In small communities like ours, everybody has to lend a hand. It’s just a way of life around here.
Jennifer grew up on a dairy farm in Butler County, Iowa. She's a farmer through and through. Her husband Steve also grew up on a dairy farm, and they married shortly after high school. They raised their family learning the work ethic of agricultural living. They both had off-farm careers, Jennifer as a bookkeeper and Steve as SVPSVP of Lincoln Bank. Steve will join Jennifer on the cruise.
In 2008, when Butler County was hit by an F-5 tornado and suffered extensive flooding, Jennifer worked with the founding committee organizing a local affiliate of Habitat for Humanity. She served as the Volunteer Coordinator and lined up other volunteers who had the expertise to build new homes, and she did whatever else was needed to get the job done.
Jennifer's volunteering doesn't stop with Habitat. She also serves as the Butler County Fair Board Foundation Chairwoman. Says Jennifer: "Most of our towns in Butler County have about 1000 residents and no stop lights. We all have to pitch in to make things work". The fairgrounds had fallen into disrepair, so Jennifer wrote some 20 grant requests and canvassed the community for funds and materials for its restoration. She got local businesses to provide materials and used the grant money to upgrade the livestock area and floral halls and put in handicapped parking. In fact, Jennifer was planting flowers on the grounds the day of this interview.
Jennifer does other volunteering in the community, including with her church, delivering Meals-on-Wheels, and co-organizing a fund raiser for a friend with cancer. "That," says Jennifer, "was a humbling experience and shows just how good people can be". Two years ago at the Iowa State Fair, Jennifer picked up a giant pumpkin seed and before planting it, she saw that it had an email address on it. She contacted the donor, who happened to live in France, and got advice on raising giant pumpkins. She is now the only giant pumpkin grower in the area and often gives presentations in local schools, at area fairs, and on her farm for groups. Says Jennifer: "I like to do a little bit of everything. It's all great fun".