Posted on March 29, 2011 at 12:48 PM by Global Reach
4-H has always been a part of Margaret Mordan’s life. She started as a 4-H member in Lucas County. Upon graduation from Iowa State University in 1957, she began working for Extension as a home economist and girl’s activity director in Monroe County. She stayed at this job for 11 years. Her goal was to have a club in each of the townships in the county or a total of 10 clubs. They weren’t able to get one club in each township. They got one in all but two of the townships, but felt she had succeeded when three clubs were established in Albia for a total of 11 clubs. This was during the time when 4-H had a different “emphasis” each year and many women stayed at home. She would give workshops in clothing, food and home furnishings. Forty leaders would come to the workshops to learn things to pass on to their club members. Margaret always felt that she was able to give the homemaker an identity.
In 1961, Margaret was an International Farm Youth Exchange delegate to England and Wales. The 4-H clubs sponsor this program. Margaret is very proud of an automobile club that was started in the county. One of the members gave a presentation about automobile safety and a club emerged. They presented information to civic groups and they served coffee to travelers in an era before quick shops. In 1963, Margaret was in the group of people who were invited to Washington, DC by Reader’s Digest to help establish an experience for 4-H members to come and learn about our government. From this the Washington Focus trip was born and members still benefit from this experience today.
During a restructuring of Extension, Margaret was given four counties to work with and she spent two years on the road between those counties. When a position opened up in the schools, Margaret chose to leave Extension and taught home economics for the next 28 years. She still substitutes in the Albia school system.
During all of this time Margaret has worked behind the scenes with the youth of the county. She helped many members, including her daughter, Susan (an outstanding 4-H member) with the preparation of fair exhibits. One club met at a local church and she helped them to refinish some of the furniture in the church. She felt that giving back to the community was one of the most important lessons that the young people could learn.
Many people will recognize Margaret from all of the counties that she has been in judging at county fairs. She has been judging county fairs since 1960 and the Iowa State Fair since 1965. She judges 10 fairs each year. Young people have a positive experience when she talks to them – she always leaves them with a feeling of accomplishment. Margaret has retired from teaching, but not from her commitment to Extension and 4-H. After all of the years of asking people to help her, she decided that it was her turn to serve. She is in her second term on the Monroe County Extension Council and her second term with the Iowa Association of County Extension Councils. She and her husband, Chuck, help with the selection of the state scholarship winners. They also serve as hosts in the 4-H building at the Iowa State Fair. She can always be counted on!