Editor’s Note: Recently, longtime Ashtabula County Farm Bureau member and volunteer Ann Marrison was featured in the Gazette Newspapers. “Ann has dedicated much of her life to agriculture and the youth in our community,” said Mandy Orahood, organization director serving Ashtabula County Farm Bureau. “We are blessed to have someone with her passion and commitment.”
Ann has served on the Ashtabula County Farm Bureau board for over 40 years. Many of those years Ann has served as secretary, with involvement on several committees ranging from educational events, Ice Cream Social, and our largest event put on with Ashtabula County Extension, Ag Day. Ann now leads the Public Policy Action team along with her future successor, Jason Hayes.
Below is the article published by Elyse Pitkin, Gazette Newspapers, April 4, 2019
JEFFERSON – Ann Marrison has sewn for the majority of her life and has taught 4-H members the skill for almost 52 years through the Sewing Hayseeds 4-H organization.
“It’s something I truly enjoy doing: teaching, being with kids,” said Marrison. “Plus, sewing is becoming a lost art. You find that people throw clothes away when they’re missing buttons rather than sew it back on.”
The Sewing Hayseeds Club has been around for almost 40 years, but prior to the name change, the sewing club was a staple in the 4-H organization.
“There’s always been a sewing club. We’ve always been around,” said Marrison. Each year, the group can range as few as six members to 20. At the first of the year, the Sewing Hayseeds begins, and it ends after the county fair in August.
“We have 10 students this year and we look forward to teaching them,” said Marrison.
Students are taught at any skill level, from novice to master. Beginners start with the first class, “Sew Fun” project, where they learn about sewing machines, reading patterns, basic sewing techniques and necessary tools. During the first year, students can choose to make a skirt or capri pants.
“One year builds on the next. We have had students that work their way up to coats, suits, bathing suits and even formal dresses,” said Marrison. Along with learning a fun trade-skill, students are also taught soft-skills, like communication and leadership.
“There are other things learned aside from a needle and a thread. They are learning about good citizenship, and how to give back to their community,” said Marrison. As an avid volunteer and leader in various community service projects, Marrison believes it is vital for students to understand the importance of community.
“We all have to live in our community, and if we don’t give back, we’ll be in sad shape. If it’s learned at a young age, they’ll continue for the rest of their lives. Our kids need to learn that they matter in their community. If you don’t want to be a part of the problem, be a part of the solution,” said Marrison. As a strong advocate of volunteer-based work, Marrison has been involved with (but not limited to) the Farm Bureau board, the Senior Services Levy board, the County Commissioners’ Budget Advisory board, and is an active participant in the Jefferson United Methodist Church.
After first graduating from college with a major in home economics and education, she worked as a home economics teacher at Pymatuning School until becoming the Career Advanced Coordinator for Ashtabula County for 17 years. Marrison has also worked as the New Lyme Township clerk for 32 years. Each year, students from the Sewing Hayseeds club plant between 180-190 geranium flowers in front of veterans’ headstones at the local cemeteries in New Lyme Township for Memorial Day.
“It’s a big deal for the group. People come up to the students and thank them,” said Marrison.
When asked why someone should get involved with 4-H, Marrison laughed, “Give me a reason as to why they shouldn’t.” Over the years, 4-H has evolved, and Marrison has witnessed the transformation first-hand.
“Well, the projects are different. Students no longer make an apron and a tea towel for the first project in the sewing club. I think, though, the importance of 4-H is still the same. Nationally and locally, it’s just as important. We teach them how to conduct business meetings; those skills carry down the road,” said Marrison. “But 4-H started my involvement with my community. How to run a meeting, be an officer, be a leader. It started clear back when I was nine.”
As 4-H continues to grow, Marrison hopes their attendance increases as well.
“4-H involvement makes for a stronger country, a nation, a state and local community. We are seeing kids out there doing these things, amazing things, doing certain community projects and we see how important it is. By being involved with various things, that’s where they learn how to take on leadership roles. 4-H plants those seeds when they’re young, that you have to be a part of that community service and impact your community,” said Marrison.
In 2017, Ann Marrison (seated, far left) was recognized for her 50 years of service as a 4-H Volunteer at the Style Revue with several of her club members.