Marylou Ahrens named Iowa Master Farm Homemaker
From news reports
Date Modified: 09/20/2012 9:41 AM
OSAGE, Iowa —Marylou Ahrens, Osage, has been named an Iowa Master Farm Homemaker by Wallaces Farmer magazine. She joins three other farm homemakers who will be recognized during ceremonies in Des Moines on Sept. 7.
The other recipients are Maryella Johnson, Keokuk; Tamera Secor, Fort Dodge; and Judy Tonderum, Maquoketa.
Wallaces Farmer has been a sponsor of the Iowa Master Farm Homemaker Award since 1940. The honor recognizes these women for their fine work with their families, homes and community service. Since the program was started in 1928, the Iowa chapter has had a total of 332 members and four honorary members and belongs to a national organization made up of award winners from many states. Iowa MFH award recipients have a lot to be proud of.
When Marylou and Don Ahrens moved to his family's farm near the northern Iowa town of Osage in 1980, they didn't know what was in store. Getting through the 1980s involved Marylou's dietary consulting business, operating East End Restaurant in St. Ansgar, selling Pioneer seed, and raising three children while farming.
Without Marylou, Don says it would have been impossible to operate the seed business in spring. While he was planting, she handled billing and supplies.
Marylou's 35 years as a dietitian involved working with senior nutrition programs, hospital patients, diabetic education programs and community education. Retirement in 2005 allowed her to broaden her horizons in nutrition and ag education. National FFA asked her and Don to develop a national pilot project, Learners to Leaders, funded by Smithfield Foods, Murphy Brown and the National FFA Organization. For two years, they provided 25 disadvantaged FFA members leadership training in northwest Iowa.
The couple educated college students with Ag Weekend Experience. Starting in 2005, AWE toured local farms and businesses, giving ag students with urban backgrounds hands-on farm experience.
Since 2005, Don and Marylou have hosted an annual Farm Safety Day Camp. Two FFA chapters, ISU Extension, Farm Bureau members, Osage Fire Department, ambulance and police, help teach farm injury prevention to 120 to 150 elementary students. It covers everything from machinery to chemical safety, and involves a speaker injured in a farm accident.
Marylou serves as volunteer coordinator for the nonprofit Shop on State in Osage. The shop provides inexpensive used items to the community and has 45 volunteer workers. The organization distributed $90,000 in grants to various nonprofits the past three years.
Marylou's service reaches other countries, including Cuba and Russia as part of the initial I-LEAD class sponsored by the Iowa Corn Growers.
Between Don and Marylou, their children, Renee, Brad and Lisa, and their spouses, there are 10 bachelor degrees, six Masters and MBA degrees and three PhDs.