Posted 12/24/12 (Mon)
By Kate Ruggles
Farmer Staff Writer
Valuable, encouraging, available and hard-working are just some of the adjectives used to describe Marcia Hellandsaas, who touches almost every aspect of McKenzie County through her work with the Extension office and beyond. And because of those qualities, Hellandsaas has been chosen as the McKenzie County Farmer’s 2012 Heart of Gold recipient.
Hellandsaas is a member of the Watford City First Lutheran Congregation and the pastor of the church, Rob Favorite, referred to her as an unsung hero of the community.
“Marcia does things without calling for attention and she never gets flustered,” states Favorite. “I call her unsung, because there are so many things Marcia does behind the scenes, that I really do not think anyone truly knows all the work she does in and for the community.”
Hellandsaas has been an NDSU Extension agent for 23 years. At the time she applied for the position, she was living in Regent, N.D. She had never lived in Watford City until she moved here to start her new job at the Extension office.
Through her job, she works to educate the people of McKenzie County through teaching food safety, money management, gardening education and parenting classes. She works with area kids and teens in the 4-H clubs, organizes a mentoring program for young people, and offers youth baby-sitting clinics. She chairs the McKenzie County Community Coalition, is the Prevention Week coordinator, helps the 4-H participants raise money and recently became involved with the McKenzie County Food Pantry and the Great Plains Food Bank.
Though Marcia feels that it is all in a day’s work, there are many in McKenzie County that would beg to differ.
According to Marcia’s co-workers, she goes beyond the call of her job and that is what makes her good at what she does and good for the community.
“Marcia goes to great lengths to help those in need,” states her co-workers at the NDSU Extension Office. “When calls come into the office from people looking for a little help with getting food for their families, Marcia is right there making sure they get what they need.”
Another community member, Eunice Hagen, states that it is evident Marcia is not just doing a job when she does the things she does.
“I realize that what Marcia does is part of her job. But you can watch people and know if they are giving more; and you can tell that with Marcia,” Eunice states.
Eunice attributes Marcia with being inspiring to the people she touches and deserving of a little recognition for the things she does.
Gen Bruins characterizes Marcia as a very helping person and a valuable person for McKenzie County and Watford City.
“We need people who are eager to serve and help the community,” Gen states.
And Grace Allex refers to Marcia as being a bubbly person who has the rare quality of being able to be friendly while getting so much done.
“Marcia has been a real credit to the community and is one of those people that you don’t notice because she does things so quietly and without complaint,” states Favorite. “She is always full of support for things in the church and is willing to do just about anything she is asked to do.”
“Marcia spends countless evenings and weekends tirelessly helping with a variety of projects and events like hockey, serving food at local auctions, taking local youth on 4-H trips and so much more,” states Kim Neprash, the NDSU Extension office administrative assistant. “She definitely has a huge ‘Heart of Gold.’”
Marcia states that becoming an Extension Agent is something she always wanted to do.
“I always admired my Extension Agent when I was younger and my 4-H leader was a neat lady. I guess the people you admire as a child come back to you, because though I learned to bake bread, knit and sew in my 4-H years, I didn’t have any interest in those things in my college years and early 20s,” states Hellandsaas. “Now, however, I am spending my time doing the things that the people who inspired me did.”
Where Hellandsaas would receive praise for her work with the Food Pantry, she would say, “It’s not me, it’s the volunteers.”
To those people who recognize Hellandsaas for her work with area children through the 4-H, the FFA, the Mentoring Program, and various other clinics, classes and programs, she would say, “There are so many wonderful adults who live here and they give a lot so these programs can take place.”
Even to those hockey moms who appreciate the work Marcia puts into fundraising for the hockey club, by helping to run concessions at the hockey games, the NDRA Rodeo Finals and at Watford City’s Homefest, she would say, “It’s my job as a mom and all of us hockey moms put so much in to help keep the program going.”
Hellandsaas states that she is constantly amazed by the growth she has witnessed and continues to see in people.
“Even now as our community has gotten so busy, people still give,” states Hellandsaas. “It is the people I work with who see things that need to be fixed or done and are fixing and doing them. There are some really good people who live and work here.”
It is Hellandsaas’ humble spirit and the things she does without seeking any recognition, it is her generous attitude, her giving nature and the way she inspires those around her that have caused her to be nominated and deserving to be called someone with a ‘Heart of Gold.’