Effort, dedication and family come naturally to Elisha Iager of Woodbine, MD, and have been a part of her life since very early in her adolescence.
Young Elisha took her riding lessons from her mom and grandfather. They served her well locally in both the Southern Maryland and the Maryland Quarter Horse Association Youth classes. She still credits her mother and her grandfather for her understanding of horses and riding which have played such a large part in her current life.
When it was time to put aside the horses to move on to college, Elisha had plans to take local credits at Carroll County Community College and then move on to Towson State. She worked at the YMCA, went to college to get her degree in education. She then began working at Robert Moton Elementary School.
It was at Robert Moton that Elisha’s true nature began to show itself. When she realized that many of the little children were arriving unprepared for the relative rigors of kindergarten, Elisha took steps to create a pre-K program for them. She had to apply for an exception from the county to allow her to create this class, because Elisha was only 18 years old at the time.
Then, Cupid took a hand in Elisha’s life. She met a farmer named Mark Iager. Mark and Elisha decided that they wanted a family, a farm and a life together. Three children arrived in the next three years in rapid succession.
Now Mark Iager is a full-time farmer who is milking some 165 cows from a total of around 300 head and crop farming about 1,000 acres. The kids are 15, 14 and 12, and Elisha is doing exactly what you might expect from a woman who is a full time mother to three kids. She is making breakfasts, packing lunches and making sure that the family is all together around the big table in her kitchen at dinner, which is her favorite meal of the day.
The day I spoke with her she said, “Okay, it was 9 o’clock last night and we were at a local restaurant by the time that we ate, but we all ate together at the same table! It wasn’t ideal, but it was the way that it worked out and we were together so that was what counted.”
Around the edges, Elisha Iager is running a three day mule show which she initiated in memory of her brother, Jered Harrison, who died in a farming accident at 26 years old. Her family’s dear friend, Gene Harrison, is the man who is credited with bringing mules into the mainstream in this part of Maryland. Elisha also runs a mule pull at Howard County Fair, has initiated and manages a wildly successful charity Christmas Horse and Mule Parade, holds the position of National Registrar in the North American Saddle Mule Association and is a 4-H leader of a riding club after serving a 17-year apprenticeship as a volunteer. Her three kids are showing their mules and their dairy cattle nationally and all are active in the newly minted Maryland National High School Rodeo Association.
Just to round out the picture, Elisha has recently started a Cowboy Church group which meets at her farm once a month under the aegis of Cowboy Church minister, Joel Nupp.
Then there is the planning for the huge Lisbon Christmas Horse and Mule Parade which requires the scheduling of some 500 entries. This parade made more than $8,000 dollars last year, of which 20 percent is donated to the Lisbon Fire Department and the remaining 80 percent is split between the Carroll County and Howard County Food Banks.
At the core of all of this Elisha and Mark Iager maintain a family that is directing their growth into their own dreams of making a difference.
“Right now,” Elisha says, “I have Madison who wants to work with kids, possibly kids with physical problems, with horses to help to improve their health. I have Miranda who has her eyes set on veterinary work and my son, Harrison, says that he want to be a mechanic who works on the big farm machinery. But they all want to do it right around here in Woodbine, MD and that suits Mark and me just fine!”
Asked what her own gratification is in all of this, Elisha says, “My fulfillment comes from seeing my children succeeding-seeing them become the adults who will make a difference in this world.”
And it seems that if those kids take after their mom, they certainly will.