By Jen Bakken
DELANO, MN Though their name has changed and members have come and gone, the Evergreen Grove Extension Group and its remaining eight members are still gathering as they have been for more than 30 years.
Initially, the group began meeting at the Evergreen Grove Schoolhouse on Hennepin County Road 11. Throughout the years, they have conducted meetings in members’ homes and multiple other places in the area including the Delano United Methodist Church and the upstairs of a building in downtown Delano.
Now, these women meet once per month; either at the Delano Senior Center or the Delano Pizza Ranch.
An extension group takes the latest research from the University of Minnesota labs into people’s lives where they live, work, and play.
It is a learning circle offering members lessons on many topics, providing speakers, as well as a newsletter, and while the Evergreen Extension Group has gained valuable knowledge, it has also created wonderful memories and enjoyed endless laughter.
“We now meet the third Tuesday of each month,” said Mary Olson of Independence. “We have visited the Arboretum and spent many hours together cooking and sewing.”
One or two members will attend workshops or classes on a subject and then teach it to the whole group.
The group began with all members being from Independence in Hennepin County, who, as neighbors, lived on Hennepin County Road 92.
“We decided to let a couple Wright County women join from Delano, too,” laughed Marilyn Harter. “We have really had a good time together.”
At the end of each year, they vote on what topics they will have and, since 1964, they have had countless topics such as children’s clothes, making refreshments for special occasions, vegetable gardening, meals from the broiler, lamps and lighting, and pinch pleat draperies.
“We even had a class on how to wear scarves,” remembered Renata Russek of Delano with a smile. “We made a casserole carrier once and even those sock monkeys.”
Hennepin County began having extension study groups in 1925. Twenty-five years later, there were 57 home extension groups, with a membership of 825 women. By 2000, there were 550 members representing 55 groups.
The Evergreen Grove Extension Group enjoys a few cherished traditions. Every Halloween, fruit soup is prepared and served in a pumpkin.
Around Christmas, they have a traditional potluck dinner and collect donations for The Dells Place, a home for disabled young adults in Delano.
What’s next on the list of topics for this group is hard to say, but one thing is certain they will continue their learning and laughter just as they have for more than 30 years.
For more information on University of Minnesota Extension groups, visit www.extension.umn.edu.