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2017 40 Under 40 Honoree: Jodi Oehlke, 38

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Where in the world is Jodi Oehlke? You may find her in Springfield or across the globe in Israel or Italy. The founder of Backpacker Church leads outreach and humanitarian trips to the two countries. The excursions include three to 20 people at a time, and Oehlke is proud to say she’s kept her teams safe and sound. Through her website, Oehlke leads national “read through the Bible” challenges, through which more than 500 people have read the book with her in 90 days. From 2006 to 2009, Oehlke was a licensed foster parent in Missouri, and she also helps to build affordable houses for low-income families.

What was your first job? A church day care when I wasn’t doing sports in high school.

What was your professional “aha” moment? When we were placed in US Weekly magazine in the Trendy Tots section for my former T-shirt line.

What about your job would shock clients? That small amounts of money can go really far. I don’t wait for the money to be there. I feel money follows vision, and it usually always works.

What did you learn the hard way? Delegation will get you way farther in business. People want to help – let them.

Top secret alias if you worked for the CIA? I could never hide even with an alias – I laugh too loud.

What do you miss most about the 1990s? Junior high teachers. Nixa had a great middle school staff, like Mrs. Glenn. I feel she really gave me room to develop into who I am.

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