Posted on August 24, 2015 at 4:09 PM by Global Reach
Mary O’Riley is a teacher at heart. The opportunity to be a positive influence in the lives of young people and help them develop their potential to be the best they can be attracted Mary to 4-H as a young mother. She has been a devoted 4-H volunteer in Union County since becoming co-leader of the Jolly Jill’s 4-H Club in 1978. When the boys’ and girls’ clubs merged to become Platte Producers, Mary continued, serving as club leader until 1991.
Mary spent part of her professional career working as a 4-H Youth Program Aide in Union County. From 1982 through 1986, she worked in the Area Extension Office as a 4-H program aide. Mary has been a 4-H exhibit judge at county fairs and the Iowa State Fair. She particularly enjoys Communications because of the opportunity to help youth present themselves in a professional manner.
Within Union County, Mary is most well-known and revered for her tireless devotion and exceptional effort as the show ring announcer for the sheep, goat, swine and beef shows during the county fair. For more than 30 years, Mary has taken a week of vacation to announce the shows, an effort that began as a “fluke” during the years she was a 4-H program assistant. After noticing a lull in the arena between classes, Mary began “adlibbing” about each exhibitor. Her colorful commentary was a hit with all, so the following year, Mary took on the announcer’s role with her trademark enthusiasm.
Her goal was to recognize each exhibitor by sharing details about their non-livestock exhibits, club work, parents and achievements at the fair. With help from the Extension staff and several hours of preparation, every livestock exhibitor was recognized during each show in which they participated. As show announcer, Mary also served as the county’s assistant to the judge and ring personnel, ensuring everyone understood the process, schedule and flow for the day’s event.
Mary’s is a member and officer of the Union County Friends of 4-H Foundation board. In addition, Mary is a Licensed Master Social Worker and practicing Lay Minister and will complete the PATHWAYS Theological Program in November of 2015. She is active in the United Church of Christ Congregational in Creston and has been a member of Kiwanis, St. Malachy Board of Education and director of Metanoia, while receiving Associates of Art, BA and MA degrees as an adult student and working full time.
Mary and her husband Mark farm near Creston. They are the parents of Matt and the late Misty O’Riley West. The couple has six grandchildren.