Daira Hoegh Driftmier
Please describe your Lynnville-Sully roots:
My family moved to Sully when I was in second grade. My parents are Rod Hoegh and Susan Hoegh. I graduated from L-S in 2001 and had four siblings that also graduated from L-S – Danielle, Dana, Robby, and Reggie. I spent most of my time five miles northwest of Sully in the country where I enjoyed exploring the creeks and ponds with my brothers Reggie and Robby. I also got to watch my siblings Robby, Dana, and Danielle play many different sports. I also enjoyed coming to watch my little brother, Reggie, play after I graduated.
After Lynnville-Sully, where did life take you?
I graduated from L-S in 2001 and started college in the fall at Central College in Pella. At Central, I played basketball and gained a lot of valuable knowledge from amazing internships. I graduated from Central in 2005 with a bachelor of arts in exercise science, health promotion.
After college, did you get a job in the fitness field?
I graduated from Central College on a Sunday and started work on Monday at a large fitness center as a personal trainer. I was successful in helping people making daily changes to make being healthy easier and fun. A doctor saw the success I was having with clients and approached me to train their patients and run a smaller gym. I did that until I moved and started a small business with two other trainers/nutritionist. This is where I began my dream to help kids and families.
When did you make the move to Hy-Vee?
Hy-Vee approached me about working for them to help create a safe and educational way kids could learn healthy habits at home through daily challenges. I took a leap of faith with a great company, and I have not regretted one single moment. In six months, I created a website where kids and their families can learn how to exercise correctly, make exercise fun, and showcase healthy, quick recipes that even kids can make.
I am extremely passionate about providing fun education about health and exercise because when I was growing up, I remember having a lot of questions but I didn’t have a lot of places to get answers. I was confused and had a lot of UNHEALTHY habits. It wasn’t until I went to college and learned how much better we feel about ourselves when we treat ourselves nicely – by eating food that helps us perform better and using exercise as a way to give us more energy and to have FUN! So many times, I remember exercise being used as punishment and rewarded with candy. I want to help change that!
What are your job responsibilities and goals?
As the director of Hy-Vee KidsFit, I help coordinate with Hy-Vee Store dieticians all over Hy-Vee Land (that’s anywhere where there is a Hy-Vee). My favorite thing to do is to go into schools. I prefer big groups but just yesterday, I did a smaller group of 40 and it was fun to connect with the kids more. I haven’t put a limit on the grades because I see so many reasons why what I am doing is good for first graders, and then today I was with sixth graders all day who did AWESOME.
My goals are big with KidsFit. I want to create a positive experience for kids while they are young so when they get to be old like me, they don’t have a hard time making daily choices. The healthy choice should be the easy choice. I also want to provide programming and healthy food to help kids who don’t have someone to help them. I want Hy-Vee KidsFit to be “Book It,” except for exercise and healthy choices.
The kids at L-S got a challenge from me last month. Hy-Vee wants to reward them for working on those challenges and their personal improvement.
Outside of schools, I also do community events and store events working with Hy-Vee’s all over. I also help coordinate and run the Hy-Vee Pinky Swear Triathlons.
Your image is on several Hy-Vee marketing materials, online, and throughout the store. How has this “fame” affected you?
No one really knows who I am. Most people can’t say my name right, and I’m alright with that. I do have more people trying to add me to Facebook, which is kind of weird. The funniest thing to me is when my friends take a selfie with the store pictures and send it to me. Also, I now refuse to go to Hy-Vee with my husband because he always asks the checker if they know who I am. It’s so embarrassing.
What are some of the best parts of your job? The worst?
I love seeing kids TRY! I love when they have fun working together. I also enjoy watching them struggle a little bit. When we struggle through a challenge or exercise, it helps make us stronger. Giving up won’t teach you anything. But if you stick to it, you can do it, and the next time you do it, you will be physically and mentally better.
At every event, I started to say this, “If you think you CAN’T, then you are probably right.” Nothing makes me more frustrated than kids not trying or being negative to themselves and/or negative to others.
The bad part of my job is seeing kids who are really struggling. I was at a school where the kids had no respect for adults. I could see teachers had even started to give up. There are communities where kids need a positive influence, and when I leave these communities I get very sad. I hope I have helped them, but I won’t really know. Don’t get me wrong, I have some great experiences with these kids, and I know what I am doing might help some of them, but I also have kids trying to get in my car when I leave. It can be very emotional.
How does it feel coming back to your alma mater, sharing your passion with kids from your hometown?
I knew speaking to L-S would be different. It is a good different. I know most of these young kids DO have positive role models. I remember being their age in this community. I would follow around Kristy Norman when I was little. I wanted to be her. How awesome is it that Sully is a community that raises such great people. Later, I remember having great teammates to look up to like Carrie Norman, Lisa Vander Weerdt, Erin Shearn and Jessica Nikkel (boniest elbows EVER).
Did anything happen or is there a memorable moment from L-S that may have shaped your career path or inspired you to choose such a career?
I learned so much playing sports at L-S. I remember Mr. Corbett yelling at me, “Daira, when I am talking to you, I feel like I am talking to a brick wall.” Thank you, Mr. Corbett. I think about that all the time. Listening and using information people tell you is such an important life skill. I goofed around a bit, and I liked to have fun but overall, I was a good student and successful athlete. Being in athletics is what helped me have confidence and listen better.
Mr. Dane was also someone who helped push me into the science field. His classes were by far the most fun for me, and I learned more from him than some of my college teachers. I also liked how hard he was on us. He was one of the greatest in my mind.
Tell us about your family now:
I live in Norwalk with my giant husband Clint, son Kyler Clay, age 3, and daughter Diem Lee, age 6 months. Clint is a PE teacher at Lakewood Elementary in Norwalk. We also have two dogs that I can’t leave out – Mia, a puggle, and Kaui, a shitzu.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
I love to be with my family. We frequently visit Clarinda to my in-laws’ farm where Kyler goes crazy with his cousins and helps Papa Driftmier with the cows, corn, and beans.
My husband and I like to golf when our schedule allows. We like to watch “Survivor,” and we both dream of being on the show.
I like to run and one of these days, I will beat Reggie in the Sully Fourth of July Freedom Run.
I also like to do Crossfit and be outside.
Sidenote from Daira:
Please sign up your family for the Five-Week Challenge and follow me at Hy-Vee KidsFit on Facebook. Challenge yourself daily and challenge each other to continue to improve yourself.