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Extension Homemakers Blog

Extension Homemakers Blog

AEHC State Meeting Speakers to Present Diverse Topics

by Eva Marie Pearson - May 7, 2017

Three women from very different backgrounds will be featured speakers at the Arkansas Extension Homemakers Council's state meeting planned June 6-8 at the Hot Springs Convention Center.

A former Miss Arkansas, an executive with the Arkansas State Fair and a Hot Spring costumer and gift shop owner are set to speak during the upcoming state meeting of the Arkansas Extension Homemakers Council. The meeting is scheduled June 6 through 8 at the Hot Springs Convention Center. 

Beth Ann Rankin
Beth Anne Rankin was Miss Arkansas in 1994 and will be the keynote speaker at the upcoming conference.

Beth Anne Rankin, Miss Arkansas 1994, will be the keynote speaker at the first event of the meeting, a luncheon planned for noon June 6 in Horner Hall at the Convention Center.

Deb Crow, competitive events administrator for the State Fair., and Hannah Mills, owner of Hot Springy Dingy and costumer for the First Ever Annual World's Shortest St. Patrick's Day Parade, will be featured during the closing session, the morning of June 8, also in Horner Hall.

Born in El Dorado and raised on the Rankin family farm in Magnolia, Rankin is a seventh-generation Arkansan. She graduated magna cum laude in 1994 from Ouachita Baptist University at Arkadelphia with a double major in music and history and was selected the Outstanding Senior Woman. She went on to obtain a master of public administration degree from Southern Arkansas University at Magnolia in 2013.

After her year of service as Miss Arkansas 1994, Rankin served as Gov. Mike Huckabee’s policy adviser for the National Governors Association, Southern Governors Association, Council of State Governments, Capitol Hill and the White House. She coordinated the Governor’s Summit on Economic Development and chaired the statewide initiative for the historical design of the Arkansas State Quarter, which led the nation in citizen participation.

As a former entrepreneur and small business owner of Beth Anne Productions’ Classical Performing Arts Studio, Rankin was a Nationally Certified Teacher of Music (NCTM) and taught for 10 years. A composer and speaker, she co-hosted a radio talk show and spoke at leadership and women’s conferences for more than a decade. She has been a featured guest on Fox Business Channel’s “Dave Asman Show,” as well as “Huckabee.” In 2015, she became the executive director of the Arkansas 529 and launched a 75-county tour, as well as a statewide kindergarten initiative “Coloring for College” to heighten public awareness about the state’s college-savings program.

She currently serves as the associate director of Development and Major Gifts at Southern Arkansas University, where she continues to combine her love of education and love for the State of Arkansas.

Rankin's topic will be "Fingerprints of Leadership" and will focus on the attributes and characteristics that have comprised the heart and spirit of the Arkansas Extension Homemakers Council's members' leadership and volunteerism through the years. Connecting past, present and future with a thread of encouragement, the presentation will applaud today's members for the many worthy endeavors in which they are involved. Additionally, it will incorporate that leaders are all unique (like fingerprints), each one different, distinct and showcasing singular skills and talents.

Deb Crow
Deb Crow has served as secretary for the Pulaski County 4-H Foundation for the last 6 years and will discuss her job duties for the State Fair and the Arkansas Livestock Show.

Crow started volunteering at the Arkansas State Fair in 1999. In 2006, she began working full-time as the competitive events administrator for the State Fair. Under this title, she is the administrator for the Arts and Crafts, Pageants and Youth Talent events during the fair. She also holds the titles of museum and archive director and grounds beautification director for the Arkansas Livestock Show Association. She has served as secretary for the Pulaski County 4-H Foundation for the last six years. She is the mother of a 27-year-old son named Dustin and an 18-month-old granddaughter, Marlee Paige.

Crow will discuss her job duties for the State Fair and the Arkansas Livestock Show Association relating to archives and preserving history and volunteers being involved with county fairs.

After selling their business in Lynn, Mass., (outside of Boston) Mills said that she and her husband, David, could not decide where they wanted to go next, other than warmer weather. She spread open a map and placed the forefingers of both hand on the map. She had not heard of either of the places to which she was pointing. While Transylvania, La., sounded exotic, Hot Springs National Park won. “I fell in love with Hot Springs – the clean air and water, the mountains and lakes, but most of all, the people. Hot Springs is a small town with a big heart.”

They moved to Hot Springs and opened a small gift shop in the 100 block of Central Avenue in 1978, celebrating the 38th anniversary in September 2016.

“In 1983 I recognized a need for costumes,” Mills said, “and began to teach myself how to sew. One day as I was on the floor with my pattern spread out all around me attempting to learn how to read it. A customer came in. I was so preoccupied that I did not hear her. She could hear a rustling sound coming from behind the showcases, but could not see what was going on. Fearing the worst, she tiptoed to the counter and peered over just as I happened to look up. We both screamed, then burst out laughing. She, an experienced seamstress, got down on the floor with me and showed me the fine arts of reading a pattern. We have been good friends ever since. The rest, as they say, is history.”

Hannah Mills poses with people dressed as Leprechauns

Hannah Mills, Queen of the First Ever Annual World's Shortest St. Patrick's Day Parade, spends a moment with the King and the World's Largest Leprechauns. (Picture Courtesy of Hannah Mills)

In 1996 they moved to a much larger location on Park Avenue and have enjoyed being a part of the renovation and reclamation of Uptown Park Avenue. Their costume department continues to expand and they are currently considered the largest in the state with thousands from which to choose. “I love what I do and I love where I am, and I look forward to many more years of Costumes by Hannah,” Mills said.

Mills will discuss “From Loincloth to The Gap.” From the time man and woman began to figure out how to use a needle and sinew (the original thread), the “fashion” industry was born. Mills will lead the audience on a stroll through history to watch the evolution of fashion through the ages.

More information about the state meeting is available by visiting the Arkansas Extension Homemakers Council's website at