The president of the South Dakota Extension Homemakers Council, Oriska Stroschein is a 1982 Eminent Homemaker who spends her life in service to her family and others.
Married for 38 years to a progressive Blom Township farmer, Leon, the Stroscheins were the parents of a son who suffered from cerebral palsy for 21 years. Darris was an invalid and in need of constant care for his entire life but Oriska and Leon never looked upon him as a burden. Instead, they have enjoyed every phase of life and involvement.
When Oriska was tied to the home, she accepted responsibilities that could be done at home. She was provided with the creative outlets that she needed by Irene Heaton, Extension Home Economist in Deuel County then. When Darris died in 1974, people in the community thought she needed something to fill the hours of void in her life. She was asked to assist with the first Deuel County Combined Appeal Drive. That same year she was the vice chairman of the Deuel County Creative Arts Club. Later she worked with the Estelline Crop Show.
Throughout her life, she has been an active, contributing member in her church. In 1954, they joined the Trinity Lutheran Church in Estelline. She is involved in the Trinity Lutheran Church Women and Christian Nurture Circle and Altar Circle. She served on the board of education in 1960 and has taught Sunday School and confirmation classes. Oriska was the first woman chairman of the church in 1975-76 and served as secretary of the church council in 1978-79. As chairman of the church banner committee, she created original designs, aided seamstresses and helped other churches with banner traditions.
It was through the Cooperative Extension Service that Oriska’s leadership potential came to fruition. Extension homemakers was her outlet.
“I participated in the programs, held offices in my Willing Workers Extension club, took project lessons and brought them back to my club and held county and district offices as I was asked,” she said. “I didn’t realize it at the time, but I was building leadership skills. It happened without me realizing it. I did what I thought was my duty as a club member and saw opportunities to grow.”
As a 33-year member of the Willing Workers, Oriska has held all possible offices. On the County level, she was the 1974-76 Deuel County Extension Homemakers Council president, the 1978-79 District XI Extension Homemakers Council president and 1978-80 State Extension Homemakers Council secretary. This past January she accepted a three-year term as a state president of the council.
In 1971 she was appointed to the Deuel County Extension Board and served for eight years; she served as chairman of the board in 1974. She served on the State Extension Advisory Board for three years and was its secretary one year. She is a charter board member of the South Dakota Citizens for Research and Extension. In 1976 she was a delegate to the first North Central Lay Leaders’ Seminar in Washington, D.C.
Oriska’s profound philosophy of life focuses on education. “When we’re no longer able to learn, life won’t have much meaning. Education is life, life is an education and education is for life,” she said.
Even in her pleasure time, she continues to learn. She has had numerous needlework shows of her needlepoint, crewel and hardanger pieces and has earned sweepstakes awards for it. Yet, she continues to attend workshops to learn new techniques and applications. Now that she’s designing her own needle art she is no longer considered to be an amateur. But needlework isn’t all that occupies her hands and talents. She also sews, reads, gardens and decorates cakes.
In looking at the honor of being named Eminent Homemaker for 1982, Oriska sees beyond herself. “I didn’t get an award like this all by myself.” Crediting Leon, she said, “He gave me his patience and understanding when I was becoming involved. He makes a commitment to my offices, too. He may prefer to have me at home, but he has given me the open door to accept opportunities when they come my way.”