President of the South Dakota Extension Homemakers Council (SDEHC) which serves 10,000 women, Charlotte Seas has devoted a large share of her life to 4-H, has traced the genealogy of her adoptive family and has experienced both deep sadness in the loss of two young grandsons and supreme joy in raising four active children. Adopted at a young age by her aunt and uncle, she grew up in town and adjusted to rural life only when she married her husband of 42 years, Dallas, and moved to their farm near Brookings, South Dakota. She not only had to learn to cook for hired men, she also had to face the rural reality of no electricity and no running water.
Realizing her need to learn homemaking skills, she inquired about starting an Extension homemakers club. Having enjoyed 4-H as a young girl, she gathered together friends and relatives in the hope that her new needs would be met by the Young Matrons club which began in 1947.
"I trust the Cooperative Extension Service and appreciate the unbiased information we receive," she said. "Extension lets me draw my own conclusions and keeps me up-to-date." Charlotte devoted 37 years to the South Dakota 4-H program--as a member, volunteer leader and club project leader. Over the years, she organized three separate clubs. "4-H has been good for our family. It doesn't take children out of the home; it brings families together to work toward goals."
Active on the county and district level of Extension homemakers, Charlotte initiated the use of the thermogram to detect breast cancer early. She coordinated use of a medical van to travel throughout the state; women came to receive free breast exams. She served in the Extension ranks as Brookings County Chairman, area director and state vice president. She served as secretary on the County, District and State Extension Advisory Boards from 1970-79. She is now in her first year of a three-year term as SDEHC president.
She has also been active in the Brookings School District, American Cancer Society and United Methodist Church. A charter member of the Brookings Genealogical Society, she is either working on or has plans to trace the family histories of all her families--the Sanders, Seneys, Duffs, Seas and Trottmans. "Maybe it's because I didn't have a 'real family' of my own that family traditions, photo albums and relatives are so important to me."
Early in her marriage, she thought, "I'm out on this farm with the pigs and the chickens and the world is passing me by." She hasn't felt that way for a long time. Today she is perfectly happy on the farm and has no desire to move into town. She takes pride in her husband and their four children: Craig, a shop foreman in Arlington, South Dakota; Dawne Lamp, an executive secretary in Spearfish, South Dakota; Robyn Emmett, a 3M computer technician in Brookings, South Dakota; and Melodee, a senior journalism major at SDSU, Brookings, South Dakota.
"Dallas always supported me in whatever I felt I needed to do," she said. "He is not a joiner like me; he's a homebody, a hard worker who is proud of his home and family." Without him, Charlotte may not have been able to reach for her goals and to give of herself beyond the realm of her family.