Dan Nix has lived in Grain Valley for 41 years and is a lifelong hunting enthusiast. He regularly hunts deer in Missouri and has hunted quail, coyotes, and hogs. He never had a desire to take his hobby beyond the States, but after winning a hunting trip to Africa six years ago, he was hooked.
“I knew some people that had gone and they said you need to go. I never had any desire to go. I figured there was enough hunting in North America,” Nix said.
Since his initial trip to South Africa, Nix has traveled to Namibia, and back to South Africa this past July. While some recent national stories have focused on hunters who go on big game hunts, Nix participates in managed hunts of specific animals that are processed and shared with local communities and orphanages. In his most recent hunt, Nix harvested a number of animals, including two wildebeest, a blesbok and steenbok (both antelopes native to southern and eastern Africa).
“I wish I had gone 30 years ago. The hunts are really regulated and managed well by local professional hunters and guides. We had an opportunity to hunt specific animals that were no longer breeding. We went out and picked a specific female wildebeest out and they processed her. I stopped by the orphanage where the meat was donated and was able to take a tour. They were getting ready for lunch when we arrived. Their kitchen was impressive and looked just like a professional kitchen you would see in the states. The orphanage served 167 boys and girls.”
Nix said that meat processed from the managed hunts is shared with the lodge hosting the hunts, the guide and hunters in charge, and then with the local communities. Most of the farming communities he has encountered share a communal kitchen and meat is shared among community members.
“Every place that I’ve been and the people that I know that have gone have all experienced the same thing. Local families and orphanages all get a portion of the meat. Nothing is gone to waste,” Nix said.
Nix was able to travel with his father, who is in his 90s and still hunts, to Namibia. During a separate trip his father took to South Africa, a member of their group was able to assist in the hunt of a lioness who had been killing livestock and attacking people.
“Cats are a real problem in a lot of areas, and the conservation officials work with farmers and safaris to manage these hunts,” Nix said.
“Every time I get over there, I think this is how the garden of Eden had to be. You could be out in the plains or bush, and 10 miles away you’re in mountains. It is absolutely beautiful there.”
Nix plans to return for another safari in 2021.
Grain Valley School District employee Pete Carpino was recently nominated for the Community Profile in Grain Valley News. Coach Carpino is about to begin his 31st year in public education. He’s worn may hats during that time.
Tenures in rural, urban, and suburban school settings have led Carpino to believe that kids are the same regardless of where they come from. That view is clad in time spent as a strength and conditioning teacher, special education teacher, as well as a football and girls basketball coach.
Carpino believes that respect and competition are two important parts of any education a student receives. “Treat people with respect and be hard on them when it comes to expectations, and they’ll respect you. My wife and I raised three girls, and we had a rule in our house that you had to be involved in two activities during the school year. As long as you are involved, you are better off. Research shows that students who are involved in school do better academically than those who don’t,” Carpino said.
The University of Kansas is among those institutions that have conducted research cited by Carpino. A study performed by Lumpkin and Achen during the 2011-2012 school year found that students involved in athletics or activities had higher attendance and graduation rates, lower drop-out rates, and higher assessment scores than those not involved.
“I’m a huge fan, and I know all of our coaches are, of students who are three sport athletes. We don’t want kids to concentrate on one thing year around. For one thing, I think it creates injuries. It’s something that’s unwanted. Especially, in a kid who’s fifteen, perhaps doing the same repetitive motion for 12 months continuously. We’ve got kids in the band or that cheer that are in the weight room. It helps them all. They know I’m receptive to it. I love having them in there and seeing them work to get better,” Carpino said.
Spending time near the sideline or court leads one to notice the pride Carpino has in being a Grain Valley Eagle, along with his passion for coaching. These attributes are echoed by head coaches David Allie and Randy Draper who lead the Eagle football and girls basketball programs respectively.
“Pete is firm, fair, and caring. The kids like him because they know what they are going to get and it’s consistent. Coach is also quick to praise and quick to correct. He’s a good communicator and a great football mind. We both love football and have similar personalities. It’s awesome to coach with someone who’s your best friend,” Allie said.
Draper was also complimentary in his summation of Carpino. “Caring and genuine are two words I would use to describe Pete. He wants to do a good job, and the kids know he’s invested in them doing well. He’s also hilarious, and the kids enjoy his sense of humor.”
Coach Carpino is starting his sixth year at Grain Valley High School. He’s quick to light up when talking about Eagle Time Advisory Period or his teaching philosophy for strength and conditioning when asked about things he’s most proud of about being an Eagle.
“The community is outstanding. There are so many good people here. We have a session during the week called Eagle Time where we mentor twenty or so kids through their high school career. Get to know them, do enrollment with them, and provide advice or counseling. My wife being a local OBGYN, two-thirds of that class was delivered by my wife. It’s really cool to have multiple connections with that group of individuals. This is the best school district I’ve ever been in, and I’ve been in some good ones,” Carpino said.
“I also went through a paradigm shift about fifteen years ago when I went to the University of Southern California when Pete Carroll was the head football coach there. I spent several days with their staff, and a large portion of that was in the weight room. What I learned from them that’s always stuck with me is that they preached they were building athletes not refrigerators. I started teaching more ground based explosive lifts to build better athletes in the weight room. I’m also fortunate to have several guys on staff who have weight training experience that I can lean on for advice as well.”
Longevity within a profession tends to have several ingredients. A career that spans across three decades no doubt involves applying what you’ve learned. Carpino credits well respected and retired educator Bob Tavernaro as someone who had a profound impact on him.
“The best advice I’ve ever received about doing well on the job came from Coach Tavernaro. He encouraged you as an educator to be fair in what you do. When you go home, look in the mirror and know that what you’ve done is the right thing. Be nice to the custodians. Be nice to the secretaries and don’t send your kids to the office all the time and you’ll be okay,” Carpino quipped with a smile and a chuckle.
Having the good fortune to be around someone who influences you to do positive things is a blessing. Coach Tavernaro is a member of the Greater Kansas City Football Coaches Association Hall of Fame. He, just like Coach Carpino, enjoyed watching young people succeed during his time in education. It will be interesting to see who picks up the torch of motivating young people in the future with the Eagles that flock to the sideline or the court during the remaining tenure of Coach Carpino’s time in Grain Valley.
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The Grain Valley Community Center offers a variety of programs and events for our city. Overseeing the building, reservations, and financing for programs is Jim Meyer. He’s served in his current role as Community Center Manager since 2002. Meyer’s previous career experience in the hospitality industry has served him well in the 17 years he has worked in his current position.
“I get energy from people. I worked in the hotel industry for years prior to working in this position. I enjoy trying to take care of people and seeing them happy. Parks and Recreation has been a great fit for me in trying to provide a service that supports people,” Meyers said.
Meyer’s success in his professional career has been built on relationships. Stop by the Community Center, and there’s a good chance you will witness him diligently finding answers for people, making sure everyone has what they need, and working to keep things organized in the building. It’s apparent that he genuinely enjoys being an ambassador for the City of Grain Valley.
“Our goal is that once they (a community member) find us, we want to support them in finding the right class or program to best suit their needs. Building positive energy through learning in our community grows relationships.”
“We have a marquee sign, a community calendar in our town newspaper, and word of mouth that all let the information spread about we do and can offer to further interactions and personal connections among people,” Meyers said.
“Jim at the Gym”, as he jokingly refers to himself, is involved within the community outside of work as well. He’s currently the Vice-President of the Grain Valley Assistance Council, an affiliate of the Community Services League. Meyers is also actively involved in the First United Methodist Church of Blue Springs. Serving on the hospitality committee for part of the approximately twenty years he’s been a member with the church.
Meyer chooses to work and live in Grain Valley after falling in love with the community. He and his wife moved here from outside of Lincoln, Nebraska after Meyer accepted a job in the hospitality industry. They have enjoyed raising their family here and the education their children received from the school district.
Meyer encourages residents to make time to try new activities and stay active.
“I encourage people to give it a try. In today’s world, people are close to making that choice that their busy lives keep them from. That tennis class, setting up a rental of a facility, etc. Don’t sell yourself short. It usually works out well,” Meyers said.
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