the students have written thanking them for the visits and found the letters written by Cao and her siblings.

    In sifting through the letters, the Biermans have made another connection.

    “My son mentors a med student who also visited the farm,” she said.

    Denise continues to sort through the letters in the hopes of finding another name she might recognize.

    “Shows how small the world is,” she said.

    Cao said not only has the experience reminded her of the same notion, it has rekindled her love of farm life.

    “When I went back, I told Tyler ‘I’m in love with farm life and want to move down there,’” said the recent college graduate. “I would absolutely move down there if I had the opportunity.”

Text Only
  • Study: Kids gain weight more quickly over summer break

    Any parent or teacher can tell you that schoolchildren tend to slip back a bit academically over the long summer break. But now a Harvard University study has come up with troubling indications that they also gain weight more quickly during those months when, traditionally, we hope they're outdoors much of the time, enjoying the summer sun.

    June 16, 2014

  • 20140614-AMX-RETIRE-GENX14.jpg Lean retirement looms for Generation X

    When their working years end, Gen-Xers might have to live on just half of their pre-retirement income, compared with 60 percent for the Baby Boom generation, Pew said last year.

    June 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • 20140612-AMX-FATHERS-CARDS123.jpg Father's Day cards make subjects the targets of jokes

    There's a good chance if you receive — or give — a Father's Day card this weekend, Dad will be portrayed as a flatulent, beer-obsessed, tool-challenged buffoon who would rather hog the remote, go fishing or play golf than be with the kids.

    June 15, 2014 3 Photos

  • Texting while driving is latest teen risk as smoking declines

    While smoking among American teens has fallen to a 22-year low, most adolescents admit to engaging in a new type of risky behavior: texting while driving.

    June 15, 2014

  • $15 minimum wage puts Seattle in uncharted waters

    Depending on which pundit is nattering away, this means Seattle is either going to fall off the map and become a "Mad Max"-style economic wasteland or transform into an egalitarian utopia that inspires sweeping pro-labor activism nationwide.

    June 7, 2014

  • 2010-Winter-Olympic-Games-001.jpg Nobody wants to host the Winter Olympics

    If we end up watching slopestyle from the Central Asia steppes in 2022, it will likely be because it's becoming clear that nobody in Europe wants to host these Olympics anymore. Publics may finally be getting wise to the fact that the long-term economic benefits of hosting mega-events like the Olympics or the World Cup are usually negligible at best.

    May 27, 2014 1 Photo

  • airplanes-work-1.jpg Airfare honesty? It may be an oxymoron

    The issue of fare advertising has taken on a renewed sense of urgency now that Congress is considering removing the Transportation Department's full-fare advertising rule, which requires airlines and ticket sellers to display a price that you can actually book.

    May 27, 2014 1 Photo

  • Study: Both men and women feel less stress at work than at home

    In a newly released study in the Journal of Science and Medicine, researchers carefully examined the levels of the stress hormone, cortisol, of a variety of workers throughout the day. The data clearly showed that both men and women are significantly less stressed out at work than they are at home.
     And the women they studied said they were happier at work. While the men said they felt happier at home.

    May 27, 2014

  • Five myths about caffeine

    But how much do you know about the drug - and yes, it is a drug - you're consuming? Before downing one more gulp of your favorite stimulant, let go of some persistent, caffeinated myths.

    May 27, 2014

  • Making the most of longer school days

    Research shows that extra time doesn't help unless it is well used. With that in mind, the Boston-based National Center on Time and Learning has just released recommendations on the best way to construct a longer school day.

    May 26, 2014

AP Video

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.