This August, Joan Oja and Robert Wagner were named Outstanding Senior Citizens of Itasca County. Outstanding seniors are judged on leadership, diversity of accomplishments, variety of volunteer services performed, quantity of accomplishments and quality of activities. Only volunteer services performed after the age of 65 are considered by the judges. The two Itasca County winners were submitted to the Minnesota state competition for 2011 Outstanding Senior Citizen. This competition is a joint effort of the Minnesota State Fair, the Minnesota State Fair Foundation and the Minnesota Federation of County Fairs. These three groups form a committee and review submissions from all the Minnesota counties. Two runners-up and two winners, one male and one female, are selected to represent Outstanding Senior Citizens for the entire State of Minnesota.
This year Itasca County's own Joan Oja won 2011 Outstanding Senior Citizen Award at the Minnesota State Fair, along with Ronald Erickson of Ramsey County. Thursday, Sept. 1, was Senior Day at the Minnesota State Fair, and the day that the Outstanding Senior Citizens are recognized on a statewide level. There were 84 outstanding seniors, representing 51 counties, present that day at the fair and recognized for their service. Leah McLean and Bill Lunn, television news anchors from KSTP-TV Channel 5 News in Minneapolis, presented Joan and male co-winner, Ronald Erickson, with their awards. The winners were then treated to lunch and rode in the Minnesota State Fair parade.
00020000061D00000605�617, At 78 years young, Joan has served as an RSVP volunteer for over 12 years, and has logged over 3,700 hours as an RSVP volunteer, which doesn't include all of her many volunteer activities. Her volunteer activities include volunteering for 12 years at the Grand Village Nursing Home where she works in the activity room, helps to serve meals and worship services. She has been the Treasurer of the Swan Lake Senior Citizen Group for approximately eight years. Joan has been trained as a Bone Builder "leader", where she leads the Pengilly area Bone Builders exercise group. She is also in charge of keeping the records in order for all the participants in the program. Since April of 2010, she has served as a volunteer at Essentia Health Itasca Hospice, where she serves as a visitor and support person for those who are terminally ill. Joan has been involved with the reading program at the Marble Elementary School and the Connor Jasper Middle School, where she read to fourth graders and middle school students. She participated in those reading programs for approximately five years. She drove for Meals on Wheels for two years distributing meals to homebound seniors in Pengilly and the surrounding area. Joan has volunteered at the Knights of Columbus and the VFW Pengilly serving meals and participating in other events for those organizations. In addition to all of these activities, Joan helps out her family and others in need on a regular basis.