This has been a normal-looking week for 18-year-old Elias Edquist. Chores at home, and banjo and guitar practice keep him busy daily until his evening shift begins at a local dairy farm. This hardworking, kind young man is leaving his life-long Mountain Grove home for the first time at the end of September for a six-week train conducting course in Kansas City. While Elias is excited for the journey, he will miss his quiet life on the farm where animals greet him daily and his family surrounds him in comfort. These are his last days at home. 

Elias Edquist, 18, pets their mule Gus as his father Eric pours cattle feed during daily chores. After spending his whole life on his family’s Mountain Grove farm, Elias will soon move to Kansas City for a six-week train conducting program.

Elias Edquist, 18, pets their mule Gus as his father Eric pours cattle feed during daily chores. After spending his whole life on his family’s Mountain Grove farm, Elias will soon move to Kansas City for a six-week train conducting program.

Feeding cattle is a regular task for Elias on the family farm where he has helped out since he was a child. Elias’ dad Eric inherited a dairy farm from his father, but after stress of finances and endless work, Eric switched to raising beef a few years ago. Chores change from day to day, but feeding cattle each day is the most important duty.

Feeding cattle is a regular task for Elias on the family farm where he has helped out since he was a child. Elias’ dad Eric inherited a dairy farm from his father, but after stress of finances and endless work, Eric switched to raising beef a few years ago. Chores change from day to day, but feeding cattle each day is the most important duty.

Elias begins milking at Dwight Fry’s nearby dairy farm. Elias has been milking cows for many years and it has become second nature. His parents, Eric and Cheryl, say Elias has always been very methodical with everything, especially milking. When something goes wrong, “We tease him with a quote from Thomas the Tank Engine,” Cheryl said. “We tell him we’ve upset his arrangements.”

Elias begins milking at Dwight Fry’s nearby dairy farm. Elias has been milking cows for many years and it has become second nature. His parents, Eric and Cheryl, say Elias has always been very methodical with everything, especially milking. When something goes wrong, “We tease him with a quote from Thomas the Tank Engine,” Cheryl said. “We tell him we’ve upset his arrangements.”

Elias heads to banjo practice with work clothes in tow. He has been playing banjo for less than two years, but has already performed in front of 10,000 people. Elias will take his guitar and banjo to Kansas City. “I can never give this up,” he said.

Elias heads to banjo practice with work clothes in tow. He has been playing banjo for less than two years, but has already performed in front of 10,000 people. Elias will take his guitar and banjo to Kansas City. “I can never give this up,” he said.

Elias enjoys learning a tune from banjo teacher Alan Strickland in West Plains. Strickland, who had not played in many years, was inspired by Elias to pick up his banjo again. “Elias is like a sponge with the banjo,” Alan said. “I’m going to miss my buddy.”

Elias enjoys learning a tune from banjo teacher Alan Strickland in West Plains. Strickland, who had not played in many years, was inspired by Elias to pick up his banjo again. “Elias is like a sponge with the banjo,” Alan said. “I’m going to miss my buddy.”

Elias consults with his dad as they try to hook an implement to the tractor. Elias has been Eric’s right-hand man since he was a child. Eric planned to drive with Elias to Kansas City, but decided to stay back because it would be too emotional for him.

Elias consults with his dad as they try to hook an implement to the tractor. Elias has been Eric’s right-hand man since he was a child. Eric planned to drive with Elias to Kansas City, but decided to stay back because it would be too emotional for him.

Besides homemade spurs and a flag that flies on special occasions, pictures of Elias and his sister Hala are on display on a dresser at home.

Besides homemade spurs and a flag that flies on special occasions, pictures of Elias and his sister Hala are on display on a dresser at home.

The Edquist family prays before dinner after a busy day. School and FFA activities occupy Hala, and Elias usually works until 8:00 p.m. The family makes it a point to eat supper together every day.

The Edquist family prays before dinner after a busy day. School and FFA activities occupy Hala, and Elias usually works until 8:00 p.m. The family makes it a point to eat supper together every day.

Home haircuts by his mom Cheryl have been the rule for Elias. He has had only one haircut outside of home his entire life. “We need to make this one last,” Cheryl joked.

Home haircuts by his mom Cheryl have been the rule for Elias. He has had only one haircut outside of home his entire life. “We need to make this one last,” Cheryl joked.

Elias’ mom Cheryl helps Elias pack clothes for his six-week training program in Kansas City. The move is bittersweet for the tight-knit family. “The four of us are really close,” Cheryl said. “It’s going to be really different without him.”

Elias’ mom Cheryl helps Elias pack clothes for his six-week training program in Kansas City. The move is bittersweet for the tight-knit family. “The four of us are really close,” Cheryl said. “It’s going to be really different without him.”

Elias hugs their mule, Wrangler. Elias is excited about his potential future in train conducting, but knows leaving home won’t be easy. “This has been home my whole life,” Elias said. “It’s going to be different.”

Elias hugs their mule, Wrangler. Elias is excited about his potential future in train conducting, but knows leaving home won’t be easy. “This has been home my whole life,” Elias said. “It’s going to be different.”

When the sun is shining, Elias likes to sit in the garage and take in the sights and smells of the land around him. “I like it here,” Elias said. “It’s nice and quiet.”

When the sun is shining, Elias likes to sit in the garage and take in the sights and smells of the land around him. “I like it here,” Elias said. “It’s nice and quiet.”