Hometown: Richland, Mo.

Family: Husband, Gary

In Town: Charla Baker has been with the Laclede County Health Department for 27 years, serving as the administrator for the last 20 years. Before taking the helm at the department, she served as the assistant to the administrator.

“A health department doesn’t normally have a physician on staff,” Charla explained. “We try to keep people from getting illnesses through education and prevention. We do a lot of vaccinations and a lot of communicable disease work. If we do contract a disease or illness that is contagions, we do investigations to find out there that individual contracted that disease and try to top the spread of that illness. We also do educational programs and presentations to show people how to live a healthier lifestyle, as well as our Women, Infants and Children nutritional program, and our environment sanitation department that does inspections of food establishments and sewer inspections.”

In the Country: Charla grew up on her family’s Pulaski County, Mo., farm.

She and her husband Gary have a herd of about 40 Angus cows on their farm, which is near where she grew up. She and Gary also help her father, Louie Parker, with his farming operation.

“I got started with cattle as an FFA project,” Charla said. “My dad and my grandpa helped me get a heifer, and that’s how it started. Growing up, my parents raised hogs too, and I’ve had experience with goats, lambs and sheep. Now we just have the cattle and the chickens. I also worked for a dairy farm up the road. If you had told me that I would have chickens as an adult, I would have thought you were crazy because one of my chores was to feed and water the chicks and gather the eggs – and I hated it. I love them and love watching them. We have quite a brood of chickens.”

Charla and Gary have both spring and fall calf crops and one herd bull, and the family produces their own hay.

In addition to their farming operation, Charla, Gary and Louie have a growing number of antique tractors they restore and take to various parades and events.

“Dad was the first one to get an antique tractor, a 1936 B John Deere,” Charla said. “I fell in love with antique tractors then, and I saw a John Deere LA; I just fell in love with it. We found one and it went from there.”

In all, the family has five, including Charla’s “non-green” tractors, a Farmall and a Ford.

“Dad grew up with an Allis Chambler, so that’s probably next on the schedule,” Charla said. “We love John Deeres, but I honestly don’t care what color it is; I just love antique tractors.’


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