Muscatine Magazine, Spring 2023

Page 1

Spring 2023
ISSN 2475-7128
Greater Muscatine Chamber of Commerce & Industry
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On the Cover

While this picture could certainly be mistaken for one of our beautiful Muscatine sunsets, it is actually a picture from Perth, Australia, where Amy Clove was running her third full marathon as part of the World Marathon Challenge. Earlier this year she ran 7 full marathons, on 7 different continents, in 7 days.



Greater Muscatine Chamber of Commerce & Industry

100 W. 2nd St. • Muscatine, Iowa 52761-4027 563-263-8895

Muscatine Magazine is published quarterly by:

Greater Muscatine Chamber of Commerce & Industry

100 W. 2nd St. • Muscatine, Iowa 52761-4027


ISSN 2475-7128

Editor: Rebecca Paulsen, GMCCI

Creative Director: Mike Shield, Shield Design

Contributors: Amy Clove, Pam Miller, Freda Sojka, Jennifer Kemper, Steve Hammann, Rebecca Paulsen, Mike Shield

For advertising info: Contact Rebecca Paulsen at (563) 263-8895 or

Muscatine Magazine is a quarterly publication focused on Muscatine, Iowa, and the surrounding area. The publisher reserves the right to refuse and/or edit any materials submitted for publication. Published articles and advertising do not constitute endorsement. ©2023

Lessons Learned

This issue of Muscatine Magazine was inspired by Amy Clove, the incredible Muscatine woman who ran 7 full marathons on 7 continents in 7 days While I don’t see myself registering for even a single marathon anytime soon, her story did cause me to reflect on my own life and wonder

“If Amy can do that, what seemingly unattainable thing could I do if I really put my mind to it?” Her story is one of training, consistency, persistence and not giving up – and many of these themes are woven throughout this issue . We start off by hearing about 7 things Amy learned in the process of training for this incredible world marathon, and

move into other words of wisdom and lessons learned from others connected to Muscatine Muscatine has some incredibly talented and wise residents, I hope you find something inspirational in the stories shared by those featured in this issue! Enjoy!

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Muscatine Magazine • Spring 2023 1 In this issue 7 Lessons from 7 Marathons . . . . . . . . . 2 YPN Pro Development Series . . . . . . . . 6 Lessons Learned: Pam Miller . . . . . . . . 8 Lessons Learned: Freda Sojka 14 Community Foundation 17 Business Spotlight . . . . . . . . . .18 Muscatine Art Center . . . . . . . . .20 Art Center Events . . . . . . . . . .23 Chamber Signature Events 24 New Chamber Members 25 Musser Public Library . . . . . . .27
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Editor’s Corner
Rebecca Paulsen, Editor of Muscatine Magazine
“ Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great. ”
– Mark Twain

SEVEN lessons I learned

from training to run 7 marathons, on 7 continents, in 7 days

When I first heard about the World Marathon Challenge two years ago I thought it was the craziest, most amazing thing I’d ever heard of — 7 marathons on 7 continents in 7 consecutive days!! What???? Although I was completely captivated by this awesome event, I didn’t think there was any chance I could actually do it I mean, come on– who could seriously consider attempting something like this?? At the time I had only run one marathon in my life, 15 years previously I was also just returning to running after many years off due to chronic pain I barely saw myself as a candidate for one marathon

let alone something like this, but I could not get it out of my mind! I pretty much became obsessed with the WMC and watched every video I could find from past years

Finally, with encouragement from the race director, my fitness trainer, and my family I took the leap and signed up!

Training for the WMC has been absolutely life changing It’s one of the most challenging and thrilling things I’ve ever done! It has taken me beyond any perceived limits as I ran more than I ever thought possible I’ve put in 3500 miles prepping for this!

One of the hardest parts of the whole thing was that I thought it was going to be a one year project, but it got stretched into two because the event was delayed twice That second year was so much tougher than the first as I tried to keep the momentum going and maintain the rigors of training I hit a few bumps both physically and mentally, but these setbacks taught me some valuable lessons that I wouldn’t trade Isn’t it always that way?

I’m forever grateful for all the support and care I’ve received on this journey I never could have gotten this far alone It has truly been a team effort!

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Lessons Learned

Your past doesn’t determine your future.

When I signed up for the World Marathon Challenge I was not a marathoner I had run one marathon back in 2005 but then stopped running for almost ten years I had run a few half marathons in recent years but didn’t feel anything close to an athlete who could run back to back marathons . Still, this crazy event captivated me, even waking me up at night! Eventually I knew I had to go for it During the two years I trained for the WMC, I broke a lot of barriers physically and mentally I learned that labels and perceived limits can be excuses not to stretch ourselves . We each have amazing potential and we are meant to change and grow in life You determine who you become!


Iowa can be cold, snowy, icy, hot, humid, rainy, or windy– in any combination . I’m pretty sure I’ve run them all! Very rarely did I cancel a run because of weather or any other reason This consistency didn’t happen because of unfailing motivation I love running but there were plenty of mornings when I didn’t feel like going . Because I had committed to the training plan the decision was already made in advance I didn’t ask myself each day if I felt like running or not because it really didn’t matter Over time, two additional things helped make this easier First, I learned that even if I grumbled getting started it almost always felt great once I got going Moving in fresh air is amazing for mental health and I always appreciated the runner's high, particularly in the winter Second, I knew that if I skipped a run without a valid reason I would feel terrible The pain of hard work is never greater than the pain of regret . I had a massive end goal and was determined to do everything I could to be prepared, regardless of how I felt on any particular day

You can’t have it all at the same time, and that’s okay.

Training to run seven marathons in a row was a huge investment of time and energy Besides the hours of running, I spent substantial time on recovery (stretching, foam rolling, sauna, etc .), and supportive care appointments like massage and chiropractic . The rigorous miles required extra sleep including naps and an early bedtime I also had to fit in strength training and make sure my nutrition was on point With three teenage daughters, our family life was in full swing as well . I often felt like I wasn’t keeping up Eventually I realized I needed to say no to extra events, put off projects, and set aside any other hobbies or distractions in order to focus on running I simplified my expectations and reminded myself that this was a temporary season . It was still a consuming time for me, but I felt less overwhelmed when I wasn’t trying to squeeze everything in

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Lessons Learned

People matter most.

I used to think running was a solo sport . I’ve covered plenty of miles alone, decompressing and enjoying time to myself I knew I would need help preparing for the WMC but I did not anticipate that the greatest rewards from this experience would be the human connections I made along the way . I couldn’t have gotten through the training process without family and friends cheering me on, running buddies who kept me going on many long runs, amazing care providers that kept me healthy as I loaded up the miles, and an amazing coach who encouraged and guided me through the whole process It became very clear this was a group effort and I loved my support team

During the WMC there was an instant bond between runners We came from different backgrounds but had one thing in common– we were all crazy enough to take on this adventure! We shared french fries in the airport, high-fived during the races, and basically looked out for each other We struggled together and celebrated together through the ups and downs of a whirlwind trip .

I thought this experience was going to be about a personal achievement . I’m so grateful it was anything but solo

Rest makes you stronger.

I knew I had to work hard to be ready for the WMC but I didn’t realize how critical rest was too I thought too many days off would make me lose progress I really had to trust my coach when my schedule included drops in mileage and longer breaks than I thought I needed I eventually came to learn that when we rest, our bodies have a chance to restore and get stronger . Resting isn’t weak or lazy . It’s an important part of the growth process

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I distinctly remember the sinking feeling I had when I looked at my watch and saw I was only 8 miles into a full marathon . It was the final run of my biggest week of training I had already put in over 120 miles that week and I was beyond tired I had no idea how I could possibly keep going for 18 more miles! Marathon running (and life) can be like that It’s easy to get discouraged when the distance to our goal seems insurmountable . Over many long runs I have learned the power of staying mentally focused . Instead of fretting about the remaining miles and wishing I was at the finish line, I try to embrace the moment I’m in . I tell myself I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be I put my thoughts and effort into what I can do right now, which is to take the next step and keep moving . This approach helped me many times during the seven marathons of the WMC! It has also helped me tackle non-running goals and be more present in general And yes, I kept going for 18 more miles–one step at a time .


I had plenty of reasons not to pursue the World Marathon Challenge But saying yes to this adventure is one of the best decisions I’ve ever made! It was a life-changing experience that will stay with me forever I did something that was “impossible” for me and it opened my eyes to the great potential in each of us . It was one wild ride with lots of bumps and thrills along the way and it taught me that life is much more rewarding outside of our comfort zone .


As part of this endeavor, I chose to run in support of Operation Underground Railroad, an organization whose purpose is to end human trafficking, specifically child sex trafficking

O .U .R has rescued over 6,000 survivors and assisted in the arrest of over 4,000 predators . They operate in all 50 states and over 40 countries

Trafficking is an issue more widespread and closer to home than most of us realize .

If you’d like to join me in making a difference, please visit to learn more about human trafficking and ways you can support this life changing organization

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C O M M U N I T Y EVENT C a l e n d a r C a l e n d a r M U S C A T I N E ' S W W W . M U S C A T I N E . C O M / E V E N T S K E E P U P - T O - D A T E O N A L L O F T H E G R E A T E V E N T S G O I N G O N I N M U S C A T I N E ! S P O N S O R E D B Y T H E G R E A T E R M U S C A T I N E C H A M B E R O F C O M M E R C E & I N D U S T R Y & S U P P O R T E D B Y C O L L A B O R A T E M U S C A T I N E

Lessons Learned

Rear Admiral Pamela Miller is a native of Muscatine and was commissioned an ensign in the Navy Reserve Nurse Corps in 1989 following graduation from the University of Iowa where she earned a Bachelor of Science and Master of Arts in Nursing. In 1995, she was selected for the Navy Health Professionals Scholarship program, commissioned as an ensign in the medical corps, and attended medical school at Des Moines University, Des Moines, Iowa earning both a Doctorate in Osteopathic Medicine and a Master’s in Healthcare Administration.

Pam Miller is a Fleet Marine Force Warfare Qualified Officer whose personal awards include the Defense Distinguished Service Medal, Legion of Merit (two awards), Meritorious Service Medal (four awards), Navy Achievement Medal (two awards) and the Military Outstanding Volunteer Service Medal.

Pam is happy to share with us some of the lessons she has learned from serving nearly 30 years in the Navy in various leadership roles.

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Petra, Jordan 2016
“My times of greatest success are defined by opportunities to change the lives of others.”

In a couple of short years, I will be closing the book on more than 30 years of military service . I have spent half of that time on active duty and half in the reserve component . This allowed me the privilege of fostering parallel careers in both the military and civilian sectors As I reflect on three decades of personal and professional growth that led to where I am today, there are several leadership and life lessons worth sharing in hopes the discoveries I have made can positively impact others during their journey

do not let others define what professional success means to you.

For some it is financial, but for others financial success in and of itself leaves them unfulfilled and hollow For me, my times of greatest success are defined by opportunities to change the lives of others In my clinical practice, some of the most memorable and impactful moments with patients and families I cherish the most cannot be measured through revenue or performance

metrics In the military, for me it is dedicating your life to something far bigger than yourself, and taking every opportunity to help those junior to you find their way

Be a life-long learner.

One should never be “done” learning or lose the desire to better themselves . It doesn’t matter at what, a better person, spouse, parent, coach, professional, etc . Keep your life multidimensional . Don’t become consumed by work to the extent that is the only “you” there is . You cannot rewind time, and opportunities are forever lost Stay connected to family and friends . There are so many times that circumstances dictate missing important events in others’ lives When the opportunity does exist, make important events a priority .

Never underestimate your capabilities, and your ability to grow with an opportunity.

Even if something is a stretch for you, don’t sell yourself short, and make someone tell you “no” If you sense a glass ceiling your goal needs to be to break through, for yourself and those who follow after you . Always bring your “A” game, exceed expectations, and have the confidence to go after the “stretch goal”.

As you develop as a leader, ensure you have a trusted inner circle you can use to provide candid feedback to you, and listen . This will ensure your compass remains on true north, and you choose the ethical high ground Using a football analogy, and in the words of Former Secretary of Defense, James Mattis, always play the ethical midfield I have worked for so many types of leaders, both civilian and military It is important to study leaders, both good and bad, as there are important lessons to be learned from both ends

Muscatine Magazine • Spring 2023 9
Pamela Miller treats a victim from a suicide truck bomb blast in Taqaddum, Iraq in February of 2007. At least 31 Iraqis were killed and more than 75 were wounded in this mass casualty incident.

Lessons Learned

of the leadership continuum . Do not perpetuate bad leadership, integrate the lessons learned, and turn the ship around when you have the helm .

Leading has little to do with what you can “make” others do, it has everything to do with what you can inspire others to do.

Be a servant leader and earn the respect of those you have the privilege of leading They might be forced to respect the position you hold, but they do not have to respect the person The book “Start with Why” by Simon Sinek highlights the importance of helping others find their purpose, which means taking the time to know people and help them see potential they otherwise cannot see

The true test of a leader is when the circumstances are very challenging . Managing adversity with grace, poise, and professionalism, building trust, and ensuring resilience in your team is key to leading a team through tumultuous times .

I have traveled around the world on military assignments, in peacetime and in support of combat operations . There are many observations I have made but one of the most important ones is that there is so much to be learned and appreciated from other countries and cultures . I have marveled at several of the World’s Wonders, and had the opportunity to train with, break breadth with, and work side by side with international colleagues in treating combat casualties In the whole scheme of things our country is in its infancy compared to other parts of the world, yet we remain a beacon of hope for so many n

Keep your decision making above reproach.

There is always a bigger picture and make sure you are considering the long game in any endeavor .

Remain Principle-based and ensure transparency and productive communication with all key stakeholders

Do not accept a “winner and loser” environment . Your promotion cannot be at the expense of others

Role model forgiveness and grace, but don’t compromise standards .

Do not lead through fear and intimidation.

This breeds an environment where no one wants to deliver bad news . Ultimately this will bring the demise of your organization, and possibly endanger the welfare of your team and others .

Be grateful for the life lessons gained from the village of people it took to raise you up to where you are today and acknowledge them along the way .

Find an avenue to change a life every day .

Choose carefully what you are willing to die in a ditch.
Work for an enterprise that identifies its people as its most valuable resource.
Accept your team falling short if they gave it their best, teach and train, and give them another chance.
Remember your roots, wherever you end up.
Random acts of kindness change lives.
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As I wind down this chapter of life and begin to ponder what the next chapter holds, here are some of the lessons I intend to take with me:

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Lessons Learned

Lessons Learned

At 71, there have been so many chapters in my life, each chapter has many stories and lessons of its own . Every day I participate, life brings on more . I will give this a shot of the ones that come to mind .

If I put my mind to it, I could achieve anything. I am only limited by my lack of effort, not my gender or my circumstances.

I grew up in the 50s on a dairy farm, the 2nd oldest of 4 girls One of the most powerful and lifelong lessons came from my folks Raised in the Ozark Mountains with large families, during a tough economic time in America, they had to grow up early and learned to work hard to be able to feed their families . They passed that work ethic along to us At the age of 5 I learned to drive a tractor I

think of that now, when I look at a 5 year old, and wonder how in the world that happened . I couldn’t sit and reach the pedals . I had to stand to apply the break . One rainy day the pedal was slick and I ran into a shed Summers were spent working hard, but playing hard . It was a good childhood, with strong family ties Playing in the back yard, chasing lightening bugs and playing games with cousins, eating large meals that the women worked hard to prepare My folks also instilled in me that anyone in America could do well if they worked hard That belief has never left me and shaped the pattern of my life

if planning to make ultimatums, have a backup plan!

In the 70s my folks sold the cows and bought a popular supper club called Kingsbury Inn in Fredonia, Iowa, a tiny town along the river I had moved to Missouri, gotten married and was pregnant with my daughter We moved back to Iowa to help run “KI” I loved working with my mom on that business, and learned a great deal by trial and error We all knew nothing about running a restaurant, but we learned Catfish was the specialty and people came from miles around to eat and dance to the local bands that were not especially good, but with enough liquor flowing and volume, a good time could be had . Supper clubs were popular at the time . They were a social gathering for many in rural Iowa . I was in my mid 20s and thought I knew everything . We had an excellent cook who I had worked with as an assistant One of the busiest

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times of the year was Columbus Day Shriners came from all over Iowa to attend the parade, and KI was a popular place for them to gather with drinks and money flowing . I had told the cook to make up filets, the Shriners loved filets . She refused to take the time to prepare the tenderloins . I kept pushing her until she threw down her apron and walked out the door, never to return I was left to cook for the huge crowd that would be arriving soon Somehow we pulled that evening off, giving away many free drinks because of the delays I stayed on to cook there until they sold it around 1980 and I fell in love with running a family business The grandkids have fond memories of working at KI, doing dishes, helping out and playing the jukebox


There are events that seem bad at the time, but create incentives to start down new paths . I had went to work at a local chemical plant, one of 6 women hired on the same day, in 1981, most of those women were to quit within a short time . My folks had sold the business, I had no skills other than the food business . I was divorced, raising two small children and needed income . It was a good paying job, but swing shift in a plant that was mostly men The work was hard, the hours brutal During the KI years, I had started drinking alcoholically, and had started down a dark path of alcohol abuse Working swing shift only made that worse In December of 1983, on the brink of losing my job, I went to treatment and have not had a drink since Much of the 39 years since has been working with women trying to find a way out of that life I stayed with that job until July of 2004, when I left with an early out to start Simply Soothing with my daughter, Nikki Salek, wanting to create another family business


Nikki and I wanted to start a business in 2003 that was all things soothing We opened a shop in downtown Muscatine across from the brand new mall, making candles, lotions and all things smelly We named it Simply Soothing . One of our most popular items at that time were Smelly Critters, stuffed animals dipped in scented wax We loved unique items that could not be found in a regular store We did well during the holidays, but come February I had to lay my daughter off (who was managing it) and move it to my basement in Columbus Junction I took that early out from Monsanto so I could run it, with free help from my mom We didn’t make any money, but we loved creating new things and spending time together We had made lotions and creams for a Bed and Breakfast in Iowa City called Mission House Started by a couple that had grown up in Columbus Junction and had read an article about our fledgling business . Nancy Kittle, an Iowa alumna from Chicago, often

stayed at Mission House . She had recently retired from the corporate world and taken over her father’s Cosmetic business . She tried our shea cream and Ray and Shirley Hendrickson set up a meeting with her and I Nancy asked if I could make the cream in volume, and although I was making it on my kitchen stove, I said yes . Another turning point that led us on an entirely new adventure We bought an old building downtown, opened a shop and started making shea cream in volume We made Simply Shea Cream for Nancy for many years That building was where the first pallet of Bug Soother was made and loaded on a truck with a borrowed fork truck, for our first big order

business but life in general This story touches on all the above lessons With Simply Soothing, we had no intention of making a bug repellent . In 2007 my

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I can’t control the wind, but I can adjust the sails. This is crucial, I believe, in not only

Lessons Learned

Carolina were measuring where the flood waters had been . They were overcome by the gnats, my sister sprayed them and the bugs instantly cleared out . They bought my entire inventory the next day . That set a pace for that first year, we would make a gallon batch and instantly run out . Over the next few years we focused our business on Bug Soother, with much skepticism in the beginning that it was a fluke . The revenue from that product was over $4 million the season before we sold it .

It takes a Village.

insurance man had asked me if I had any peppermint essential oil, he said it repelled mice in his cabin in the Ozarks . We came up with a product called Mice Be Gone, crushed corn cobs soaked in Peppermint essential oils We took muslin bags and screen pressed a mouse on the bag We sold thousands of these over the years 2008 the economy was not doing well We could not make a candle for what the candles from China were costing retailers Although our products were very good, stores could get a much cheaper version from China, the whole economy had switched from quality to quantity . We were again flailing, ready to give up Came the flood of 2008 I had started researching essential oils that could repel bugs . The Buffalo gnats were fierce at that time . A fairly new breed that came out of Canada and thrived in flooding waters, and were not only driving people crazy, but killing chickens by suffocating them . I had made a small batch, which happened to get tested on the Cedar at my sister’s . Her place had flooded, and surveyors out of South

All along the journey of Bug Soother we had devoted people that believed in what we were doing, and rolled up their sleeves and jumped in, even on holidays Our family was very involved, grandkids learning to fill bottles, put on labels, make boxes A niece that helped reformulate when the government changed requirements Our kids who were a big part of running the company The daughter that I laid off in the early Simply Soothing days was CEO until it sold . We utilized CIRAS, an incredible federal program under Iowa State When the business exploded, we were completely lost They came down for several months, sitting with us with a whiteboard, helping us to organize and plan . The other resource was Curt Nelson and his team at EDC, Economic Development Center in Cedar Rapids . Hooking up with the energy of the Corridor was a big part of our success . The Founder’s Group at EDC was where I met Steve Shriver of Eco Lips, who in 2021 we later passed Bug Soother along to, to grow in a way that would have been very difficult for our little company


We believe that we were blessed with the success of Bug Soother With the

money from the sale of Bug Soother we were able to buy an old church camp near Letts Iowa and convert it into Cedar River Ranch Resort and Event Center and launch another chapter of our lives My daughter Nikki Salek is COO of the businesses . Since shortly after 1983, I have had a vision of helping other women to learn a new way of life I realized early on I was very lucky to keep a good paying job, to still have those children and family in my life . I had a home Many, many women that struggle with addiction are not so lucky . I went into Mt Pleasant women’s prison to work with women, and felt helpless that their chances of survival were slim No skills, no home, no money, no support system Over the years, that vision never left me We built Cedar River Haven, a 10,000 square recovery center with bedrooms to sleep 24 women, a classroom, workshop, offices and a kitchen I wanted businesses that could provide employment and to teach life skills to the women coming to stay with us

We transformed the camp into a resort www .cedarriverranch .com . 11 cabins on their third season bringing guests from all over the country, 5 more cabins being remodeled by the residents We also launched Haven’s Hope Thrift Store, a store ran by the residents to learn to run a business of their own . Cedar River Ranch Catering, utilizing a brand new state of the art culinary kitchen . The Box Lunch food truck that stays very busy traveling around SE Iowa feeding 1000s of people . Cedar River Ranch Event Center that is getting started hosting weddings, retreats, family reunions, graduations, and even a prom this year We are preparing to open Bake & Brew on 92, a café with a cause, across from Caseys in Columbus Junction We are learning lessons daily how to make the many pieces all fit together, and I am fulfilling a lifelong dream of passing my blessings along n

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with an

A Recovery Community Entrepreneurial Spirit

In 2003, Columbus Junction native Freda Sojka founded Simply Soothing, Inc . and the popular insect repellent Bug Soother took locals by storm Bug Soother sales grew substantially over the years and now sells online and in over 10,000 retail locations nationwide

Simply Soothing, Inc was only the start of Freda’s journey as an entrepreneur In March 2021, the Simply Soothing, Inc team sold their iconic business so Sojka’s next adventure – a dream of over 30 years – could become a reality

Sojka has volunteered with women in recovery from substance abuse and witnessed first-hand many incredible women working to overcome substance use disorders . This led to her dream of

emotional health, utilizing 12 step immersion, workshops, activities, access to community resources, and a path to a new journey Sojka serves as the proud Founder and Co-Director, overseeing daily operations and providing long-term hope and vision at Cedar River Haven

Fostering her entrepreneurial spirit, Sojka and her family also established partner businesses that help fund the programs at Cedar River Haven and provide employment opportunities and training for residents .

Cedar River Ranch Resort & Events Center is an on-site catering and events space with access to indoor and outdoor venue options perfect for weddings, Cabin rentals are

Cedar River Ranch Catering will be launching soon to offer catering for

surrounding events and businesses Led by Culinary Director Jennie Santoro, the state-of-the-art commercial kitchen will be a training ground for the women of Cedar River Haven

And finally, The Box Lunch food truck features delicious burgers, sandwiches, wraps, shakes, and more . The Box Lunch parks at various locations including Cedar River Ranch, Haven’s Hope Thrift Store, and local events

The Sojka’s have an established fund at the Community Foundation of Louisa County, an affiliate of the Community Foundation of Greater Muscatine, to invest in the future of Cedar River Haven and receive support of their mission today and for years to come n

To learn more about the Cedar River Haven program, start the application process, volunteer, or donate to the mission, email or call 319-726-2360.

Muscatine Magazine • Spring 2023 17
104 West 2nd Street, Muscatine, Iowa • Freda Sojka, founder of Cedar River Haven in rural Muscatine County.

Insuring Eastern Iowa Farms Since 1873

One-hundred fifty years ago – eight years after the Civil War – a group of Muscatine-County farmers came together to form one of Iowa’s first mutual insurance associations . These neighbors wanted to help each other protect their farm assets

Muscatine County Farmers’ Mutual Insurance Company was established to help protect the property and farm operations of its members/policy holders . Known today as Muscatine Mutual Insurance Association, the company continues to serve farmers and families throughout 12 counties in Eastern Iowa . As a Mutual, the company is owned wholly by its members/policy holders

“There was great insight at the beginning on the part of those local farmers,” said Tom Norton, Manager for Muscatine Mutual Insurance Association

“It’s a remarkable achievement, not a singular, but a collective achievement over generations to set up an insurance company that would be helpful to people for 150 years ”

“It’s lasted It’s been tested . It’s survived those tests and it’s weathered the storms, both literally and figuratively,” adds Mr . Norton “Therefore, there’s a confidence that we bring to bear with the insurance products and resources our company offers to meet the needs of our Eastern Iowa farm clientele ”

To buy insurance 150 years ago meant traveling, usually by horse, to the county seat That was about as far as one would

want to go . County Mutual insurance companies had no agents, so farmers would go to their township director to write and manage insurance coverage for their farm That’s simply how things got done .

That ‘localness’, still in place today, is what has always given Muscatine Mutual its unique advantage and ability to establish long-lasting relationships with its owner policy holders

“I’m pretty confident that some of insured families probably go all the way back 150 years, back when their greatgreat grandparents had insurance with us,” Mr Norton said about members of Muscatine Mutual

From 1873 until the 1960’s, Muscatine Mutual products were sold only by Directors, who in the early days were also those neighbors who founded the company . In the early 1960’s a Muscatine-county farmer, Don Lee, was hired by the company as its first agent . Mr . Lee was honest, local, and knew the farm business Mr Lee’s son Gary joined his dad in the business in the 1970s and by 1978, Gary Lee formalized

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the business into the Lee Agency This newly established insurance agency now offered the additional insurance product resources Muscatine Mutual farm clients needed to protect their farms, families, and assets Lee Agency continues today to be the exclusive agency for Muscatine Mutual Insurance Association

Mr Norton joined the company Lee Agency in 1986 as employee #3 . Like the Lees, he too, spent his early life on the farm In 1999 he purchased the agency from Gary Lee’s estate and as a legacy tribute to his friend and mentor, kept the Lee Agency name . Mr Norton also serves as Manager for Muscatine Mutual Insurance Association hired by its Board of Directors to manage the affairs of the insurance company .

“We’re an insurance company that can think like a farmer,” says Mr . Norton “I grew up on a farm, farmed for 10 years, and watched my dad and mom struggle to build equity … they pretty much dug it out of the dirt themselves ”

That farm background and local relationship piece is why the company has built a quality business with the unique ability to provide the best quality of service to its clients The trust established through those long-lasting client relationships is the foundation on which the company builds its business .

Tom Norton is first to give credit and thanks to the people who came before him, as well as to say thank you to his staff

“They do the bulk of the work,” he said about his team at Muscatine Mutual and Lee Agency . “I really want to say thanks to our company staff and agents . ”

Most importantly, Mr Norton feels great satisfaction that their business helps bring a peace of mind to its policy holders when they find themselves facing tough times

“There’s a real sense of satisfaction, and in my mind, a spiritual component to our business,” says Mr Norton “When you go out to see a farm client after they’ve had a fire or a huge windstorm, there’s a certain peace you can provide them by saying we’re a friend and here to help you . ”

“God has blessed us,” he said . “God is generous Generosity just oozes from our

Lord, and that’s what grace and mercy is all about … His generous spirit For us in the insurance business to approach our policy holders with that same kind of generous spirit is really quite rewarding . ”

Protecting farm operations and assets for 150 years is a proud history for the company . Now moving into the future, Muscatine Mutual Insurance Association continues to grow and strengthen its roots throughout its 12-County Eastern Iowa market territory .

“We’re bold on agriculture,” states Mr Norton “The world needs to be fed, and farmers in Eastern Iowa are feeding the world through grain products, hogs, and cattle As farms consolidate and progress, we will continue to develop products and resources that meet the needs of those farmers ” n

To learn more about MMIA products and services, reach out to us through our partners at Lee Agency by calling 800.225.9252, go to our website at, or send an email to

Muscatine Magazine • Spring 2023 19
Still together and owned by our policy holders, Muscatine Mutual is proud to help protect farm operations in 12 Eastern Iowa Counties since 1873. Proud partners with Lee Agency Contact our representatives at Lee Agency today. phone: 563-263-9252 email to: Muscatine Mutual | 3901 IA Hwy 38 | Muscatine, IA
hundred fifty years ago
farmers banded together to protect each other from fire, tornados, and
“ We’re an insurance company that can think like a farmer. ”

Where we typically highlight the Muscatine Art Center’s Permanent Collection, our focus here is on the facility’s ‘behind-the-scenes’ staff . The Muscatine Art Center is staffed by a total of 10 people (4 full-time and 6 part-time), including Muscatine native Steve Hammann and recently ‘retired’ Jennifer Kemper . Although they are recognized by many, not everyone knows of their histories & lifestyles . Both were kind enough to share some highlights of their experiences and ‘lessons learned’ with us .

From Cornfields to Kuwait, and Beyond!

Hi, my name is Jennifer Kemper . I like to travel…a lot I grew up in Iowa and had a lovely childhood . My family (parents Ed and Judy Kemper) was wonderful I loved playing in the cornfields on my grandparent’s farm with my brother and many cousins   But I knew there was more than cornfields around every single corner . After college, I already felt way behind on the traveling front, but I was in some serious college debt

Eventually I joined the Army to possibly get stationed somewhere exotic . Nope…Texas it was I did get to go to Kuwait though! Fortunately, it was a training mission, and no one ever shot at me After six years, I decided the military had had enough of me .

From there, I went to Florida and hopped on a power yacht to work . I made beds, served food, stirred drinks, vacuumed floors and put chocolates on pillows . All of that to get to the Caribbean, which I enjoyed very much The work was not for me (except one chocolate for me for every pillow that got one) so I quit and drove from Florida to Alaska

In Valdez, Alaska, I walked the docks for a month trying to get a deckhand job

I finally heard about a deckhand that had been fired so I immediately went to the captain of the boat and got the job . It was a charter fishing boat so I helped tourists catch the big one and filleted a lot of fish over the next three summers . During the winter, I traveled and went back the next summer broke .

From other contract workers in Alaska, I heard about the United States Antarctica Program . I applied and was hired for an Antarctic winter I wasn’t sure how 24 hours of darkness for a long period would work out for me, but after that first season, I was hooked . The company I worked for provided

scientists with whatever they need to do their research . For the next fourteen years, I primarily worked in the fuels department keeping buildings warm, vehicles moving and planes in the air In between contracts in Antarctica, I went back to Alaska and trained sled dogs for a four time Iditarod winner for a year; I worked in Katmai NP where the grizzlies stand on the waterfalls to catch the salmon going upstream to spawn; and I worked on the north slope in the oil fields . But mostly in between Antarctic seasons, I traveled And I loved it .

Seven years ago, I settled in Muscatine to help out my aging parents They have both passed so I’m on the move again back to Antarctica and traveling

I’ve learned a lot from all my adventures I learned in Antarctica - you can find yourself . For example, if you’ve never performed in public before, you can there and people won’t judge you .

20 Muscatine Magazine • Spring 2023

In fact, they will applaud you just for trying You might find out you’re a great singer or storyteller But you might also think differently about the world just from the people there and how you interact with them .  There is so much I learned in my time on “the ice . ”

I also learned quite a lot in Muscatine while helping out my parents . I didn’t want to move here or spend time helping out aging parents and have no traveling time After I adjusted to a totally different lifestyle (buying a house, owning a car, getting a “normal” job), I really started enjoying the town and the friends I made and the different jobs I had And contrary to what I believed about not traveling, I

still managed some excellent trips The biggest lesson I learned in those seven years was what an honor it was to be able to take care of my parents . I loved getting to know them in a different way Adult to adult and not just on a weekend visit . I love to travel, but helping them out was a great joy and honor and I learned that I can adapt to about anything if I need to

This I learned from traveling, best told by a quote from Mark Twain:

Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness

Travel takes me out of my comfort zone and inspires me to taste and try new things n

Be persistent, adaptable, and stay positive!

Hi! My name is Steve Hammann . I have worked part-time at the Muscatine Art Center since 2019 It’s a great place to work and has a very talented and dedicated staff

My main duties include hanging artwork for new exhibits, routine maintenance on our facilities and HVAC systems, and helping visitors and other staff when needed .

The Muscatine Art Center is a great asset for the city of Muscatine We are lucky to

have such a historic and cultural facility for our residents and visitors Two of my favorite parts of the job are meeting visitors from near and far, and seeing new artwork and exhibits as they are being prepared for showings

In my spare time, I like to do long distance trail running . I started long distance running in my mid 40’s and have completed 183 races . Of those races, I have finished 51 road marathons (flatter, faster, runners have

greater control of the race factors) and 132 ‘ultra’ trail races (trail terrain, greater distance) ranging from 50k (31 miles) to 100 miles . During a typical year, I run one road marathon and twelve ‘ultra’ trail races I look for challenging races with hills, rocks, roots, mud, snow, and water crossings

My first long distance race was the Quad Cities Marathon in 1998 I thought I would run one marathon, then that would be it Three weeks later I ran the Chicago Marathon . Then 2 weeks later, I ran the Des Moines Marathon and just kept running more races In the early years, I ran mostly road marathons . Then I started running ultra-distance trail races and really enjoyed the challenge . Now I run mostly ‘ultra-distance’ trail races

My first 100-mile trail race was not planned I signed up for and ran the 50-mile event, and at the finish, I felt surprisingly good A friend was running the 100-mile event, so I offered to keep her company and run the next 10 miles in the dark with her Now at 60 miles, I still felt pretty good, so I ran 10 more

Muscatine Magazine • Spring 2023 21

miles with her . Together, we ran through two lightning storms with heavy rain and wind that night Big tree limbs were crashing around us and the trails looked like mud streams They had ropes to help us get up one of the long, steep hills At mile 70, near daybreak, we saw the race director . He said if I wanted to continue on and complete the 100 mile distance, he would give me a 100mile award He strongly encouraged me to go for it I was tired by then, with no sleep and 70 miles on my legs, but with only 30 miles to go, how could I pass up such an offer and challenge . The final 30 miles went well, but were definitely

challenging . The race director congratulated me at the finish line for completing my unplanned distance I’m so glad he encouraged me to go for it and run farther than I had ever run before

Currently, I don’t plan too far in advance for races I usually sign up at the last

minute for races that I think will be challenging and fun One exception is the Quad Cities Marathon . It was my first marathon, and I have run it every year since Last year was its 25th year anniversary .


Be persistent Don’t give up if you’re tired, fatigued, cold, hot, wet, muddy, hungry, etc If you think you cannot take another step or go up another hill, guess what - you can . That is how you get to the finish line when others quit

I finished a race just before the pandemic that over 75% of the runners dropped out of because of difficult trail and weather conditions No matter how tempting it would have been to quit…I was persistent!

Be prepared . I ran a 50-mile race on a date the weather forecast was 0%

chance of rain I decided to travel light and left my rain gear at home We received four inches of rain during the race I was not prepared, but I was persistent

Be adaptable . Weather and trail conditions can change drastically when running all day, or into the night You might need to speed up or slow down You might need different shoes or clothing . You might need to adjust your calorie and fluid intake Being able to adapt will help you get to the finish line .

The most important lesson learned from running . . . Stay positive and have fun When you hit a rough spot, it doesn’t always get worse . If you can hang in there through the rough spots and stay positive, be persistent, be prepared, be adaptable and have fun, it will get better and you will get to the finish line n

22 Muscatine Magazine • Spring 2023

The Muscatine Art Center is located at 1314 Mulberry Avenue in Muscatine, Iowa. Details about programs and exhibitions are posted on Hours are Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Thursday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.; and Saturday and Sunday from 1 to 5 p.m. Admission is free of charge.

June 1 – September 10, 2023

Birds in Art

Organized by the Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum

Birds in Art, an exhibition organized by the Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum, is traveling to the Muscatine Art Center for the first time . Since 1976, Birds in Art

Special Events

has showcased the remarkable talents of more than 1,000 international artists, who presented their best work interpreting birds and related subject matter Birds in Art is recognized globally as the exhibition setting the standard for avian art

This traveling exhibition features 50 entries from the 47th annual Birds in Art exhibition The full exhibition of work by

and the Muscatine Civic Chorale from 2:15 to 2:45 p .m ., play some games with the family, explore the exhibitions, join the family bike ride to the event, and purchase some ice cream and pie to support Friends of the Muscatine Art Center . Sponsored by Kent Corporation Admission is free of charge

118 artists was presented at the Woodson Art Museum in Wausau, Wisconsin from September through November 2022 Three notable jurors evaluated nearly 1,000 images from 570 artists from around the world . Bronze, acrylics, oils, watercolor, linocut, stone, and other mediums are represented in the traveling exhibition n

Friends Annual Ice Cream Social

Sunday, June 25, 1:00 - 4:00 p.m. Summer would not be the same without the Annual Ice Cream Social! Enjoy live music by Crusin’ from 1:15 to 3:45 p m


The Muscatine Art Center offers an array of classes and programs The current schedule is at muscatineartcenter .org Popular classes include Mini Masters for

young learners on Wednesday mornings and Thursday afternoons, Workshops for Kids and Teens on select Saturday afternoons, and Adult Studio on select Thursday evenings and Sunday afternoons Classes for students are often free of charge . Studio classes for adults are typically $15 or less and include supplies n

Muscatine Magazine • Spring 2023 23
Swallow Clementines, Rebecca Korth Am I Real, Millie Whipplesmith Plank Super Hero, John Miller



T U E S D A Y , J U L Y 4 A L L D A Y

Jo i n u s f o r ou r f un -f ill e d 4 t h o f Ju l y co mm un i t y ce l eb r a t i on ! Th e da y i nc l ude s a k i d s d r es s u p pa r ad e t o t h e li b r a r y , co mm un i t y pa r ade , A l m os t F i r e w o r k s Fes t , pe rf o r m anc e b y t h e M usca t i n e Sy m phon y O r ches tr a an d end s w i t h t h e f i r e w o r k s sho w !


Kick off the holiday shopping season at our Holiday Open House in Downtown Muscatine! Enjoy in-store specials, refreshments and entertainment!

10AM - 3PM

The Pearl City Vintage market features a variety of vendors along the riverfront! Enjoy food trucks, beverage tent, live music, kids activities & more!

24 Muscatine Magazine • Spring 2023

PR%F Social

Skinny's Barbeque

Kwik Star

Precision Machine Inc.

Community Health Care, Inc.

Pure & Simple Systems, LLC

Bridgeside Links

Shield Design

Mississippi Valley Work Force

Development Board

Letters from Elliott

RMH Systems - Adam Arnett

Urban Farmhouse

Arnold Motor Supply

SERVPRO of The Quad Cities & Burlington

Red&Lee Vintage

Muscatine Family Restaurant

Stanley Center for Peace and Security

Putnam Museum and Science Center

The Method Muscatine

Waffle & Pancake House

Real Estate Resource Associates

Big Cat's Cafe Headquarters

It Takes A Village Animal Rescue & Resources

Cedar River Ranch

Norfolk Iron & Metal

Central Endeavors

Muscatine Newcomers and Friends Club

Howard Forest & Prairie

Trucks Unlimited

Junior Achievement

Everlasting Impressions

Kendrick Forest Products, Muscatine Division

Paul Carroll

Sun West Mortgage Company, Inc.

The Coffee Belt

Scooter's Coffee

Clark's Muffler & Service

Restore Painting

St. Ambrose University

4th Street Clothing Co

DRJ Fire and Safety

Friends of the Fairport Fish Hatchery

Be Your Best You Health and Wellness

Star Collectibles Hobby Center

Koch Office Group

Sarah Siler Photography

Point Above, LLC

Good Karma Jewelry and Bead Studio

Petal and Leaf Floral Design

Kraft Heinz Company

Wendi Ingram - Ruhl & Ruhl Realtors

REM Iowa Community Services

TK Construction

Pearl City Popcorn

ProSkin Aesthetics

Shaw Electric

Persnickety Boutique

... and growing!


Burns & Sons Direct Appliance

Cryo Wellness of Muscatine

The Merrill Soap Company

Dittmer Tree Service

Ritchie Sound & Lights

Mattress By Appointment Muscatine

Quad Cities Regional Business Journal

Ascent Pro Support

The Diversity Service Center of Iowa

West Hill Cakery

The Henley Group

Iowa Center for Economic Success

NextGen Motors of Muscatine



Transitions Counseling, Life Coaching, and Consulting

Remis Arcane Exchange

Meows and Barks Pet Supply LLC


ZWB General Construction

Habitat for Humanity Muscatine County

Women Lead Change

Knee- High Distilling Co.

Speed Clean Car Wash

Saints Mary and Mathias Catholic School

Mairet Farms

Colorado Senior Lofts

Jersey Mike's Hopkins Visuals


Best Western Pearl City Inn

Create! DIY Craft Studio

Love's Travel Stops

Visit our website for the full list of over 350 Chamber members at To learn more about how the Chamber can serve your business, contact Hannah Howard: | 563-263-8895
Muscatine Magazine • Spring 2023 25
26 Muscatine Magazine • Spring 2023 America Needs Steel We need YOU $80,000 Avg. 1st Year Earnings A HISTORY OF RELIABILITY. LIGHTING THE PATH TO THE FUTURE. Learn more at

At Your Library At Your Library

Kids’ Events

Summer reading:

‘Find Your Voice,’ starts June 5

The 2023 children’s summer reading program, “Find Your Voice,” kicks off on June 5 and ends July 28 Signups begin on May 30 through our Beanstack software, which will become available through our website at that You can also ask a librarian to get you signed up . Watch for event listings in the Muscatine Community Schools’ Virtual Backpack and on Musser Public Library’s social media pages

The summer reading program is coordinated by a partnership of Musser Public Library and Muscatine Parks and Recreation The dual effort of the program is to keep kids reading and active outdoors during the summer

Adult programs

Database classes, computer question drop-ins and hobby exploration

If you have basic questions about computers, you want to learn more about specific databases or you have an interest in exploring new hobbies, the library is here to help!

One Tuesday of the month from 4-5 p m ,

librarians at Musser Public Library will give an overview of how to use a different database Sessions are in Room 301, and no registration is required Watch our library calendar at events/ to see the current month’s class date and topic

On the fourth Friday of each month, you can stop in and talk to Molly about your computer questions . “No Stupid Questions” sessions are drop-in hours between 2-4 p m in Room 301 . If our librarians don't know the answer, they will help you find it!

Watch our website calendar, Facebook and Instagram for information on the latest monthly hobby session So far, topics have included birdwatching and family foraging

Musser TV/Channel 5

Scan the QR code for skycam view! Would you like to peek at the view through Musser Public Library’s sky camera? Scan this QR code with your smartphone, and it will give you access to lofty views of Muscatine’s downtown and the Mississippi River!

‘MPM’ new episodes air Thursdays


Thursdays are movie nights with “Cinema Shark” Dan Chapman! New episodes of “Musser Public Movies,” which include a public domain movie and commentary, air every Thursday at 7 p .m .

Your Purpose, Protected.

Auto Home Business Life
Call Brad Hodapp to Discover Custom Solutions Scan the QR code above for skycam view! Would you like to peek at the view through Musser Public Library’s sky camera? Scan this QR code with your smartphone, and it will give you access to lofty views of Muscatine’s downtown and the Mississippi River!
28 Muscatine Magazine • Spring 2023
Muscatine Magazine • Spring 2023 29 315 Parham St., Muscatine 563-263-7577 114 W. 4th St., Wilton 563-316-2007 619 5th St., Durant 563-231-5300
Lukkarinen, O.D.;
Come check out our newly remodeled office! y y 222 West 2nd Street, Muscatine, Iowa 52761 563-263-0433 BICYCLES • ACCESSORIES • SERVICE 1106 Grandview Ave . Muscatine 563.263.4043 BEHAVIORAL HEALTH FAMILY MEDICINE GENERAL DENTISTRY C H C M U S C A T I N E C L I N I C S A c c e p t i n g N e w P a t i e n t s A c c e p t i n g N e w P a t i e n t s CHC Medical Clinic CHC Medical Clinic 2925 Cedar, Suite 2, Muscatine 2925 Cedar, Suite 2, Muscatine CHC Dental Clinic CHC Dental Clinic 312 Iowa Ave, Muscatine 312 Iowa Ave, Muscatine GMCCI 100 W 2 N D S TREET
From left: Anna Prier, O.D.; Mark Hansen, O.D.; Chris Carter,
Morgan Thorson, O.D.; Peter Korpi, O.D.; Janell Kassel, O.D.
Chances are, you’ve seen us around the house, or around the yard. In the store, or even out in the field. In fact, families and farmers have turned to Bayer for six generations and counting. Because for over 150 years, we’ve been right by your side. Advancing the health of the people, plants and pets you love. Thank you for trusting us, then and now. 2500 Wiggins Road, Muscatine, IA 52761 For more information or request a tour of the Muscatine site call 563-262-7533 or email @BayerUS bayerus *******ECRWSSEDDM**** PRST STD US Postage PAID MSU ECRWSS Postal Customer PRST STD US Postage PAID TRU ART ECRWSS
deep Our roots
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