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Grand Rapids in 1856

Scene of early Grand Rapids viewed from the...

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Sharon Steffens, Activist

by Cindy Laug

Sharon became the first state chairperson of the WSAM (Women for the Survival of Agriculture in Michigan). By 1974 she had been appointed the first National Coordinator of the newly formed AAW (American Agri-Women) , coalition of farm women’s organizations. Sharon held this position for three years as well as that of editor of Voice of the American Agri-Women. She had convinced farm wives that they could be of help to their husbands by keeping informed, staying united, writing letters, traveling to Lansing to meet with their legislators; things that the husband did not have time to do.

She was asked to serve on the government task force (Agriculture’s Role in Government Decision); was present on the White House lawn for the signing of the Farm Bill (1977); served on the Board of Directors for Farm Bureau; and was representative to the Agricultural Labor Commission under Milliken.

“Sharon was good at telling people the story of food and fiber production,” stated Mr. Zech, District Manager for Chevron Chemical’s Ortho division. “She is a master at conveying the message of the challenges farmers face to the legislatures.”

Sharon’s achievements were recognized by Chevron Chemical Co., in 1978, as Agricultural Spokesman of the Year, and by the Michigan Horticultural Society in 1988 with their Distinguished Service Award.

But Sharon didn’t stop with just agricultural issues. She served in Alpine township’s government for 24 years, 6 of those years as supervisor, and retired from politics in 2008. During her term in office she was appointed representative of the township to the Comstock Park Rotary Club. She served as Rotary president and is still an active member. She also served on the Kenowa Hills Public School Board of Education.

Sharon still resides on the family farm in Alpine Township.

Sharon Steffens with Pat Cohill, Joan Hill, and JoAnn Thome were known as the “fearsome foursome”.

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