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Jorgensens Blaze a Path for Generosity in Benton County

May 28, 2021

Marlyn “Jorgy” Jorgensen went to Iowa State University to try to play a little football, but after an injury cut his athletic aspirations short, he thought he would shift his attention to other activities. It was a turn of fate as a young woman caught his eye as they were both working on the Cardinal Guild, the student government group at that time. It took some convincing, but she eventually married him. “I said I would never marry a farmer, never move back to Garrison, so be careful what you say,” said Ann Jorgensen. Jorgy and Ann have now lived in the house on the home farm where Ann grew up in Garrison for 55 years. “My feet are firmly planted in the soil of Iowa. I love being on the farm,” said Ann. “I love the rural area, and growing food for the world is very important.”

While planted in the Iowa soil, Ann has spread her roots. At Iowa State, she was told by her faculty advisor she couldn’t be a doctor and get married and have kids. Ann has been blazing a path for women in agriculture and beyond ever since, including a decade spent in Washington, D.C. where she served two U.S. presidential appointments. Jorgy has also added to the couple’s legacy in agriculture, serving as president of the American Soybean Association, traveling the world helping other countries, always with Ann by his side.

But Garrison was always where they came back home. “For me, it’s a sense of community,” said Ann. “You feel safe. You know that people care. Friends are special here.” Jorgy and Ann know they have been blessed and have worked with the Benton County Community Foundation, a CFNEIA affiliate, to give back. The couple has established four funds with the Foundation. The funds all fulfill different purposes for Jorgy and Ann. Jorgy described the approach to a three-legged milk stool. The couple supports education, conservation, and economic development to keep Benton County stable and vibrant. Take away a leg, and it falls over.

Their funds also provide additional funding for the grantmaking process led by the Community Foundation’s local volunteer committee, on which Ann served two terms as chair. “The local Foundation has people from all over the county, and they assess every year what’s important and what’s not,” said Jorgy. “We’re going to be long gone, and even our heirs probably don’t know what’s good or what’s bad for Benton County, but those people who are on that committee are the ones living in those communities.”

“It’s the long-term aspect that the money is there and it’s invested wisely, and it’ll go on forever and ever,” added Ann. “If you look back a hundred years, things that we might have been funding then aren’t in existence today. The Foundation has the flexibility to grow with the times and change with the times.”

This story is part of our 2020 Impact Report.