Many folks change careers over the years. Janet Dixon Schroeder had no idea of becoming a lawyer when she graduated from Marcus High School in 1980.
Schroeder was raised on a farm south of Marcus under the guiding eye of her parents Jake and Bernice Dixon. She furthered her education at the University of Northern Iowa to earn a bachelor degree in Chemistry.
Schroeder's first employment was at Madison, Wisc. for six months working in a lab. She switched companies and went to work for IBP in Dakota City, Neb. as a lab technician. Later she was promoted to lab supervisor at their Storm Lake plant.
"IBP needed to be sure they were in compliance with environmental regulations. One example was to be sure that their waste water was properly treated. I audited many of their facilities which required traveling across the country. I flew as well as drove," said Schroeder.
She worked six days a week. During this time she married her farmer husband, Jim Schroeder of Remsen. Schroeder was busy working while caring for the home.
In 1993, she went to work for Midwest Gas in Sioux City to supervise cleanup of some of their old plants. She returned to IBP where she continued to supervise environmental issues for the company to make sure they were in compliance with the law.
Schroeder commented, "I was constantly dealing with issues in which I had to be familiar with law and regulations to ensure IBP was friendly to the environment. Because of this, I became interested in earning a law degree. I decided to go to law school chosing the University of South Dakota as it was the closest. I tried to maintain my full work schedule but realized within a month that wouldn't work. At the same time, I had already been doing some part-time work for Well's Blue Bunny. I quit IBP and kept the Well's job."
It all made a busy schedule for Schroeder as by this time she was a mother of five children. Jim was busy running heir crop and livestock farm.
"I wouldn't have been able to do it without the full support of my husband and our parents. My folks did quite a bit of the baby-sitting while Jim's mother pitched in as well," said Schroeder.
Schroeder took eight to 11 semester credits a semester. She was the only flex-time students attending part-time. It took her two years to complete her first year of law school. She also had to do some research that first year which meant she spent Sundays up in the USD library. She spent many hours on the road and had little time for much else.
Schroeder was raised by practical parents who believed in children taking on age appropriate responsibilities. Schroeder trained her children with the same values. Each understood that to achieve a goal, it meant sacrifice to get there. Each have always had chores to do, the family pulled together to making it work, supporting the family unit.
Supper time has always been family time. Schroeder always did two loads of laundry a day and planned meals with the oldest lending their support. She studied in the couple's bedroom with the door closed after 8 p.m. but when the youngest tried the door handle, she would open it and take five minutes with her.
"Many times, it was just a case of wanting a little personal attention and reassurance Mom was there. They were good to let Mom study while they watched TV or played games," said Schroeder.
Schroeder completed her last two years in a year and a half. She quit her job and went after the required hours. After graduation, she went to Iowa City for an eight week review course to aid in passing the bar exam. During the weekends, she would drive home late Saturday afternoon and return the following day just so the family could see her.
Before being admitted to the bar, she worked as a paralegal in the law office of Knudson and Brady. She is now employed there and will spend a day in their Remsen office as well.
Schroeder's five children are: Amanda, age 16; Erin, age 15; April, age 11; Ben, age 7 and Johanna, age 5.
When asked how she maintained her sanity through it all, she replied, "It was through the support of my family and determination. I'm glad I pursued a law degree when I did before my children became heavily envolved with extra curricular activities. We now attend ball games several nights a week. I am looking forward to exposure to different types of law cases although environmental issues fascinate me."