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NOTE: In November 2001, members of the Kansas Wheathearts made the difficult decision to disband the organization. In making that announcement during the annual banquet of the Kansas Association of Wheat Growers and the Kansas Wheat Commission, Saralee Bentley, Past President of the Kansas Wheathearts, said, “members will still be working on behalf of the industry but as individuals, not as an organization.”

Kansas Wheathearts History

In the early 1950’s, Mrs. Ora V. (Lela) Martin was asked to chair a meeting for the wives of the newly organized Kansas Association of Wheat Growers. The first meeting was held at the Wiley Tea Room in Hutchinson, Kansas, in conjunction with the annual meeting of the Kansas Association of Wheat Growers. The wives of the wheat growers organized that day as the Kansas Wheathearts. Mrs. R. L. Patterson was elected as the first chairwoman.

Highlights of those early years, as remembered by Mrs. Martin, included traveling around the state promoting Redi wheat, a canned product, and bulgar. One year, the Wheathearts entertained Mrs. Phillips, a nutrition specialist from India who was touring the United States. Another time, the Kansas Wheathearts presented a beautiful wheat pin to the wife of a U.S. President. At one time, the Kansas Wheathearts sponsored a wheat queen contest at the country, district, and state levels. The Kansas Wheathearts also developed a cookie baked from whole white wheat flour and distributed and sold the cookies to promote white wheat.

In 1970, the Sumner County Wheathearts organized the first Bake & Take Day, a local activity to promote the baking and sharing of home-baked goods. The following year, the president of the Kansas Wheathearts, Mrs. Freida Worthington, promoted Bake & Take Day statewide. By 1973, the Kansas Wheathearts had initiated a national Bake & Take Day. Over one-third of the states participate in the observance each year. In Kansas, the fourth Saturday in March has been designated as Bake & Take Day. Kansas Bake & Take Day activities continue to be sponsored by the Kansas Association of Wheat Growers and the Kansas Wheat Commission.

In 1989, the Kansas Wheathearts began sponsoring a $500 Kansas 4-H Scholarship. Fourteen scholarships were awarded , with the final scholarship being presented in 2002.

In the 1990’s, the Kansas Wheathearts began assisting the Kansas Wheat Commission with the Kansas Festival of Breads. Held every other year, the Kansas Festival of Breads is a statewide baking competition. The Kansas Wheat Commission continues to sponsor the Kansas Festival of Breads.

In 1997, the Kansas Wheathearts launched Wheat Mania, an educational web site about wheat. Wheat Mania, www.wheatmania.com, continues as a project of the Kansas Association of Wheat Growers.

The mission of the Kansas Wheathearts was to promote awareness and usage of wheat and wheat products, and to encourage farm safety and other educational programs which enhanced the quality of rural life. Membership in the organization was open to any woman involved in the production or promotion of wheat. In later years, the Kansas Wheathearts also served as the Education Committee of the Kansas Association of Wheat Growers.