Jason Turner is home in Worthington for good
“I love health care because it really comes down to helping others.”
WORTHINGTON — It’s Jason Turner’s personal philosophy that makes him completely comfortable calling Worthington his permanent home since 1994.
“If you’re going to spend years of your life in a place, you might as well put time and energy into making it better, too,” said Turner, a pharmacist and committed community contributor.
“And relationships are huge; they’re what make life go, whether they’re ones we’ve maintained for decades or newer ones. Relationships are what give us fullness of life.”
Thoughtful, patient and always dedicated to getting it right, whether professionally or in one of his numerous volunteer roles, Turner focused on Worthington shortly after graduating from Storden-Jeffers High School in 1988.
“Dad (the late Dennis Turner) was from Round Lake and mom (Mary Turner) grew up around Okabena/Sioux Valley so I had some familiarity with the area,” Turner said. “I was kind of a shy kid whose courage emerged on athletic fields or basketball courts — that was my element.”
“Talking to people I didn’t know was really outside my box,” he added.
But as a pharmacist, Turner has spent nearly three decades talking to all kinds of people multiple times a day about their prescriptions, vaccinations and doctor’s recommendations. His desire to fulfill the most noble aspects of his profession has long since overcome any reluctance to interact.
“I love health care because it really comes down to helping others,” said Turner. “People don’t always know what’s best for them, health-wise, so if I can help them navigate the system, maybe explain why their doctor prescribed something and teach them how a medication will improve their condition, that’s what I like doing.”
Turner jokes that, in spending his initial post-secondary educational years at Minnesota West Community and Technical College in Worthington, he made a two-year college into a three-year one.
“I got several classes done before transferring to the University of Minnesota (where he completed his bachelor of science degree in pharmacy in 1994), and it allowed me to take things at a little slower pace than credit overloading,” Turner said.
He was a Bluejay basketball player for two years and a student coach the next year, while also working part-time at Sterling Pharmacy. Therefore, saying yes to a full-time job at Sterling in 1994 was an easy decision.
“I already had a comfort level there,” said Turner, who stayed at Sterling for 10 years before operating his own shop, GuidePoint Pharmacy, for 10 years. Nine years ago he returned to Sterling.
“My dad was a high school biology teacher and coach, and I liked the sciences,” explained Turner of his career choice. “But I didn’t feel drawn to teaching, so when another teacher said his sister-in-law was a new pharmacist, I thought, ‘What the heck, I’ll say I’ll be a pharmacist until something else happens,’ and I just kept plugging along.”
He credits the solid educational base and instructors at Minnesota West for laying the necessary groundwork to finish his degree at the U of M.
Influenced by his father’s teaching and coaching experiences as well as by his own conviction that education is a great equalizer, Turner ran for the ISD 518 school board when he was 28 and not yet a father, serving a four-year term from 1998-2002.
“There were some hot-button issues, and back then I was bothered when people were upset about decisions we were making,” Turner said. “But, over the years, I’ve realized that sometimes you have to step up and take tough stances on things that might not make everybody happy — but you do it because it’s the right thing to do.”
“I gained a real appreciation for all the inner workings of a school district; there’s so much long- term planning and budgeting, aside from the more visible things that happen in the classrooms and athletic fields, and it changed how I viewed public service,” he added.
Living to serve
Turner committed himself to community involvement, willingly pushing himself out of his comfort zone again and again when opportunities to serve arose.
To date, he’s been on the boards of King Turkey Day, International Festival, Windsurfing Regatta and Music Festival, Worthington Regional Economic Development Corporation, Sunset Hospice Cottage, Phileo’s (owned by Journey Church) and WAYBA.
He’s also been on several District 518 referendum committees and co-chaired the last two.
“Talk about facing a firestorm head-on,” he laughed. “Our schools were bursting at the seams, but the divisiveness was heartbreaking. We tried to keep the focus on the issue that needed to be addressed and, after sitting down at a table with some of the loudest ‘no’s’ and ‘yeses,’ in the hopes of quieting that negativism, we finally got it to go.
“The intermediate school is not elaborate by any means, but it’s very nice and I’m happy it’s relieved a lot of the pain for our local schools.”
Turner, who starts most of his always-busy days either on his elliptical or with a two-mile neighborhood walk, has also coached youth sports in support of his six children in the blended family he shares with wife Kylie — another local health professional and active community volunteer who currently serves on the Worthington Area YMCA board.
“I’m such a huge advocate for the many life lessons learned from sports involvement,” Turner said. “There are so many things to be gained from participation in athletics, or band, or the arts — I learned that from my dad.
“And from my mom, I learned the value of service and giving time to your community.”
Balancing work, family and faith is a challenge, but Turner’s daily devotions point him in the right direction.
“Today’s verse was Luke 22:27: ‘For who is greater, the one who is at the table or the one who serves? Is it not the one at the table? But I am among you as one who serves,’” Turner cited.
“The words of Jesus: exactly what I needed to hear.”