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Gaston Co. Extension & Community Association (ECA)

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ECA members visit Dinah Gore kitchen 2019ECA members visited the Dinah E. Gore Teaching and Research Kitchens at NC State as part of a local foods educational program.

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
  • Teaching craft classes (such as crochet, knitting, paper crafting, quilting, and sewing)


Everyone is invited to attend our monthly meetings, as well as be a part of our special interest groups. Please contact for questions.

  • Gaston Co. ECA Monthly Meeting – 1st Thurs. @ 10 a.m. during Jan., Feb., Mar., Oct, & Nov.; 1st Thurs. @ 6:30 p.m. during Apr., May, June, Aug., & Sept. (Note: no meetings held during July and December)
  • Creative Needlers ECA – 2nd & 3rd  Thurs. @ 6:00 p.m.  (contact:  Bertie Smith, 704.864.6655)
  • Martha Goebel ECA – 1st Tues. @ 11:00 a.m. (contact:  Mary Upton)
  • Quiltmakers ECA – 3rd Thurs. @ 6:00 p.m. (contact:  Patti Wells, 980.636.3841)
  • Scrappers Unlimited ECA – 1st Sat. @ 10 a.m. and 3rd Fri. @ 5 p.m.(contact:  704.866.3067)

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

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





ECA will be selecting 3 or more winners by July 1, 2023 with a minimum amount of $500. The 2023 application deadline is April 14, 2023 and should be returned to the Lucile Tatum Center (959 Osceola St., Gastonia, NC 28054). Click below for the 2023 Scholarship Application:

Note:  Must be a Gaston County resident to apply for ECA scholarships. 


Scholarship winners (total of $8,770 being awarded) include the following  individuals:  Zachary Carr, Elenor High, Madison McCathern, Skye Reed, and Jonathan Williams.


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.) | Tuesday – Thursday

Follow us on Facebook:  @gastoneca