In the 1950s Garretson schools didn't offer kindergarten. Clarice Megard set out to change that.
In 1959 the 25-year-old farmwife and mother of two opened a private kindergarten and introduced local 5 and 6-year-olds to classroom instruction and social interaction.
"When I see a need, I don't wait for someone else to step up - I'm just wired that way," said Megard, who refers to kindergarten as a "pre-class for adulthood."
"There are so many social skills that are taught through interaction in kindergarten," said Megard. "I could see what children were accomplishing in communities that offered kindergarten and knew the children of Garretson were missing out."
Megard's private Kindergarten was such a success that after three years the Garretson public school district hired her to start and teach the first kindergarten class. She taught kindergarten at Garretson Public School for 17 years. "I loved teaching and looked forward to every day with great anticipation," she said. "Kindergarteners are so loving. They love school and think their teacher can do no wrong."
Beyond teaching, Megard has been actively involved in her community as a member of Highland Lutheran Church for 59 years; serving as a Sunday School and summer Bible School teacher, as a Luther League advisor and as a member of the Christian Women's organization. She was a member of the Minnehaha County Extension Club and was voted outstanding member; volunteered as a 4-H leader and is a 58-year member of the Minnehaha County Young Men & Women Club. She served as a State Chapter Parent for S.D. Future Homemakers of America in 1981, was a state and local President of the South Dakota Pork Industry Auxiliary and a member of the Shorthorn Cattle Auxiliary. Megard served 10 years on the Minnehaha County Planning & Zoning Commission; served 10 years on the Sioux Empire Farm Show Women's Committee; volunteered 20 years at Sanford Hospital and is currently an Active Generations volunteer.
In 1983 the Megard family was recognized as the Sioux Empire Farm Family of the Year and was the 1996 SDSU Alumni Family of the Year. Megard was twice named a finalist for the Farm and Ranch Woman of the Year award.
A native of Garretson, Megard met her husband Roger in high school. The couple married in 1954 and moved on to Roger's family farm. They have four children: Daniel Megard, Sean Potas, Lanae Anderson and Jill Powell.
About the time two of their daughters were pursuing degrees at South Dakota State University, Roger, cattle and hog seed stock producer, let Megard know that he could use her help on the farm. "I was considering going back to school myself and decided three in college was too much - so I said 'OK,'" said Megard, who became actively involved in the day-to-day farm duties.
This wasn't the first time the couple worked together. A few years earlier, they had started Megard Tours, a travel company that organized in-state and international tours for groups.
Megard Tours began when their couple's Extension Club nominated Megard and Roger to organize a bus tour to the Western Livestock Show in Denver. "We all decided weekend trips would be more fun if we could ride together."
They both enjoyed the experience and soon more tour requests came in; so they decided to turn their hobby into a side business. At its peak, Megard Tours organized about 10 trips a year. Just this year Megard Tours partnered with the Red Power Roundup international convention held in South Dakota and led a bus tour of 160 attendees to the Black Hills.
Through this business venture Megard has become well-traveled, touring several U.S. states, as well as Scandinavia. "Travel is something we both enjoy and we've made a lot of good friends through this business."
Long before Megard got into the tour business, the born hostess was organizing social gatherings in her own home. "Even when we were first married and didn't have much room, we enjoyed entertaining. I remember one time when we sent our couch to be recovered, we quick threw a party because we had enough space," she recalls. "I like to cook, bake and set a pretty table. I've always enjoyed being a hostess and making our guests feel special."
Today, Megard continues to help Roger on the farm, operate Megard Tours and volunteer in her church and community. "I guess I just like to see things get done and hope they are done right if I'm in charge."
By Lura Roti for SDSU Colleges of Agriculture & Biological Sciences and Education & Human Sciences