The Drew County Extension Homemakers Council was named the winner of the 100-Carat Award presented at the annual meeting of the Arkansas Extension Homemakers Council held at the Hot Springs Convention Center.

The 100-Carat Award was created to recognize clubs and councils for their extraordinary efforts in celebrating the 100th anniversary of Home Demonstration/Extension Homemakers work in Arkansas. 

Eva Marie Pearson (right), chairman of the 100-Carat Award, congratulates Juanita Webb, president of the Drew County Extension Homemakers Council, winner of the award. Other Council representatives present for the award presentation made during the recent state meeting of the Arkansas Extension Homemakers Council at Hot Springs were Row 2: Edna Baker (left) and Brenda Chisom; Row 3: Carolyn Bullock (from left), Sharon Beard and Patricia Kulbeth; Row 4: Stella Judkins (from left),Verne Wilson and Judy Murphy; and Row 5: Hazelene McCray (left) and Chipo Washington. The award was given to the local club or county council, which sponsored the most outstanding event or activity to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Home Demonstration/Extension Homemakers work in Arkansas during 2012.

The 5,000-member state Council is a volunteer organization associated with the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture Cooperative Extension Service. During 2012, the members contributed 600,000 hours of volunteer service statewide for an estimated value of more than $13 million. The Extension Homemakers organization offers its members opportunities for education, leadership development and service.

According to Eva Marie Pearson of Pine Bluff, project chairman, a 100-year anniversary is known as a 10-Carat Diamond celebration. “Because it was a 100-year celebration, I took some poetic license and assigned a carat for each year,” she said.

Carat spelled with a “c” is a unit of measure used for gemstones and pearls. And after all, diamonds are native to Arkansas, Pearson continued. Diamonds are compressed carbon with the highest hardness of any bulk item. Diamonds have remarkable optical characteristics and can be contaminated by very few types of impurities. They can disperse lights of different color, which results in their characteristic luster. And after all, diamonds are a girl’s best friend.

“As I read this description of diamonds, it reminded me of women I have known in my lifetime,” Pearson said. “This award is dedicated to all the women who came before us and paved the way, beginning more than a century ago. They would approve and be proud of our efforts.”

There were 25 entries from local clubs and county councils. Each was outstanding and each reflected something important to the sponsoring group, she said. The guidelines were simple, requiring a brief description of the project and why it was chosen, names of Extension Homemakers involved in the project, evaluation of the project, impact on the community and a 150-word or fewer summary of the project. How they were organized and presented was up to the preparer.

Entries came in scrapbooks, manila folders, three-ring binders and one was even presented in a pillowcase.

There were three judges who each scored independently. They said that they read every word in every entry. The judges’ three scores were added together and the entry with the most points was declared the winner.

The three judges have extensive experience in journalism and communications and are well acquainted with the Extension Homemakers program. However, none is or has ever been a member of Extension Homemakers.

According to one judge, the winning project has a far-reaching benefit to the community and an impact that will live on for many, many years to come. Although not particularly “pretty,” the presentation was very well organized. The project was well documented and all the questions were answered. “Great Job!” wrote one judge.

Community service and education are two parts of the mission statement of the Drew County Extension Homemakers Council, according to the council’s entry, and for the centennial celebration, they wanted to share with the community a little something extra. This extra had three parts.

During 2012, once a week for 50 weeks, the local newspaper published two recipes provided by Extension Homemakers for a total of 100 recipes. Sheilla Lampkin wrote a history of the Council and the nine clubs that make up the Council.

The Council also contributed $30,000 to fund three endowed scholarships at the University of Arkansas at Monticello. This is in addition to the annual scholarships to UAM, which the Council has provided for many years. These scholarships are financed with the proceeds from the EHC Kitchen at the Drew County Fair, in which all members work and which has been a community service project for more than 50 years.

Of the money for scholarships, UAM Chancellor Jack Lassiter said, “This is a wonderful gesture by the Drew County Extension Homemakers. By their gift, they have chosen to create a lasting legacy of providing educational opportunities for future generations. The institution is most grateful for their generosity.”

All Drew County Extension Homemakers members were involved in this project.

As the winning project, the Council received a crisp $100 bill and a certificate.

This year’s annual meeting was held June 4-6.

Information about Extension Homemakers is available by visiting their website or calling a county Extension office.

The Cooperative Extension Service is part of the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture and 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 Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer.