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.
Teaching jobs were plentiful in 1967 and as my husband’s work later moved around the province, I followed - teaching Home Economics, working in fashion retail, on short and long-term contracts, and serving on several Boards:
How long have you been an OHEA member and in what roles?
Twenty years ago, as a member of Ottawa Home Economics Association (Ottawa HEA), I was invited by Ellie Topp, P.H.Ec. (then President of OHEA), to work as OHEA’s first public relations coordinator and to liaise with the Canadian Home Economics Association (CHEA) to accelerate national interest in Home Economics.
I joined OHEA and became a P.H.Ec. after completing the OHEA professional practice course. I trained eight P.H.Ec. ambassadors, wrote a ‘How-to’ Manual, organized OHEA booths at The Royal Winter Fair and The Good Food Festival, sold member cookbooks, spoke at Council of Women meetings and learned to write media releases.
Determined that OHEA would not meet the same fate as CHEA, I worked for the next 18 years on contract along side nine different OHEA presidents and boards, and three different registrars. I encouraged fellow P.H.Ecs., to write media releases with tips for consumers. I personally edited every release. I believe the effort made inroads, increased visibility, provided consistency of the OHEA message opening doors for Home Economists.
Could more be done? Of course - with more money and time.
Today, maintaining an active website, feeding the social media craze, staying abreast of curriculum changes, lobbying the Ministry of Education, advising on Canada’s Food Guide or food labelling, contributing to Public Health Food Literacy objectives, and planning a conference takes an army of volunteers and a dedicated board.
I continue as a member of the OHEA board because I love this profession. I strongly encourage fellow PHEcs to step-up and fill vacancies. With conference call meetings, travel has been essentially eliminated.
Home Economics (Human Ecology) has changed so much in the 50 plus years since I was first introduced to it via 4-H programs, my inspiring Northumberland County Home Economist and Kemptville College − long before computers, Internet, cell phones or Instagram. And, like good fashion or furniture design, the components of Home Economics remain constant. Working to assist families and individuals achieve ‘quality of life’ is foremost in my mind – within my own family or for the three immigrant families supported by my church.
Whether hosting a dinner party, chairing a committee to build a community commercial kitchen, serving on a school Parent Advisory Council or being the only female on the Executive of a $5.5 million community building project, I am led by my Home Economics skills and training. Helping people find answers to the challenges of everyday life will always be my strength.
I am optimistic that OHEA has a great future. We continue to need dedicated leaders willing to commit time to keep our profession strong.
Thanks to Brescia, Ryerson and the University of Guelph, OHEA has a flow of new professionals emerging. Communities need leaders – perhaps more today than ever. We must find like-minded grads - leaders who qualify to use the P.H.Ec. title.
To our new P.H.Ecs., I say…’ Your career will take flight if you find the wind beneath your volunteer wings.
Reach out to keep the Home Economics profession alive - it will serve you well.
Please click the link to see my article, Food Literacy: A Lifelong Commitment: https://www.ohea.on.ca/uploads/1/2/6/0/12605917/food_literacy__-_a_lifelong_commitment_docx_-_mc__final__2_docx.pdf
Bravo to 40 years OHEA. The best is yet to come!
Mary V. Carver, P.H.Ec. - Ottawa
Wanting to learn more information about OHEA's history? Join us on March 23 for our annual conference which will be held in London, Ontario at Brescia University College. Visit oheaconference.ca or ohea.on.ca for more information about the agenda, speakers and to register. We look forward to seeing you there!