Together again for the last time, 11 members of the Wheatland Extension Club met at Del’s for their final official function.
“Anyone who has not been part of an extension club does not know how they are missed,” said Maxine Wallace. “We are all going to miss it.”
For those unfamiliar with Wheatland, it is a community located on State Highway 469. What remains is little more than a home and abandoned sandstone school building.
Wallace, 83, said she has been a member of the extension club for 63 years.
“I can remember going to the extension club meeting with my mother as a child,” Wallace said. “It basically all started with the canning of food.”
Wallace said the extension club voted last month to disband despite new members joining.
“Some of us are just too old to continue operating the extension,” Wallace said.
There were 11 members in the Wheatland extension club when it was disbanded, including Sue Tucek, 99, and Noma Tillman, 89.
“We have loved being members of the extension club,” Wallace said. “We learned how to cook and how to do a variety of tasks.”
Bunny Morris was the president of the extension club when she and the members voted to disband.
“When I first moved here in 2008, I was invited to an extension club meeting where I met these amazing ladies,” Morris said.
Morris said it had become increasingly difficult for the extension club to meet.
“I am really going to miss it,” Morris said. “These women have been a lifesaver for me.”
Extension clubs first got their start in the early years of the state, said Quay County extension agent Brenda Bishop. She said the local chapters were “extensions” of the county extension office which started in county communities. Staff from the New Mexico College of Agriculture (now New Mexico State University) went to the different extensions to teach residents how to can food.
“Those members then returned to their communities and taught others how to properly can food,” Bishop said.
Bishop said as the years passed, the information made available to the members of the extension clubs progressed.
“The information went from canned food to leadership skills, health care resources and moving saving tips,” Bishop said. “These organizations worked on fundraisers to benefit their areas.”
Wallace said the fundraisers their club held help to maintain the Wheatland cemetery. She said her and the other members used the money raised from the sales of pecans for the upkeep of the cemetery.
“I am not sure who is going to take care of that cemetery now,” Bishop said.