By Latawnya Dia, FSA Public Affairs Specialist
Clara Moore is more than just a secretary for the Farm Service Agency administrator. She is a mentor, tax consultant and undercover comedian who has given four decades of service to FSA.
Moore was hired at U.S. Department of Agriculture in 1972 as part of the stay-in-school program at Cardozo High School in Washington, D.C. “A big part of the program,” Moore explains, “was to have high school seniors work for the federal government.”
After graduation she began working for FSA, then known as the Farmers Home Administration, as a mail clerk. From that point, Moore served in five other positions in 40 years with all of them in the USDA South Building, with the exception of one year in the Yates Building.
In the past few decades, Moore says FSA has become home to her because she spends more time at work than she does at home with her family. She has formed long-lasting relationships with so many people who have come and gone. Many of them were great mentors to Moore and have become lifelong friends, like Keith Smalley a former supervisor and mentor.
“He encouraged me to join the Thrift Savings Plan before it was mandatory; he’s now my financial adviser and one of my best friends.”
Moore worked 14 years as a secretary for Carolyn Cooksie who at the time was the former deputy administrator for FSA Farm Loans Program. “I have always said, to be successful in any position, you have to show up every day and treat people the way you want to be treated, and Clara certainly does that,” said Cooksie.
Bill Cobb, deputy director for the Program Development and Economic Division, said Moore’s personality, dependability and humorous spirit is what draws people to her.
“I have really enjoyed working directly with Clara for a number of years,” said Cobb. “Her pleasant nature and sense of humor make coming to work more enjoyable, and she’s dedicated and committed to her job. I am fortunate to have had the opportunity to work with her, but more importantly to have her as a friend.”
Forging friendships is just one perk of having a life-long career in FSA. Moore’s most memorable moment while working at USDA was when she met President Barack Obama at a White House reception after having received a ticket from former FSA Administrator Bruce Nelson.
“Working in one agency for four decades may seem monotonous to some, but when you get opportunities go to events and meet prominent people you never imagined, it’s exciting,” she said.
A native of Orangeburg, S.C., Moore moved from her parents’ farm to D.C. when she was nine years old. “I was destined to be in agriculture,” she said. “My grandfather was a sharecropper and owned land, a farm and a few houses. I know what it’s like to pick cotton and other crops, she added, “but my 8-year-old grandson, Malachi doesn’t have a clue.”
In addition to her long-time loyalty to USDA, Moore is very active at New Mt. Olive Baptist Church mentoring youth and working with the ‘seasoned’ citizens helping them with household chores, taking them to appointments and various events such as local shopping trips and the Amish market in Maryland. “I love old people,” she said.
Coming from a small, close-knit family, she is most proud of her three grandchildren and spends many weekends with her grandson, Malachi. In her free time, Moore is a tax consultant. She also works with local neighbors checking in on elderly neighbors making sure they have heat, AC, food, medicine, and sometimes she unites them with their family.
“Once, there was an elderly lady who had one son who had passed away, and his three sons no longer visited their grandmother who was about 90 years old before she passed away. I found one of the grandsons and he brought his brothers to see their grandmother and they helped her in her final months before she died. I believe she died happy just knowing her grandsons were there for her when she needed it most.”
Forty years may seem like a long time, but Moore says, “When you’re working and raising a family, you’re so appreciative of having a job that time just flies by. She added that more people need to be mentors and offer help to young recruits, and young recruits need to be receptive of that advice given by older individuals.
“Young people are excited and have great goals and high expectations, but some don’t reach them because they have no career or life guidance,” said Moore. “If I could offer advice to new employees and young people, I’d tell them to capitalize on the wisdom and knowledge that seniors have because it will serve them well in the end.”
Do you know of an employee or colleague who is doing something extraordinary in their community or has a creative hobby or talent? Share it with Fence Post! We would like to highlight “the other side” of FSA employees to show off skills, talents and abilities outside of the FSA office. Send story ideas to Tanya.firstname.lastname@example.org.