Secor is Master Farm Homemaker
By LARRY KERSHNER
On the afternoon of Sept. 6, Tammi Secor rushed from her duties as an algebra instructor at Iowa Central Community College to her rural home just north of Fort Dodge. It’s grape harvest time and six acres of fruit was ripening fast on the vines.
But on Sept. 7, teaching and grape cutting was on hold as Secor traveled to Des Moines as one of four recipients of the 2012 Iowa Master Farm Homemaker award, given by Wallaces Farmer magazine.
Secor, snipping clusters of St. Croix grapes, said she learned of her selection for the award six weeks ago and thought there was no way she was worthy of the honor.
She’s attended several luncheons of past recipients of this award.
“I’ve heard their stories over the years,” Secor said, dropping a cluster into a waiting box. “Those women are something.”
This is the third time a Secor woman has received the award. Carolyn Secor, Tammi’s mother-in-law, received her award in 1982. Several years before that, Carolyn Secor’s sister Harriet Smith, was likewise honored.
Dr. Janet Secor, Tammi Secor’s sister-in-law, said she nominated Tammi for the award, seeing that she met the criteria of a woman actively engaged in her family’s farm operation, who is community-minded and interested in international relations. She indicated that Tammi Secor was a perfect fit for the award that has now come to her family for the third time.
“She’s a fantastic combine driver,” said Robert Secor, 26, “and I’m not kidding. She’s nice and a good mom.”
He said his mother has never seemed intimidated by the combine, competently handling it while maintaining radio communications with the catch wagon and watching the yield monitors.
This is the fifth year the Secors have husbanded a vineyard covering six acres, marshalling the fruit of nine grape varieties, including a table grape variety – Reliance.
Robert Secor credits his mother with the health of each vine being harvested this week. He said when the vines were planted in 2008, another dry year, his mother was routinely watering the vineyard, while her husband was otherwise busy with the farm and Robert was taking summer courses at Iowa State University.
“The plants that made it are because of her,” he said.
Tammi Secor’s husband, Bill Secor, said his wife has long been active in the community. She was a former member of the Junior Women’s Club, once being named as Outstanding Member of the Year.
She taught Sunday School for several years and, while a member of the First Congregational Church in Fort Dodge, helped to organize a children’s choir.
She is also a former member of an investment club in Fort Dodge, and a former member of the symphony at St. Olaf’s Lutheran Church in Fort Dodge. She is currently a member of a French club in town.
She taught computer science and literature for 10 years at Phillips Middle School in Fort Dodge, while working on a math teaching certificate.
Once she earned that, she had to take a break from teaching, having become pregnant with her second child. In 2012, she’s in her eighth year at teaching at ICCC.
Her children include:
- Robert, who is married and lives in a former schoolhouse just south of the Secors’ home and works in partnership on the family farm. Robert and his wife, Megan, are both graduates of ISU’s horticulture program.
- Anne, 24, is an undergraduate at Purdue University, after earning a graduate degree in food science and is interning at Gallo Winery in Modesto, Calif. She will be getting married later this month.
- Amanda, 21, is a senior at St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minn.
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