Reaching a milestone

Published 7:06 pm Monday, November 4, 2013

By Caroline Stephenson


WINTON – On Oct. 23, the Hertford County group of the North Carolina Extension and Community Association (ECA) celebrated the 100th anniversary of the organization.

Formerly called the Home Demonstration Club, ECA has a proud history of leadership, progress, and raising living standards in rural communities statewide.  Here in Hertford County, about two-dozen community and ECA members gathered at the Extension Office in Winton to reminisce about the past and enjoy the fellowship of the day.

Dolores Benthall is the President of the Hertford County ECA County Council and also serves the Northeast District as Treasurer. Audrey Askew of Hertford County is the Northeast District ECA President and also serves on the State leadership team.

Stephanie Parker-Helmkamp, County Extension Director, welcomed the attendees and presented a program on the accomplishments of ECA across the state as well as Hertford County.

Extension work in North Carolina began in the first two decades of the 20th Century. Agriculture Agents would visit farmers and provide them with research based information and best practices for growing and raising crops and livestock.  Home Demonstration Agents, in turn, would visit the wives of farmers and teach them how to preserve food, sew clothing, and make mattresses.

From these humble beginnings, over the next 100 years, ECA helped get electricity and running water into homes, establish public libraries, bookmobiles, and hot lunches in public schools.

According to a history of ECA provided by Parker-Helmkamp, “Records show that Home Demonstration Club work began in Hertford County in 1917.  But it was not until 1918, with the conditions brought about by World War I, that the first emergency Home Demonstration Agent was appointed.  She was Miss Fannie Brooks.”

April 2, 1918 marks the date for the first organized Home Demonstration Club in Hertford County, which was located in the Menola community.

What do the next 100 years hold for Hertford County ECA?  “We plan to continue to support Extension and the community through service projects,” Parker-Helmkamp said. “I would also like to thank all my current ECA members for all their work on the event and Mrs. Sandra Woodard for her donation of food.”

For more information on joining ECA in Hertford County or starting a new club, contact Extension office at 252-358-7822 or visit: