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Meyer named Goodhue County's top child care provider

Donna Meyer poses with children outside her Goodhue day care. She received the Family Child Care Provider of the Year award from the Goodhue County Licensed Child Care Association. (Republican Eagle photo by Michael Brun)

GOODHUE — Introducing children to farm life is a big part of Donna Meyer’s day care. Its slogan: Learn, play and grow in the country.

“I love living in the country and I wanted to share that with kids,” Meyer said. “Because kids nowadays are really nature-deprived.”

The concept has been a hit with parents, who nominated Meyer for the Goodhue County Licensed Child Care Association’s Family Child Care Provider of the Year award. The association named her the winner at a meeting in February.

“To me it’s a nice recognition that I’m doing all right,” said Meyer about being chosen for the award.

She started the business in 2009 on a 160-acre family farm located off Highway 58 between Red Wing and Goodhue. The space provides opportunities for activities like watching hay baling and corn picking, feeding cows and planting a flower garden.

“We really try to get out and show what farming is all about,” said Meyer, adding that parents have been amazed by how much their children have learned during their time there.

She typically watches 10 to 12 children per day, ranging in age from 3 months to 6 years, Meyer said. Although it can be challenging, she said her background raising three children — including having twins when her oldest was 3 1/2 — has prepared her well.

“I learned to juggle at a young age,” she said. “There was no family on either side to help, so I had to learn how to function on my own.”

Lately Meyer is being assisted by her adult daughter, Allie Bartlette, who partnered with the business two years ago.

"I have been so blessed to have Donna as my mother all of these years,” Bartlette said. “I'm glad these kids get to share her, too."

The experience has been so positive that Bartlette plans to open her own day care in June.

“It’s nice to be able to have fun and also call it your job,” Bartlette said.

An Iowa native, Meyer moved to Minnesota in 1977. She worked as a nurse at St. Marys Hospital in Rochester before marrying Bruce Meyer in 1981.

“The kids call him Grandpa Bruce,” Meyer said — or sometimes Brewster after a character on the animated children’s series “Chuggington.”

She said the inspiration to start a day care came to her while working a retail job.

“It was just time to move on,” she said about the career decision. “One day at work I was thinking what I wanted to do with my life and I thought of kids.”

Meyer will be recognized for the award at a banquet May 3 in St. Paul, part of the Minnesota Licensed Child Care Association’s annual conference.

Michael Brun

Michael Brun joined RiverTown Multimedia at the Red Wing Republican Eagle in March 2013, covering county government, health and local events.  He is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-River Falls journalism program.

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