The McKimmon Center is named after the late Dr. Jane S. McKimmon, who served for 35 years (1911-1946) as a leader in home demonstration work, and received many honors for her outstanding direction of youth and adult extension education in North Carolina; the Center carries on her tradition to public service.
Jane Simpson was born in Raleigh on November 13, 1867. She was one of eight children born to William and Anne Cannon Shanks Simpson. She graduated from Peace Institute when she was 16 and married Charles McKimmon when she was 18.
Jane S. McKimmon served as state director of the women's division of the Farmers Institutes from 1908-1911. In 1911, Dr. I.O. Schaub encouraged her to accept the position as the first NC state home demonstration agent (one of only five in the nation). When she accepted this position the total enrollment of home demonstration work was 416 white farm girls in 14 counties; 30 years later, the enrollment included 75,000 people (both white and black) in 100 counties. Under McKimmon's direction, Tomato Club Girls grew and canned a commercial product of excellent quality - thus, NC clubs were the first in the country to put standard packs on the market. This helped to open the eyes - and pocketbooks - of many county commissioners who had refused to see the necessity of such "frills" as home demonstration work. McKimmon retired from home demonstration work in 1937 but continued to serve as assistant director of the NC Agricultural Extension Service from 1924-1946.
Several NC governors recognized Jane S. McKimmon's outstanding leadership and organizational skills. In 1917, Governor Bickett named her director of home economics to help direct the WWI food program. Governor Ehringhaus appointed her on the board for the first State Rural Electrification Authority in 1935. In 1937, Governor Hoey made her vice-chairman of the board. Governor Broughton appointed her to the board of directors of the State Farmers Exchange in 1941. The latter governors also made and kept her as a member of the State Council of National Defense during WWII.
McKimmon was a big proponent of continued education. After she was 50 years old, she earned a B.S. degree from State College in 1926 and an M.S. degree in 1929. In 1934, she received an honorary LL.D. from the University of North Carolina in recognition of her outstanding contribution to the educational field in organizing and setting a pattern which brought home demonstration work to its present efficiency. She also insisted on further education for extension agents. From 1916 on, she planned two-week short courses that provided a 30-hour unit course for agents. She helped organize the State Home Economics Association which includes high school and college students, extension agents, and business leaders. In 1966, $100,000 in "butter and egg money" was presented to State College from about 40,000 Extension Homemaker Club members. This was to initiate funding for the Jane S. McKimmon Extension Education Center. The purpose of the building was to provide space for short courses and conferences and headquarters for the University's Extension and Public Service Division.
In 1945, Dr. McKimmon published the story of the home demonstration programs growth in her book, "When We're Green We Grow." In May of 1949, her work was dramatized on the National Broadcasting Company's 30-minute weekly program, "Cavalcade of America." Jane S. McKimmon died at the age of 90 on December 1, 1957. This quote from "When We're Green We Grow" sums up her opinion of the progress of home demonstration work: "There wasn't much cash in the North Carolina farm home in the early nineteen hundreds. There isn't much now. But there is a different attitude on many farms toward what constitutes wealth on the farm, and different methods of making it serve the farm family."
Helen Eure. "Jane Simpson McKimmon: apostle of richer life to the rural women of N.C."