Rep. John Moolenaar of Michigan’s 4th Cong. Dist. (third from left) met with a group from Michigan, there to talk about ag labor issues affecting the specialty crop industry. Pictured, left to right, are Laurie Swanson and Katie Vargas from GLALS, Rep. Moolenar, Oceana County grower and MFB board member Michael DeRuiter, Northwest County Farm Bureau’s Dean Johnson, and Michigan Vegetable Council President, Greg Bird. | Photo by John Kran, Michigan Farm Bureau
Rep. John Moolenaar of Michigan’s 4th Cong. Dist. (third from left) met with a group from Michigan, there to talk about ag labor issues affecting the specialty crop industry. Pictured, left to right, are Laurie Swanson and Katie Vargas from GLALS, Rep. Moolenar, Oceana County grower and MFB board member Michael DeRuiter, Northwest County Farm Bureau’s Dean Johnson, and Michigan Vegetable Council President, Greg Bird. | Photo by John Kran, Michigan Farm Bureau
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As always, a variety of OMP residents are making news, from the VASA trails of northern Michigan to the legislative chambers in Washington D.C. Here’s a roundup…

Advocating for Farmers. OMP farmer and Michigan Farm Bureau (MFB) member Dean Johnson (aka my brother) traveled to Washington, D.C. last week to meet with members of Congress, advocate for agricultural labor reform, discuss issues related to the adverse wage rate, and participate in an ag labor conference organized by the National Council of Agricultural Employers (NCAE), of which MFB is a member. OMP farmers like my brothers, Dean and Ward Johnson, rely on workers through the H-2A Visa program to harvest crops such a cherries, apples and grapes.

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Rep. John Moolenaar of Michigan’s 4th Cong. Dist. (third from left) met with a group from Michigan, there to talk about ag labor issues affecting the specialty crop industry. Pictured, left to right, are Laurie Swanson and Katie Vargas from GLALS, Rep. Moolenar, Oceana County grower and MFB board member Michael DeRuiter, Northwest County Farm Bureau’s Dean Johnson, and Michigan Vegetable Council President, Greg Bird. | Photo by John Kran, Michigan Farm Bureau
Rep. John Moolenaar of Michigan’s 4th Cong. Dist. (third from left) met with a group from Michigan, there to talk about ag labor issues affecting the specialty crop industry. Pictured, left to right, are Laurie Swanson and Katie Vargas from GLALS, Rep. Moolenar, Oceana County grower and MFB board member Michael DeRuiter, Northwest County Farm Bureau’s Dean Johnson, and Michigan Vegetable Council President, Greg Bird. | Photo by John Kran, Michigan Farm Bureau

VASA Racers. The 44th Annual VASA Festival of Races took place this weekend, and the Old Mission Peninsula was well represented! Below are three OMPers celebrating their win – left to right are Monnie Peters, Gussie Peterson (president of the North American VASA) and Joanne Westphal.

Not only are these women all from the OMP, but they were the ONLY female competitors in the “Female 70 and Older” age group for the VASA’s 17K Classic Race. Well done! Great inspiration for the rest of us to get off the couch! “It was a great day to be in the woods,” said Monnie.

OMP skiers (and the three oldest female competitors in the 17K Classic Race) at the VASA 2020 Race: Monnie Peters, Gussie Peterson and Joanne Westphal | Peters Photo
OMP skiers (and the three oldest female competitors in the 17K Classic Race) at the VASA 2020 Race: Monnie Peters, Gussie Peterson and Joanne Westphal | Peters Photo

Hawthorne Vineyards General Manager. Ann Pettyjohn is the new general manager at Hawthorne Vineyards on Peninsula Drive, a sister vineyard to Chateau Chantal. A native of Traverse City, Ann has more than 13 years’ experience in the hospitality industry in Northern Michigan.

She previously worked as the executive director for Mt. Holiday Ski & Recreation Area and helped the non-profit expand their year-round recreation opportunities, fundraising events, and youth education programs. Prior to that she was the lifestyle manager at Cordia Senior Living in the Grand Traverse Commons, and the hospitality manager and events coordinator with Chateau Chantal. Big congrats, Ann!

Ann Pettyjohn, General Manager for Hawthorne Vineyards on the Old Mission Peninsula
Ann Pettyjohn, General Manager for Hawthorne Vineyards on the Old Mission Peninsula | Hawthorne Vineyards Photo

Hi-Tech Kids. Under the guidance of instructor Carol Johnson (my sister-in-law; my brother Ward’s awesome wife), eighth grade computer students Rylee Duffing and Tucker Krummat from Traverse City’s St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Middle School received an award from Congressman Jack Bergman, making their project the Michigan’s 1st District 2019 Congressional App Winner.

According to the story over at 9&10 News, Duffing worked hours over the summer and into the school year coding her app called MI Food, which helps people find clothes, food and shelter in Traverse City. “It doesn’t just teach programming, it teaches leadership, it teaches the ability to problem solve,” said Carol. Good job, all!

Carol Johnson's students at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton win app award
Carol Johnson’s students at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton win award for homeless app | 9 & 10 News

OMP Author & Historian. OMP resident and author Karen Rieser made the news over at Up North Live for her books “Aiden’s Tree” and “The History of Education on Old Mission Peninsula,” both available on Amazon. Inspired by her grandson, “Aiden’s Tree” tells the story of a Michigan fir that journeys from a seedling to a Christmas tree to a marker on the ice near the Mackinac Bridge.

“The History of Education on Old Mission Peninsula” tells the history of education, specifically one-room schoolhouses, on OMP. Karen is the featured speaker at the March meeting of the Old Mission Peninsula Historical Society on March 5, 6:30 p.m. at Peninsula Community Library.

Karen Rieser, OMP Author
OMP Author Karen Rieser talks Aiden’s Tree and History of Education on the OMP | Up North Live

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