Marlene Fudge, Rush County education and outreach coordinator and long-time Ag in the Classroom volunteer, is a recent recipient of the Golden Hoosier Award, which recognizes outstanding seniors for their lifetime of service to their communities.
“I was honored to be selected, but I don’t do it for recognition,” Fudge said, referring to her years as an AITC volunteer. “I do it because I love kids and I want them to know about agriculture.”
Sponsored by the Indiana lieutenant governor in partnership with the Indiana Family and Social Services Administration, the Golden Hoosier Award is the highest honor bestowed on a senior citizen in Indiana.
Fudge was honored for a long list of community activities. Besides her Farm Bureau involvement, which includes more than 20 years as an AITC volunteer, she has played the piano and organ at New Salem United Methodist church since she was 16 years old, teaches Sunday school and has been a member of Big Brothers Big Sisters for more than 25 years.
She presents her AITC lessons in Rush County schools, local day cares, Riley Summer Camp in Indianapolis and the Rushville Library, among other places. In fact, as she was being interviewed for this story, she was getting ready to bring AITC to kids visiting a local farmers market the following day.
She also reads to two Head Start classes and is on the Rush County Purdue University Cooperative Extension Council.
Her Farm Bureau involvement began as an employee of Indiana Farm Bureau Insurance, where she worked for 45 years, retiring in 2012.
“I was good friends with our former district woman leader, Linda Bacon,” Fudge said, and sometimes, when Bacon was visiting a school for Ag in the Classroom, Fudge would go with her.
“I would take one of my vacation days and go out with her. I’ve always loved little kids,” she said.