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Gaston Co. Extension & Community Association (ECA)

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Extension Champions Recognition Banquet 2022 From left to right: Linda J. Minges, Family & Consumer Science Agent; David Fogarty, County Extension Director; Audrey Hunt, Family & Consumer Science Award Recipient; Ray Maxwell, Gaston Co. Infastructure & Asset Manager; and Keith Walters, South Central District Extension Director

ECA is a state volunteer organization supported by NC State Extension. 

MISSION – To strengthen families through:

  • Leadership development, volunteer opportunities, and education support
  • Information from NC State and North Carolina A&T University


  • Supporting NC State Extension programs and community projects
  • Providing educational scholarships
  • Making and donating items to help our community ranging from baby quilts for the local NICU to Shirt Saves for Webb Street School & Holy Angels
  • Teaching craft classes (such as crochet, knitting, paper crafting, quilting, and sewing)


Every month our Special Interest Groups meet to socialize and work on their projects. They invite you to join them and see what ECA is all about. Please contact or 704-866-3607 for questions.

  • Monthly Craft Day – 2nd Saturday @ 10 a.m.
  • Creative Needlers ECA – 2nd & 3rd  Thurs. @ 6 p.m.
  • Martha Goebel ECA – 1st Tues. @ 11 a.m.
  • Quiltmakers Sup & Sew – 2nd Thurs. @ 3 p.m.
  • Quiltmakers PHD (Projects Half Done) – 4th Thurs. @ 10 a.m.
  • Scrappers Unlimited ECA – 1st Sat. @ 10 a.m. and 3rd Fri. @ 5 p.m.

To view or register for one of our upcoming classes, click here!

Want to become an ECA Member? Complete the online registration here!

ECA offers classes and workshops for members and our community ranging from learning to sew to painting and more. They also participate in community projects to help support local organizations.

Gaston Co. ECA Executive Board 2023 (January – December):

  • President – Karen Rhyne
  • Vice President- Lori Friesenhahn
  • Secretary – Betse Cordell
  • Treasurer – Dana Croston   
  • Advisor – Audrey Hunt
  • ECA Liaison – Kayla Adams





Scholarship winners (total of $7,875 being awarded) include the following  individuals:  Anaya Gilchrist, Kyla Batchelor, Sarah Berman, Mayra McDowell and Zachary Carr (Linda J Memorial Scholarship recipient).


As part of the NC Extension and Community Association, Gaston County ECA proudly recognizes 108 years of service. The volunteer organization resulted from North Carolina being one of six southern states to pioneer home demonstration work. In 1911, NC State University hired Jane McKimmon to organize girls’ tomato clubs across the rural parts of the state, teaching girls how to plant, grow and can tomatoes. Mothers were very excited about activities of the tomato clubs (1912-1920) and wanted to have programs of their own. As a result, during 1913 Jane McKimmon and the Cooperative Extension agents in the 14 counties started home demonstration clubs for farm women. Agents were trained to go into rural areas and demonstrate homemaking techniques, mainly food preservation and clothing construction, to isolated farm women.

The NC Organization of Home Demonstration Clubs (1920-1966) was officially organized to extend Home Economics Extension programming into communities across the state. Later, Negro Home Demonstration Clubs of North Carolina (1940-1946) were formed. These two groups merged in 1967 to form the NC Extension Homemakers Association, Inc. (1967-2000) and continued to extend delivery of programs across the state. In 2000, this vital organization became the NC Extension and Community Association (ECA) and continues to be an important partner with N.C. Cooperative Extension.

Although its name and activities may have changed throughout the years, ECA’s mission has stayed the same – to enrich the quality of life for individuals and families through lifelong learning, leadership development, and community service.

Anyone interested in being a part of a community service organization is invited to participate in ECA. Supported by N.C. Cooperative Extension, ECA is located at the Lucile Tatum Center, 959 Osceola Street, Gastonia.

Contact Information


Lucile Tatum Center, 959 Osceola St., Gastonia, NC

Hours:  8:30 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.  (closed 12 – 1 p.m.) | Appointment Only Monday – Friday

Follow us on Facebook:  @gastoneca