Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Adjunct Instructor

By Will Bublitz

Linda Olsen of Limon never has to wonder what to do with her spare time because she is always working or volunteering to help the local community.

Linda is an adjunct instructor with Morgan Community College. She has worked for MCC since 1995.

“I love the students I have at MCC,” she said. “Some of MCC’s students are non-traditional (mature adults) and they want to be in class to learn. The majority of the students are like magnets that grab knowledge.”

One of the courses that Linda teaches is “Ag Business Management” for MCC’s Fort Morgan campus.

“With the Ag Business students I go into their homes or businesses, so the learning environment is very conductive to easy learning on their own computers in their own surroundings,” she said. “We help them set up business plans and their accounting systems, as well as with website construction ideas.”

In addition to benefiting local local ranchers and farmers, Linda’s Ag Business Management classes have also helped other types of local businesses including: the new RV Park in Hugo; Turkey Crossing Cafe in Hugo, Worden Wines in Burlington, Dusty Rose Old Time Photos and Aunt Barb’s Homemade Goat Soaps.

Linda also teaches an “Introduction to Computer Applications” course at MCC’s Limon Center.
“In this Intro to Applications class, we explore the different uses of the Microsoft Office suite, Word, Excel and PowerPoint,” she said. “Here again, my main focus is on the student. I’m trying to teach each of them what they will need to know in the business world from writing a proper email to an Excel spreadsheet to a PowerPoint presentation.”

In addition to her work with MCC, Linda is a volunteer on several local boards. She is currently serving on the Colorado Lending Source - Main Street Loan Committee.

“We approve loans for rural businesses at a lower amount and interest rate than a conventional bank loan,” she said.

Linda is also a member of the Board of Directors of Centennial Mental Health which has an office in Limon.

“This is my fifth year with Centennial,” she said. “I serve on its different committees including scholarship review, facilities, financial review and the interview committee that selects new board members. I’ve represented Centennial at state and national conferences. In 2013, I was named Board Member of the Year.”

In January, she accepted an appointment by the Lincoln County Commissioners to serve on the Board of Directors of Lincoln Community Hospital.

“I like giving back to the community,” Linda said.

Being involved in helping local residents is nothing new for Linda. From 2001 to 2009, she worked as a part-time counselor for the Small Business Development Center in Fort Morgan. She provided one-on-one counseling for those wanting to start businesses by helping them with business plans, financials, lending sources and much more.

“I love helping people fulfill their dreams,” Linda said. “In 2001, I worked with Carla Weeks to help her get her assisted living center started in Limon. I also helped get a hotel opened in Yuma and another assisted living center in Elizabeth.”

Linda also served as the SBDC coordinator for its Women for Rural Business Seminars.

“We held four workshops in Yuma, Flagler, Fort Morgan and Byers in 2008-09 with about 100 entrepreneurs attending each one,” she said. “We helped more women get started with businesses than any other SBDC center in the state. Because of that, our Fort Morgan center won the SBA’s Women in Business Champion Award in 2009. I’m proud of that.”

Also during that time, Linda worked with the Limon Workforce Center where she presented classes on aging with grace, consumer fraud and insurance fraud. She also helped organize and run job fairs in the local area.

Before working with MCC and SBDC, Linda served as the director of the Eastern Plains Violence Coalition from 1997 to 2001.

“We were funded by Violence Against Women Act federal funds,” she said. “We helped women in domestic violence situations. We also offered workshops on things like breaking the cycle of violence, suicide prevention/signs of suicide, self-defense classes and handwriting analysis classes.”
If she was not busy enough, Linda also owned and operated Lake Creek Ranch in Limon as a cow calf operation.

“I bought the first acreage for the ranch with my mother back in 1980,” she said. “She and I bought the other parcels of pasture land since then. I’ve been involved in all aspects of running the ranch from calving cows to selling animals. In the 1990s, I sold out the cow calf operation and now lease my pasture.”

Linda’s strong work ethic, desire to help others and concern for the community developed as she was growing up in the local area. Born in Stratton, she grew up with her sister and three brothers on a farm near Flagler owned by her parents, Elvin and Alice Ward.

“Of the five children, I’m the only one with farm blood,” she said. “My sister and brothers all moved away to become city dudes.”

Linda’s parents moved the family to Limon in 1964 at the start of her sophomore year of high school. As a student at Limon High School, she was an active member Pep Club as well as its annual and newspaper staffs. She graduated with the Class of 1967.

Linda got married in 1968.  David Olsen, her oldest son, was born in 1969. Her youngest son, Bradley  “BJ” Olsen, was born in 1972.

Linda’s work outside the home began in 1974 when she took a job with the Limon Town Clerk’s Office handling water billing. Over the years, she often held two or three different jobs at the same time while raising her family and operating Lake Creek Ranch.

After both of her sons left for college, Linda decided to further her own education and began taking classes at Morgan Community College in 1995. She graduated with an Associates of Arts degree in Ag/Business Management in May 1997.

“That month was the same one that both my sons graduated with their engineering degrees,” Linda said. “Dave got his degree from Florida Atlantic University and Bradley from Southern Colorado University in Pueblo. I thought that was quite a feat for our family.”

To earn her Bachelor’s degree, Linda then attended National American University starting in 1999. She graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Applied Business Management in 2001.

But of all of her accomplishments, Linda is most proud of her two sons, who both work in engineering.

“I have two exceptional children which I attribute to the support of good friends, family and a lot of hard work,” she said. “It’s still possible to raise good kids.”

David Olsen is the co-owner of a mechanical engineering company, Parametric LLC in Juniper, Fla., which works on everything from wind farm motors to aerospace projects. He is married to Sherri Thaller, originally from Hugo, Colo. and they have four children.

Her younger son, BJ Olsen also owns his own structural engineering firm, Olsen Performance Team, LLC in Spring, Texas. He is married to Tanya Reichert, formerly of Loveland, Colo., and they have one young daughter and another child on the way this week.

“At this chapter in my life, my grandkids are my main focus,” Linda said. “Grandkids are the gift to grandparents and a payback to the parents for all they did to Mom!”

(Note: The sculpture that Linda is holding in the photo that accompanies this article was made by her son BJ. It will be one of the items to be offered during a silent auction during a fundraising art show planned by Centennial Mental Health for August 21, 2015.)

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