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Randolph County Celebrates EHC 100 Year Anniversary

February 21, 2012

Posted by

Misty Gilbee, Randolph County FCS Agent

This year Arkansas Extension Homemakers Clubs (EHC) is celebrating its 100th year anniversary celebration. Arkansas was one of the first states in the country to have Extension Homemakers Clubs.  The first formed club was in 1912 at Mabelvale in Pulaski County.

Extension work began in 1909 in RandolphCounty by John R. Kizer, Agricultural Agent.  His job was to teach farmers better methods of farming.  The first Home Demonstration Agent began work in 1912. Elizabeth Jackson worked for two months that summer.

From 1914 to 1919 Mrs. Birdie Kizer was employed as Home Demonstration Agent to assist with Extension work.  She traveled by horse and buggy to homes showing women how to preserve food for the winter.

In 1920 Mrs. Mary Austin served as Home Demonstration Agent.

In 1928 Miss Gladys Waters served as Home Demonstration Agent. Under her direction several women began learning food preservation techniques.

Finally by the year 1930 Home Demonstration Clubs began to emerge in Randolph County.  Clubs were started to help educate the homemakers in food preservation, making mattresses, quilts, general cooking and crafts.

The Surridge Home Demonstration Club in Black River bottoms was the first club organized in Randolph County. Mrs. Wilma Schultz was Home Demonstration Agent at the time. Mrs. Roy James was the president of the Surridge Club. Other clubs that formed about this time were Dalton and Elevenpoint.  With these Home Demonstration clubs they formed a County Council and elected county officers.  President was Mrs. Mildred Dalton (Dalton), Vice President – Mrs. Roy James (Surridge), Secretary – Mrs. Hite Stubblefield (Elevenpoint), Reporter – Mrs. G. F. Poindexter.

Randolph County was without an agent for a few years but in 1934  Mrs. Ruth Simpson was appointed Home Demonstration agent.  Five more clubs were organized:Attica, Manson, Biggers, McIlroy and Midway.

Randolph County Council of Extension Homemakers Clubs has been an active organization since the 1930s.  The role of the homemaker has changed a great deal since the council was organized. In 1939, there were 21 Home Demonstration Clubs in Randolph County. The homemaker of that time spent her time producing and preserving the family food supply, making clothes at home, and spending more time on household chores and caring for family needs. Very few worked outside the home.  Electricity came to rural Randolph County in the late 1930’s.  This made the homemaker’s work lighter. Living conditions were improving. The migration of the small farmer to urban communities began.  Many families left the farm. The shoe factory in Pocahontas employed many of the women, and some clubs were lost due to women working outside the home.

Titles have changed over the years too. “Home Demonstration Agent” has evolved to “Extension Home Economist,” and today, “Extension Family & Consumer Science Agent.”  Many readers today will remember Beverly M. McNew who served Randolph County from 1964 until 1976.

Extension Homemakers Clubs are still meeting in Randolph County to teach improved methods of home making and family living.   EHC sponsors many worthwhile community projects such as:

  • Birthday parties for Randolph Home residents
  • Conducting annual “Santa Sale” at Randolph Home and Pocahontas Rehab
  • Supplying items to our active military
  • Supporting volunteer fire departments
  • Making quilts for burn out victims
  • Making dolls for hospitalized children
  • Making preemie hats for infants
  •  Donating items to local charities
  • And so much more

Each Club meets monthly. If you would like to visit or join, please call the Randolph County Extension office and ask for Misty 892-4504. The Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service offers its programs to all eligible persons regardless of race, color, national origin, religion, gender, age, disability, marital or veteran status, or any other legally protected status, and is an Equal Opportunity Employer.

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