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Independence County Celebrates 100 Year Anniversary with History Project

May 21, 2012

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Bill Hoskins, President, Independence County Extension Homemakes Council

According to records, EHC dates back to 1913 in Independence County when a woman named Mary Case worked with young girls, teaching them how to preserve food.  Case was a home demonstration agent (later called Extension Agent or Family Consumer Science Agent).  The mothers of these girls became interested in learning as well and Case taught gardening, canning, keeping records and beginning sewing projects. 

 EHC is celebrating “100 Years of EHC” this year with an oral history project.  The recordings will be housed at Arkansas History Commission, Arkansas Women’s History Institute Special Collections at the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville, David and Barbara Pryor Center for Arkansas Oral and Visual History, University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture Archives and the local Extension Office.

 Three ladies from Independence County have been asked to participate  in this project.  Imogene James, Wilma Hoskins and Betty Johnston were interviewed by Linda Brooks, project co-chairman, and recorded by Laura Reed at the Old Independence Regional Museum. Picture to the right is compliments of Donetta Sterling, Batesville Daily Guard Record.

 Betty Johnston has been a member since 1948 and is a current member of Pfeiffer EHC of IndependenceCounty.  She became involved after she and her husband built their house and remembers women from EHC coming to her house with sewing machines to help her make curtains for her new home.  She says she has enjoyed EHC immensely as it gives her a chance to meet new people and learn new things.

Wilma Hoskins said she was invited to join in 1979 and has learned many things such as food safety, women’s health issues and how to make a will and enjoys the togetherness.  She is a member of the Bethesda EH Club and says she enjoys sharing with other women and she shares her expertise in sewing.

 Imogene James said her mother and sister encouraged her to join.  She has been a member since 1978 and began her own EH Club called FANS Club in Cord, Arkansas.  She said that most all members were mothers with young children and they made provision for this.  Being in the club has given these ladies the opportunity to travel and hold various positions within EHC and it has taught her how to make speeches in front of crowds and has built up her confidence.

 Independence County EHC members have logged more volunteer hours than any other county in the state.  Last year 47,459 volunteer hours were logged, bringing an economic value of $989,520.15 to the county.  Wilma Hoskins spoke of how the EHC has changed over the years.  Men are now members and her husband, Bill Hoskins is now President of the County Council.  Today’s busy lifestyles aren’t allowing people the opportunity of learning the way things were done in the past.  Most of the clubs have changed from craft clubs to volunteer clubs and try to come up with programs which will appeal to younger people. 

 On May 11, 2012, Independence County Judge Robert Griffin officially proclaimed the week of May 14th as Extension Homemakers Week in Independence County.  He read the proclamation at the Spring Council Meeting and presented it to Council President, Bill Hoskins.  He thanked the members for the “valuable contributions” they make to their county and region.

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