The Company I Have Kept at Central College

FeaturedThe Company I Have Kept at Central College

This last week, a parent asked me during a tour of one of the Residence Halls on Central College’s campus, “What is your biggest regret since you’ve been at Central?”

As I go into my senior year, I have plenty of things that I should regret. I could have gone off about any number of things I did or didn’t do; but without hesitation, and with 5 days of experience as one of the 36 members of the Central SOS (Student Orientation Staff), answered that my biggest regret “was not writing a stupid freaking resume and cover letter earlier!”

With that, I will take you back to my own orientation day at Central College…

I remember sitting in Douwstra Auditorium with my mom, surrounded by about 50 or 60 other students and their families, COMPLETELY TERRIFIED. I had fought with my parents about where I would be going to college my entire senior year. I had bled Cardinal and Gold (Go Cyclones!) my entire life until that point, but I recall receiving my acceptance letter from Iowa State and at that moment, I knew I didn’t want to be in Story Country for the next four years. I was born and raised less than a half of an hour from Ames and the Iowa State Campus, and I simply knew it was time for me to find a place to call my own. Central College felt like it would be exactly that after just one visit. After all the financial troubles were handled (thanks a million to my parents for all the support they gave and continue to give), my mom and dad said it was my choice, and it felt almost too good to be true that I would be a member of the Dutch family. But as orientation began, everything I thought I knew was called into question. I had no idea what I had just done, and was convinced I had just made the biggest mistake of my life. I was silently drowning in regret and fear. Somehow I hid this from my mom until we were separated and I went to the group advising session and started putting my schedule together. Everyone was so friendly and helpful, but this delusional 19-year-old was convinced it was a charade; this must be the final act the college puts on before it has us all signed up for classes and it is too late. The doggy-pile of student loans will have already begun, and it was all my fault.

My plan was to go to lunch, then sign up for classes, and afterwards, I would tell my mom to call the school and withdraw. My survival until lunch was because I knew everything I was going to do and hear in the next couple of hours didn’t matter anymore. Iowa State was going to add one more student to their already record enrollment for the fall of 2013.

I was on my way to lunch but somehow got stuck talking to a sophomore member of the Student Orientation Staff. He was persistent with his questions, the first couple minutes was very forgettable small talk. But once we got past the basic who, where, how and why questions, a feeling a comfortability started to come over me. He was from a town nearly as small as mine (population of Zearing, IA – 538), he described himself as a very average athlete, but smart. He came to Central for many of the same reasons I did: to get away, to be a part of a school with lots of tradition, to develop close relationships with all of the students, staff, and faculty, he could participate in athletics. and because it felt like it was home. The door felt like it had reopened. Maybe I could do this.

My lollipop moment (click here to view the TedTalk explaining this):

I had ended the conversation with the SOS Leader and just finished lunch. There were a few minutes before I would be led back to the building where we would sign up for classes, and suddenly, a scrawny (sorry coach, first impressions are hard to forget!), clean-cut guy walked up to me and introduced himself as my future head track coach, Joe Dunham. We had spoken briefly via email prior to this meeting, but I did not intend to meet him during this time, nor did I tell him my orientation date. He must have sought out when I would be there.

I had always loved throwing the discus, and although I was by far the worst incoming thrower (my high school best of 135 feet was 20 feet shorter than any other incoming recruit), Coach Dunham spoke to me like I was a prized recruit. Hell, I felt like I was a prized recruit. He explained that we had not met during my spring visit and so he wanted to meet me before I arrived on campus for the fall. At that moment, I knew that I had made the right decision. I knew that this coach, and this school, would ensure I felt at home no matter who I had been or what I had done previously.

On paper, It was obvious that this freshman from little Colo-Nesco would not be helping this team accomplish any of their goals anytime soon…and yet, I was still treated as if I could be the missing piece to the puzzle that would get the Dutch Track & Field team to be better than ever. Maybe all these “actors” weren’t here to trick me into believing this was actually as great of a place as it appeared. Maybe they actually were just that excited to welcome all of the incoming students to the place that made them feel just as special as I felt when Coach Dunham went out of his way to meet me. ME, a completely unrecruited thrower who had failed to make it to the state meet all four years of high school, despite being in Class 1A, the smallest and easiest class to make it to state.

I know, I was thinking the exact same thing: Wow. This place must be pretty great.

After lunch, I continued to feel more and more confident in my decision. I signed up for classes, and the student assisting me urged me to join her in a class she would be peer instructing. There was one spot left in this class, and she seemed so excited that I would be the last one. This SOS Leader, and all of the rest of them, made me realize that this was a place that I would one day dread leaving. I knew that I would be forever Dutch.


Here I am, exactly 3 years and one week from the day that I knew Central College would be everything that I could ever ask for. I am also a few days removed from my first week as an SOS Orientation Leader, and I felt compelled to share my story. In our training, we talked about lollipop moments, and I thought back to the day when I had my own. To recall the moments that kept me at Central during my own training to become one of the very people who helped let me know that the City of Pella and Central College would forever be a home away from home was amazing. From that day, I knew I wanted to become an orientation leader. Unfortunately, it took me two whole years to write a resume and cover letter so that I could actually apply for the position.

The application date for a position as an SOS approached quickly every year, and so it was always easy to look at my work load and upcoming finals and prioritize that over a job that truthfully, seemed kind of scary to me. I wasn’t exactly confident that I could be one of those people who would be able to talk with incoming students so easily and with such enthusiasm. Making small talk that wasn’t awkward had never been one of my strong suits. My love for Central was huge, but my ability to share that with others was still unknown.

Two people deserve a huge amount of credit for pushing me to finally apply to become an SOS Orientation Leader: Keri Murphy and Abigail Warren. Both are future educators, and it is such a great feeling knowing that one day, my own children’s teachers could be someone like one of these two, who will push them to become something they’ve always wanted to do. I still have the postcard that was put in my mailbox from the Student Involvement Office saying both Keri and Abby had recommended that I apply for the position as an SOS Orientation Leader. That was truly the moment that gave me that little extra incentive I needed to apply. So a huge thanks and shoutout to two of my best friends at Central who very well could be teaching your kids or grandkids one day. They couldn’t be in much better hands.

Okay, and finally, back to the present. People say that you are the company you keep. My company over the last week has been nothing short of spectacular. I feel like each day I spent with my fellow orientation leaders and peer leaders, I became more and more like them, and learned more about myself at the same time. The person I started to see myself become was someone that I never knew I could become, and yet had always aspired to be. I bonded with some people I had never spoken to, and cemented some relationships that I have had since freshman year.

My biggest regret is all the time I lost not doing what I knew I could. I regret not being able to share my story and my love for Central with incoming students earlier. I feel so much more confidence in talking to others after less than a week of training and actually working, that I can’t imagine who I would be with that much more experience. I say that my only reason for not applying as an SOS was because I didn’t want to write a resume or cover letter. While there is certainly truth to that, I must acknowledge that I had plenty of opportunities to learn HOW to do so, but I simply didn’t want to…it was my only excuse that kept me safe from the possible failure. But the relationships I missed out on building during those first two summers haunts me. I had such a great time meeting all 35 other Central SOSs and incoming students, and I have grown so much from simply having them as company, I felt obligated to show them my gratitude. I truly can’t wait until the last two days of orientation roll around, and then Welcome Week, so that I can continue my growth as a student, person, citizen, athlete, son, friend, and eventual employee, husband and father.

The company I have kept this week, and will continue to keep over the next two semesters and hopefully beyond, has been essential to my development. Jim Rohn said that each person is the average of the 5 people they spend the most time with. This week saw me feed off the energy and excitement of my fellow orientation leaders, and I really liked the average I became of the 35 people I spent all of my time with. It was an honor to welcome so many people to such an outstanding and unique school with an even more outstanding and unique group of people.

Thank you so much to all of my fellow Summer Orientation Staff Leaders, my boss, Laura Bade, and all of the future faces of Central College. You all helped me do something I didn’t think I could do, and have become some of my best friends at Central. Round 2 in July and then Welcome Week can’t come soon enough!

As for all prospective and incoming Central students, I hope you one day feel the same thing I did, wherever and whenever that may be. But as a current member of the Dutch community, I can almost guarantee that you won’t be able to beat the company you will keep at Central College.





Reasons My Dog and I Are Essentially The Same Being

Reasons My Dog and I Are Essentially The Same Being

Two years ago, on Easter Sunday, my family lost our nearly 12 year old Border Collie, Spyder (Spyder Webb…get it?). I had never really lost anyone close to me up to that point in my life, so I took it pretty rough. The extremely loyal person I am, didn’t know if I would ever really want another dog again. Spyder had been a part of my life for almost as long as I could remember, and I felt like getting another four-legged friend would be like replacing him, and I didn’t think I could do that. What could we possibly do to fill such a huge hole in of all of our lives?

I always say that no one dog could ever replace Spyder…so we got two.

Scout and Spud came into the Webb family and brought with them a whole lot of energy. Like pure bred German Shepherd and Border Collie puppy energy. Like A LOT of energy. LIKE…..okay yeah, you probably get it.

Don’t get me wrong, I do love Spud, but this post is all about Scout and I.

I always felt that ever since we brought Scout home, that he just something special. He wasn’t a common breed around my hometown, and he was unlike our beloved Spyder in so many ways. Spyder was a very independent dog. Scout on the other hand…he clings to you like shit to a shovel. He had so many qualities that I could identify with.

One Sunday night, as I made my way back to campus from saying bye to Scout, I had a realization. I knew why I loved that big, goofy, dope so much.



I called my girlfriend at the time and tried to explain my eureka moment, how I couldn’t believe I hadn’t seen why I always felt so attached to him, but I didn’t know how to put it all into words. I felt like I just sounded kinda crazy.

But I thought about it almost the entire hour-long drive after that, and here is what I realized.

We both are kind of jerks, but in a sweet, loving, kind of way.

Our playful spirits just get us into trouble sometimes.

I like scaring people. Sometimes I will hear a “GET THE **** AWAY FROM ME” in return and I know I’ve gone too far.

Scout might jump all over you and gnaw on your hands trying to play with you, and people can only handle so much of that, and he might get yelled at or sent to his kennel for just trying to play with you.

We both will feel bad…but he usually keep doing it. Because we just love you so much. Lucky you!

We both crave attention.

Me – ADHD. I literally have a deficit of attention. Give me more, please.

Scout – Lonely puppy. Literally will sit on your feet so you can’t leave him (who would want to anyway).


Neither of us knew our strength when we were younger.

He didn’t understand that running full speed and jumping into people wasn’t helping him make any friends. Still cute, though.

We don’t mind being loud.

I’m sure anyone who knows me can attest to this.

Our mom can NEVER get our name right when she yells at us.

“What are you doing, Spud…Spyder…Spout…SCOUT”

“Knock it off, Alex…Jeff…Michael…JAKE”

I swear she does it on purpose.

We may look big and tough to some people, but really, we’re just big old teddy bears.

We both love hugs and wouldn’t hurt a fly.

We are both extremely handsome.

Hahahaha just kidding, that’s only him.

Wow does he struggle to keep that tongue in his mouth…

Our attention spans are pretty much nonexistent.

Me – Once again, ADHD…

Scout – How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days? More like how to lose all our your new toys in 10 minutes.

Those Kong Frisbees are expensive, bud. We need to get it together.

German Shepherds are known to be one of the most loyal breeds of dog.

For good or bad, loyalty is easily one of my strongest values. Both of us are more than willing to be friendly to anyone and everyone, but we both always come back to the ones who’ve always been there for us.

At the end of the day, if you show us you care, we’ll love you unconditionally.

Thanks for reading. I just felt like blogging since I haven’t for a little while, and what better to blog about that my four-legged fluffy twin?

Dogs are always the best people. Come meet mine sometime. I’d love to meet yours too!



When an eighty-five pound mammal licks your tears away, then tries to sit on your lap, it’s hard to feel sad.
Kristan Higgins

A dog will teach you unconditional love. If you can have that in your life, things won’t be too bad.
Robert Wagner

Once you have had a wonderful dog, a life without one, is a life diminished.
Dean Koontz

Dogs are not our whole life, but they make our lives whole.
Roger Caras

My Experience At Food · Faith · Climate

I am far from an expert on climate change.


I wouldn’t consider myself to be an expert on anything at this point of my life. I’m 21 years old, from a small town, attending a small college, trying to balance the life of a student-athlete as best I can. I like to think I know what climate change is, what causes it, and what we need to do to end it, but maybe that is why it has become such a big issue. If all of us think that just driving our cars to work/class a few less times a month, turning off lights, or spending a little less time in the shower is the best bet at cutting down on carbon emissions, we could definitely benefit from attending one of the Iowa Interfaith Power and Light (IIPL) organization’s events.

My 3 years at Central College have taught me a lot, and one of the thing I have learned is that I can make much more of an impact in the world than I thought. In the two hours I spent at the Iowa Interfaith Power & Light event, Food · Faith · Climate: Connecting the Dots (FFC), I learned quite a bit. FFC taught me some of the ways that my actions and habits, specifically my food practices, had been impacting the environment. One thought that stuck with me, that can be applied to a type of market, is the idea that we vote everyday with our dollars. Each meal that we put on the table is our way of telling the food producers what we want.

“How we eat largely determines how we use the world.” – Wendell Berry

I found this quote among the materials given to each attendee, and found it thought provoking enough to include here. Nearly everything that we do as a species revolves around growing, obtaining, selling or buying food! The market for food for the skyrocketing population of our planet has been decided, thanks to our “votes,” that profits are more important that the preservation of our world. In 1807, William Wordsworth published “The World Is Too Much With Us”:

The world is too much with us, late and soon,

Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers;

Little we see in Nature that is ours;

We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon!

Wordsworth saw, over 200 years ago, the carelessness that we all had towards the environment. He recognizes that we no longer see a connection with the natural world. The fourth lines makes me ask: what have we done to “give our hearts away” as if our hearts are a morally distasteful, or sleazy (sordid) gift (boon)?

I’d like to think that Wordsworth wanted his readers to ask themselves what connection they have to nature, and why we are wasting our “powers.” Our powers can be interpreted as the time, effort, or money that we invest in something, and he claims that we are wasting it on goods and material things. We are “voting” for the wrong things. The FFC workshop showed me why and how a simple thing such as a hamburger, or a pop tart, can be disproportionately contributing to climate change. The path that each of these foods took from pasture to plate was traced, and the amount of greenhouse gas emissions generated from this path shown and compared to similar meals. I thought that seeing how much effort it took for each of these foods to reach my dinner plate was eye-opening. We were encouraged to either grow our own produce, or to support local farmers by buying from a local farmer’s market. This ensures that the foods we are eating at each meal are as climate-friendly as possible.

One very simple way to cut down on foods with a more negative impact on the climate is to consider taking part in Meatless Mondays! I know that not long ago, I would have thought that not eating meat for a day was ridiculous. I’d heard of fellow students on campus advocating for others to join them in committing to beginning their week without meat. I think my issue was simply: Why? What will that change? I am a person who needs to know why I am doing something before I do it. I donate blood every chance I get because I know it can save lives. I’m on the bone marrow registry because I’ve know of people who have needed a marrow transplant. Anything that I can easily do to change my own or someone else’s life for the better, I am willing to do. After learning the positive impact that Meatless Mondays can have, I am convinced that a small, small sacrifice on my part can hopefully start changing the food industry for the better. To learn more about this movement, you can visit the Meatless Monday site here.

I thought that it was interesting splitting up into groups by our faith so that each of us could review our faith’s statements on climate change, and then talked about them as a group. I thought that learning how every religion, and each denomination was similar in their commitment to fight climate change and to protect our home was very important. At the end of the day, we are all a part of this planet, no matter our religion or denomination, and if we aren’t protecting it, we are only hurting it more.

Overall, I thought that the coolest part of the FFC event was that it wasn’t just an hour of them preaching to us about how we had been living or about how we needed to change, and they weren’t trying to push anything on us. All they needed to do was teach us. They showed me how I can directly, and easily, reduce my carbon footprint in ways that I didn’t know before. I had no idea how much power I truly had, purely with what I put on my plate each and everyday. Meatless Monday to me sounded like a waste of my time before being taught otherwise by the Iowa Interfaith Power and Light. I learned the Lutheran statement on climate change, and realized that my own religion is calling to me to make whatever changes I can to preserve this world we live on. Even cooler than all of this, is that you can make a difference in your life too.

I would strongly encourage all of my readers to visit the IIPL website and learn a little more about their mission, their history, and about how you can start voting for a better food system. There, you can register for their upcoming events, or contact Programs and Outreach Coordinator Sarah Paulos ( and set up an event near you. I still am no expert on climate change, but I now feel like an expert on changing the climate for the better through my own actions. I urge everyone reading to also make the choice to reduce their carbon footprint at the dinner table, and fortunately, the ethical choice is also the pleasurable one!



Some quick tips from the EWG’s Meat Eater’s Guide to Climate Change + Health for reducing your carbon footprint include:

  • If everyone in the US skipped meat and cheese one day a week, it would equate to climate benefits of taking 7.6 millions cars off the road over the same period.
  • Climate-friendly sources of protein include:
    • Eggs, milk, nuts and beans
  • Fresh and local foods are beneficial for your planet, community and health!
  • LIMIT, not completely cut out, energy intensive foods such as:
    • Lamb, pork, cheese and beef
  • More from the EWG here!

Also visit the Behind The Brands website to learn more about what more the 10 largest food companies in the world can do to support farmers, communities, and our planet. Take action and tell your favorite companies what needs to change.


Jake Webb