Celebration of history for FCS in Milam County

Edna Westbrook Trigg may not be a name you recognize, but this year we want everyone to remember her name. She was the first Home Demonstration Agent in Texas and she started her service in Milam County.

Now in 2012, we are celebrating the 100th Anniversary of Mrs. Trigg’s hiring to organize Tomato Club in Milam County. Her pioneer leadership was the star t of 4 - H activities for girls in Texas and it all happened in Milam County.

Trigg first traveled the county in horse and buggy staying with families across the county. She mainly demonstrated canning techniques, food preparation and nutrition. She may have been the first agent spreading family and consumer sciences information, but 39 others have followed in her footsteps with a variety of title changes to the present day of County Extension Agent - Family and Consumer Sciences.

Eleven Tomato Clubs were organized by Trigg for girls ten to eighteen years of age. Each member of the Girl’s Tomato Club would plant one-tenth of an acre of tomatoes. At harvest time, Trigg would demonstrate proper canning procedures during community canning days.

Initial efforts were so successful that in the summer of 1912 the Milam County girls’ clubs coordinated with area Boys’ Corn Clubs. Both clubs were precursors to present day 4-H clubs and presented the first-ever exhibit in Texas to show girls’ agricultural products, which included tin cans and glass jars of tomatoes and peaches.

The exhibition drew more than 3,000 people, and the following year the girls exhibited their agricultural products at the state fair in Dallas as well as at the Waco Cotton Palace.

Historical documentation notes that after Trigg’s first year of working with these clubs, four members started bank accounts and began saving for their education. All four received their degree and became teachers, and two held important positions at Texas universities. According to the Texas State Historical Association, Trigg, who passed away in 1946, was a teacher and principal of the small rural Liberty School when asked in 1911 by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to serve as a home demonstration agent for Milam County. The duties of the position were to be conducted during evenings and weekends in addition to her existing school responsibilities. Her pay would be $100 per month, out of which she would pay any work-related expenses, including room and board.

In 1915, funding ran out for the Milam County position, and in 1916 Trigg was hired by Extension as a home demonstration agent for Denton County, at which time she finally relinquished her additional duties at the Liberty School.

“We owe a great debt to educational pioneers like Edna Westbrook Trig g, who was hired 100 years ago to bring practical, hands- on instruction to people who otherwise would have had little or no access to it,” said Nancy Granovsky, AgriLife Extension family and resource development specialist in the family and consumer sciences program at Texas A& M University in College Station.

Today, AgriLife Extension Family and Consumer Sciences agents still do some of the same things Edna Trigg did in her day, including working with youth, providing food preservation and safety programming and nutrition education. We also provide instruction on diabetes awareness and education, child vehicle passenger safety instruction, parenting, financial literacy and a variety of other family-centered topics.

Today, our programs are designed for both rural and urban audiences and we have a thriving urban outreach, but we still focus primarily on community-based, small-group learning. Most programming is done in small venues such as community centers, churches, schools and businesses and at county AgriLife Extension offices throughout the state. We also provide instruction through webinars and other types of distance learning. Even though this type of edu - cational community outreach has evolved and expanded over the years, the profession will always owe a great debt to Trigg. She set the pattern for other home demonstration agents and those of us in the family and consumer sciences profession who came after them, setting the bar pretty high for the rest of us.

TOMATO RECIPE REQUE ST— Since Milam County is the historical birthplace for Girls Tomato Clubs in Texas (Girls 4-H), it is only fitting that we collect recipes using tomatoes and have them available during National 4-H Week in October. Over the next few months, I am asking persons to send me your favorite recipe that uses tomatoes. Make sure you label your recipes with your name and address. Also, let me know if you were a former or current 4-H member in Milam County or Extension Education Association Club Member (home demonstration club member).

To submit your recipes, you can mail or stop by the Milam County E x tension Of fice at 100 E. 1st Street in Cameron, Texas 76520, or email If you have questions, please give me a call at 254-697-7045.

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