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Impact Lessons Are Family Tradition

June 17, 2011

Canning Skills SharedMy grandmothers were among the first home demonstration club members in the state – eastern Fulton County (near the Sharp County line).  My maternal grandmother, Ada Andrews Hall, was so good at preserving food that she was asked to travel with Miss Ida Lambach, the home demonstration agent.  They traveled over the eastern half of the county (Frenchtown, Mammoth Springs, Camp, Saddle) where they met with the ladies during their home demonstration club meetings. 

My mother, who was a 12-year old member of 4-H, assisted them.  In addition to canning they made corn shuck mattresses, feather ticking pillows, woven rag rugs, quilts, furniture, and learned how to draft dress patterns!  I even benefitted from that art as I was 12 years old before I can remember having a “ready made” dress!  Mother could go to the finest children’s store, look at the dresses, go by the fabric center and then go home and make really beautiful garments…

My mother, Mildred Hall Collins, was active in 4-H and went to “state camp” in the armory on the U of A campus in Fayetteville. The kids slept on cots.  District meeting was in the delta (“bottoms”) and Mom talked about the suspension bridge over Black River they had to cross to get there as long as she lived.  It was an expected transition or right of passage for female 4-H members to join home demonstration and she was no exception.

Money in the late 1920’s and early 30’s was scarce in the Ozarks and although Mom’s dream was to be a home demonstration agent, she was fortunate to take secretarial training via the NYA program and go to what is now Lyon College.  The skills she learned through HD club work remained with her and she passed many of them down to me. She belonged to an Extension Homemakers club in Ash Flat (Sharp County) after we moved back to Arkansas and I, at age 14, repeated history and joined her.  I remember helping with the statewide cemetery census in 1968.

It should not seem ironic to me, given all the early and repeated influences of EHC on our family life, that I left a job teaching high school English and returned to graduate school to become…..an Extension home economist!  I was relentless in achieving my goal and began work for Extension in 1983 in Dallas County.  In 1998 I got to “come home” to Sharp County and got to work with some of the same people in EHC that I’d known as a young girl. 

The lessons we all learned were IMPACT LESSONS…..not just the practical but the values of working together to enlarge the opportunities……Remembering the past and looking forward to the future…….

 Millie J. Collins, CEA-FCS/Sharp County

June, 2011

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