A pal for the ag community
Community: La Prairie Township
Family: Husband, John, and children Alex, 19, Marissa, 21, and Ashley, 25.
Job: Program technician at the Farm Service Agency in Janesville.
As a kid at the Rock County 4-H Fair: "I, in the worst way, wanted to show animals. I showed houseplants."
On being a mom: Don't expect me to help you with math because I'm terrible at math. But I hope I can teach you respect."
Someday: "I've always thought it would be fun to be in the historical society. Maybe when I'm 80 or 90. And by then, I'll finally get around to scrapbooking."
Doesn't understand: People who are bored. "How can you be bored?"
LA PRAIRIE TOWNSHIP Most people would think Kathy Morton was out of her mind.
But a few—and you know who you are—know just what she means.
As a city kid, Morton's "favorite thing of all" was Food for America day when she and other members of the Craig High School FFA toured a farm.
"I'd be wearing my FFA jacket, and we'd be in the barn all day," Morton said. "I'd smell my jacket and just love the smell. People might think I was crazy. I must have been destined to be a farmer."
Fellow La Prairie Township farmer Bob Arndt is grateful that Morton fell in love with agriculture. It was his family's farm that Morton remembers touring.
"She's a very, very good spokesman for agriculture," Arndt said. "She's always right on top of her game. She's very articulate."
When Morton says something is going to get done, it gets done, Arndt said.
"She has always carried through on everything she's said she would do," he said.
Over the years, that's been a lot.
Morton has worked more than 15 years as an assistant superintendent in the swine barn at the Rock County 4-H Fair. She's served on the fair board and been active with the state and county pork producers associations as well as the Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation.
She's been slowly stepping down from leadership roles to focus on one project she really loves: the FFA's PALS program.
PALS connects high school kids with elementary school kids through an agriculture-based after-school learning program. It looks like ag education, but really it's about improving kids' self esteem, teaching them how to be role models and building community connections, Morton said.
Morton was the force behind the program that ran for more than 10 years in the Clinton School District. This is the second school year she's been coordinating the program between Craig and Parker high schools and the Boys & Girls Club of Janesville.
Eventually, she'd like to see every Rock County FFA program participating.
Morton is devoted to supporting 4-H and FFA, said John Quinn of Center Township. Quinn's kids showed swine with Morton's kids at the Rock County 4-H Fair, and Quinn served on the Rock County Pork Producers Board with Morton.
"She's a hell of a hard worker," Quinn said. "And it's all volunteer. None of it is something she's looking to get paid for. She's not looking for notoriety."
Morton said she volunteers because she's always amazed at how much she gains from the people she helps.
"I've met amazing, incredible people," Morton said. "And usually, they're all kids."