After 20 years in the corporate world with a background managing real estate properties and non-profit groups, M’Lou Hyttinen found an opportunity that resonated with her personal philosophies in life – the chance to run Plano’s Heritage Farmstead Museum.
Aimee Wilson, whose parents originally built the farm, took over the estate and ran the successful farm and livestock program in the mid-1900s when it was a male-dominated field. M’Lou figured Ms. Aimee had to have a lot of guts to succeed in life; when M’Lou was offered the position of executive director at the Heritage Farmstead Museum, she jumped at the chance to be like Aimee. She says she wants to “be brave, be bold and dream big.”
M’Lou has a monumental task in keeping an historic property running: cataloguing and adding to the historical collection; the daily care of farm animals and aspects of farm property; a blooming number of educational programs; events for both children and adults, and looking toward the future of the Farmstead.
She says she hopes to keep the Farmstead sustainable, because as anyone who’s ever worked with a non-profit knows, the constant battle is keeping funds rolling in. Greg Cook, a current Heritage Farmstead Board of Trustees member explains, “It takes a lot to sustain the Heritage Farmstead. From the Farmstead team to all the volunteers, M’Lou sincerely cares about the Farmstead’s continued success and is always appreciative of everyone’s contribution, no matter how large or small.”
It takes a great communicator and someone who cares to effectively convince others that what they are doing is important. According to Lesley Range-Stanton, past president of the Heritage Farmstead Museum Board of Directors, “M’Lou is an inspirational and dynamic leader who can easily convince others to love what she loves.” Lesley adds that M’Lou “is an expert at effortlessly developing great relationships, making her the kind of leader and consensus builder that the Farmstead needs.”
M’Lou hopes that by being a good steward for the farming families that settled here and preserving their stories, she will be remembered in Plano as someone who built the right team to help share their history and legacy. She comes after the innovative women in the Junior League of Collin County who were originally instrumental in saving the Farmstead from certain destruction, and she says she is inspired by “their renegade spirit.”
That same enthusiasm is why she chooses to incorporate a multitude of events, like the Adult Easter Egg Hunt or “Breaking the Law with Bonnie and Clyde,” that might seem unorthodox for a small museum, but are dedicated to making history fun. The tenacious spirit of the women who came before her are the sole reason she has big plans for the Farmstead. After all, you can’t succeed unless you dream big.