Summer Fun: The Sunshine, The Good Times, and The Corn

Which day of the year can put a smile on any teenagers face? The first day of summer of course! It means a season of relaxation, fun in the sun, and forgetting all of the things they crammed all night to remember for their finals. The first thing they think of is what they should do first to relieve the stress from the roughest school year of their lives so far. Where to begin? Maybe go for a swim in their friend’s pool? Well if they want to swim they need a new bathing suit. Maybe they can finally finish those last few episodes of whatever they were binge watching on Netflix before finals instead? Of course, they will need to keep paying for their Netflix account. Or maybe even go old school and start reading that book everyone’s been talking about. Even better, they will go and watch the movie version of that book everyone’s been talking about. “That’s it! Let’s do that!” say the teenagers! They google movie times, arrive five minutes late, and then…it hits them. They need money. How can teenagers get the money they need in order to enjoy the grand activities of summer? “A summer job, duhhhhh. It’s the perf solution to having the like, most epic summer ever,” reply the teenagers. The summer job most teenagers in rural areas choose, is one that will never let you forget about the awesome season of summer: working at Burrus Seed Farms.

For teenagers that have never worked Burrus before, they might not exactly understand the job description. Maybe they have heard of detasseling, but that is just the starting job that can open up a world of opportunities to any teenager willing to work in the fields, or to the more committed teen, a job in the main headquarters. Now a lot of things might turn a Jacksonville teenager away from working at Burrus. These things might include the heat, the bugs, or maybe even the early hours. Enough of any of those things can make the job seem unbearable. At the same time, however, there are many things that any Burrus teen can name that make the job sound more desirable and attractive. To give the Jacksonville teenagers a better understanding of all the glory that comes with being a seasoned Burrus worker, they could step out of their air conditioned comfort zones, and try it for themselves. However, it would take years to accumulate the knowledge that other local teenagers have already learned. 

I have worked at Burrus Seed Farms for the past seven, count them on two hands, seven summers of my life. It’s been a wonderful time, with each summer getting better than the last. “How can this happen?” one might ask after thinking detasseling every year can never get any better than it already sounds. Well, to them I say, “because with each new summer comes new responsibilities.” To begin, that person is right, I do detassel every summer. For a while, that’s all I did for the summer. I got the call saying to show up at the bus stop, and then I got the pink slip saying to stop showing up at the bus stop. Then, when I kept returning every summer, Burrus kept giving me more jobs. I started as a detasseler, then a supervisor, and now I’m at my most prized title “plot girl”. I no longer receive the call to show up at a bus stop in June, but I get called to drive to the Burrus plant in May. I work with plots. (Don’t worry, I had no idea they existed either.) The plots are where Burrus plants the seeds they experiment on, there, I count the plants that grow from those seeds. This is what I do in May, when the corn is only as tall as my ankles. At the same time, the boys at Burrus are “volunteering.” This does not mean that they are generously giving their time and labor to the fields, but instead, they are digging out the corn plants that are growing between the rows. Later, the girls and the boys join forces to rogue. (Don’t worry, I had no idea this existed too.) Rogueing is when the bigger plants are hoed away, so they won’t tamper with pollination. Then, we go back to detasseling, but I don’t get my pink slip anymore. Instead, as a supervisor, I watch the crew members on the buses grow fewer and fewer when I watch the buses pull up to the fields. Finally, when detasseling is over, I return to my plots where the corn plants are not at my ankles anymore. At that point, I feel like everybody’s great aunt at the family reunion, “Oh, corn plants! I remember when you when you were only this high!” But instead of getting to pinch their cheeks, I tag them, organizing them into easy to find ranges and rows, and measure them to see how tall they’ve actually grown. It’s truly a beautiful experience. Not only is there a relationship with the corn, but there is also a less creepy relationship with your coworkers. 

Friends that sweat together, stay together. Anyone who walks outside in July, can quickly fear the wrath of an Illinois summer. However, with the proper hydration helping the process of perspiration, one can conquer anything. My coworkers and I have learned to deal with the heat, and it has made our relationships stronger. I mean, one can only say, “It’s hot.” so many times before an actual conversation is in order. This is why so many friendships are made in the Burrus fields. One conversation popular among friends is a game called, “Would You Rather?” This game is easy to play, and involves enough brain power to keep you distracted from the heat. Popular “would you rathers” include, “Would you rather have no legs or no arms? Would you rather have Cheetoh dust permanently stuck to your fingers forever or sweat mayonnaise?” These questions evoke deep thought, and can even expand the mind. It’s a great way to keep the brain active during the months away from school. So the next time a teenager needs a job to achieve the best summer ever, they should consider Burrus. It’s a great way to get the money they need to do the activities they enjoy, get involved with the corn around them, and make friends this summer.

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