Hesston College Bucket List: The Next Generation

by Mackenzie Miller – Horizon Co-Editor-in-Chief

Short-Miller holds the collection of bucket lists from the last 16 years.

Go on an illogical road trip out of state? Check.

Go dumpster diving? Check.

Continue a 16-year tradition? Check.

That’s exactly what Jonah Short-Miller has been up to. As a sophomore biochemistry major, Short-Miller occupies his time with lab reports and late night studying sessions. But he continues to make time for one, very important thing: the Hesston College bucket list.

Handed down to him from his sister, Rachel Short-Miller after her graduation in 2015, the bucket list has a 16-year history, starting with student Dierdre (Harder) Shetler in 2001.

Harder’s younger sister, Fjaere, got the list in 2004 after her brother, Zachary. It has been 12 years since the Harder family attended Hesston, so the list now travels down to friends. How do you get selected? You just have to be a student at Hesston College. And lucky enough to be chosen, of course.

Fjaere Harder said the list was “a very thoughtful gift from her sister as a guide for her younger siblings.”

And for Harder, the bucket list was indeed a guide. A hard worker and strong student, Harder says the list framed her overall Hesston College experience as it reminded her “how important the friendships, surprises, and momentary experiences are.”

“It encouraged me to find and relish the whimsical, carefree pleasures of the Hesston experience,” said Harder.

The list continues to have that effect on its lucky few recipients.

Short-Miller is the eighth student to contribute to and participate in this bucket list. *See the few adventurous ideas above.

“The bucket list is a fun way to keep in touch with Hesston’s past,” he said. “Having the list encouraged me to make much more of an effort to put myself out there.”

Short-Miller at the Schmeckfest event eating the infamous sausage.

In fact, on a cold weekend in March, Short-Miller traveled with some friends to Freeman, South Dakota for the purpose of checking another item off his bucket list: Shmeckfest, an annual four-day festival celebrating the heritage and culture of Germans from Russian Mennonites.

“I had a great time at Schmeckfest,” Short-Miller said. “The sausage was all it was cracked up to be, and so were all the other festivities. It was really cool to see such a small community come together to pull off a big event.”

Short-Miller also headed west for spring break-visiting Arches National Park and the Grand Canyon among other things. Another bucket list item checked off.

“We also randomly went to Oklahoma last year,” added Short-Miller, now having more than one illogical road trip under his belt.

Short-Miller has now completed 70 of the 89 semi-secret items on the list (Side Note: Not all items are completely legal).

For instance, some things like “Climb on top of Erb…no all HC buildings” could lead to a fine.

Or “Climbing the Hesston Water Tower” might be a little risky.

But other items on the list such as going star tipping or sending people random things through campus mail are just plain goofy.

Now a seasoned veteran in these endeavors, Short-Miller will pass on the list at the end of this year.

Who’s the next lucky Hesston College student? Short-Miller’s not sure. But it could definitely go to more than one person.

“I just want people to have new and crazy experiences and to add to the list. I hope it keeps going,” he said.

Also floored that the list still lives on, Harder says, “It is heartwarming to know that through the passing on of the bucket list itself, and the activities on it, students continue to get the “education ‘plus’ ” that we have fondly coined the Hesston Experience.”

Set to graduate in a little less than a month, Short-Miller will end his time as guardian of the list.

Short-Miller on his Spring break trip out West.

But he has one more task from his older sister, Mara (2012). She left 25 ideas for her brother. The last one?

“Add your own things to the list and pass it on to others.”

Short-Miller is not quite done with his list, but he has lots of ideas.

He says he will definitely add one item to the bucket list, though:

“Don’t be afraid to redefine yourself; Hesston is the best place in the world to be exactly who you want to be.”



Note: Short-Miller has requested that the list not be shared for this article.

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