Better Together with Kosta Yepifantsev

Study and Be Somebody with Marc Burnett

September 04, 2023 Kosta Yepifantsev Season 3 Episode 15
Study and Be Somebody with Marc Burnett
Better Together with Kosta Yepifantsev
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Better Together with Kosta Yepifantsev
Study and Be Somebody with Marc Burnett
Sep 04, 2023 Season 3 Episode 15
Kosta Yepifantsev

Join Kosta and his guest: Marc Burnett, Director of Development at Mustard Seed Ranch and Former Vice President of Student Affairs at Tennessee Technological University.

Find out more about Mustard Seed Ranch:
https://www.mustardseedranchtn.org/

Better Together with Kosta Yepifantsev is a product of Morgan Franklin Media and recorded in Cookeville, TN.

Find out more about Kosta Yepifantsev:
https://kostayepifantsev.com/

Show Notes Transcript

Join Kosta and his guest: Marc Burnett, Director of Development at Mustard Seed Ranch and Former Vice President of Student Affairs at Tennessee Technological University.

Find out more about Mustard Seed Ranch:
https://www.mustardseedranchtn.org/

Better Together with Kosta Yepifantsev is a product of Morgan Franklin Media and recorded in Cookeville, TN.

Find out more about Kosta Yepifantsev:
https://kostayepifantsev.com/

Marc Burnett:

I'm not just helping you because it's my job. I'm helping you because you are the future. You are what's next? You're gonna have hard decisions just like we have and I'm gonna try to help you make those in the best light that you can in the best way that you can.

Morgan Franklin:

Welcome to Better Together with Kosta Yepifantsev, a podcast on parenting business and living life intentionally. We're here every week to bring you thoughtful conversation, making your own path to success, challenging the status quo, and finding all the ways we're better together. Here's your host, Kosta Yepifantsev.

Kosta Yepifantsev:

Hey, y'all, it's Kosta. Today I'm here with my guest, Marc Burnett, Director of Development at Mustard Seed Ranch and Former Vice President of Student Affairs at Tennessee Tech University. Mark, my first question is, how many hours into retirement? Did you make it before you decided it was time to get back to work?

Marc Burnett:

Actually, I made it almost three years. Oh, wow. Before I decided to work again, but it's kind of a long a long story short, during the time that I retired, which was December of 2019. Right before COVID Oh, my gosh, it's my wife is already good timing. But we couldn't go anywhere. We couldn't do anything that you talking about going crazy in the house. Yeah, just kind of walking around. And so we bought bikes. And we did all kinds of things. So we could be outside. But we really couldn't take a vacation. And then unfortunately, her mother got sick. And they're in East Tennessee. And so we would literally I would be here during the ministry on the weekends, okay. And then I would go home all during the week and take care of her mom. And so we did that until she passed on August the 19th. It'll be two years. And then her sister passed six months after her mom. So we just had to do some things. And the timing was great, though, and fortunate for us to be able to do some things with the family. And so we just did that. And then after that cloud kind of lifted, then I really got antsy and said, I gotta get out,

Kosta Yepifantsev:

you know, you had like this high paced job, right? You're working all the time. And you're and you're meeting so many different personalities. Obviously, you met Morgan, and you forgave all of our parking tickets, I realize I don't know if I'm allowed to say that on air. But hopefully I made

Marc Burnett:

her pay up, okay.

Kosta Yepifantsev:

She pay a couple of like, you're working this fast paced environment, you're going 100 miles an hour, every single day, yes. And then you just stop. So the first day of retirement, you know, take the pandemic out of just the fact that you're no longer working, and you open your eyes and you think I can do whatever I want.

Marc Burnett:

You know, my thought was, there was a relief to not go on 100 miles an hour again. But there was a missing it at the same time. And that's what I think happens to a lot of people that retire mentally, it was the middle part of missing the action, and all of the things that go on, especially in the day in student affairs, and a typical day, so and then I was missing the people that I worked with and missing the students most of all, because he literally that literally really just cut off, you know, just that time to spend with students walking up down the hall, and speaking to people and all of that. So it became an isolation very quickly. But I had my church where I was pastoring and colonial view Baptist church, I was there at the time. And so I had that, and then I had my artwork, okay, I'm also an artist. And so I had those two things. So I kept fairly busy. And I tried not to think about it, I still have not unpacked my boxes from the office, as if they're gonna call me back.

Kosta Yepifantsev:

But who knows, right? I mean, it's only been four years. I love that. Wow. As the first chief diversity officer and former Vice President of Student Affairs at Tennessee Tech, you played a crucial role in promoting inclusivity equity and fellowship at both the University and throughout the upper Cumberland. When you look back at your career in academics, what do you see as your greatest achievement,

Marc Burnett:

you know, is relatively simple for me. And that was getting up every day and helping the next student move forward. For me, that's what it was always about. It's a hard thing. I just had a heart for students and for young people. Someone always helped me as I was growing along and coming along, and sometimes not having a clue as to what I was going to do next. But there always seemed to be someone right that was standing there waiting on my next move and to help me out and so you know, I so love that university and the students I remember giving a short speech when they dedicate that building the Fit Center and I said, you know, the best thing about the title is that it says student exactly that that it's my name on it, but that it says student recreation and fitness center.

Kosta Yepifantsev:

You know, when you were growing up, did you always want to be in higher education. Did you always want to work with kids?

Marc Burnett:

You know, there were times that I thought I wanted to be an artist. Most people don't wanted to be an artist and I I've kind of pursued that and what type of art by the way, mostly visual painting. Okay, a lot of paintings a lot of sunrises and sunsets. I have a thing about that you're every day, you get to see something different. God gives us something different every day that we really don't pay attention to sure we take it for granted. You never know when it's the last one. Absolutely. So I'll do a lot of those. But you know, just being with students helping the university, however, you know, for me, everything is about serving. So however, I can help the university, I was always willing to do it relative to diversity and inclusion and the upper Cumberland, I'll tell people, I've always loved Putnam County, and the upper Cumberland and being in the minority here, there's a lot for us still to learn about each other. Now, there's people that I still have conversations with, and they don't understand things I get, I get a million questions, sometimes just just about things that are cultural. Yeah, still today.

Kosta Yepifantsev:

Does it bother you?

Marc Burnett:

You know, it only bothers me if they really don't want to know the answer. Okay. If people want to develop an opinion, that bothers me,

Kosta Yepifantsev:

the only reason that I ask is I was talking to a friend of mine over the weekend, she works in Louisville, okay. And she works for Bellarmine University. And we were talking about I have a friend, his name's Shamar. And he's black. He's from Memphis, and we hang out often, and a lot of times I catch myself and I am like constantly asking him like, Hey, dude, I said, this, is that cool? Hey, I did this is that cool? And we're close, like, we hang out. And I shouldn't be having these types of weird conversations with him. And it doesn't bother him. But he, he's played football at Arkansas. And he went to IMG prior to that. He lived in Sarasota. So he kind of had a lot of friends that weren't just he didn't just grow up in Memphis. And so I asked her about it, because she's, you know, from higher education, they typically have the answers. And she said, you know, be just, it'd be nice if you just educated yourself in. So I said, but I did. I mean, I took an African American Studies class at Tennessee Tech. And so what else is there though? What else can you do? So that you don't have these awkward, weird, you know, like, Hey, man, right? You know, did I say this? Right? Am I doing this wrong? What can I do better stuff

Marc Burnett:

like that, you know, I'll say this. And one of the things that I used to do, and I'll still do occasionally is if I'm in a group of people, and I know they're uncomfortable, I'm gonna give away one of my trade secrets here. But they're uncomfortable, I'll do something that's sort of self take a shot at myself in a way. Or I'll say something that I know, you wouldn't dare say. They won't be explicit, but just something that you wouldn't say. And then I'd say it. And I also look at them. And I say, Well, I can say that. And it just breaks the ice is like, but you know, you get questions today, the things today that I think are important. I got a question the other day about Black Lives Matter. And somebody I know very well. And they asked me, What was that all about? You get questions about rioting. And you know, with all the election things going on, there's a lot going on right now. And a lot of people are uncomfortable in this country, I think right now relative to race and cultural issues. And I think the biggest the most important thing is to address them head on, you know, you just ask them, Are you comfortable? You know, I'm trying to be comfortable. If I realize if I see that you're trying to be comfortable. Yeah, but you're uncomfortable, because you're not sure how to do it, then I do everything in my power to say, hey, you know, it's cool, we're good. You know, it's alright, if you've got a question, just ask it. And that's what I did with someone the other day, I said, ask your question, because you're saying, I know, you know, when you're telling me out, well, I know you personally. And I'm blood. And I just really want to ask you something. Ask it. Yeah. Because that's the problem we're having today. The conversations are tough, but we need to have them.

Kosta Yepifantsev:

And this isn't going to be an episode completely on diversity and inclusion. But I and we're going to talk about mustardseed Ranch, we're going to talk about Tennessee Tech. Well, you know, I'm still hoping to learn a little bit more about kind of your upbringing, your childhood and stuff like that. But I do want to ask one more question before we move on. Is this a new phenomenon of white and black people talking? Like, did we not have we not cohabitated? The same country for 400 years? Like, why are we now just starting to talk about how comfortable it is to talk about diversity and inclusion?

Marc Burnett:

I think a part of it was our cultures have felt things were forced before. Okay, I was telling someone about integration I grew up in, you know, in a time of integration, which is great idea, but the implementation plan was probably not so good. And so things were forced, you know, it was a lot of forced action. And it was necessary for it to be that way. But there really was not a lot of conversation. There's dialogue. There was really not a lot of dialogue. It was just, you know, this is the way it ought to be. We need to find a way to do it. People started pressing to do things to make things work. And they worked. But we didn't talk a lot. You know, there's my generation who has gone through a lot of this 60s 70s, early 70s. But you have another generation of young people, black, white, what have you who'd never seen it before until their reaction and is different. And they're asking questions my own kids, you know, asked me questions. I took my son to the Civil Rights Museum about a year and a half ago. And we walked through, and my son was stone quiet. And I said, Son, are you okay? And he said, Dad, I didn't know it. Yeah, cuz we don't talk. We then talk about it. If I'm not talking about it directly with my kids, because I'm thinking they're getting in school. Right, then who's talking about it? Yeah, we've got to talk. I mean, we got a few problems. And we just have to talk.

Kosta Yepifantsev:

Yeah, absolutely. I think maybe social media talks about it. But I don't know if that's always the healthiest

Marc Burnett:

option. And that even as a kind of a one sided conversation true. Mostly, we do all the listening. So that's how most people get it, the masses get it by listening. They don't get it by talking.

Kosta Yepifantsev:

I think maybe just the size of Cookeville. And the fact that we have such a small minority population, whether it's African American or Hispanic, when I moved from Russia to Atlanta, Georgia, and I went to school in Dunwoody and I was a minority because I was white, and the majority of my classmates were black. Yes, I had no problem with, you know, with assimilating, essentially. And so I find it fascinating. When I learned of the history, you know, I read the history of Cookeville. And Tennessee as a whole. And I read, obviously, African American city was my favorite class, because I there's so many things that I wasn't taught in high school, right, that Dr. Academy really helped me understand. And so when you learn the history of the United States, I think you're able to make sense of it all. And it gives you peace and that anxiety that you feel because you don't know, you're able to then you know, use the discourse to answer some questions. Exactly.

Marc Burnett:

You know, I tell people, we should have the conversation, because on a work day, you're not going to have this conversation in general. I don't care what crowd you're in. But you have to be at the dinner table. Yeah. Do not tell people sometimes we're talking about say, you're ever invited me to your house for dinner? And they'll say, Well, no. And I'll say, and I haven't invited you either. That's what we need to change. Exactly. And so it has to be a dialogue of both ways. Yes, there are inequities. There's social and moral inequities, and all all kinds of stuff. But we're at a place I believe, and it's just me talking, where the truth has become negotiable.

Kosta Yepifantsev:

Now, that's powerful man, you make an impact on people everywhere you go. During your nearly 40 year career at TTU, you made such a huge impact on students and faculty, when you retired, they named the student recreation and fitness center after you. In your opinion, what does making a meaningful impact on people mean?

Marc Burnett:

It means making people feel like they can achieve whatever it is they're trying to achieve. It means lending a hand. You know, it's not about giving a handout, it's about giving a hand up. One of my favorite pastors always said never looked down on a man unless you're helping him up. It's pretty basic. And again, today, we got a lot of people trying to look down at people to hold them down. And that's wrong, of course, but just helping young people to get to where they they're trying to go and do it in a meaningful way to where they understand. Now, I'm not just helping you, because it's my job. I'm helping you because you are the future. You are what's next, you're going to have hard decisions just like we have. And I'm going to try to help you make those in the best light that you can and the best way that you can.

Kosta Yepifantsev:

Did you work with freshmen all the way up to seniors? Yes. Okay. And in postgrads?

Marc Burnett:

Yeah. Graduate doctoral students. Wow, one of my students stories that I had a young man who was an engineering and works for a large corporation up in Illinois, and he would come to my office routinely. And he'd say, I want to be you. When I grow up. I say, well go around and sit in my chair. Take the chair. Yeah, and see what happens. And he would literally go and he'd come in, and I'd get up and move and let him sit in my chair.

Kosta Yepifantsev:

What was it? Like? Was it harder talking to freshmen during their first year of college? Or was it harder? And I'm sure, and if there's something that I didn't mention, that was the hardest of all, please interject? Or was it harder talking to seniors who had that anxiety about leaving school and entering the workforce with maybe some unknowns?

Marc Burnett:

You know, it was probably a little tougher talking to freshmen, okay? Because they really don't know what to expect. And I would always laugh when people would arrive who thought they had it all together, and they wouldn't know you got to experience it. So but when you're talking to a senior, and I was always gratified if I saw someone completely from their freshman year through their senior year, that was always gratifying, and to just be able to glean what they learned, you know, because I'd always ask, Well, what did you get out of this? You know, did you just come here and just go through it? didn't pick up anything but academics? What did you learn what changed your life And those would be the things I'd want to hear. Do they change a lot? Some of them quite a lot. Yeah. And it probably a lot has to do with the demographic in which they come from. A lot of the students and we have great students at Tennessee Tech, I believe that with everything in me, and some of the, you know, they would admit seven, you know, I came from this little town and not a lot of people. I remember some students from Red Boiling Springs when I was a student and playing ball at Tech, and we became good enough friends that we live together in graduate school, and a house. But they told me they said we we'd never been around black guy before. And I said, Well, you learn you're probably pretty bored. Dark. Yeah. I'm not very exciting.

Kosta Yepifantsev:

Yeah. Exactly. When you were when you were growing up, you grew up in East Tennessee. Yes. And Alcoa, Tennessee. Okay, what did your parents do for them? Well,

Marc Burnett:

I've never met my dad, quite honestly, they had divorced my dad had left and I was I don't remember I was young, two, four or five years old. My mom worked as a part time kindergarten teacher at New Providence across America High School, actually. And she also worked at Levi's and several places. My grandfather was kind of the head of the family. He was the patriarch, and he worked at Alcoa, aluminum, in what they call the pot room. And it's where they pour the aluminum, which was a he said, it was always like, 110. That's a job right there. And so I pretty much idolized my grandfather. Yeah. And he made sure you know, whatever we needed. I said, my family, we live for time in public housing. And that was interesting, because one of the things I learned during those years was that, you know, economics, only colors green. And that's really the only color that matters, or can come in all colors and try it exactly what it does. So, you know, I learned then that, you know, a lot of people can be in bad shape. We had welfare, we were on food stamps. And my mom was working. You know, it was not a handout. It was a hand up.

Kosta Yepifantsev:

Yeah. I mean, it was a bridge between that and being homeless. And I

Marc Burnett:

have mixed feelings about some of the way those things occurred today. There are people who need it. And then there are people who don't, yeah, I think rip off the system. And I don't, I don't care for that.

Kosta Yepifantsev:

It is astounding to me. So I've been doing this for about 11 years. And when I have employees that don't make enough working full time. And they still have to, they still have to access some form of government benefit, whether it's healthcare or work, or it's, you know, food assistance programs. And here's the crazy for the state of Tennessee has a right methodology that it uses to determine what we should pay our caregivers versus what they pay us, right. And they're the ones that set the pay rates. And they're like, Well, I guess they'll just live in poverty, or they'll have to get a second job or even I've heard somebody will get a third job. And I'm like, come on. Yeah, I

Marc Burnett:

definitely think there should be a program of some sort for seniors, because they spent their whole life working, worked. They spend all their time working. I think that should be a program of some kind. And I firmly believe if you're able bodied, I think you ought to work, even work. Yeah, watch my grandfather work out where I come from working people. And I think if you're able, you should work. You know, the system is not quite that way.

Kosta Yepifantsev:

It isn't Russia, though. My dad said it's real simple. You have three choices. You either work with your brain, you work with your hands, or you work in jail. Yeah. But either way you work

Marc Burnett:

either you're working, I believe, I believe in a working system. You people should work if you're able bodied. I believe you should work. Yep.

Kosta Yepifantsev:

As we mentioned at the top of the episode, you're transitioning into your next chapter as Director of Development at mustardseed. Ranch. How did you find out about this position? And what inspired you to join the ranch?

Marc Burnett:

Tammy Hogan, that executive director, she called me no one to take me to lunch, to talk about my lunch always. So we went to lunch. And she actually talked to me about being on the board first. And I said, yeah, the only caveat being if I can't work with the kids, if I can't be around them sometimes and talk with them and interact with them, then I don't want to be on it. I said, I don't need another meeting. I've had lots of meetings in my career. I don't need another meeting somewhere to just sit and listen to people talk. I don't need that. I said I would like to be interactive with the young people. And she said, yeah, if you can do that, so I went to have that, Carly, I got the one board meeting. And then after that, she approached me about working. And I said, I didn't even hesitate. Really, I didn't say you know, let me go take time to pray. Let me do this. Let me do that. I just said Yeah, because again, it's taking me full circle to where I was young and people helped at certain times in my life. And again, just that opportunity to pour into somebody who's at that starting point where I was at one point

Kosta Yepifantsev:

What's it like seeing some of these kids because I mean, they all come from from a variety of backgrounds. And I was telling a little bit about the lady that I used to work with who now works as a house mother and Teen Challenge. And the things that she describes that these kids go through prior to coming to Teen Challenge are coming, I'm sure to mustardseed ranch. For me personally, I don't work with kids. And I couldn't. So I work with the elderly, and I work with the intellectually disabled. Okay, I can't work with kids. Because my standard, I couldn't handle the emotion of it. I couldn't sleep. So I mean, how do you regulate?

Marc Burnett:

You know, when you look at these young people, again, I look at them and think everybody's got a chance. If somebody intervenes at the right time. Everybody's got a chance. Yeah. So I take them at face value. Like right now, there are several other kids, I don't really know their background, I know they come from a difficult background. I know things that have happened. But I just look at them and love them and just say, look, I care about you. And so I'm going to do all I can to make sure that you move in a positive way in your life. And whatever's behind you is behind you. It's not about where you come from. It's about where you're trying to go. And if you don't know where you're trying to go, let me do some things to try to put it in your head. You know, some things you want to do, but you can have a positive life. And you can have a positive impact on others lives. I know I came from it was not that it was abusive or anything like that. But coming from a background where, you know, people look at you and say, you know, you're probably not going to mount that much. You need to do this and you need to do that. And I was always wanting to go against the odds. I just, if you tell me I can't. Then you just messed up.

Kosta Yepifantsev:

Yeah. You so you go to high school at Alcoa. And you said you played basketball? Yes. And so did you come to tak to play basketball? Or did you just walk on the team? Or how did you how did you go from Alcoa to Tennessee to full scholarship? Okay, nice. Had a

Marc Burnett:

full scholarship. It's really interesting. Ironic in a way, because when they first offered it to me, I've turned it down. My mom, I'm not going there. I was looking at some other students. When you finish Tennessee State and gravlin and Okay, University of Louisville, okay. I didn't have a scholarship offer from Louisville. I could walk on they talked to me about walking on because Wade Houston, he's from Alcoa, he's I knew him and he was assistant at Louisville. So they talked to me about walking out. And I said, No. And then my mother and all her wisdom, and knowledge. She sat me down and she said, You know, I think we're going into Tennessee Tech. I said, tell me why we're, we're in Tennessee Tech mom. And she said, You will study and you'll be somebody. Those were her words on that my mom has no college education. She's not the one she'll be 92 next month, when she's sharp as a tack. She's She's very smart. And everything she said, came through. Yeah.

Kosta Yepifantsev:

So did she end up moving? Or did she live here? Now she lives

Marc Burnett:

it. No, she didn't live here. She still lives in the same house. She lives in my grandfather's house where I lived for a number of years. I was with her all last weekend. And, you know, she still talks about just meeting the right people doing the right things being who you're supposed to be. My grandfather would always say, you know, treat everybody the way you want to be treated. And he said, if they don't treat you in kind, if they don't return that respect, whatever it is, it's not your problem. So

Kosta Yepifantsev:

right. Now, when you graduate, Tennessee, tack to you stay in Cookeville and immediately start working for the university.

Marc Burnett:

So I went home for six months, okay. The irony was I had I have an undergraduate degree in English journalism. So I went home. I had applied for a job as a like a copy editor or something for this little company. It was not a big company. But the year before I tried to work there, and they said, Well, you get your degree and come back, and we probably pick you right up. Well, they didn't. Man, I don't think they thought I was gonna come back with a degree one. But anyway, they didn't. And so Tom Deaton, who was the basketball coach at the time, he called me one day out of the blue. And I don't think anything's out of the blue really, but he called and said, come back and be a graduate assistant and work the camps and all this stuff. And and I turned around and came back six months later.

Kosta Yepifantsev:

Wow. And that was 40 years ago. Yeah, gosh, it's 2022. That would have been 1982. It was 1982. What was cooking like in 1982?

Marc Burnett:

Some days I think not much different. Is now it has grown commercially. Cookeville has grown tremendously and also residentially, but, you know, I've never thought of it. When I was a student, undergraduate student and out in the community, some, there were one or two racial incidents that occurred, okay. But I've learned that, you know, again, the majority of the people I've come in contact with here, I didn't have those issues. And if I did, I didn't see it. I didn't wreck it. lies that I'm sure there's still things today, you know, certain people still feel certain ways. Yeah. That's why we have to talk right.

Kosta Yepifantsev:

Let's talk more about Mustard Seed ranch. This is a community supported interdenominational Christian ministry designed to take children out of unsafe environments and into loving, nurturing homes. As a pastor and Community Development liaison Do you feel like this position was made for you?

Marc Burnett:

There are a lot of days now that I think it's perfect for me at this point in my life, again, a pastor, two churches, one in Gainsborough and one here, I've been involved in ministry a long time I did youth ministry first. Most people don't know, when I started in ministry, I started with youth. And it was because I was in a Sunday school class with some seniors here in town at a church. We were talking about some things and I had a lot of kids, I noticed that they had a lot of kids. And so I say to the deacon deacon at the church, I said, you know, somebody really needs to have a youth program in the church. And he looked at me and said, Why don't you start one? That's how I started literally, yeah, with youth and just having a learning moment during regular services. At this particular church, and I enjoyed again, kids seemed like I always come back around to young people think that's what God wants me to do.

Kosta Yepifantsev:

You've helped raise a lot of kids 1000s Over the years, as a mentor, a father and advisor to so many What do you think kids young and old really need to succeed?

Marc Burnett:

I'm always pushing education. And it's even funny today, a lot of people are pushing it less for whatever reason, but always push education and determination, you know, to not be stopped. I think that's really important to not be strong grip, and I would tell people, that's it from an athlete standpoint, the same thing it takes to play ball, I have to practice every day. There's wins and losses, you got to get up when you get knocked down. You got to keep striving forward no matter what. If it's important to you, and I would correlate that to after court and being in the classroom. You got to keep trying, you got to keep striving. It's got to be important to you. If it's not important to you, then you won't do it anyway.

Kosta Yepifantsev:

Did you learn Grint playing sports? Yes. Do you have kids? I do. Okay, did your kids play sport? I did. Okay. So I'm going to ask you this. Because, you know, we obviously a component of the show's parenting, and I need all the parenting advice I can get. So I have been trying to, I hate to say push and force my kids into team sports. But I grew up playing hockey, okay. And it was a huge part of my life. Yes, I have been trying for my son Louis to play golf. He didn't like it. I went through the junior PGA. He does dance. But that's it. Pretty much. Yeah. But he does a lot of stuff like Math Academy and things like that. He doesn't in genetics to That's it. But I'm trying to get him to like a conventional team sport where you have the crazy parents around and you have you know, like, all this energy and pressure and attention and all the things that you need to like, kind of put your young, malleable child into a pressure cooker so that they pop out as a well formed machine to ready to take on the world?

Marc Burnett:

Well, again, as a parent to another parent, yes. Only have them do what they want to, okay. Don't force them in anything. You know, we'd have parents who would want to force their kids to play and would do things and I'm like, you know, they really don't want to play. So why are you forcing them? What is it because you didn't play or you didn't reach your goal. If you're trying to live through them and have them you can't do that they have to take to it and if they take to it fine. My daughter played volleyball in high school and basketball, played volleyball at Milligan College, up in Johnson City, and four years there. My son played a little basketball in college could have played football. But he every time he'd say, Daddy, I don't want to play that. I'd say that's fine. Don't play it soon. Don't waste my time. And don't waste your time if you're not in it. 100 I'm 110% guy, right? I'm one of those. So when I'm playing, if I'm out there, you know, I'm out there, no matter what's going on, you know that when I come off the consensus. And when I come off the floor, you know, I'm the I'm normal guy. Nothing mean spirited about it. But I'm 110 I'm going at you when I'm out there. Listen, I'm the same way and I didn't coach for living because I thought not everybody's that way. So I couldn't coach. I coach the AAU coach men's and women's coach young people coach au for years and, and you know, and I never yelled, I wouldn't yell at them or anything. I just tell them, you know, I wanted them to learn, right? It's a learning thing. So if they want to do it, then I know I can teach them if they don't if they're lying, and my parents made me play. I couldn't deal with that. So it's like if you want to learn, I'll teach you and that's what I think every parent should do.

Kosta Yepifantsev:

So if you Kids didn't play team sports, how would you have taught them grit,

Marc Burnett:

you know, they experience some issues here growing up here, and they would come in and talk about it occasionally. And I would just tell them, I said, Look, son or daughter, this, you know, this is what the world is, you know, the world, I can't Candy Coat the world for you, you know, you can't grow up in a vacuum. This is what the world is, there's racism, and there's and there's hatred, and there's things out there that you're going to encounter, that you've got to not let it change you. And that's where your grit comes in, I'll say because there gonna be days, you're just going to slam up on the ground, you're shouldn't be really angry things are going to occur. And you're not even going to think about why it's happening until later, you were doing everything you could to be who I want you to, you know, we want you to be just good young people. And this and then this thing occurs and you're, you know, your kid comes into you almost in tears and said, you know, daddy, why'd they do that? That's hard, right? And I would just sit them down and say, Hey, these things are going to occur, you have to work to overcome it. That's what the grit part is.

Kosta Yepifantsev:

Yeah, for sure. I'm so focused on what you're saying? Because I'm like trying to retain it that I'm practically not even paying attention to the questions. As we've discussed, this is the dawn of a new era for Mustard Seed ranch. What are you most looking forward to as the range continues to expand? And what can we do to get involved?

Marc Burnett:

Oh, of course, I'm the development director. And, you know, for nonprofit, that means going out raising funds to do the things that need to be done next, again, Tammy Huggins dream, her vision, which has now become our vision is to take it to the next step. And that is not just bringing in young people who are having problems at home, taking them out of their home, bringing them to the residences, but it's also about the whole family. We're taking the position where, you know, if you bring the child out of an environment, and you get them to a point where they're doing well, if you send them back into that same environment, right, you take that giant leap backwards. Yeah. And it doesn't help the child at all. So what we're trying to do is connect the dots and say, Okay, let's work with the parents or guardians, whatever they may be. Let's work with them. Also, again, it's about the whole family now. And that's where we're going with it is working with the whole family by having staff psychologists and more caseworkers, and all these things. It's about creating that nuclear family again, and making sure you can't fix one wheel and leave the others flat and exactly. So you got to have the whole thing work. And that's where we're going. That's where it's going.

Kosta Yepifantsev:

I mean, I'll tell you talking to Tammy and listening to you talk about the mustard seed Ranch, man, it's a huge lift. I mean, it's so much work. It's so much time. It's so much money. And it's so important, because there's really not another I mean, there's very few Christian environments that don't take government money, right? You have to fund this completely through donations and grants and various other things. And you're not just like saying, Okay, here's the house. Here's a person, Y'all take care of these kids. You know, once they age out, funding stops, and we'll move on, you know,

Marc Burnett:

it's a major event, Thomas. Yeah, psychologist, staff psychologist and the whole nine. So we're, we're doing all of those things on the forefront of all those things. And then you think about the costs. No, per kid, it could be anywhere from 150 to five$600 a day. Yeah. And there is no cost with us. Zero. That's wild. So that's kind of where my job comes, is to try to help Dino help alleviate those costs. And starting in the fall, which is fast coming upon us. I'm going to be out and about and meeting with people and hopefully getting on shows and talking about these things. You know, there's so many young people out there, you know, DCFS you know, doing all that they can right now Governor leaves coming up with new programs and new fundings for things but it's still even Putnam County, Cumberland County, these places are overrun with cases.

Kosta Yepifantsev:

I mean, just you know, like an astonishing

Marc Burnett:

seven 800 Kids, just between the two counties, probably about 200 here, and numbers has seven 801 around the Crossfield area. So you know, they're out there. Now, what are we going to do? That's my whole thing is now what do we do?

Kosta Yepifantsev:

Can I ask though, what you think is causing these kids to be in just terrible environments? Like Can people really be that bad sometimes or what's what's going on? Because that just doesn't make any sense to me.

Marc Burnett:

Well, one of the things that's happening now is adoptive grandparents, grandparents are taking a lot of their grandchildren in and their grandparents, right. They'll do the best they can. My grandfather did. They did the best thing. Good with me. But there are limitations on their time. And, you know, they've spent their time they've spent their lives. And, you know, I tell people, I don't hesitate to tell people, you know, we have a lot of young people who are having children. And they don't have the thought the family thought, somewhere, we've lost some of that we've lost that thought. You're having kids as part of a family thing. So we've got some issues, because young people having kids today, sometimes they're not quite sure what they're in for.

Kosta Yepifantsev:

Right. And some I mean, are just deciding not to have kids altogether. Yeah, I think that there is a lot of opportunity. And there's a lot of work that needs to be done to support young people that want to start a family. Yes, I think as a society, if we're going to invest money, obviously, there are people who have paid in with blood, sweat, and tears that need a stable retirement, right, you know, that are over the age of 65. But we are never going to find stability. If we don't stabilize people at the beginning. I was running this morning, and I was listening to a podcast and they were saying that Gen Z is the fastest growing population for credit card debt. Like they not only are looking for credit cards, they embraced it. They're like, given me all you got. And they've been around that that culture of credit for so long that they don't shy away from it. So they know. Exactly. And it starts in college, and it never stops. And it's a recipe for disaster. But more importantly, they're doing it because they it's hard for them to make ends meet. That's right. It's right. It's

Marc Burnett:

really interesting, because it's almost a contradiction. But you look at the economy, anything, you know, there are more jobs. And there's more this in the stock market is not bad, and all this. And yet people are not working. I mean, you go to a restaurant, it takes you 30 more minutes to, for somebody to come talk to you. So something's going on. I'm not an economist, but there are things going on that are out of the ordinary. Yeah, 30 years ago, I would work myself to death. Yeah. And I went from one job, tell somebody jokingly, I said, I'd have been standing in McDonald's with a Burger King shirt on, because I just left from over there. So I think we've lost some of our work ethic that my grandparents, or your grandparents or great grandparents had we've, we've lost that, that zeal to work and pull ourselves up by our bootstraps. Now we're kind of looking around for somebody else to pull us up. Yeah, we got to get back to pulling ourselves up. Because we have opportunities, we have chances. We have people that are interested, we got to get to our young people and instill that grit in all, but also tell them out of love and concern. In my ministry aside, you know, there's a God who loves you, you can accomplish a lot through him, you can do a lot of great things. And so don't get sidetracked by what other people are doing and what people want you to do. Try to do the next right thing, just try to do the next right thing. And realize, you know, having children, all of that is a blessing. Just to be able to have a child is a blessing, but do those things in the right way? You know, I've heard too many times I'm talking to somebody and I love them to death. Some of my family members, even though I'm talking to him, and I said, Well, you know, I couldn't do that. Because I had this, you know, and I had this child and all that. And I said, That's right, you did that. So how about not doing that? Think about what do you want? And if you don't want a child and don't have one, and think about what you can provide for if you can provide for you? How are you got to provide for somebody else? For me, some of it is that kind of thinking. And you've got to instill that early. Like you said, You got to get to young people while they're young. And show them the way don't just talk about it.

Kosta Yepifantsev:

Show. Alright, important question. Okay. Do you and your wife want to come over for dinner? Well, yeah, all right. Good. And

Marc Burnett:

you can come over to me. Yes. Very simple. We make life so difficult sometimes. I've never been to your house. Why, right? No, I just don't think about it. Well, how are we going to talk? How are we going to learn about each other? If we don't,

Kosta Yepifantsev:

it is the strangest thing, because I invite people for dinner all the time. If somebody is like, you know, support me for this. I'm like, let's talk about y'all come over for dinner, we'll get to know you better than we'll make a decision or you know, you know, I meet somebody interesting out in the community. I go to do business with somebody, like for example, I'll just use an example Matt swallows and his wife went back in 2015. When we were looking for shopping our work comp and liability insurance around okay, like they came over for dinner. We met their family. Maybe this is just like a Russian thing. I don't know. But I mean, usually you break bread, you get to know somebody and you become friends forever. All right. When you said it, I thought, Man, he's got it. Okay, and maybe if Mark Burnett says then the rest of the rest of the community will get behind.

Marc Burnett:

You have to spend time with each other, you know, we, even Sunday, you know, this is a little bit of an aside, but you know, pastoring churches, one of the things you learn in Sunday may be the most segregated day of the week. How come? Because in a community, typical community, you have black churches, you have white churches, and there's not a lot of intermingling. You know, I've always thought it'd be cool if, like a white church invited a black church over for an afternoon service, and mix that culture and do some things together, or the black church had the white church over? I've been in conversations with people a lot about that. And it has not taken place.

Kosta Yepifantsev:

I mean, is there a reluctance to even listen to it? Or do you think that

Marc Burnett:

dropped? It's like, well, yeah, that's a good idea. But But now we've got a lot of those in our lives. Yeah, it's a good, that would probably be cool. But

Kosta Yepifantsev:

the dynamics of church are for another podcast. Because there's a lot to unpack.

Marc Burnett:

You can always make me irregular.

Kosta Yepifantsev:

There you go. There you go. Well, we've got a special surprise for October. So who knows? All right, we always like to end the show on a high note, who is someone that makes you better when you're together?

Marc Burnett:

My wife, she makes me better. She's a lot of the backbone of the family. Of course, when I'm working at Tech, you know, she never gets a lot of credit for anything at all. But she's the one I mean, she's just, you know, with the kids. You know, to give you the best example of kids, I call now, I've got a son Mario and a daughter, Bianca. They're 38 and 34. And Bianca is getting married in December. But when they call, if there's anything going on all they call her, now get in on the conversation. And of course, they know I'm very straightforward, too. So I may, you know, sympathies can sometimes not be my thing. So very straightforward. You need to do this, you need to do that, you know, didn't call me back, but they'll call her because she has answers. She's a godly woman. You know, she's been everything that I've needed her to be. And I'm sure I haven't been everything she needed me to be. So she's the backbone and she never gets enough credit.

Morgan Franklin:

Thank you for joining us on this episode of Better Together with Kosta Yepifantsev. If you've enjoyed listening and you want to hear more, make sure you subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you find your podcasts. Leave us a review or better yet, share this episode with a friend. Today's episode was written and produced by Morgan Franklin post production mixing and editing by Mike Franklin. Want to know more about Kosta visit us at kostayepifantsev.com. We're better together. We'd like to remind our listeners that the views and opinions expressed during this episode are those of the individual speakers and do not necessarily represent or reflect the official policy or position of this show its producers or any related entities or advertisers. While our discussions may touch on various topics of interest, please note that the content is intended to inspire thought provoking dialogue and should not be used for a substitute for professional advice.Specifically, nothing heard on this podcast should be construed as financial, legal, medical or any other kind of professional advice. We encourage our listeners to consult with a professional in these areas for guidance tailored to their specific circumstances.