Posted on August 30, 2011 at 1:34 PM by Global Reach
Maryella Johnson was born and raised on her parents’ dairy farm in rural Keokuk, Iowa. She was a member of the Busy Bees 4-H Club, a girls club where she learned sewing, cooking and home furnishing skills. She was a member of the Montrose Mohawks 4-H Club, a boys club where she enrolled in dairy cattle. She met her future husband, Neil, at the Lee County Fair 48 years ago. She and her husband own and operate Hickorymoor Farm in rural Keokuk where they had dairy cattle until 1976, when they switched to row crops, beef cattle and hogs. In the 1980’s, Maryella received the Cow Gal award from the Iowa Cattlemen’s Association and an award for the Best Weaning Rate in Hogs from the Moorman Feed Company.
Maryella was a leader of the Jolly M’s 4-H Club from 1973 until 1991, and again from 2000 to the present. She was on the Lee County Extension Council for ten years.
In 1984, Maryella started ‘School on the Farm’ for first graders in the Keokuk School District, teaching the students where food and fiber come from. For the first few years, she went to each individual classroom. Then she hosted each classroom on her farm for their field trip. Since 1993, she has hosted the Keokuk first graders on her farm and three years ago Central Lee first graders also come aboard. It is now known as the First Grader Outdoor Classroom and each year 170-200 students along with teachers and parents attend. Maryella also helps with the Third Grade Outdoor Classroom that visits a farm in northern Lee County. For ten years, she organized the ladies’ Ag Day Luncheon for Lee County, getting farm and city wives together for a day of learning about agriculture.
Maryella is active in the Melrose United Methodist Church. She has held various offices in the women’s group. She is also the current president of the Lee County Farm Bureau, a Farm Bureau Ag Leader and is on the state Ag in the Classroom committee. She is a member of the Lee County Cattlemen’s and the Iowa Cattlemen’s Association.
She helped start the annual fundraiser for the Jolly M’s 4-H Club, making, baking and selling Snickerdoodle cookies. Last year, the club sold over 660 dozen cookies. In three days of work, the members of the club learn all aspects of cooking from measuring and mixing to baking and packaging.
Maryella’s family is a multiple generational 4-H family Her father was a 4-H member, she and her five siblings were 4-H members, her three children were 4-H members and she now has grandchildren in 4-H. Maryella’s dedication to the 4-H program reinforces her belief in the value of the life skills taught in 4-H. Now she joins her mother, Margeret Dresser, and her sister, Betty Cruze, as a member of the Iowa 4-H Hall of Fame.