Five women representing MSU Extension named to list of 125 Extraordinary Ordinary Women of Montana State University

DorothyAasheimFrom MSU News Service – From the university’s beginning 125 years ago, the women of Montana State University made remarkable contributions to the status of women at the institution, in the state and across the country. They included such women as the first Dean of Women, who taught women skills to promote their financial independence in the 1920s or the group who challenged gender pay inequities in the 1970s. Today, the President’s Commission on the Status of University Women – formed by MSU’s first female president – continues to work toward the discovery and elimination of institutional barriers to the success of women.

In this year celebrating MSU’s 125th anniversary, the PCOSUW is honoring women leaders, problem solvers and innovators from today and throughout MSU’s history. The honorees were selected from almost 400 nominations from across the state for women who have had an impact on the status of women at MSU and are inspiring or have inspired others by their example. The MSU story and full list of honorees is online here.

MSU Extension Honorees

Dorothy Aasheim

DorDorothyAasheimothy Aasheim came to Montana in a covered wagon with her family in 1926. She worked at Montana State College and met her husband Torley there. MSU was special to Aasheim. Her first involvement was in 1935 as a delegate to the 4-H convention. She was president of the MSU’s Woman’s Club in 1960, served on the university alumni board, was a patroness for the Alpha Omicron Pi Sorority and was the first woman to receive a Banquet of Excellence award. She was one of the founders of Women’s Week, a program through MSU Extension, for which she was so proud. She was involved for 42 years, taking over 100 courses.  She was also honored with MSU’s Blue and Gold Award in 2006 and represented Montana at “Montana Day” in Washington, D.C. Today, in the Alumni Legacy Lounge in the SUB, a beautiful stained-glass window pays tribute to Women’s Week with a piece of a quilt, paintbrush and ribbon joining all images. It also displays a yellow rose, the official flower of the MSU Alumni Association and an M, of course, for Torley. This is a project Aasheim organized and funded and will remain a fixture in our campus’ living room forever.

Dorothy Aasheim is a visible thread woven in the fabric of Montana State University, Bozeman, the Gallatin Valley and Montana. – From the Blue and Gold Award nomination

Sandra Bailey

Sandy  BaileySandra Bailey has served as a professor and family and human development specialist for Extension since 2001. In that time, she has provided leadership to programs provided by MSU Extension that have improved the lives of countless Montanans, providing vital outreach and education to women (and men) across the state. A few programs  for which Bailey provides leadership help prepare grandparents to raise their grandchildren, provide parent education to prevent childhood obesity, provide family caregivers with the knowledge and skills to take care of themselves while they care for a loved one with a chronic illness, and most recently, collaborate to offer mental health awareness and literacy programs to youth and adults across the state through a partnership with the MSU Center for Mental Health Research. In addition, Bailey regularly serves as a mentor for other women in Extension, encouraging professional development, collaborative projects, grant writing and career advancement. Her programmatic leadership benefits women in Extension and families and children across the state.

Sandra Bailey is serving the needs of the often underserved across our state.

Harriette Cushman

CushmanIn 1922, Harriette Cushman was hired by the Extension Service at Montana State College to be Montana’s first poultry specialist. As one of the few women pursuing a career as a poultry scientist, she recognized that poultry was a mainstay of home economics and an essential source of income for women. She inspired many new poultry growers in Montana and introduced poultry production into Montana’s 4-H clubs, teaching youngsters how to raise exceptional flocks, grade eggs and judge poultry. In 1942, Cushman logged over 10,000 miles working with Montana poultry producers and helping form the nation’s first egg and poultry cooperatives. Her work with the Northwest Turkey Federation secured a nationwide market for Montana premium quality Norbest turkeys, making the Montana turkey industry the most profitable in the nation during the Depression. Cushman enjoyed working on Montana Indian reservations, where poverty and lack of economic opportunity were most persistent. Poultry raising made tangible, positive impacts. Cushman was grateful when the Blackfeet made her an honorary tribal member, and she championed the Indian Center at Montana State College. Cushman advocated for libraries, museums and the arts, was a lifelong supporter of 4-H and a prolific writer. 

During a time when there were very few women pursuing a career in agriculture, Harriette Cushman generated a thriving poultry industry. Her commitment and contributions to Montana agriculture and the land-grant mission cannot be understated and for too long have gone without the credit she deserves.

Geraldine “Gerry” Fenn

GerryFennGeraldineGerry” Fenn worked in the Montana State University Extension state 4-H office as a youth development specialist from 1947 to her retirement in 1967, focusing on youth/family education and well-being.  Following World War II, Fenn, along with other colleagues, founded the International Farm Youth Exchange program essentially to promote world peace through family-to-family exchanges.  An extension of that notion was the intrastate and interstate exchanges for youth in this country.  She designed two areas of study for 4-H members: 1. teaching the importance of becoming involved in their community, and 2. allowing youth the opportunity to set goals and make plans to achieve them. In addition, the People Partner program was for 4-H clubs to design and complete community projects.  Seventy years later, all three of these opportunities are still being used. After Fenn's retirement from Extension, she facilitated a group of people to work with the legislature on youth and family issues.  All her efforts pointed toward positive youth development and family well-being.  Networking was second nature to Fenn so she reached out to colleagues across campus who might have important expertise to enhance her endeavors.

Geraldine Fenn embodied Montana State University’s land-grant mission by serving, inspiring and teaching youth of Montana and their families.

Marsha Goetting

Marsha GoettingMarsha Goetting began her career with Montana State University Extension in April 1977 as an assistant professor and consumer education specialist.  As a professor and Extension family economics specialist, Goetting has presented 1,500 workshops reaching more than 40,000 Montanans with financial and estate planning information and authored more than 75 MontGuides. She has had an impact on citizens of this state from budgeting and basic money management to transfers of agricultural operations to the next generation. Goetting’s efforts have garnered her many awards including Epsilon Sigma Phi’s Distinguished Service Award, Western Region Excellence in Extension Award and MSU President’s Excellence in Extension Award. She serves as a director for the Federal Reserve Board of Minneapolis - Helena Branch.  She has been an educator, guide and mentor, and her enthusiasm and professionalism are an inspiration. She was one of the first female faculty members in the Department of Agricultural Economics and Economics and has been the gold standard for her devotion to the mission of MSU Extension and the land-grant university system.

Marsha Goetting has been the gold standard for her devotion to the mission of MSU Extension and the land-grant university system.