In their own words

Below is an excellent personal write-up by Rachel Pfannkuch who is letting me use her story as an example on my web pages to help others with ideas on what they could write about for their stories.

Rachel graciously agreed to sit down one weekend and capture some memories she has had since the "1983 Leaders of Tomorrow" series ran in the Manning Monitor in 1983. It featured many of the younger Manning generation children with their pictures and the parents' names.

Now in 2012 we would like to have a follow-up feature and get as many of the "1983 kids" to send us their updates along with a few pictures they would like to share, and use that information in a new Manning Monitor article - maybe later on this summer or next fall.

I have received several questions as to what we would like you to write about.

There is no right or wrong way. You can write on one special subject about yourself or give a general update such as Rachel did.

Even if you send a couple of paragraphs about yourself that is OK too, but we hope you will send us a little more detail.

To help speed up the process and make it a little easier for you to see examples of what we are looking for - the pictures will be posted at the bottom of Rachel's write-up, and not embedded in the story line.

When we publish your stories in the Manning Monitor some of the pictures will be placed appropriately throughout your story.

Also, if I can find some pictures of people in my database who you write about in your story or are closely related to you, I will include some of them too.

Before your story is published in the Monitor I will take the information and pictures you send me, add a few pictures I may have, and then send a proof copy back to you by e-mail to give you a chance to check for errors or any changes you may want. After you give the OK it will then be published with several other "1983 kids" at some point in a future issue of the Manning Monitor.

If you have any questions please e-mail me at

Note: We'll use Rachel's story at the same time we run her brother Ryan's story once we start the "1983 Leaders" series in the Manning Monitor.
We want to keep the family histories together.

Dave Kusel

Rachel (Pfannkuch) Merkel - Leaders of 1983

I was one and half when that picture was taken in 1983. Mom said I cried the entire way to town but managed a smile once in front of the camera.

I was born on December 15, 1981, at the Manning General Hospital. I was one of the last Manning Centennial babies of 1981 and I'm sure you can still find my "I'm a Centennial Baby" t-shirt on a Cabbage Patch doll in my parent's attic.

Many of the best memories of my life come from growing up in Manning. Growing up on the farm was definitely something I didn't appreciate until after I left. I didn't participate in the daily chores of living on a farm but thinking back to having a huge garden, family in and out daily, and just the open space and beautiful sunsets you could see out the kitchen window always puts a smile on my face. One of the reasons I didn't appreciate farm life until I was much older was because being on the farm meant that I wasn't one of the "town kids" who got to come and go as they pleased to the Manning Rec Center on Friday nights for Kid's Night, or one who got to play after school around town, or hit up the Pizza Palace or Cliff's on Friday nights until I got my driver's license my sophomore year. As far as I got from the farm was to my neighbors who also happened to be my cousins, Angie, Melissa Puck and Kari Nuzback. There were a lot of bike rides from one Pfannkuch farm to the other and so many memories of spending time together.

Jr. High and high school were very social times for me. My friends and I can still talk and laugh all night about the memories we have from those years. My 1978 Caprice saw a lot of miles during those years from the endless hours we spent driving around Manning or the countless trips we made to follow the Bulldogs take on neighboring teams. Gas was only $.88/gallon so the Caprice would drive forever and not cost me too much to fill up! I was involved in many activities during these years. I played volleyball all four years and enjoyed cheering on my team to the state tournament my senior year mostly from the sidelines, which will always be a highlight of my high school memories. I was also part of the student council. National Honor Society, and class officer all four years but I guess you could say I excelled in band. Some of my fondest memories of high school are centered around music. I went through high school having a love/hate relationship with band. I loved being in the band and the socializing that went with it but practicing was never a top priority for me. Somehow I managed to make it into the Iowa All-State band my junior and senior year as well as participate in many other honor bands around Western Iowa. Under the direction of Jeff Mount, Manning had nine All-State band musicians my junior year, and five my senior year, which is really unheard of, especially for a small 1A school! I graduated with 36 others in the MHS Class of 2000. I feel that the teachers in the Manning school system when I went through were top notch. I may have not known it then but when I got to college I realized what high expectations had been set at Manning High School when I was there. Thank you to all the teachers and administration who took the time to give us a quality education.

Like my brother, I never looked at anywhere but Iowa State for college. I had been there to visit him and liked the campus and it was just far enough but not too far from home. I started out as an apparel merchandising major and knew that was all wrong for me two weeks in. By the end of the first semester I had switched to Child and Family Services and stayed in that for a year. I felt at home in the College of Family and Consumer Science because I knew I wanted to help families and individuals but couldn't quite find my niche. My first semester of my sophomore year of college was spent at the College of Charleston in South Carolina. Jen (Stribe) Morris and I decided to do an exchange program offered by Iowa State and we thought city life on the ocean would be an exciting adventure. We two Iowa girls learned a lot about living in a metropolitan area those four months and both came home knowing that we liked rural Iowa much better! I was homesick and missed Iowa so much. While living in Charleston I did a lot of researching on what I should do with my life and decided on teaching. I went back to Ames and declared my major in Family and Consumer Sciences education.

My first "real" job was at Malvern High School, now known as East Mills Community School District. I was the 7-12 grade Family and Consumer Sciences teacher. Anyone who has been a teacher knows that the first year is truly just trying to survive and that's what I was doing. Not only was I teaching but also had started my first year of graduate school to be a school counselor at Buena Vista University. I did long distance classes and spent a full month on campus in Storm Lake each June for three years. After one year in Malvern, I had the opportunity to be the K-12 school counselor in Walnut, Iowa. I commuted from Manning my first year and loved every minute of living back in my hometown in my Main Street apartment, but after one year of all the driving I decided to move to Atlantic in 2006 where I currently live. After four years I left Walnut to be the elementary school counselor at A-H-S-T in Avoca where I currently work. I also have a part time job at the Nishna Valley YMCA in Atlantic where I have worked at the front desk for the last five years. In July 2007 I met my husband Jared Merkel through a mutual friend. He is a native of Crofton, Nebraska and is a Journeyman Powerlineman for Atlantic Municipal Utilities. We were married in Atlantic on August 7, 2010. He is an avid Husker fan so the rivalry is always fun. Nothing is sweeter than the Cyclones beating the Huskers in our house!

If you live in Manning, you know I spend quite a bit of time there still, not only for family events but also because many of my best friends have moved back to the area to raise their young families. I couldn't be happier that Manning will be a thriving community for years to come due to their willingness to be leaders in the community. I often wonder and hope that all of their children can have a great time growing up in Manning like we did! On occasion I get asked where I would live if I could live anywhere in the world and too much surprise I often say Manning, Iowa. I feel it truly is one of the best small towns out there!

Rachel & Jared Merkel

Ryan, Renee, Dale, Rachel

Marvin & Viola Pfannkuch (Rachel & Ryan's paternal grandparents)

1999 State VB team Defeated Martendale St. Mary

Back: Christin Fara, Jessica Ranniger, Melissa Pfannkuch, Jaime Struve, Heather Swanson, Kari Pfannkuch, Stephanie Fogleman, Lindsay Nissen
Front: Rachel Pfannkuch, Sarah Brown, Rachel Ringgenberg, Jamie Irlbeck, Nicole Morlok

2000 Family Driving Class (Mrs. David)

Back: Rachel Pfannkuch, Catherine Irlmeier, Ashlee Colebank, Jill Ketcham, Mandi Weitl
Seated: Chris Wegner, Jaime Struve, Chris Reis, Stephanie Fogleman

1998 All State band members

Back: Jennifer Stribe, John Ulrickson, Rachel Pfannkuch, Mr. Jeff Mount, Tonya Wurr
Front: Paul Brown, Crystal Bruhn, Ross Muhlbauer, Jamie Irlbeck, Sarah Brown, Jacquie Dammann

7th grade science field trip to Springbrook - Jim Keegan teacher April 19, 1996

Back: Jennifer Watkins, Brandon Doyel, Michelle Ramsey, Jalen Spack, Quakerdale student
Middle: Heather Swanson, Jessica Ranniger, Jill Kienast, Kasie Lorenzen
Front: Quakerdale student, Rachel Pfannkuch

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