A couple weekends ago, I met up with a few friends from my hometown for a “Girls’ Day” at the Roller City skating rink in Mason City.

When we were kids, Roller City was our favorite destination for birthday parties and 4-H outings. I was thrilled to return to a place that carries so many childhood memories, some good and some utterly embarrassing. I never got the hang of rolling skating as a kid and spent a lot of time clinging to the wall or picking myself up off the cement floor. But that’s part of the fun, right?

I was expecting Roller City to look a lot different after all these years. But to my surprise, it looked almost exactly the same. The pinball machine, the food counter, the D.J. booth and the mirror ball above the rink were just as I remembered. One of my friends noticed that the concession stand still sold giant pickles in a jar. “It’s probably the same jar,” she joked.

Even the leather roller skates – with their brown laces and orange wheels – looked like the same skates I wore as a clumsy 8-year-old. It truly was like “rolling” back in time, and I loved every minute of skating as a clumsy 30-something-year-old, still clinging to the wall.

If you think about it, how rare is it to find a place that hasn’t changed? Whenever I return to my hometown, I can’t get over how everything looks so different. The home farm where I grew up is now an acreage. The corn field right next to where our swing set used to be is now filled with prairie flowers; my late grandfather enrolled this little patch of land in the federal wetlands reserve program.

Farming has also changed a lot since I was a kid, and it’s gotten better.

Today’s farmers are adopting new technologies that better conserve our water, soil and energy resources, while also protecting the safety of the farmers themselves and the livestock they raise.

My dad used to raise hogs in a muddy pasture. Now most farmers prefer to raise hogs in climate-controlled barns to protect the animals from Iowa’s erratic weather, keep the manure contained and help ensure food safety

Like a lot of people, I feel nostalgic for the past. I miss my old swing set on the farm and the birthday parties at Roller City with my best girlfriends. But the reality is that nothing stays the same, including Iowa agriculture.

Yet that’s a good thing, because the next generation of little girls learning to skate today is depending on us to protect the land that they will inherit.

And to be honest, even though Roller City looks the same, there was one big change I noticed right away. The kids skated to music by Justin Bieber, not Cyndi Lauper.

Written by Teresa Bjork
Teresa is a features Writer for the Iowa Farm Bureau.