Ms. Margaret E. Turner, affectionately referred to by many as ‘Betty,’ is a retired office manager for the state of Virginia’s Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. During her 34-year tenure with the department, Ms. Turner’s primary responsibilities included the management of office operations and inspection of export grain quality for certification purposes. As the first female licensed grain inspector in the United States, Ms. Turner was a pioneer in the agricultural industry. One of the most challenging points in her career occurred during the 1970s when a massive fraud scandal caused the federal government to audit all exporting businesses and request documents to verify honorable accounting practices. Ms. Turner worked in conjunction with undercover agents to produce documents from the general accounting office, which maintained her department’s integrity and reputation. Following her retirement, Ms. Turner continued to work part-time with the department, assisting with advancements in grain packaging with containers and training new employees on inspection techniques.
With her background in secretarial and administrative work, Ms. Turner was dedicated to accuracy and efficiency, as can be seen in her motto “check and recheck.” Her accounting knowledge and patience for a demanding job in a male-dominated industry distinguish Ms. Turner as a true pioneer and inspiration to those who wish to enter her field.
Currently, Ms. Turner dedicates her time to various community service efforts, particularly a local battered women and children’s homeless shelter through the Norview Ladies’ Alumni Association. Though she recently underwent chemotherapy treatments, Ms. Turner is a survivor determined not to let cancer defeat her. She previously served as a committee chairwoman for the Business and Professional Women’s Foundation and is a charter member of the Pilot Club of Chesapeake.
Conversation with Margaret E. Turner
Worldwide Publishing: What would you like to promote most about yourself or your business?
Margaret E. Turner: I was part of the certifying process for my department, helped in the general accounting office and helped the undercover team with investigations into the grain scandal that took place in the 1970s.
What is the most rewarding aspect of your career?
Successfully handling people and doing my job well.
What is your greatest professional accomplishment to date?
Becoming the first female professionally-licensed grain inspector in the United States.
What goals are you looking forward to accomplishing in the future?
Recovering from cancer, trying to remain healthy and helping in the community.
And what specific steps have you taken toward achieving these goals?
Volunteering, taking tap-dancing classes and exercising regularly.
What topic(s) do you consider yourself to be an expert on?
The grading of corn and general accounting.
How do you remain current in your profession?
Reading Grit Magazine and Consumer Reports.
What makes you a valuable resource in your industry?
My integrity and the fact that I was thorough and made very few errors. My motto is ‘Check and recheck.’
What is the most significant issue facing your profession today?
Merchandising and the export of sales to Europe are probably the biggest issues.
What advice can you offer fellow members who work in your industry?
Have lots of patience to deal with the extreme demands of the job.
Who have been your mentors or people who have greatly influenced you?
Mr. Charles Molin, who was the first boss to hire me and taught me everything, got me interested in being an inspector and had a lot of faith in me.