Joel Lambert (5th from right, front row) and the Corn & Cotton Club Boys at the Fair c1914.




Agricultural Extension Service work in White County started in the summer of 1912. Mrs. Ella Lambert and her son Joel worked two months that summer as home demonstration agent and as county agent, respectively. They traveled from one community to another in a buggy pulled by a horse. Very few people encouraged them in their work. Searcy banker Hicks Deener is credited with giving them the most encouragement for their work.

Canning Club work for girls and Corn Club work for boys was stressed by these early agents. Lonnie Foreman of Rose Bud won first place in Corn Club work in Arkansas in 1912 or 1913, His cousin Martha Lou Foreman was selected as County Champion Girl of White County in 1938 and District Champion in Northeast Arkansas the following year. She later became State 4-H Champion girl. Mrs. Lambert and a State Club Agent accompanied Lonnie to Charleston, South Carolina, to attend the National Exposition during his championship year. John Sanford, a Searcy merchant, “dressed Lonnie up” for the trip. Ella Lambert and her son worked with the boys and girls of the county again in 1913. Letona had a club for girls at that time. Their scrapbook won a first place and an educational exhibit won third place at the White County Fair. Years later Mrs. Lambert recalled that many of the White County girls and boys won production contests and exhibit contests at the Arkansas State Fair. The Brandon girls of White County won first place with Early County Fair exhibit.

their canning exhibits and their production records at the State Fair and were awarded a trip to Charleston, South Carolina. There they received many compliments on their appearance and behavior. Effie Prothro canned 1,120 cans of food from one-tenth acre. To buy cans she worked in other families’ fields and homes.

One time when businessmen and government representatives of White County were planning a countywide tour, Mrs. Lambert went out driving her two-horse buggy and arranged a canned goods exhibit in the store of Will Hall of Letona. The businessmen were very interested in the canning club girls’ activities and arranged for the second-year girls to get cans at wholesale rates from a Little Rock concern that fall.

One Searcy girl, Pearl Newton, would go to Mrs. Lambert’s home at night to learn to sew. Her father would accompany her. When Pearl’s sewing was exhibited at the County Fair the women who judged the exhibits said , “This [sewing] must be incorporated in the work for the girls along with the canning work.”

When rumblings of a World War were heard on the horizon, many people became more interested in canning. The members of the Phoenix Club of Searcy went out to Mrs. Lambert’s home and canned food and distributed it to the needy whose husbands, fathers and brothers were in service. In 1914 Joel Lambert served as county agent in White and Jefferson counties. There was a period in White County history, 1915 to 1917, in which there are no records of Agricultural Extension Service work.


For additional information on Joel Lambert, the first White County Agent, and his innovative family, see “Agri Pioneers – The Lamberts” in the 2000 edition of White County Heritage, available from the White County Historical Society, P.O. Box 537, Searcy, AR 72145.