ROY -- Volunteering at the Elizabeth Stewart Treehouse Museum is a constant reminder to Iola Wagner that she hasn't aged one bit.
The 75-year-old Roy resident said the children have kept her youthful and energetic.
"If the kids all stay about the same age, that means I can't be getting any older myself," she said. "I love being with them and watching them when I read to them. I love watching their faces light up."
After 15 years, however, Wagner recently announced she will be hanging up her volunteer hat at the Treehouse. That doesn't mean she will leave altogether, though. Wagner said once you're there, you're a permanent part of the family, and she will continue to volunteer every once in awhile.
"We are going to miss her very much," said Gwen Skeen, Treehouse volunteer coordinator. "She is so cheerful and so ready to share stories, and she is just a delight to be around. We'll keep her involved. It just wouldn't be Treehouse without her."
Wagner has donated more than 5,000 hours of service to the museum over the years, said Treehouse Director Lynne Goodwin.
"We don't have charts long enough to record all Iola's time, but we know she has contributed so much to the quality of the programs at the museum," Goodwin said. "She is the kind of dream volunteer every organization wishes they could have. Reliable, versatile, generous and talented."
Wagner said she chose to volunteer at the Treehouse because of its uplifting atmosphere.
"It is a marvelous place where children can go and be children," Wagner said. "They have all the freedom a little child should have to explore their world, step into a story, pretend to be a firefighter, whatever they desire. There are very few rules at the Treehouse."
Wagner, born and raised in Ogden, earned a bachelor's degree in education from Weber College, a master's in behavioral disorders from Utah State University and a master's in educational psychology from Brigham Young University. She spent 31 years teaching in Weber School District.
"After I retired from teaching, I wanted to do something, so a friend got me involved as a rape victim advocate at YCC," she said. "Then I served as a domestic violence advocate for the Weber County Sheriff's Office. But I decided it was time for a change, so another friend suggested I look into the Treehouse. It was perfect."
Not only does Wagner read to the children, she conducts tours and has played parts during uncounted performances, including Mother Goose, Old Mother Hubbard, the regal Queen, Miss Marple, Jack's mother and a host of other storybook characters. She also makes up poems to recite to the children during their visits.
"First you use your walking feet, and then you won't run into folks you meet," she said. "I just make up little things like that for them to remember."
Wagner, who also volunteers at Ogden Regional Medical Center, said she plans to stay busy after scaling back at the Treehouse.
"I have to. Otherwise I might have to clean my house," she said. "I enjoy being involved. I love to meet people. I love to be with children. I love to talk on the phone. If you plan to call me and talk for five minutes, forget it. You need to plan on blocking out at least 45 minutes."
Wagner said if there's one thing she would like to stress to the public, it would be to get involved at the Treehouse.
"It serves such a vital, beautiful need," she said. "The energy there is so high. Everyone is so happy. I really think I get more out of it than anyone."