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Eileen Loan tells VWC members how children choose what to plant at the Community Youth Garden.

More than 40 women, along with three men, and later four teenage boys, gathered at the Trinity Lutheran Church Fellowship Hall for the annual fall meeting.

The ratio of females to males is highly unusual for the Vinton Women’s Club (VWC) – usually the men number just one or two.

I was one of those three men, along with Keith and Bill Ervin, the husband and son of VWC President Kathie Ervin. The four teenage boys were from Mr. Upmeyer’s ninth grade Communications class; they came in after the dinner and the business meeting to listen to the speaker and evaluate her presentation, using questions the teacher had provided.

That speaker was Eileen Loan, the KWWL-TV meteorologist. Loan only very briefly discussed the weather (her guess is that the dry conditions of this year will lead to a colder winter). Club members invited her to come speak about the Community Youth Garden.

Annual VWC actvities

The VWC honors its Woman of the Year during the spring banquet and hosts a reception for Vinton-Shellsburg teachers each August at the Ray House.

One of the first events I covered after moving to Vinton in the late winter of 2003, was the Woman of the Year banquet.

I was the only guy there, at the beginning, that year. More men from the family of Sherry McLaughlin entered the room after the announcement that Sherry was that year’s Woman of the Year.

I’ve covered most of those events myself, with the exception of a year or two when female colleagues from the newspapers told me you should never send a boy to do a woman’s job.

Club History

The VWC began in May of 1947, and one of the original charter members – Veona Swartzbaugh – still survives.

Grace Milroy – who served as VWC President in 1958 and 1959 – was among the most senior members. She believes she joins the VWC about 1954.
“This was before we all had TV,” said Grace on Tuesday evening. The club mas more active then, with a variety of committees devoted to specific projects or activities.

The club has chosen a Woman of the Year every year since bestowing that honor on Mrs. F. J. Polking in 1948. This year’s honoree, Vicki Abernathy, attended the meeting, where club members heard a “thank-you” from her.

The VWC also offers a $500 scholarship to a graduating senior, paid when that student begins his or her second semester of college. This year’s recipient was Elle Osborne, who also sent a thank-you note to the club.

CommunityGarden

Eileen told the group that the youngsters (mostly middle school to early high school age) recently held a garden party, with everything they ate coming from that garden.

The students, she said, choose which vegetables to plant, and spend a few hours on most Monday afternoons planting, weeding and learning about how plants grow.

One of the girls took a watermelon home to her family, said Eileen. After noticing that the rind was gone, the girl’s father asked where it was. She had already taken it to the compost pile at the garden, said Eileen.

The project, she said, helps the students to understand better where food comes from. It also teaches them about healthy eating and even gives them an appreciation for things like zucchini.



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