The Cologne Busy Bees 4-H Club is the oldest active club, and the last home economics club, in Atlantic County, said top leader Frances Hagel, 87, of Hamilton Township.

With 61 years as leader, Hagel is the longest serving 4-H volunteer in the county. She took over from neighbor Dorothy Liepe in 1952.

"It started in 1941, and never ceased," Hagel said of Busy Bees.

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Hagel hasn't lost enthusiasm for teaching kids how to freeze and can vegetables and fruit; and how to cook, sew and crochet.

"Who is going to teach these kids? There are no more home economics (classes) in school," she said. "At least I know some are getting it."

She has changed with the times. When she started, people made clothes because they had no other way of getting them. They sewed dresses to wear to dances and in 4-H competitions.

Few people need to sew or preserve food anymore. It's about passing along knowledge so people can be self-sufficient, if they want to be, she said.

The club now has eight members. Hagel has the help of four co-leaders, two of whom were Busy Bee members as children: Rosemarie Lieb and Donna Wheeler, both of Galloway Township; niece Evelyn Hagel, of Hamilton Township; and Terry Hamilton, of Egg Harbor City. Hamilton has been a co-leader for 10 years, the rest for 20 years.

Hagel has remained a leader through years of raising her three children, then through 24 years as a school bus driver, she said.

"I love it. I always say when you like something enough, you find a way," Hagel said.

Call 4-H at 609-625-0056.

'Relentless' whale fans

An Egg Harbor Township filmmaker who documented the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society's disruption of Japanese whaling ships in the Antarctic last winter, said the group is planning its 10th campaign called Operation Relentless.

Ryan Garner, 33, said the Sea Shepherd's three ships will go out in December, if the whaling ships do. But Garner hopes international court cases will stop the Japanese Institute of Cetacean Research ships from operating, he said.

Fair-trade trip

Hammonton's Amy Menzel, lead organizer for The South Jersey Fair Trade Alliance, will join 15 other fair-trade organizers from across the U.S. this week to see what fair trade means to farmers and artisans in Mexico.

Menzel, who works at the Atlantic County Utilities Authority in Egg Harbor Township, will visit workers in weaving, carving, honey and coffee cooperatives in Oaxaca and Chiapas on a seven-day trip organized by Fair Trade Towns USA and Global Exchange.


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