Jennifer Cotner can be seen all over town, helping her community.
She might be waving from a bank float, collecting donations at the Garden of Lights, helping out at the Muskogee Noon Lions Club’s annual Pancake Breakfast.
Cotner’s involvement with the community could well have started with a Lions Club scholarship she earned when she was a student at Stigler High School.
She said she doesn’t even remember how much it was for. At Stigler High, Jennifer played the clarinet in the band and was active in the Technical Student Association.
“When I was a senior, I went to high school half the day and to college in the afternoon,” Cotner said.
She also worked part time for a local pharmacy. That got her interested in seeking a degree in pharmacy. After attending Connors State College, she pursued a degree at Southwestern Oklahoma State University, which has a pharmacy program.
She was there one semester before she got homesick for eastern Oklahoma and her family.
“I was very lonely,” she said.
She also had a boyfriend in Muskogee.
“He was my high school sweetheart,” she said. “We met at church camp. I was 14 and he was 16, and we’ve been together ever since.”
Cotner married her high school sweetheart, Matt Cotner, in 2002 and transferred to Northeastern State University.
Meet Jennifer Cotner
CAREER: Executive administrative assistant at Firstar Bank.
EDUCATION: Degree from Connors State College. Attended Southwestern Oklahoma State University; bachelor of science in health care administration, Northeastern State University, 2004.
FAMILY: Husband, Matt; son, Wyatt, 3; daughter, Jayden, 10 months.
CHURCH: Wagoner United Pentecostal Church.
HOBBIES: Reading, preparing for a 5K run.
Helping the Lions
Club help others
Shortly after starting at Firstar Bank, Jennifer Cotner got involved with the Muskogee Noon Lions Club.
She said she learned how the Lions help the community by offering scholarships, helping with the Ark of Faith and Kelly B. Todd Cerebral Palsy and Neuro-Muscular Center.
“They care about people. They do a lot with Parkview School,” she said, referring to the Oklahoma School for the Blind.
Students from the school help at the club’s annual pancake breakfast.
The breakfast is what keeps Cotner and other Lions busy in late winter.
“We probably start planning six months ahead,” she said. “We start talking about it several months in advance, decide where we’re going to have it. We start getting sponsors, calling for in-kind donations. We use Oklahoma-made products. We call around, go to suppliers, get tickets made, pick up supplies.”
The Lions spend the day before the breakfast setting up tables and chairs.
“We get out at 5 a.m. the day of the breakfast to get things ready,” she said. “Unfortunately I was not going to be there at 5 a.m. this year because of my kids. But in the past I was there.”
And everyone has a job to do at the breakfast, she said.
“I’ve given plates out, put peanut butter and jelly on the tables,” she said. “Last year I was pregnant, and I took tickets.”
She never cooked the pancakes, though.
“Usually, the men do the cooking,” she said. “Sometimes there is a celebrity cook who comes to flip the pancakes for us.”