Employee Spotlight

My division at work does a really cool “Employee Spotlight” feature once a month.  Our division is fairly widespread and it’s not uncommon for me to only see some of my colleagues once or twice a year at large staff meetings due to proximity and job responsibilities.  This feature was added about a year or two ago and it has become one of my favorite emails to receive.  I love reading about people and learning a little more about them other then the work-face we interact with.   I don’t know about you, but the “career me” is considerably different then the “real me” in regards to personal interactions and conversations.

My spotlight was last week, so I thought it’d be fun to share with my readers as well!


Name:    Jordan Pirtle

Position:  Director of High School Outreach

City of residence:  Omaha, NE

Inhabitants at my residence:

  • Clint (husband)
  • Kyle (the college-going 20 year old bonus kid who appears at our house once a year, if we are lucky)
  • Harley (the cat)
  • The real Harley (my baby who sleeps in a garage and not in a crib)

Start date:

  • August 2011 (Associate Dean of Instructor, Academic Affairs)
  • January 2014 (Director of HS Outreach, Student Services)

My role at IWCC:  I am going to keep it incredibly vague.  Under the guidance of the Iowa Department of Education’s Senior Year Plus programming and NACEP accreditation, I oversee all operational and administrative aspects of College Early Start which allows High School students to enroll in college classes.  Natalie oversees the Southwest Iowa Workplace Connection focusing on connecting high school students and teachers to local careers, through work-based learning experiences and Jake, Secondary CTE Advisor, promotes career and technical education via a variety of practices.  Natalie and Jake work very closely together on initiatives.

What brought me to IWCC:  Prior to IWCC, I was a music teacher for South Page Community Schools in College Springs, IA and Omaha Public Schools for a combined 6 years.   After finishing my Masters programs I was ready for an administrative role and began applying for leadership positions at the Secondary level.   In 2011 I went through a promising AP interview process but was passed over by an internal candidate.   That bummer experience ended up being a blessing in disguise as it opened my eyes to post-secondary education and the Associate Dean position at IW.

What I like best about working for IWCC:  I specifically enjoy my position as it keeps me heavily involved in the secondary school system, which was my first true career love.  The position keeps me on my toes with the ever-evolving State legislation changes and NACEP accreditation requirements.   I enjoy the challenge and the immense knowledge I’ve gained and the professional growth I’ve experienced from working at IWCC.

Best job before IWCC:  Working for South Page Community Schools.   I was the Director of Bands, 6-12th grade Choral director, competitive cheerleading coach, dance team sponsor, junior class prom sponsor, etc.  Listen. When you are a teacher in a rural district, you don’t just teach.  You do everything.  I loved every second of every day when I was around those students, and with my lineup of responsibilities, I basically lived at the school.  From 6am rehearsals/practices, to late night games, to cheer competitions across the state. You name it, I was there.   I was young and fresh out of undergrad and had a ton of fun learning and growing with them.


I’m happiest when:  I’m on my Harley, the sun is shining and an ice cold beverage is on the horizon.

My biggest fear: Alzheimer’s.  Losing my cognitive ability at a young age.

I’m proudest of:  As a teenager I faced some adversity that some would allow to change them, or use those experiences as excuses for bad decisions.   I was presented with two paths I could have followed, either one impacting my future greatly.  I chose the middle road. I chose to take my experiences from the evil and the good in my life and create a middle ground that fit me.  I am proud of that.   In 2006 I went through some crazy life changes.  I call it my quarter-life crisis.  It was the real deal, y’all.  At 25 I quit my job, moved out of my beautiful country home in Clarinda, left my bff’s and family and the only life I had known for 25 years and moved to Omaha with no job lined up, a U-Haul with all of my belongings and settled into a house in West O with two High School friends who opened their arms and hearts.   It was a life-changing few years that followed and I wouldn’t trade one single experience, the good and questionable, from those years.   I am proud of that.

I strive to live life in the present moment. 

I don’t take things for granted. 


What I do when I’m not working at IWCC:  I am teaching fitness classes at IWCC and the YMCA or I am training future fitness instructors on the weekends as part of my Master Trainer role.    I am attending concerts (total junkie) with friends or chilling with my hubs in our backyard around a campfire.  I am on the Harley by myself for some solo and self-reflection time or I am riding with 30+ of my biker friends cruising the back-roads of Nebraska and Iowa.

Top three highlights of my life:

  1. Not being afraid of starting over at the age of 25.   That reset button was hard to push, but it was completely worth it.
  2. Auditioning to be a fitness Master Trainer at the age of 34.  I consider myself a non-traditional fitness spokesperson and I didn’t let age or body type stop me from pursuing that dream.
  3. Marrying Clint in 2011.  And not just because of all that mushy love yuck.  But because we compliment each other.  He gets me to see the world through a relax and don’t try to control every aspect of life lens.   We operate as a married unit but also as individuals with our own lives.  We respect each other, encourage each other to seek out new opportunities and set higher goals and we both love sushi.  Win!


People would be surprised to know:

  1. I used to play clarinet for the Nebraska Wind Symphony.  While I was teaching for South Page, I also traveled to Omaha from Clarinda (and back) every Monday evening for rehearsals.  I took a hiatus for a few years but am auditioning to be a part of the 2017-18 ensemble soon.
  2. My 25 year old brother Gabriel is a dwarf.  He’s the coolest cat you could ever know and challenges me to find the “art” in life.  Not that I want you to stalk me on the world of social media, but I did a little fact sheet on Gabe and included additional information on dwarfism if interested in a little education: Click here.

Work-related hidden talent/special skill:  Not Excel, that’s for sure.

Favorite song, or book, or movie, or food (or all four!):

  • Song:  Impossible to choose.   Music junkie in all aspects, remember?
  • Current book: The Mindful School Leader by Valerie Brown.  I am in a grad level class for CEU’s to keep my K-12 administrative license active. I recommend it as it’s been a great read!
  • Movie: Sweet Home Alabama
  • Food: mashed potatoes

Best vacation:  All of the vacays spent on the Harley.   Sturgis!  Specifically our first visit when Clint proposed at Full Throttle Saloon on the bridge.  Our second visit we made it on TV for our 5 seconds of fame, thanks to the Full Throttle TV series.  Sadly FTS burned down in 2015, shortly after our third visit.   Bikes, Blues and BBQ Rally in Arkansas takes a top spot as well.   WOAH!   Arkansas is gorgeous and even better from the seat of a motorcycle.



Bikes, Blues & BBQ 2016

Now that winter has set in and the cold has forced the two-wheels into hibernation, it only seems logical to rub salt in the wounds and reminisce on 90 degree weather and wind in the face, right?




I had no idea how beautiful a state Arkansas is.  The trees, the hills, the hidden gems, the miles of curves.   Hands down my favorite rally trip so far, minus the time Clint did that little down on one knee number in Sturgis.



On Wednesday, September 21st, a small group of us took off from Omaha to make our way down to Fayetteville, AR for the annual Bikes, Blues & BBQ rally.   It was a relatively easy and quick ride down there (I’ll bypass how much my seat SUCKS).  We made a pit-stop at the The Garage in Harrisonville, MO where we signed our names to the wall.  Score 1 for me as I found some fellow friends signatures who had been there a few days before us!



We only made three official stops on the way there for fuel and to stretch, so we made great time!  Far cry from the ride to Sturgis!  Once there we set up camp and awaited the arrival of the Sullivan’s before we settled in for campsite brews and laughter.



When on vacation, we are in no rush to get anywhere at anytime.   No rules.  No schedule.   When everyone is up we all decide where to go and what to do.   This particular rally included a lot of riding and a lot less walking around and boozing.  During the day anyway.  That might be due to the fact that towns in the hills are few and far between and they apparently don’t believe in bars.   This rally is the complete opposite of the Sturgis experience and I think is why it might have taken over the #1 spot in rally experiences.   #beentheredonethat



Our first day of riding was pretty spectacular.  The sights, the curves, the beauty!



Tourist alert



We found ourselves a pretty incredible BBQ joint called Rivertowne BBQ in Ozark, AR.   The sweet potato fries and accompanying sauce to dip them in was to-die-for!





Bellies full, beer craving satisfied and back out on the road we went for several more hours, winding our way back to Fayetteville for campsite shots, brews and relaxing.




The next two days consisted of a lot more riding…


Parking lot rest-stops while waiting on a few lost riders…



Getting lost collectively…



Dancing while lost…



Roadside beers FINALLY thanks to a random roadside convenience store…



Ever wanna take a back road?  Or put a little gravel in your travel?  Tear down two lane country roads?

We feelin’ ya, Rodney Atkins.



I wouldn’t necessarily say we were lost again.  Just exploring…



Tracy has this fun way about her.  And when I say fun, I mean she holds a convincing personality that gets me to do things I wouldn’t normally do.  Last year Sturgis?  She had me ziplining.

This year?





It. Was. Incredible!  I need a helicopter hook-up, like stat!   So fun and slightly terrifying when the pilot pulled some funny stomach dropping business.

Thanks, Arkansas Helicopters for the fun!



A little lawn-tractor pull action to close out our campsite experience was entertaining thanks to a very drunk redneck.

Y’all.  This guy was redneck.

Feel free to re-watch his awesomeness from my saved Snap here.

Should I remind you the pulls were lawn tractors.

It wasn’t really that cool.


My take-aways from Arkansas.

1. Take beer in the saddlebags anytime you leave camp



2. The official campsite of BB&B doesn’t really have anything official going on so bring your own entertainment.



3. We should have used Uber to get to the action on Dickson Street.  This is a reminder for next year!

4. If you don’t sit next to the girls they will create snap stories about it.



5. Find the camping spot with the fans!  Drowns out the interstate noise and the flysimg_0658

6. If one trailers a bike to a rally, one will always get made fun of.



7. Twinning is appropriate



8. Time spent with the hubs is always the best.



Cheers to BB&B 2017!




Weekend Recap | November 11-13, 2016

Saturday, November 12th






I could end the post right here.


End of Story.

But, what’s the use of a hangover without the story of how it came to be?

Let’s rewind to Friday.


Friday, November 11th

First of all let me say Thank You to our veterans for your time served and to our current armed forces who continue to serve.

Thank You.

Second: Happy Birthday to my mama!  11/11 was also HER day! 🙂

Now, to the bane of my Saturday?  Friday night.



We traveled north to Sioux City, IA to see the Turnpike Troubadors in concert with Jade, Kayla, Scott, Haley, Josey and Stephanie.  It was a ridiculously fun night.  Turnpike was INCREDIBLE to listen to… again, music geek in me can’t get enough of good music and TRUE musicianship that these guys exude.



We let loose, we drank a few too many beers, we stayed our ground in the front of the venue holding steady to the gate, we flirted with the band, we sang along loudly and we made every ounce of that hangover totally worth it.










Is it me, or is Jade channeling Alan from the movie, The Hangover?



We even managed to hang out with both bands (opener and headliner) after the concert at a local tavern, to which I awkwardly attempted small talk about music (listen Jordan, don’t talk after 10 beers) and Kayla took endless photos with the groups.


After hours snap chats = lame tag lines.   We love Friday’s?

Really, Jordan?

*insert giant eye roll*



Thank GOODNESS social media didn’t exist when we were all in High School.   It’s bad enough as adults.






Friday kinda rocked, and I am ready to do it again, minus the heavy amounts of beer.



So then there is Saturday again.

It looked like this:

  • 3am – Arrive back to hotel safely thanks to kind cabi who received quite a tip after my sober mind calculated.  I’m sure she deserved every penny.
  • 3:10am – Snap Clint attempting 16 times to open the hotel door.  It was classic.  Score 1 for Jordan catching that gem on video.
  • 6am – First wake-up call, thanks due to a rager of a headache
  • 7am – Wake-up again.  Headache and all…
  • 8am – Restroom.  Oh, hey there rumbling belly.  I hear you and I am answering by laying back down.
  • 8:30am – Respond to Kayla’s text.  Commiserating.
  • 9am – Dear LORD this headache.  Curse the fact I need water but curse the fact I am not sure my stomach can handle even that.
  • 9:30am – Respond to Kayla’s text re: lobby and breakfast.
  • 10:30am – Clint wakes ready to take on the world ( his ability to NEVER have a headache nor hangover really sucks sometimes)
  • 11am – Bid farewell to the crew and head back to Omaha.   Radio off, shades on, air full blast, with minor attempts to tune my overly-chatty husband out.  Dude… headache.
  • 1pm – Homaha – drop husband off at home so he can load truck up with hunting gear and head out to Clarinda.
  • 1:30pm- Pick up race gear for Beer and Bagel run on Sunday
  • 2pm – Home.  Hallmark Christmas Movie. Nap.
  • 4pm- Grocery store for hangover worthy snacks that are always top notch on the healthy pyramid.
  • 5pm – Dinner.  Hallmark Christmas Movie.  Nap
  • 8pm –  Succumb to just letting Saturday be a total wash and go to bed.


Sunday, November 13th

Let’s all take a moment and rejoice in the fact that I got out of bed at 6:30am and was ready to run the Beer and Bagel 4 mile trail run at 9am.

Can I get a Hallelujah?   Can I get an Amen?




Blair is a trail running PRO!  She recently ran a 50K.   Yes, you read that right.  50K = 31.08 miles.  So, I laughed at her for wanting to still run this with me.   It’s 4 miles.  That’s like her warm-up nowadays.  But, thankfully, she did it and we had fun and I appreciate her grace in not rubbing in the fact that this is peanuts to her distance legs.

I might consider running the 13.1 trail run next year.  Trail running is SO much better than road running.  It is so much more forgiving on the joints since you are on soft ground and uneven terrain that forces you to take it easy and watch where you are going, rather then operate as a robot and pound the pavement.  Running the 13.1 Beer and Bagel run in 2017 is a definite thought.  A consideration.

We will see. 🙂



After the race I napped again.  DUDE!  WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME?!    I think it was a culmination of three days in a row last week of getting up by 3:10am on top of the minimal water and shenanigans on Friday night.  My body was O.V.E.R. it.

I forced myself into partial civilization on Sunday afternoon when I bundled up and went out on the HD, just her and I.   It’s that time of the year when the hubs is gone hunting on the weekends and I get my coveted solo ride time in when the weather is cooperating.

I managed to burn through a full tank of gas and it was all sortsa magical.

Solo rides = no destination.  No planned stops.   Just a direction, the roll of the throttle and a big ass smile on my face.  🙂

Although, this snap looks like I don’t even have a head, let alone a face for a smile.

But my front wheel looks B.A.


Cheers to a GREAT weekend!


Year 5!


5 years of marriage


10 years together


An incredible ride


The saying time flies when you’re having fun couldn’t ring more true.   As you are reading this, we are currently in Illinois for the weekend, staying in a cabin and exploring life along the Mississippi river from the seat of our two wheels.  In honor of year 5, I felt like taking us on a little journey back to 09.10.11 when we both said I DO to this crazy, fun adventure we’ve gotten ourselves into.

Our Wedding Day

The morning of September 10th, 2011 started off as most typical weddings do…

√ with the girls all shoved into a hotel room

√ clouds of hairspray in the air

√ and slight buzzes all around from mimosas

Or if you are the Bride, you are buzzed from drinking champagne straight outta the bottle.

Don’t you dare deny it.  You know you did.





These girls provided much laughter and entertainment as we each got ready for what was bound to be a fun filled day.

Once the makeup, hair and jewelry were all set in place and the dress on; my sparkly orange shoes and I made our way downstairs to see Clint for the first time.

I believe the look on his face says it all.



With a little dress help from the soon to be husband…



…we set out on the Pre-Wedding Party Bus for an afternoon of photos, boozing and laughter.   The thought of doing photos with zero beer sounded insanely boring and not our style.  Plus, who wants a party bus after the wedding when you only get to use it for 5 seconds?

Psssh…. Let’s do this RIGHT.

Load ’em up!



We chose the old train station in the Old Market as the location for all our photos.  Off the beaten path, a little edgy and zero stuffiness of a traditional setting.

Just the ticket.







I crack up every time I look at these photos of the boys.  They took the potential awkwardness of photos together and threw it out the window with their ridiculousness.   Priceless.

I love those boys.





To be serious is really hard.  I believe there are more laughing photos than smiling or serious.  Which is cool for me!  After all, this is a true reflection of our marriage, but most importantly, friendship.

I dig the shiz outta this dude.






After we wrapped up the photos, we trekked on over to Joe Banana’s Bar for a few shots and relaxation before making our way out to Westfair for the Ceremony.

Wait, wait.  We hadn’t gotten hitched yet and we were still out having a good time?




Party Bus loaded, we made our way back to Westfair to actually DO this thing!



For the walk down the aisle, Clint and I chose to walk together.  We’d already established ourselves as a team and a united front.  Why not go into it as such?  Plus, it took the pressure off my non-spotlight kinda dad and soft-spoken step-dad.



While my brother played the guitar for our entrance, the wedding party made it down the aisle (and up the stairs in a straight line, might I add) before we made our own way down with a pit-stop at both sets of parents for hugs and love before taking our own spots on stage.





With the girls to our left and the boys to our right, we said our own vows, prayed for the Lord’s Blessing on our marriage and said our I Do’s, surrounded by the folks that mean the absolute most to us.





And just like that we became Husband and Wife



Post-ceremony we made sure to grab our families for some photos before we lost them all in the sea of friends and beer.



Then came the eating, drinking, laughing and reminiscing with friends past and present.  A SPECIAL shout-out to Claire’s mama, Kendra, for the insanely delicious frosted sugar cookies that proved to be painstakingly tedious to make.  I fell in love with Kendra’s sugar cookies in High School.


So, when I asked her to make enough cookies to feed a few hundred, she didn’t hesitate once.   Unfortunately, I nearly ruined her of making these for eternity after this stint.   But, I am happy to report, I have had a few of her creations since then.  Whew… crisis diverted.   Thank You, Kendra!  ❤



And then the rest of the night?


Oh, the DANCING!  With Lemon Fresh Day taking over the Westfair Stage, you KNOW we danced and partied hard.

What an incredible night.



Cheers to year 5 and to many, many more.




Venue: Westfair

Catering: HyVee

Photography: Gulizia Design

(please note photos are slightly distorted due to program I used for cropping and combining, NOT from actual photos)

Ties: RokGear


Labor Day Weekend 2016

I hope this finds you all coming off of a well spent Labor Day weekend and if you were anything like me, getting back into the swing of things on this Mondayest Tuesday was a little on the rough side.  Let’s just say I felt every last adult beverage leaving my pores at the gym today.  Good thing I did two classes AND lifted, because my body needed it.

Friday night Clint and I packed my purse full of our favorite tallboys and hit up the theater for a popcorn fueled dinner with entertainment provided by the latest Jason Bourne movie.

…all while sporting our favorite team gear in anticipation of College Football Opening Weekend.


Spoiler Alert: One of my fave actresses sees the end of her run AND this movie is totally left open for more.


We made our way down to Coburg, IA where Clint assisted in the tear down of an old barn while I got to have fun with Sara’s babes.

Kaeleen is little Ms. Conversationalist with a sense of adventure and fun at every moment.


And Ms. Adyson is a mix of sugar and spice with that sweet innocent smile and mischievous glisten in her eye.  She was quite the helper by assisting me with the transportation of snacks for the boys. 😉


We played Frisbee, volleyball, swang on the swing-set, watched the boys work and played in Clint’s truck and trailer.   Adventures and imaginations were abundant.









At the end of the day this old barn had been torn down, boards salvaged, treasures were found and ideas for reusing the boards had just begun.

Saving history one re-purpose at a time.


Follow Troy and Sara’s business page for their newest treasures and creations at  SW Iowa Primitives, Antiques & Furniture.

And if you are interested in making your own creations from salvaged barn board, contact Clint at Walkup Wood Products to get your hands on them!

Around dinner time, Clint took off to Clarinda to help clean up the farm for our annual Pirtlefest shenanigans in a few weeks while I made my way to Villisca to hang with my girl Tina for the remainder of the night.   What started off as a few hours of chatting on the back deck turned into nearly 5!  Beautiful evening, good conversation and ice cold drinks.  Can’t beat that!


A day on the bikes with the girls!  And of course it would rain on us on our first leg of the journey to DC’s Waterhole in Plattsmouth, NE.


But, while we dried out, one of the owners so kindly bought us a round of the most delicious lemon drop shots we have ever had.   Lemon flavored sugar was the secret ingredient to this yumminess.   Next time you are near Plattsmouth, be sure to stop in to DC’s and get yourself one!  Promise you won’t be disappointed!


Out next stop landed us at Sugar Clay Winery for their last Sangria Sunday.  We enjoyed live music, the most delicious sangria I’ve ever had, yummy snacks and great conversations.



After we filled our bellies and spent ample time at the winery, we headed back out and aimed East, which naturally landed us by Hunter School outside of Tabor, IA.   Somehow over the last few years, Jessica and I have made it a tradition to jump off the stairs.   What is a simple and quite juvenile act has turned into one of the most hilarious traditions.   If you can’t let loose and act ridiculous with your friends, then you have the wrong friends. 🙂



After wasting an inordinate amount of time, we lined up like a little duck family for a photo session…



and continued East to Imogene, IA for some little beers at the Emerald Isle before landing in Silver City, IA at The Hood for some juke box blaring, bar floor stretching, random dancing entertainment.


Let’s just say we made the bartenders day, because while he gave off the vibe that he wasn’t paying one bit of attention to us, we know he secretly enjoyed the nonsense we provided for an hour.  We even had a surprise visit by Liz and Andy on their way out on the town!


What is the source of all these photos, you ask?

A helmet visor, similar to Darth Vader or some alien source.  We aren’t quite sure.  But, what we do know, is Tracy rocks that thing like none other.



And this is where we continued our trek back towards the city and landed at the Back Room Lounge outside of Glenwood, IA for some dinner and friendly conversation with Rat, who found it completely inappropriate that I was merely borrowing a few chips from the counter.  Locals… jeesh! 😉



Sunday concluded with a BEAUTIFUL sunset ride back to the City that wrapped up a pretty stellar little day of riding.



Labor Day Monday included a deep cleaning of the house, up and down, yard work, vehicle cleaning and meal prepping for the short week.

September has started off on the right foot and has the promise of continuing that streak with an upcoming anniversary road-trip to Illinois with Clint, Pirtlefest and Bikes Blues & BBQ!