Jahna Badger in a floral shirt standing in front of a white wall.
People on the Plains by Erin Malcolm

Hard work and service a way of life

Jahna Badger always kept herself busy with several jobs from the time she was old enough to work as a child, simply because she wanted to work. Her first memory of a job was getting up at 6 a.m., along with her sister, to pick strawberries in nearby fields for several hours. The girls would then help with housekeeping tasks at the motel their parents owned.

“I always worked. It wasn’t that I needed to, I just always liked working,” Badger said.

Badger was born in Watsonville, California, and grew up around Salinas, California.

Her childhood wasn’t all work. For fun, she loved riding horses — an activity that fueled a lifelong passion for animals. She shared a horse with her sister and the two enjoyed riding together in the country.

After graduating from high school in 1962, 18-year-old Badger went straight to work for Lockheed Martin in Sunnyvale, California. There, she worked in many different roles that she learned on the job, from using a keyboard machine to secretary and eventually to a mission controller flying satellites.

In 1969, Badger had a baby and took a brief break from her regular job to focus on a new job: raising her son.

She eventually went back to Lockheed Martin and spent decades working there.     

When Lockheed Martin moved satellite operations to Schriever Air Force Base, Badger moved to Falcon along with her then husband, who also worked for the company, and her mother. It was at that time, in June 2000, at age 57, that Badger retired.

Throughout her early retirement, Badger took care of her mother until her mom went to an assisted living facility.

With more free time, Badger began volunteering at High Plains Helping Hands, now known as Fresh Start Center, an organization that helps fight local hunger and poverty through food distribution, employment programs, nursing support, sustainable gardening education and more.     

“I didn’t have a lot of time for things when I had my mom with me. After she passed away (in 2008), I just took a turkey over there (Fresh Start Center) for Thanksgiving and talked to them. I started volunteering there and have been ever since,” Badger said.     

She was the treasurer for four years and is now the receptionist. This November will mark 15 years of Badger’s service with the organization.

She is also heavily involved in Falcon Senior Services, a group that helps connect local seniors. After joining the group around 2010, she became the chairwoman in 2017.

Grace Community Church is on her list of long-time volunteer spots, too. She has spent years preparing for Sunday services, counting the offerings and more. Now, her main role of service is through the Caring Hearts group that ensures every member of the congregation has a reliable support system to lean on during tough times.

At almost 80 years old, Badger continues to stay busy and help wherever she can. When Badger isn’t volunteering for the organizations, she can often be found lending a helping hand to friends. She has been known to act as a personal chauffeur for friends in need of transportation to doctor appointments or church and also a pet-sitter for folks who need an animal lover to watch over their furry friends.

“I’m a people person. I just love people and love helping people,” Badger said. “I feel blessed and want to continue doing what I can.”     

Caption for submitted photo: Jahna Badger has been volunteering in Falcon for 15 years.

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