SDFU honors Nancy Mueller
S.D. Farmers Union Davison County Education Director, Nancy Mueller was recognized for her years of dedicated service to South Dakota Farmers Union Youth Programming with the Minnie Lovinger Esteemed Educator Award during the Centennial Convention held Dec. 9-10, 2015 in Huron.
“Nancy Mueller has made great contributions to the success and longevity of the South Dakota Farmers Union Youth Program,” said Karla Hofhenke, SDFU Executive Director during the presentation ceremony.
Established in 2004, the South Dakota Farmers Union Foundation instituted the Minnie Lovinger award in recognition of the founder of all Farmers Union Education programs.
Minnie Lovinger passed away 70 years ago, but not before she laid the foundation for all subsequent Farmers Union education efforts.
As historian Lyn Oyos wrote in his history of South Dakota Farmers Union, Minnie Lovinger “snatched the thorny chance and broke the trail that others followed. Her soul has never left them in their sowing and reaping.”
“I was so humbled to receive this award,” says Nancy Mueller, who began serving as Davison County Education Director 29 years ago.
A lifelong Farmers Union member, Mueller explains that she does not remember a time when Farmers Union was not a part of her life. “My grandparents, parents and aunts and uncles were actively involved, so it was just something we did.”
She recalls attending local meetings where her Aunt Florence Tilberg led youth activities while parents participated in the business meeting. “I don’t think my aunt ever attended a business meeting because she was busy with us.”
Teaching youth comes naturally to Mueller. A recently retired elementary teacher, Mueller spent her career teaching in a rural, two-room school; then at Marty Indian School and finally as the 4-eighth grade teacher on a Hutterite Colony near Ethan.
She and her husband, Delmar raised their three children on a farm near Ethan. All three children, Jay, Kerri and Derek participated in Farmers Union Youth Programming. “I wanted our children to experience camp. It’s a place where you develop great friendships because you are accepted as you are. You don’t have to change to be embraced – this is so important for youth.”
Whether it was serving as a cook for Dist. 2 Camp with her friend, Donna Vruegdenhil or coming up with better ways to do fun activities – like substituting sponges for water balloons – Mueller says she stays involved because she enjoys working with youth and values the positive impact Farmers Union Youth Programming has on tomorrow’s leaders.
Retired now for two years, Mueller enjoys spending extra time with her six grandchildren.
–South Dakota Farmers Union