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Helen Strow

Helen Strow

Hall of Fame Class of 1999

In her half century of service to her country and other nations, Helen Strow helped many people through her adult and continuing education work. She first applied her technical knowledge and experience and perfected her personal teaching skills among American students at state universities in Ohio and Michigan; later in Washington, D.C., she extended talents to clients who came to her from many other nations.

Born in 1904, Ms. Strow acquired her home economics education at Ohio State University. Her early career included positions as County Home Economics Extension Service Agent and Field Supervisor at the Ohio State University and Michigan State University Extension Services and as Assistant State Cooperative Extension Service Director.

During World War II, she sailed on a troop ship to Europe and served as a Red Cross Camp Director aiding Allied military troops. After the war, she consulted on agriculture and home economics matters for the U.S. State Department's Marshall plan for European Reconstruction. During her third career of 18 years for the U.S. Department of Agriculture, she assisted thousands of foreign national visitors from more than 30 countries. Sponsored and supported by their governments, private organizations, the U.S., or on their own, they came with a mission: to learn, take home, and then share what they learned. She taught and oriented them to the U.S. agricultural educational system, American society customs and values, and the U.S. land grant university system. In 1974, she retired from USDA and joined the Washington, D.C., staff of the American Association of Family and Consumer Services, of which she had been a member for 36 years. The same year, she established the International Home Economics Extension Service, Inc., serving as President until her death in February 1999.

In 1964, she received the U.S. Department of Agriculture Honor Award for excellence and outstanding leadership in international home economics education and for developing effective training procedures and materials for foreign nationals. In 1994, she received the American Association of Family and Consumer Services Distinguished Award, their highest professional award.

Helen Strow's legacy resides in the many individuals throughout the world whose lives have been enhanced and transformed by the spreading of her work.