By Maria Miller, NFU Education Director

The second full day at National Farmers Union’s (NFU) All-State Leadership Camp in Bailey, Colo., was an inspirational and thought-provoking one for campers.  Olympian Rulon Gardner returned to the NFU Education Center to share his journey from the farm to the Olympics and beyond.  He grew up the youngest of nine siblings on a dairy farm in Wyoming.  As the youngest, he often got the jobs no one else wanted.  The variety of tasks he performed on the family farm strengthened his character and were how he learned hard work, which he credited with helping him get where he is today.  Rulon spoke about the roles determination and dedication played throughout his life.  He had a learning disability and struggled through school.  Even though he graduated high school with the reading level of a fifth grader, he wasn’t afraid to ask for help in order to achieve his goal of becoming a physical education teacher.  After graduating from college, he put much of his time into wrestling and successfully became part of America’s Olympic team in 2000.   It was his first time at the Olympics but he won match after match, eventually making it to the gold medal round.  His opponent, Russia’s Alexander Karelin, was one of the most feared athletes of the time and hadn’t been defeated in thirteen years, making Rulon the clear underdog.  He attributed the heart, devotion, and commitment he had put into his training as the reason he remained focused and emerge victorious.  To learn more about what is happening at All-States Leadership Camp, click here.

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