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NiCole Hale is one of the newest leaders in Big Ocean Women, but she has jumped in with both feet and is helping in so many ways. She is the embodiment of qualities she says her family taught her:  honesty, kindness, and dependability. “These qualities,” she says, “are the backbone of every success I’ve had.” She is also a wonderful example of this month’s tenet: We live and promote a life culture within the womb, the home, and our ecological environment.

NiCole grew up in California, near Los Angeles as the only daughter in a family of five children. Both of her parents came from farming families in other parts of the United States, but they had moved with their family to California because of her father’s job in aerospace. Still, her parents worked to teach their children skills that were less common for where they lived. They “learned to raise cows, handle horses, build dune buggies, and sew clothing.” She shared, “My parents enjoyed taking us on long drives to explore the mountains and on even longer camping trips and road trips. I learned to fish while I was very young. I didn’t enjoy it until I was an adult, though!”

Some memories that NiCole shared with me are best told in her own words:

“Very early in my youth, I knew I wanted to be a teacher. I would gather all the dolls and stuffed animals I could find and set them around me just outside our front door. I taught them everything I knew–which didn’t take long as a three year old! As a teenager, my parents asked me what career I wanted, and I told them my dream. My father instantly boasted, ‘You’ll be the Secretary of Education!’ Whenever I had a dream, he would add an ambitious goal, always wanting to see me reach my potential. I appreciate how he and my mother both believed in me–believed in my capacity to achieve–but I really wanted to be a simple teacher, making a difference in children’s lives one at a time. Despite my father’s ambitious declaration, I think he is proud of my choices. I worked hard in high school, both at a job and at classes, to earn a few small scholarships to get me started at Brigham Young University. Though supportive, my parents couldn’t provide my college education, and my scholarships were used up after the first year. I continued my studies in education, sometimes working three jobs at a time, and graduated debt-free.

“I love children and youth, and I think it is rooted in the excellent care I received from my mother and father. Our simple home was a safe place. My first memory is a very early one. I have no idea how old I was–probably less than two. We were playing at a nearby beach for the day, and I needed a place to sit and rest. ‘Come,’ my mother said. She was sitting cross-legged. ‘Sit in my chair.’ I remember sitting in the nook her legs made and feeling safe and happy.”

Visiting her grandmother every summer was also a formative experience for NiCole. Her memories of how her parents showed respect and love for her aging grandmother were very powerful. She said she was impressed by “how they cared for her, how they spoke to her, how they enjoyed her stories and laughed at her jokes. As a young person, that spoke volumes to me about how to treat the older people in my life.” She is able to draw strength from thinking about her grandmother who “survived Poncho Villa’s raids as a young girl in northern Mexico, established a home and family in New Mexico, and raised a large family with a lot of grit and good humor.”

Relating another memory of Grandma Jenny who became NiCole’s only roommate before college when one was 90 and the other 16, NiCole explained, “I asked her once what it was like to live through the Great Depression. She replied that she was so poor anyway, that she didn’t really know anything different. She just carried on.”

With relatable and accurate description, NiCole said, “With lightning speed, it seems, my life has come fast-forward to now.” She and her husband have worked to provide a stable and loving home for their six children. She left full-time employment when they were young to be able to stay home for that time which she described as “precious” and “fleeting.”

Their oldest child is now married and has children of her own. NiCole has two teenagers whom she homeschools, and she also cares for her elderly parents.

NiCole loves to be involved in her community and to create clubs for her children and their friends, including recent adventures in Lego robotics and underwater robotics 4-H clubs. She has been involve with teaching through volunteer opportunities, substitute teaching, teaching piano, and also with writing curriculum.

She also shared, “I absolutely love gardening. It feels so good to be outside in the sunshine and soil, and it’s incredibly satisfying to build a flower bouquet for a friend or a meal for my family from things I’ve grown.” She also enjoys sewing, hiking, and running, and has a goal to run a half marathon this year.

When describing how she came to be involved with Big Ocean Women, NiCole shared that she had been looking for an organization that stood up for families, strengthened women, and protected children, but “found all of them lacking in the absence of a positive statement on men.” She said, “I find my own father, my brothers, and my husband to be essential in my own life. I cringe to think of some of the disparaging comments I’ve heard about them being dispensable. I feel men have wonderful unique traits which balance and complement natural traits of women, and without both men and women we would have gaping holes in our perspectives. I feel we are at our best and have the best chance of success when we recognize the value in one another’s innate perspectives.”

NiCole is excited to be part of Big Ocean Women and wants women everywhere to understand how innately powerful they are. She said, “I hope they realize that it doesn’t take a strong voice, a large stage, lots of money, or even robust health to be a force for good. By making positive choices for ourselves and our families every day, by truly loving and respecting others, and by supporting one another in our struggles, we are an incredible force for good.”