Welcome To HCE!
In 1914, Congress passed the Smith-Lever Act which established the Cooperative Extension Service. The law provided for cooperation between U.S. Department of Agriculture and land-grant colleges in conducting “practical demonstrations” in agriculture and home economics for persons not attending college.
During World War I, 15 emergency home demonstration agents began work in 17 counties to teach the use of wheat, sugar and meat substitutes. Nellie Kedzie Jones, the third State Leader of Home Economics Extension worked tirelessly for 15 years to have home agents established in counties and Home Demonstration Clubs organized throughout the state. Records show that in 1932, she organized 690 clubs in 43 counties. It was under her guidance that the project leader system orginated.
The first meeting to consider the formation of a state Home Demonstration Council was called by State Leader, Blanche L. Lee in 1939 during Farm and Home Week on the UW-Madison campus. A state Home Demonstration Advisory Committee met June 13, 1939 to elect officers. The first official meeting of presidents of county Home Demonstration Councils was held January 30, 1940, 22 counties were represented. The purpose of the council was to:
- Provide representation of rural women on state committees concerned with issues which affect home and families in rural communities.
- Develop an awareness of national and international interests and needs.
- Develop leadership abilities of rural women.
- Facilitate statewide acquaintances of rural women.
In 1969, the Wisconsin Home Demonstration Council changed its name to the Wisconsin Extension Homemakers Council. In 1993, the organization followed the lead of the national association and became the Wisconsin Association for Family and Community Education. The following year, the state association voted to withdraw from the national association and chose the name, Wisconsin Association for Home and Community Education, Inc.
In the past 65 years, there have been many other changes in the organization. Membership today includes both rural and urban members and is open to men as well as women. Although changes in technology, life-style and the role of women and men as brought about changes in programming, our valuable partnership with Extension continues and the goals set in 1940 are as important today as they were then. We continue to care about families and communities; encourage members to assume leadership responsibilities and strive for international understanding and friendship.