MeeCee Baker and daughter Libby Baker-Mikesell fondly recall stories of Dorothy Baker, one of the first female members in FFA.
Having a female role model in her life was never something Dr. MeeCee Baker lacked. Baker’s mother, Dorothy, was one of the first female FFA members in the country before women were officially allowed into the organization.
“My mother eventually made a career as a teacher, but I never understood why it took her six years to graduate,” Baker says. “It turns out, she left her college program during the war to become a welder, a skill she learned in the shop classes of her agricultural education program. She was a truly remarkable woman.”
Remarkableness is a trait that has been passed down through the generations in the Baker family. Baker is now the CEO of her own company, Versant Strategies. She attributes much of her career success to her passion for agriculture.
“When it came time for me to select classes when I was in high school, I wasn’t allowed to join FFA, even though we were legally able,” Baker recalls. “I was so frustrated because I didn’t do well in home economics. I would burn broiled grapefruit and attach my fingers to pillowcases with the sewing machines. I was really jealous of the guys in the agricultural program.”
Baker powered her way through kitchen fires and needle pricks, and she eventually enrolled at Penn State where she graduated with a degree in agricultural education. In her first year at Greenwood High School in Millerstown, Pa., there were only 16 young men in the entire agricultural program. Today, the FFA chapter has grown to two full-time teachers and nearly 200 FFA members. Baker’s accomplishments didn’t stop there. She took after her trail-blazing mother and become the first female to serve as the president of the National Vocational Agricultural Teachers’ Association (NVATA), which is now the National Association of Agricultural Educators (NAAE).
That same year, Baker continued the family legacy and gave birth to her daughter, Libby Baker-Mikesell. Baker-Mikesell became one of the first women in her family to officially join the National FFA Organization, and she served as the 2016-17 Pennsylvania FFA state president.
“I have loved growing up with strong women in my life,” Baker-Mikesell says. “Many people don’t understand the importance of individuals in your life – how they lift you up and how they completely change your life. And none of that would be possible without the will and determination of the men and women who came before us.”