As part of celebrating World Home Economics Day on March 21, 2022, we
had the privilege to interview our very own Margaret Dickenson, a renowned author and award-winning Professional Home Economist. Read on to learn more about Margaret's journey and her remarkable career in home economics.
What does home economics mean to you?
Many may have their own perception of the term home economics. As for myself, it encompasses skills to equip one in creating a balanced, healthy, stable, and satisfying home/family life. This includes the ability to cook, understanding the nutritional quality of food and their preparation, efficiently practicing the management of household tasks, time and schedules, finances, and having some basic knowledge of apparel and sewing, plus of course, a focus on child-rearing and maintaining a happy family life. However, when asked about my degree, I always also specify that I am a graduate of Foods and Nutrition.
What are you most proud of in your career in home economics?
Numerous career successes, stem from my solid, diverse, and practical studies in home economics - and certainly, a passion to do my best, as well as a strong work ethic. I have indeed been blessed with many proud moments in my career.
Winning the latest two prestigious international awards is an amazing and significant recognition. “From the Ambassador’s Table - Blueprint for Creative Entertaining” was honored as for being a historically first cookbook specifically providing the blueprints for creative entertaining. (i.e.,: Deciding on the choice of event, how to organize the event, dealing with invitations and excepting invitations, designing appealing menus, working out seating plans, how to set a table, service of food and beverages, table manners and of course, a full repertoire of tantalizing recipes including hors d’oeuvres, appetizers, soups, salads, palate cleansers, main courses, accompaniments, desserts, finishing touches/chocolates and basic recipes.)
Also “Margaret‘s Table - Easy Cooking and Inspiring Entertaining” received one of the very few special awards as a tribute to my expertise in entertaining. This was a remarkable international salute to my well-honed art in developing and practicing a very unique and personal style of successful and memorable entertaining.
There is a quote by Maya Angelou that I am especially fond of: “People may forget what you said, but they will never forget how you made them feel.” When it comes to entertaining her words ring very true to me. I always want to “Wow” my guests and leave them enchanted with special memories long after the event.
No doubt, in addition to having had my own lifestyle and cooking TV series, seeing these cookbooks win a total of 11 international awards, I’m also particularly proud of having been named “Alumna of Honour 2011” for the University of Guelph.
OHEA Mentorship Program - Recent Mentor Experience with Pooja Mansukhani and why she started the OHEA Mentorship Program
By: Pooja Mansukhani, RD, P.H.Ec.
Pooja Mansukhani is the Registered Dietitian and Food Safety Officer at KitchenMate, a food technology startup, which blends technology, culinary and nutrition expertise to provide companies in the GTA with delicious, nutritious and affordable meals at their workplace. She previously worked in university and college foodservices, most recently at the University of Toronto. Pooja earned her nutrition degree from Ryerson University and holds a degree in Honours Applied Economics Co-op from the University of Waterloo.
Born in Hamilton ON, I left after grade 7 to live in St. Catharines where I finished high school and then went off to Macdonald College of McGill University in St. Anne de Bellevue PQ. Upon completion of my undergraduate degree, I returned to Ontario and did my Dietetic Interneship at St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto.
I started my professional career at the Hospital for Sick Children where I was involved in a massive hospital-wide changeover to tray service for patients, and where I wrote my first article for publication. After a couple of years, I joined the Ontario Department of Agriculture and Food (which has had various names and transformations over the years) and travelled extensively for the Home Economics Branch providing courses, developing recipes, and writing food and nutrition manuals for programs directed to members of the Women’s Institutes, and girls enrolled in the 4H food programs. With this job, I thought I had died and gone to heaven. I really enjoyed working with other staff and especially the director, Helen McKercher. I learned so much from that woman about how life worked in government. She gave me much food for thought and many opportunities for growth.
Being a Professional Home Economist (P.H.Ec.) has had a positive impact on my life, personally and professionally. My memberships in local, provincial, and international home economics associations gave me opportunities to meet new friends, research colleagues, and Home Economists from a variety of disciplines. These individuals are passionate about the ability of our profession to improve the lives of individuals and families, locally and globally. I also take whatever chance I get to explain what P.H.Ec. means, particularly to people who are unaware that Home Economists still exist!
By: Cathy Enright, P.H.Ec.
Happy 40ieth Anniversary Ontario Home Economics Association (OHEA)
Passing the torch onto new and future Home Economists defines who I am as a Professional Home Economist (P.H.Ec.).
It has been a privilege to live up to the ring pledge.
The most important life changing skill I mastered at my first job when working for a large food company, was how to relate to our customers through relationship building and complaint handling. First, as a Home Economist and then Director of Consumer Services, I also developed technical skills in recipes, food styling, publishing and media relations.
I graduated from Brescia in 1978 with a Bachelor of Science in Home Economics. I worked for Quaker Oats off and on for about 28 years in total. At Quaker I was in Consumer Services for nine months, then moved to research and development for the remaining time. I also freelanced for a few years under the name Cranberry Kitchens. I retired from Quaker in 2011 and started as Administrator/Registrar with the Ontario Home Economics Association (OHEA) in 2013.
Brief Background about Marnie Webb
I graduated from the Univeristy of Guelph's Applied Human Nutrition program and have worked for Ontario Pork, the Food Biotechnology Communications Network, the University of Guelph's Food Safety Network, and now at the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs in Guelph.
A life of Home Economics, professionally and personally, along with agriculture.
Diane O’Shea is a Professional Home Economist, and retired (June, 2017) Family Studies Teacher and Department Head in Family Studies and Social Sciences and Humanities at Medway High School (Thames Valley District School Board).
She freelanced as a professional Home Economist for many years and then completed a teaching degree at Western University. She began teaching Family Studies at the high school level in 1997 and retired in 2017. Began teaching Family Studies education at the Faculty of Education, Western in 2007 and continue to do so. Completed a Masters of Education in Home Economics Education (UBC, 2014) – yes learning really has to be lifelong!
She also farmed with her husband, Mike for over 40 years – beef feedlot, field crops of wheat, corn and white beans, but mainly in those years fresh market produce and agri-tourism. They owned O’Shea’s Farm Fresh Vegetables and Berries with on-farm and farmers markets venues.
She is a mom to four and now grammie to four.
Not a day goes by that I do not use my Home Economics training, skills or experience. As a wife, mother, Nana, former teacher, public relations and food literacy coordinator, community and church leader, and member of the Ontario Home Economics Association (OHEA) board - Home Economics is my life!
Graduating with a Diploma in Home Economics from Kemptville College was my good fortune when tuition for university was out-of-reach for my farm family.
Want to meet some of the amazing Professional Home Economists featured in the Through the Years Series?
Make sure to register for OHEA annual conference. This year the conference is being held at Brescia University College on March 23, 2019. For more information, visit the OHEA Conference website.
Brief Background on Amy Whitson
I graduated from Brescia University College with a Bachelor of Science Honours Human Ecology in Food and Nutrition in 1999. I worked freelance in various roles and started my own personal chef company.
In 2001, I started working with Dana McCauley & Associates. In 2010, I purchased the company from Dana and became President and owner of The Test Kitchen Incorporated, a recipe development and consulting company.
The Ontario Home Economics Association, a self-regulating body of professional Home Economists, promotes high professional standards among its members so that they may assist families and individuals to achieve and maintain a desirable quality of life.