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First female warden says the job is her “dream” come true

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FORT MADISON, Iowa - Looking back, it's a job Patti Wachtendorf has wanted for a long time.

"I wanted to work in a prison I wanted to be a warden," said Warden Patti Wachtendorf, Iowa State Penitentiary.

She's in charge of around 700 offenders at the maximum security prison.

"I know that's hard for some people to understand, it's a dream to be a security warden but it really is, so I'm excited to be back home," said Wachtendorf.

The Iowa State Penitentiary has been around for 178 years and she's the first female warden.

"I'm just lucky enough to be the first one so I'm excited, I'm honored actually," said Wachtendorf.

It was a movie about prisons that sparked her interest back in Junior High.

"Really, at that time it was a different period in prison history and there was some stuff going on that shouldn't be going on, so I was gonna go in and change the world," said Wachtendorf.

She even got the chance to visit three prisons back in High School.

"Instead of going to prom, I researched riots," said Wachtendorf.

Her hard work throughout the years has paid off and she's landed back home.

"It's funny because some of the old timers remember me and say, you said you'd be back here as a warden and here you are," said Wachtendorf.

The new job isn't going to be easy but she said it's all worth it when you can help someone grow.

"You get Christmas cards or thank you cards or phone calls (from) people that left." said Wachtendorf.

She's not entirely moved in yet but she's ready to take on the new journey.