Glandorf resident Julie Siefker is shown presiding during the centennial meeting of the Woman’s National Farm and Garden Association in Ambler, Pennsylvania. She served as the president of the national organization for two years. (Photo submitted)
Glandorf resident Julie Siefker is shown presiding during the centennial meeting of the Woman’s National Farm and Garden Association in Ambler, Pennsylvania. She served as the president of the national organization for two years. (Photo submitted)

GLANDORF — Julie Siefker feels it is important to “pay it forward.” It has been part of her mission as she served in various offices for the Woman’s National Farm & Garden Association including serving as the national president. Last May she presided at the Centennial meeting of the WNF&GA held in Ambler, Pennsylvania.

“It took a lot of planning,” Siefker said. “But I enjoyed it.”

It was her enjoyment of planning that led to Siefker becoming a national officer with the organization.

Siefker was initially a member of the local Dooryard Garden Club established by Rosemary Lammers.

“Our garden club has done a lot of local philanthropic work,” Siefker said.

This has included planting flowers at the Ottawa Post Office, along the railroad in town, at the new fire station on Agner Street, at the YMCA and at the former library.

“We also started a scholarship in Rosemary’s memory on the 25th anniversary of the club,” Siefker said. The scholarship is awarded to a girl who is going to a post secondary degree in horticulture or agriculture.

“We raise money with our annual garden sale and through donations,” Siefker explained.

In 2001, after Siefker was widowed, she was looking for some special focus of her time. She became an officer with the Ohio Division of WNF&GA.

Then she was made aware that the national WNF&GA was looking for a meeting planner.

“I had been very involved with the Girl Scouts and planning so I felt this was a good fit. I always loved it.” Siefker said.

The history of the organization had already captured Siefker’s heart. She has books that tell of British women meeting to learn farming skills while their husbands were away at war. The farming was needed to save the people from starvation.

“The women in this Society have always had a cause they worked for,” Siefker said.

The main objective of the U.S. and British organizations is to make it possible for women to obtain training, find employment and make a profession of horticulture and agriculture.

Siefker enjoyed planning the meetings for the national group and eventually took the office of vice-president in 2009. She served as vice-president for two years, president-elect for two years and president for two years. Siefker is now officially an advisor for the national group.

“They keep us on as advisors because they feel our experience is valuable for the society,” Siefker said.

In addition to the local philanthropic work done by the women, the national organization also has a long list of areas where they support women.

The WNF&GA is a member of the Associated Country Women of the World (ACWW). This group links 376 country women’s clubs and 64 countries. They do projects to improve the standard of living for all women and their families. The ACWW has bought goats for women in the Philippines to provide milk. They have also been part of the SEW program where sewing machines and material were purchased for women in South Africa to give them a way to make a living. Other projects included providing medical care and clean water for some areas.

The ACWW also provides a cultural exchange of ideas regarding agriculture and horticulture between different countries.

“I thank my family and friends who have supported me and allowed me to be a part of the Woman’s National Farm & Garden Association,” Siefker said. “I hope the work we have done will provide some good for some young girl down the road.

She said in addition to their philanthropic work the Dooryard Garden Club provides educational information at each meeting.

“We meet once a month during the school year,” Siefker said. The programs have included landscaping, floral design, forcing bulbs and fairy and succulent gardens. Meetings have also included trips to different gardens.

Siefker said she is honored and humbled to have had the opportunity to serve as national president of the WNF&GA.

“I had good support from members of the local branch as well as nationally,” she said.