Laura’s Quick Questions for John Anderson

John Anderson is the director of the Perry Parks and Recreation Department.

“Outdoorsman” is defined as “one who spends a lot of time in the outdoors or in outdoor activities.” That doesn’t fully describe John Anderson, Perry’s Parks and Recreation Director.

The online thesaurus wasn’t much help. I can add “adventurist” and “thrill-seeker,” but that doesn’t completely cover it either. “Multi-interested” for sure. As he says, he’s “been around a lot of interesting things,” and he continually pursues new interests.

John has a degree in sports management-exercise science from Buena Vista University in Storm Lake — he’s a Beaver — where he played Division III football for three years. Upon graduation he wanted to work in Parks and Rec.

He worked at a phone company for three years while persistently applying for jobs. His first interview was for the assistant director position in Creston, Iowa. He was hired on the spot.

That job led to his current role in Perry, where he says he’s “really enjoying the community and really enjoying the job.” He believes that Perry is “on the right track to be a really progressive community.”

John and his wife, Lisa, have two children—Hank, 5, and Lily, 3. Rounding out the family are Boe, a shih tzu, and Mini, a guinea pig.

In my attempt to encourage John to sit down for “Quick Questions,” I swore we could get through the questions in 30 -minutes. That might have been possible until I asked one particular question. You’ll see.

Laura: Name a song you could listen to on “repeat” for forever.
John: (Not a song but a radio show) Saturday morning oldies show—classic country—KWMT 540 AM, Fort Dodge.

Laura: App on your phone that you use the most.
John: Snapchat and the hunting app onX (described on their site as an app to “help hunters see public land boundaries while in the field” and to help “others have their best outdoor experiences”).

Laura: What’s your favorite thing to do in Perry?
John: Go to Mex-to-U.

Laura: What’s the most impressive thing you can cook?
John: I’m well-versed in the arts of cooking—bread from scratch, apple pie from scratch with lard, venison, jerky, summer sausage.

Laura: What’s the best trait you inherited from your parents?
John: Work ethic.

Laura: If you had to take a tourist one place in the Perry area, where would you take the person?
John: Through the park system, the bike trail—we’re a connector.

Laura: What do you wish you really understood about Perry?
John: Deeper history prior to around 1995. Critical to have that information—important to know your history. (John does know decades of Perry history, but he’d like to understand the history even further back.)

Laura: What one thing would you like to see happen in Perry that hasn’t happened yet?
John: We need more facilities. Gym space is a big one to promote youth sports. We’re lacking gym space, some practice space. It’s a balancing act of youth versus patrons. An additional gym—attached or stand alone.

Laura: Favorite Perry comfort food?
John: Lou’s Diner tenderloin.

Laura: When people come to Perry for the first time, what do you think surprises them the most?
John: We have a crazy large amount of big-city amenities—rec center, bike loop, Hy-Vee, Fareway, Orscheln and more. (John grew up on a family farm where it was a 35-mile drive to get groceries.) Perry is close to the metro, but you don’t have to go there—you can reach out and touch, but you don’t have to put up with the nuisances.

Laura: What’s the one thing that you really wish all Perryites understood about you personally?
John: I put a lot of thought into the decisions that we make. We try to have everybody’s best interest at heart when we try to do anything, from cutting down a tree to putting in a water bottle fill station.

Laura: Name one of your hidden talents or interests that might surprise people. (I think you’ll spot this as the question that shot us past 30 minutes.)
John: “I have three guitars I like to play. My biggest passion if I had to pick one—bow hunting whitetail deer, but ice fishing is right there.” (That’s three if you’re counting.)

“I’m a 20-year vet behind a stick and string,” he said. “It’s a high for a 30-second encounter with an animal, then it’s a lot of hard work to retrieve it.”

“I process my own food both from growing a garden and harvesting wild game. I build my own arrows for bow hunting. I built flu-flu arrows that have a fast speed for 30-40 yards and then they slow down quickly. The veins are upright when the arrow goes into the ground, so you don’t lose it in the grass.”

Harvesting a rooster pheasant with a flu-flu arrow he’s made is one of the things on John’s bucket list. “It’s such an experience to work behind good dogs—the timing and accuracy is so difficult.

Every year since his sophomore year in college—missing only the year his son was born–John’s travelled to Webster, S.D., to fish for perch–his favorite fish to catch. It’s a bucket list item to go to Lake Cascade, Idaho—home of world-record yellow perch.

Before turning 30, he’d already checked off his list a 200” deer, a 30” walleye, and a 14-1/2” perch. He’d like to add an elk to that list.

He’s gotten into fly fishing, leading to a goal of catching a northern pike during his planned trip to Canada.

He’s skilled with a bullwhip.

From a friend who is knowledgeable about flint, he’s gotten interested in searching for flint flakes in his father’s tilled garden in the Lost Grove Township (a former island in a marsh) in the middle of a cornfield his family owns. He’s hoping to find an arrowhead.

He’s also a huge golfer, with his first and only par round of golf coming on the Afton golf course. (Did you count the interests? Lots, and this isn’t a comprehensive list. I’m feeling I need to widen my horizons!)

Laura: What was your favorite thing to do on the playground when you were a kid?
John: Never went. I lived on an acreage south of Harcourt, Iowa, (population 300) in Webster County. My mom had horses. We baled hay and had an old hay mound. I’d swing off the ropes from haystack to haystack. My dad had me hammering the nails back in to keep the siding on the barn. And we had a go-cart with no engine, and my dad would hook it up behind a tractor with a chain and a rope. (My dad did this in the snow with a sled. Sledding is much more fun when you remove the hill climbing part.)

Laura: Favorite Iowa day trip?
John: Maquoketa Caves State Park in Maquoketa.

Laura: What is the best TV show of all time?
John: “The Andy Griffith Show,” which ran from 1960 to 1968—we still watch it every night from 7-8 p.m.

Laura: Motto/saying/rule to live by.
John: “We’re burnin’ daylight,” a John Wayne quote from the movie “The Cowboys.” It’s in me 100%. It’s leadership.

Laura: If you could pass one regulation that everyone would have to follow, what would it be?
John: To get off social media. Delete Facebook. Put your phone down.

Laura: Person you’d most like to meet.
John: The Hunting Public crew who have a YouTube channel. (Their stated core mission is to “create a community of hunters that can interact and learn together as a group.”)

Steven Rinella—the face of outdoorsmen and outdoorswomen in the world right now.

Happy you and your wife found your way to Perry, John, and you’re enjoying your job and our community. I’m confident you’ll cross off bucket list items as you continually add more. Wishing you many successful “30-second” hunting highs.

My share this time is my favorite thing to do on the playground when I was a kid—in elementary school it was win at tetherball.


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