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Homemakers Group Works for Scholarship Money

LAS CRUCES -- Dona Ana County Extension Homemakers Council is going a little nutty to raise money for scholarships.

The homemakers help with the Pecan Food Fantasy Contest during the 30th Annual Western Pecan Growers Association Conference March 9-11, at the Las Cruces Hilton. The contest features foods made with pecans. Categories range from traditional pecan pie to breads to unusual desserts.

The Western Pecan Growers Association gives the homemakers $250 for working the contest. The money funds a scholarship to a homemaker returning to college at New Mexico State University.

Diane Zwaagstra of Mesquite is this spring's recipient of the Extension Homemakers scholarship. She is pursuing a master's degree in home economics education at NMSU's College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences . When she completes her degree, she would like to teach at the middle school level.

After earning her bachelor's degree in 1970, Zwaagstra taught home economics in Ontario, Calif., for two years. She returned to NMSU in August 1995 to finish a master's degree.

Zwaagstra, an active 4-H club leader, has taught clothing and foods projects as well as organized numerous outreach projects for 4-H members with programs such as Special Olympics, a local homeless shelter and foodbank and the Crisis Pregnancy Center.

She has taught drama at Mesilla Valley Christian Schools for seven years and directs two plays a year. She also teaches 4- and 5-year-olds through the Mothers of Pre-Schoolers Program (MOPS) at her church.

Zwaagstra is the director and founder of the Las Cruces chapter of Concerned About Teen Sexuality (CATS), an abstinence speech and drama group.

"I would like to see other young people succeed as my children are, and I think home economics is a significant factor in bringing that about," Zwaagstra said. "I hope to be able to return the investment by investing myself in the lives of home economics students when I get into the classroom."

To support the Dona Ana County Extension Homemakers scholarship fund, enter the Pecan Fantasy Food contest Sunday, March 10, at the Las Cruces Hilton. Entries are due between 9:30 and 12:30 a.m. and must be a homemade food containing pecans.

Blue ribbon winners in each category will receive $40. The outstanding adult entry wins $200 and the outstanding junior entry $100. The best traditional pecan pie entry receives $250 for first place and $100 for second place.

Exhibitors must submit an entry form with each entry. Forms can be picked up at the Dona Ana County Extension office at 150 W. Lohman. For more information call Pamela Henry-Pollat at 525-6649.