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January 27, 2012

Posted by  Jane Newton, FCS Agent, Lincoln County

One hundred years ago in 1912 Extension Homemakers began work in Arkansas.  Seven years later, in 1919, EHC clubs were organized inLincolnCounty.

Why is this important?  Because through the years, the Lincoln County Extension Homemakers have been leaders in community development projects ranging from timber management to highway beautification; from sponsoring canine vaccination clinics to raising funds to purchase the first Jaws of Life for the county; and from providing dishes and silverware to purchasing the commercial air conditioner for the Fair Buildings.

Ernestine AustinErnestine Austin has seen, helped, and led many of these projects. She has been a Lincoln County Extension Homemaker for 71 years!

Recently she spent some time reminiscing about her experiences as an EHC member.

“I remember going to my first EHC club meeting with my mother (Alcy McGriff.)  It was back in 1941 before I was married.  The club was the Spring Valley EHC Club and I think the program that day was Saving Money by Canning Your Garden’s Bounty!” she further stated, “Mother was very timid. When she joined the EHC club it really helped her to get over some of her shyness.”

In 1941, the Lincoln County Extension Homemakers had 16 clubs with 378 members.  That’s why Ernestine remembers going to club meetings when there would be so many members there wouldn’t be enough chairs for every member to sit!  That year the Lincoln County Extension Homemakers planted a one-acre pine forest in cooperation with the U of A Extension Service to develop among the people in the county a realization of the value of and need for growing timber.

Ernestine joined the Spring Valley EHC Club in 1943.  “I joined because I liked the information we got at the meetings and I enjoyed the friendship.  That’s why I’ve stayed a member, too, for so long.  I still love it as much as I ever did!”

In 1943, Ernestine married Jason Austin.  They had two children, David and Gwen.  Mrs. Ernestine now has five grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

Through the years she has held every officer position at the club and county level.

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