Interest in quilting led Johnette Johnson to Extension Homemakers

Editor’s Note: In celebration of the 100th anniversary of the Arkansas Extension Homemakers Council, this is the fifth in a series of stories profiling members from Southeast Arkansas and their contributions to the organization.

An interest in quilting brought Johnette Johnson of Mount Ida to the Extension Homemakers Program in Montgomery County.

When she and her husband, Aubrey, former White Hall residents, moved to Mount Ida after retiring, “I joined a quilting group, which met at a lady’s house each week and quilted,” Johnson said. “They all belonged to EHC and invited me to join.”

She liked the members of the quilting group and enjoyed meeting with them. “I wanted to start doing volunteer work for my community and I enjoyed the projects the EHC sponsored and helped with.”

Eleven years ago, she joined the Joplin Extension Homemakers Club, and volunteer she has — including six years as president of the Montgomery County Extension Homemakers Council. During her tenure as president, the county Council’s involvement with the Operation Santa Claus Christmas Project grew tremendously. Many more members are involved and the number of children helped each Christmas has grown along with the number of items supplied to the children.

Johnson said that she also instituted a new program for the fair called Sponsorship Awards, which give a $25 award to each Best of Show in the Arts & Crafts Building and the Horticulture/Field Crops Division. “We did this because our Fair Board is always broke and our fair is so small that award money was very, very small.” The entries were declining and they did this in hopes of increasing participation.

Johnson is serving the second year of a two-year term as secretary of the Arkansas Extension Homemakers Council, a volunteer organization associated with the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture.

In her role as secretary, her responsibilities include recording minutes for both the executive committee and the state meeting planning committee. Her job has taken on new meaning this year since the state Council is celebrating the 100th anniversary of Extension Homemakers/Home Demonstration work in Arkansas. The state meeting is Tuesday through Thursdsay at the Hot Springs Convention Center. On Wednesday evening, a Gala, including a reception and dinner, is planned. The program will feature representatives of some of the activities and organizations with which the group has been associated during the past 100 years.

Johnson is also responsible for posting to the state Council’s blog site, which was launched at last year’s state meeting in June as a part of the 100-year celebration.

When she was first named to the county Council, she was elected vice president. Bea Schmitt, now 92, was the president. At the time, and later when Johnson became president, she and Schmitt were the only two who attended state and district meetings. Now, she said, Montgomery County is represented by about 15 Extension Homemakers at all of these meetings.

Although she enjoys all facets of Extension Homemakers, her favorite memories include the fulfillment received from the many projects the county does that help underprivileged children and the many people of Montgomery County who need help.

“I have very fond memories of great times I have had with my friends at the leadership training meeting and the state meeting,” she said.

Johnson said that she continues her membership for the same reasons that she joined – fellowship with the many friends she has made and the great feeling of being of help in the community, county and state.

In recognition of the 100th anniversary of Extension Homemakers/Home Demonstration work in the state, the county Council has become a funding sponsor of the Gala at Hot Springs, and they are also encouraging members who have never gone to a state meeting to attend. The 100-year anniversary was the theme for the county Council’s spring meeting. |

The special project, which they hope will become a legacy, is building new display units for the Arts and Crafts Building at the fairgrounds. The current ones are 30 years old, and “we hope this will be our legacy to the county,” Johnson said.

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.