Our last Senior Spotlight of the 2018-19 school year is a bright, ambitious girl who is ready to get out in the world, do new things and be somewhere else for a while.

Lindsey Donnelly, daughter of David and Schelly Donnelly, and sister of Tara, a freshman at Nevada High School, is about to walk across the stage to receive her diploma. “Things are really starting to end … so it feels a little bit more real,” she said.

Donnelly will start college next fall at South Dakota State University in Brookings, where she plans to major in animal science and minor in equine science. Her decision to go out of state for school was based on several things. For one, she has a good friend graduating this spring from South Dakota State and that friend, from Ames, has loved the school. Another reason, she said, is she still gets in-state tuition there.

But, maybe the most important reason she chose South Dakota State is she wanted to get away. “I have a feeling of just wanting to get out of the house … and do something completely different and be on my own.” That doesn’t mean she discounted that a great ag school was right here in Story County. She, in fact, liked that SDSU was a lot like ISU to her. “Many of the buildings there were similar to the buildings I’ve been in at ISU,” she said.

And ISU is still in Donnelly’s future. “One of my overall plans for life (after getting her undergraduate degree) is to come back to vet school at ISU,” she said.

Donnelly’s future plans have a lot to do with her involvement during high school in 4-H and the 4-H horse programs.

“I have grown up riding and showing horses … From a young age…it was something that always fascinated me,” Donnelly said.

Since she lives in town, her riding and being around horses happened at Claire Hall’s farm east of Nevada. “I was in first grade when I started going there,” she recalled. And it all began very simply, she said. “Most little girls when asked to do a riding lesson will jump on it.” That’s what she did and with horses and 4-H she’s never looked back.

She’s in her ninth year now as a member of the Richland Royals 4-H club and is currently the club’s president. She’s also a member of the Story County Horse Project and a youth superintendent for that organization.

During the school year, she said her work on 4-H and with horses is probably around five hours a week, but when summer comes, her time is pretty much all given to 4-H and horses, and of course, all the preparation and enjoyment of the county and state fairs.

“This will be my third year back at the Iowa State Fair showing horses,” she said. This year’s state fair will be the last thing she does right before leaving for school. Even though the horse show is at the beginning of the state fair, Donnelly will stay throughout the fair because she’s part of the State Council for 4-H, as well. So she’ll do all her organization for leaving for school before she goes to the state fair, because once she returns to Nevada, it will be time to leave for South Dakota.

It doesn’t worry her. “I will be preparing all summer long,” she said.

The hardest part about the summer may be attending her last Story County Fair. She started going as a Clover Kid, so this last fair as a 4-H’er will be her 10th year of participating.

“Most of my really close friends, I met at the Story County Fair,” she said. “Since we are from all over Story County, the fair is our one special week together (each year).”

She knows that for herself and a couple other of her fair friends who are seniors, “that last day when we all clean our stalls together … it will be tough.”

Donnelly said her other involvements as a high school student at Nevada have included two favorite things: being in the pep band and being a student ambassador.

“I really enjoy music and like that pep band is laid back and fun… There’s no pressure about messing up.”

The main responsibilities of student ambassadors, she said, are at home sports events. “We help out the officials and others who work at the event to make sure they’re comfortable and have what they need.” Donnelly mostly worked as an ambassador for home basketball games. The student ambassadors, she said, also help create the graphics for the scoreboard.

Two teachers have stood out for her during her time in school. She had Dr. Ludwig her freshman year for Honors English, and even though Ludwig missed much of the year with health concerns, Donnelly still felt she was an important part of her successful transition into high school from middle school. “She really helped me to manage my stress and was always a comforting face.”

Because she was involved in speech, Donnelly said she also spent a lot of time in Mr. Mittman’s room and that benefited her. “He encouraged me a lot to get out of my comfort zone … and try new things.”

Now she’s ready for new things, and she said she’s not the only one. “A lot of my friends are going in different directions (after high school).” She mentions several others who will be out of state, as far away as Texas and New York. But one thing these graduates have that graduates didn’t use to have is incredible technology to stay connected, no matter where they are.

Donnelly offers her best wishes to all the seniors in her class. “It’s been really nice growing up with them and to see everyone develop their own interests. We are all very different.”