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She’s Extension’s own Bug Queen

By Staff | Mar 25, 2011

A high-powered microscope gives Audra Fisher an easier job of identifying bugs and insects brought into the Webster County Iowa State University Extension office. She said it doesn’t bother her to work with bugs, but she doesn't want to get near mice.

FORT DODGE – Just bring her a bug, and she’s happy, but even think about bringing in mice and you may as well stay home.

Audra Fisher, office manager for Iowa State University Extension, uses a high-powered microscope to determine the make and model of bugs brought to the office for identification. She likes the work.

“They call me the Queen of Bugs,” she said. “But one day they brought in a snake. Whenever there’s a snake question, I try to send it out to Conservation.”

Then she laughed, admitting she’s done with help if a mouse gets involved. She likes to be helpful, but draws the line at mice.

Fisher remembers the time a family brought in a bug for identification and wanted to keep it for a pet. A while later they were back with a snake. The bug had gotten lost in the house. The next time she saw the family, the snake had gone missing, too.

Audra Fisher, office manager for Iowa State Univesity Extension in Webster County, said she can't imagine working anywhere else. It’s the interaction with the public that she likes so well, she said.

“You just can’t help but laugh,” she added.

It was 10 years ago that Fisher took over the office manager job from the late Judy Reynolds.

“I was looking for a long-lasting job and I knew people at Extension usually stay for a long time because they love what they do,” she said. “And it’s true. There’s never a dull moment, and I’ve gotten to work with really great people. We’re pretty much one big family.”

Although she is office manager only for Extension, there are four other offices in the Extension suite. Those are the Small Business Development, Mid-Iowa Growth Partnership, the Department of Natural Resources and Webster County Farm Bureau. She doesn’t work for them, but is always available to help in a pinch.

“It’s great when you can help people out in some way,” Fisher said. “I’m just glad to be here. I enjoy it. It’s one of those things – you really like your job and like coming to work. I don’t mean to sound corny, but we just have a great group here, and you just don’t find that all the time.”

What’s more, she said, “Everyone here, they’re passionate about what they do.”

While Fisher works to help people whenever possible, that’s not always possible.

The oddest request she ever had, she said, was a simple question, but a question likely without answer.

“Someone called and wanted to know if oatmeal was an aphrodisiac,” Fisher said. “I told them I’d call the Answerline.”

She did, and was told, “Well, it is healthy for you.”

She’s been called by an elderly woman who forgot to turn on the oven when she put the meat on to cook, and the meat had been sitting for a long while.

“You can just hear it in their voices,” Fisher said. “They’re on a fixed income, and they don’t want to throw that meat away. But the doctor bills would be more than the cost of the meat.”

Even facing questions she can’t answer or those with an answer she doesn’t want to give, Fisher’s favorite part of her job is working with the public.

She’s been asked to be part of a committee to find a replacement for Jim Patton when he leaves Extension.

“That’s going to be a sad day,” she said. “I think he’s been the face of Webster County Extension for quite a while.”

When she was young, it was Fisher’s goal “to move to New York and be a business woman. Just be out there wheeling and dealing. And look where I’m at. I live a half mile from where I grew up and my kids went to my high school.”

New York and all it holds isn’t for her now, though. She can get her wheeling and dealing as she works on accounts for Extension. She can get her fill of people just going to the counter when people stop at Extension with a question.

“I’m pretty satisfied with my life, what I’m doing,” she said. “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

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