With an impressive string of female firsts, MaryJane Butters has always been a pioneer. After graduating from high school in 1971, she was the first woman to attend the Skills Center North Trade School in Ogden, Utah, in carpentry. With a certificate of proficiency in hand, she was hired to build houses at the nearby Hill Air Force Base—the only woman on the crew. From there, she spent her summers watching for fires from a mountaintop lookout in northern Idaho; worked in the Uinta Mountains as one of the first women wilderness rangers in the United States; and in 1976, became the first female station guard at the Moose Creek Ranger Station, the most remote Forest Service district in the continental U.S., in the heart of Idaho’s Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness Area. She also built fences in the Tetons of Wyoming, herded cows on the Snake River below Hells Canyon, and raised an organic market garden in White Bird, Idaho.
After moving to her Moscow, Idaho, farm in 1986, she founded a regional environmental group still thriving today (PCEI.org). After four years, she resigned as its director to develop new products for locally grown organic beans that would provide a secure market for farmers transitioning to sustainable production. Along the way, she married her neighbor, Nick Ogle, whose farm borders hers on two sides. Since then, her unique agricultural enterprise has been featured in nearly every major magazine in the country, and in 2008, she was awarded the prestigious Cecil D. Andrus Leadership Award for Sustainability and Conservation. She also sponsors an organic farm apprentice program called Pay Dirt Farm School. In 2004 she opened the first wall tent B&B in the U.S., and her idea for glamping was born. Her “everyday organic” lifestyle magazine she launched in 2001, MaryJanesFarm, is available nationwide and she is the author of four books, with two more in the making. She designs her own line of bedding and home décor sold in 800 department stores, as well as fabric collections.
From her farm, she sells 60 different organic prepared foods and shares the message of simple organic living with readers of her magazine and websites (MaryJanesFarm.org and RaisingJane.org). In addition, she is the creator of Project F.A.R.M. (First-class American Rural Made), an organization that employs rural women who sew totes, quilts, dolls, and more. She is also the owner of the historic Barron Flour Mill in Oakesdale, Washington, and owns two retail stores, one in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, and one in her hometown of Moscow, Idaho. “Nanny” to half a dozen grandchildren, MaryJane likes to brag that “going granny” has been her most important accomplishment to date. Two of her grown children and their spouses are employed full-time at