Two years ago Janet Mobley attended a Grassroots meeting in Elmore County to hear about Extension programs offered in her county. When participants were asked about their needs and how Extension programming could help, she said "I would like to see Extension set up a series of 'how to' workshops just for ladies."
"I asked if a program could be started to teach ladies what their daddy's didn't teach their daughters but did teach their brothers, -- basic classes on home maintenance and repair and auto and lawn equipment safety and maintenance," she said.
About a year later, Elmore County Extension Coordinator Katrina Mitchell (http://www.aces.edu/counties/Elmore/) contacted Mobley and asked her to meet with her to set up a curriculum for the series of classes. "I was so surprised, and so excited to get the call," Mobley said. She and Mitchell mapped out three series of workshops. Each series included four weekly, 4-hour sessions.
Mitchell received a grant from the Elmore County Community Foundation, which allowed her to present the classes and provide participants with a handy reference book. The book, "Dare to Repair," was written for women by Julie Sussman and Stephanie Glakas-Tenet. The book is a do-it-yourself guide to maintenance, safety, minor fix-its and talking shop.
The first workshop series, held during the summer of 2012, was on food preservation. It included discussions on pressure canning, jelly making, container gardening, growing and cooking herbs, nutrition education, smart shopping, couponing and basic budgeting. Classes were taught by Extension agents.
The second series was held in the fall of 2012. It covered basic carpentry, household maintenance and repair, plumbing basics and electrical maintenance and simple repairs.
"We partnered with the Russell Do it Center for this series," Mitchell said. Manager Billy Birch provided props and two experts to teach the women how to hang a door, change a doorknob or lock, dry wall repair, painting tips, basic care of heat and air units and water heaters, fix a leaky faucet, install a faucet, fix your commode, clear a clog from a pipe, ways to protect your pipes, hang a ceiling fan, and change a wall switch or outlet.
The third series was taught throughout March and included basic maintenance and repair of car and lawn equipment. Retired mechanic Joel Keltz taught this series. The ladies have learned how to check and change fluids in their cars, how and when to replace wiper blades, how to check tire wear and tire pressure, and how to change headlights and fuses. They have also learned about lawn equipment – everything from sharpening chain saws to picking the right type of gas, changing oil, belts and spark plugs, how to clean carburators and storage safety tips.
"I have found all of these workshops extremely helpful," said Mobley. "We don't always have to do our own home, auto and lawn maintenance and repair, but it is nice to know how to do these tasks, when we can't wait on our husband, dad or brother to do them."
"Many times my husband says 'I'll get around to fixing something' but never does," said Nancy Tribble. "Now, thanks to what I have learned from the Extension workshops, I have the knowledge, ability and confidence to fix things myself, and I don't have to wait on him to do it."
"Learning how to do these tasks ourselves, especially plumbing and carpentry maintenance, saves us money too," Mobley added.
Another positive outcome of the program has been the socializing and networking. The ladies have enjoyed making new friends and learning from each other by sharing experiences.
Janet Peppers, who is from Tallapoosa County, heard about the series of workshops from her sister-in-law and saw it on Elmore County's FaceBook page. She checks the FaceBook page on a regular basis so she can see what programs are coming up.
Several of the ladies have also taken advantage of other Extension programs. Some are active in Master Gardeners, while others are involved in Broadband classes and Relationship classes offered by Extension.
Each of the classes had at least 15 ladies attend.
"There is a lot of follow-up excitement on the part of the ladies who have participated", Mitchell said. "I receive frequent requests asking when we are going to repeat the classes and if we can do them in other counties." Ladies also have suggested topics for future series.
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