Extension Homemakers from Ashley, Bradley, Chicot, Desha, Drew, and Lincoln counties will be among the more than 600 Extension Homemakers, their guests, vendors and exhibitors and Division personnel who will gather in Hot Springs June 4-6 for the Arkansas Extension Homemakers Council’s annual state meeting, an event showcasing the accomplishments of more than 5,000 members, at the Hot Springs Convention Center.

The Council is a volunteer organization associated with the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture Cooperative Extension Service. The Extension Homemakers organization offers its members opportunities for education, leadership development and service. 

The opening day, June 4, has been declared “Red T-Shirt Day.” All participants are encouraged to wear red to show pride in and support of the Extension Homemakers program in Arkansas.

Dr. Tony E. Windham, associate vice president for agriculture-Extension and director of the Cooperative Extension Service, will be the speaker at the opening session, a noon luncheon June 4 in Horner Hall of the Convention Center.

Windham has 25 years of service with the University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service. He has held positions as Extension economist, section leader-agricultural economics and community development and assistant director-agriculture and natural resources and community and economic development.

A Mississippi native, Windham grew up on a cattle farm. He holds degrees in agricultural engineering technology and business and agricultural economics from Mississippi State University at Starkville. During his career he has received awards from the U.S. Agriculture Department, the American Society of Farm Managers and Rural Appraisers, Epsilon Sigma Phi, honorary fraternity for Extension agents, and the Arkansas Association of Cooperative Extension Specialists.

During the luncheon milestone members – 50-, 60- and 70-and-above-year members – will be recognized.

The 100-Carat Award will be presented. This is a one-time award that will recognize the outstanding project held during 2012 to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Home Demonstration/Extension Homemakers work in Arkansas. Entertainment will be provided by the Sweet Adelines, a women’s barbershop group from Hot Springs Village.

This opening event will also feature a parade of county flags, at which time each county council will be recognized. The flags will be carried by the county council president or representative.

Immediately after lunch, attendees will have the opportunity to attend the first in a series of how-to, education, subject matter and creative skills classes that will continue the next day.

The day’s activities will conclude with Game Night.

On June 5, the board of directors meeting is scheduled. Among the agenda items is the election of directors for each of the three districts in the state. The luncheon program that day will include the presentation of awards for 83 record book projects, completed by clubs and county councils, and the presentation of scholarships.

That evening, participants will have the opportunity to learn to line dance with instructions by Juanita Tompkins, leader, and the Star Dancers of Pine Bluff.

The concluding general session will be held June 6 and feature Phyllis Speer, who retired from the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission in 2011, will give a presentation on dutch-oven cooking.

A native of Amity in Clark County, Speer traces her interest in the outdoors back to her father, DeWitt Kirkpatrick, who was an outdoorsman and took Speer with him on hunting trips.

She felt right at home when she was hired by the state Game and Fish Commission. She loved the work and at one time held four full-time jobs for the agency – Northwest District coordinator of Game and Fish programs, leader of the state’s watchable wildlife program. coordinator of the Becoming an Outdoors Woman Workshop and outdoor cooking expert on television and at many public appearances

For 20 years, Speer and John Philpot co-hosted “Arkansas Outdoors,” a program on the Arkansas Educational Television Network. They gathered and cooked all over the state for this award-winning program. The last new show was produced at the end of 2009. Even the reruns that were broadcast for the next three years remained very popular with the viewing audience in Arkansas and surrounding states.

A former Pulaski County Extension Homemakers member, Speer now resides in a showplace cabin, which she and her husband, Sam, built with their own hands, on a mountaintop at Buffalo City, south of Mountain Home in Baxter County.

A memorial service, installation of district directors and drawing for door prizes will conclude the session and the meeting. Helen Frizzell of Lincoln County will be remembered at the memorial service.

On June 4 and 5 from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day the AEHC Craft and Trade Show will be in the lobby of the Convention Center. About 40 vendors will have available items ranging from jewelry, cookbooks, peanut brittle, wooden birdhouses, scarves, purses, bromeliads, embroidered and sewn items, stone tile coasters, glass decorated silverware, baskets and herb oils and vinegars. The Craft and Trade Show is open to the public who are encouraged to come shop along with the meeting attendees.

Counties will also bring lap robes to the meeting for a cultural arts display. These will be given to the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute and the Arkansas Children’s Hospital, both at Little Rock. “Curtain Calls, a booklet of instructions for creatives arts published especially for this meeting, will be for sale.

Two Extension Homemakers from Southeast Arkansas have key roles in the Arkansas Extension Homemakers Council. Barbara Griffin (with art) of Crossett is an associate director for the Delta District. Judy Simmons (with art) of New Edinburg is serving as the co-chairman of the staging committee.

The theme for the meeting is “The Next 100 Years.” During 2012, the Council celebrated the 100th year of Home Demonstration/Extension Homemakers work in Arkansas.

Story and photos courtesy of Eva Marie Pearson