Scott Douglas Ourth was born in Columbia, Missouri on February 7, 1959 to Lynn and Ellen Ourth. He attended Hixson Junior High and Hixson High School in Chattanooga, Tennessee. During his senior year, he was elected “Most Popular” by his peers and graduated Vice President of his senior class. Scott’s sister, Stephanie, also graduated from Hixson High School in 1977. His sister, Susan, later attended Hixson High, as did his nieces and nephew a generation later. Since his graduation from high school, Scott has remained active in organizing regular class reunions and raising money for class projects.
Scott spent his childhood summers with his grandparents on their Mississippi River farm, and returned to his ancestral roots on the Iowa prairie as a freshman at Graceland University in Lamoni, Iowa. He took summer classes at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, where his father taught for 46 years. He framed houses and worked as a lifeguard to pay his way through school, graduating in 1981. After college Scott worked on the production line in an automotive manufacturing plant while taking graduate courses at Central Michigan University.
In 1986, Ourth moved to Washington, DC, where he worked for several years as a congressional press secretary and policy analyst. In 2004, Ourth was appointed Assistant Secretary of State for Operations for the State of Iowa. During his three year tenure, Assistant Secretary Ourth was charged with administering the Help America Vote Act (HAVA), a law requiring that each federal polling place was made accessible to persons living with disabilities. During this time, Ourth partnered with county officials throughout Iowa, making certain all 1,788 federal polling places were accessible to persons with disabilities.
A long-time advocate for persons with disabilities, Scott has worked to expand and improve supports and services for persons living with all forms of disability, including physical disabilities, intellectual disabilities, and mental illness. During his tenure as Assistant Secretary of State, Ourth served as Vice-Chair of the Disability Rights Iowa board of directors. Disability Rights Iowa is the only congressionally-mandated disability rights advocacy agency in Iowa. Each of the 50 states has an agency practicing under the federal mandate to enforce the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and to promote equal access for persons living with disabilities.
Following his service as Assistant Secretary of State, Scott served as Warren County public affairs director, writing over $1 million in successful grants. His work has resulted in community improvements such as major geothermal retrofits, the installation of renewable energy projects such as wind turbines that now power government buildings, and the underwriting of main street redevelopment projects that have modernized and repurposed historic buildings throughout his community. Ourth also wrote community development grants that resulted in the construction of paved pedestrian walkways at the Warren County Fairgrounds. These accommodations opened the county fairgrounds to complete access for persons living with physical disabilities.
Scott is serving his third term in the Iowa House of Representatives. He sits on the Agriculture, Commerce, Natural Resources, and Transportation Committees. He also serves as the Ranking Member on the Agriculture and Natural Resource Budget Subcommittee. He was named by his peers to serve as vice chair of the House Democratic Rural Caucus and was named co-chair of the Iowa Legislative Sportsman Caucus. In 2012, Representative Ourth was appointed to the Statewide Fire and Police Retirement System Board of Trustees, and was subsequently appointed to the Mental Health and Disability Services Commission in 2015.
As a state representative, Ourth has authored and secured passage of bills protecting children from physical violence at school, providing expanded hunting and fishing opportunities for persons living in a wheelchair, preserved year-round public school opportunities for children in his community, and has expanded protections to several species of fish and wildlife, including the American eagle. Ourth is widely recognized for his work on wildlife habitat preservation and water, soil, and ecosystem conservation.
Representative Ourth has devoted the full measure of his time and energy towards social causes he finds important. He twice swam a 10-mile portion of Lake Huron to raise money and awareness for the American Cancer Society. In 2002, Scott completed a non-stop hike of the 2,200 mile Appalachian Trail. The six month trek was done to raise money and awareness for children living with intellectual disabilities. He has long been active in the civil rights movement, fighting against bigotry and discrimination, and has been a leading voice in the Iowa General Assembly for the rights of children, senior citizens, and America’s most vulnerable citizens.
Scott served eight years on the Graceland University Alumni Board of Directors. Scott also served on the Warren County Philanthropic Partnership Board of Directors, and is a past member of the Warren County Coalition Against Domestic Violence Board of Directors. He has received the American Cancer Society Distinguished Service Award and the American Heart Association Director’s Award. He has served on the Warren County Leadership Institute Board of Directors and is a member of the Indianola Noon Lion’s Club. Representative Ourth was named the Izaak Walton League of Iowa 2015 “Legislator of the Year.” He was also named the Raccoon River Watershed Association 2016 “Legislator of the Year” and the Warren County Soil and Water Conservation District 2016 “Friend of Conservation.” After the floods of 2008, Ourth was appointed to the Governor’s Rebuild Iowa Commission. He is the winner of the Appalachian Trail “2,000-Miler” award. Scott Ourth is listed in Who’s Who Among American University and College Students and Outstanding Young Men of America.
Scott Ourth lives in Ackworth, Iowa, with his wife, Dr. Heather Ourth. Their son, Logan, attends Graceland University in Lamoni, Iowa. Scott is an active member of the Community of Christ Church and is an accomplished outdoorsman. He enjoys reading history, studying the natural sciences, and extended canoe, hiking, and camping excursions.