MONMOUTH, ILLINOIS (May 2, 2023) — Two Quad Cities residents with a passion for history connected at a "Cider with Classics" event at Monmouth College last fall. The meeting led to career advice and inspiration for junior Larissa Pothoven (’24), as well a neat professional opportunity.
Pothoven, who came to Monmouth from Rock Island, Illinois, attended the classics event, where Neil Dahlstrom ('98), the archivist for Deere and Co in adjoining Moline, was the featured speaker. Dahlstrom recently authored the critically-acclaimed book Tractor Wars: John Deere, Henry Ford, International Harvester, and the Birth of Modern Agriculture.
Before going to work more than twenty years ago for Deere, Dahlstrom majored in classics at Monmouth. During his recent campus visit, he discussed how a liberal-arts education at Monmouth helped prepare him for a variety of professional opportunities.
Following the event, Pothoven, who is majoring in history and English, talked to Dahlstrom about his experience with the Butterworth Center and Deere-Wiman House in Moline, and also about the opportunities to work at other museums in the Quad Cities.
After that initial connection, Pothoven and Dahlstrom met again and talked about how Dahlstrom got into history and Deere. They discussed that many people at Deere have backgrounds in farming, but that Dahlstrom doesn't — his background is in history and archival work.
"He talked about being open to new experiences, and that you never know where you're going to end up," said Pothoven, who was named Monmouth's Freshman Woman of the Year two years ago.
As a result of the conversations, Pothoven had the opportunity to visit the John Deere archives, and she said she learned a lot during her tour.
"Something we talked a lot about when we visited the archives was that you can't keep everything," she said. "You need to determine what's important — and not everything is important — and determine what has value and what you definitely need, and then get rid of all the extra copies or things that might be cool but aren't relevant."
She and Dahlstrom also talked about telling stories through archives.
"Taking those facts and statistics and making them into a story that people can connect with and care about is something that's also important," said Pothoven.
The trip and conversation with Dahlstrom helped Pothoven determine what she wants to do in the future. After college, she plans to get her Master's degree in Museum Studies, with the goal of becoming a museum curator. She is also interested in libraries and archives, as well as editing and publishing.