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Oklahoma, here I come!

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Will my roommates be nice? Will my mentor like me? Should I be worried about tornadoes? Where the heck is Ardmore, Oklahoma? Dang, I should have brought my cowboy boots…

These are the thoughts that ran through my head on the plane ride to the Dallas-Fort Worth airport as I shifted uncomfortably in my seat waiting for the flight attendants to come around with more water. I was on my way to start a new experience in a part of the country totally foreign to me. Yeah, you could say I was a bit nervous.

That morning was pretty hard for me. I come from a family where you don’t dare leave the house without hugging everyone goodbye and saying "I love you." So seeing my parents get farther and farther away as I walked through security and toward my gate was no easy thing. You see, my parents aren’t normal parents, or normal people for that matter. To say they love me, my brother, Christian, and sister, Alicia, a lot is a severe understatement.

No, they love us a ridiculous amount, and they somehow do it every day. They’re the best people I know, so walking away from them in the Boston Logan Airport was quite difficult.

It wasn’t just that I would be gone from friends and family for 10 weeks, but also that I was entering a completely new place with people I had never met.

Let’s rewind to March 9 when I found out I had been accepted as a Lloyd Noble Scholars in Plant Science in Plant Science.

I was sitting in a physics lab when I saw an email from the Noble Research Institute pop up on my phone. I quickly opened the email and welled up with excitement as I read, "We are pleased to inform you that you have been selected…". As soon as class was over I called my dad and told him the news. Of course he shared in my excitement but he also said something I hadn’t thought about, "Now Jo, you’re going to have to make a decision; you haven’t heard back about your other application." "Oh, right" I replied.

I decided then that I needed to find out more about the Noble Research Institute. All I knew was that they were a nonprofit organization in Oklahoma that conducted plant science research. Also, one of the postdocs in the lab I work in had visited the Noble Research Institute the previous summer and told me that their greenhouses are incredible.

As a woman interested in plant research, that sounded quite compelling.

To learn more, I searched for the Noble Research Institute on my phone, and I started with their operational principles. Some phrases that stuck with me were "advance sustainable agricultural practices," "give generously," "provide value-added education to farmers," and "educate future generations on the importance and virtues of agriculture and resource stewardship." I knew then that the Noble Research Institute was different from most research organizations.

They not only perform plant research to further sustainable agricultural practices, but they genuinely care about aiding and educating farmers. In fact, I even read that the Noble Research Institute provides consultations to farmers and ranchers for free to help them reach their goals. As a Christian, one of my core values is to be a servant unto others. The Noble Research Institute seemed to be right in line with this value. I decided to commit the opportunity at the Noble Research Institute to prayer.

So, as I sat on the plane anxiously awaiting to arrive at the DFW airport, I remembered the certainty that God brought over me after days of prayer. Certainty that this summer needed to be spent at the Noble Research Institute in Ardmore, Oklahoma. So, despite all the reasons I had to be nervous, scared and anxious, I had one really good reason to be at peace: this summer at the Noble Research Institute was part of God’s plan for me.

I can’t wait to experience all that God will show me through the Noble Research Institute, the other scholars, my mentor and Ardmore, Oklahoma. I trust that my skills and knowledge in plant science will grow (ha, pun intended), as well as my relationship with Jesus.

"Ladies and gentlemen, as we start our descent, please make sure your seat backs and tray tables are in their full upright position…"

And so the adventure begins, Oklahoma here I come!

Johanna L’Heureux is a 2015 Lloyd Noble Scholar in Plant Science from Dudley, Massachusetts.