Wheat Scoop: Baking with Heart — Home Baking Association Celebrates 100 Years, Careers of Charlene Patton and Sharon Davis

Kansas Wheat

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If baking is a work of the heart, then Charlene Patton and Sharon Davis have been the heartbeat of the Home Baking Association (HBA) for more than two decades. The pair were honored for their work to bring baking into the homes of families during the HBA’s recent annual meeting in Sunriver, Oregon, where the association also celebrated 100 years as an organization.

“It’s hard to imagine how many home bakers have been inspired or helped by Sharon Davis, Charlene Patton and the Home Baking Association,” said Cindy Falk, Kansas Wheat nutrition educator. “I’ve worked alongside these talented women since I joined Kansas Wheat in 1988, and we have shared our passion for baking with countless youth, educators and home bakers. Together we’ve provided baking demonstrations at the Kansas State Fair, test-baked and judged entries for the National Festival of Breads, promoted wheat products at national meetings, created baking videos and so much more. Thank you both for your years of dedication and vision.”

The HBA was started in 1923, originally as a group of soft wheat millers that produced self-rising flour and recognized they could make advancements better together. Today, the organization promotes increased home baking by providing tools and knowledge to perpetuate the love of baking by offering resources and curriculum to anyone who teaches or fosters baking skills. In 2023, the non-profit reached 8.7 million educators and consumers through the resources on its website and social media channels as well as virtual and hands-on workshops at state and national conferences.

“The HBA has a rich library of resources for anyone who is learning or teaching others to bake at school or home,” Falk said. “Staying true to the mission of sharing those resources with others for more than a century has instilled a love of baking in countless classrooms and homes — and Charlene Patton and Sharon Davis have been integral to that continued success.”

Davis joined the HBA in 1995 as a family and consumer science educator. Since then, she has made more than 500 presentations and written or co-written a substantial amount of printed and online teaching materials. Ranging from quick five-minute lessons to multi-week lesson plans, her lesson plans, PowerPoint presentations and videos have brought baking skills to homes, communities and classrooms from coast to coast.

“Sharon embodies the joy of baking,” Falk said. “She has a talent for making every presentation a celebration of everything that home baking is about — passing down baking skills from parents to children, creating memories and teaching useful life skills. It has been rewarding to watch her create memorable experiences while emphasizing the significant role baking plays in families.”

Patton started as the HBA executive director in 1997, leading the organization’s annual meetings, outside events, finances and other operations. She is also a regular presenter on home baking, appearing in-person, virtually, on video, in person and on television. Together with Davis, she authored the book, “Baking with Friends,” a staple for recipes, tips and fun facts for teaching kids to bake.

“Like Sharon, when the name ‘Charlene Patton’ appears on a program, it is standing room only for the presentation,” said Robert Harper, HBA President, in his “President’s Message.” “She has always done a remarkable job at finding good value for us.”

With the retirement of Patton and Davis at the end of October, HBA leadership turns to new executive director Chris Kirby. Kirby has more than 25 years of experience in marketing, agriculture, nutrition, leadership and program development, thanks to past work with the Oklahoma Wheat Commission, Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma and Oklahoma State University.

Also at the HBA annual meeting, the organization elected new leadership and members of the board of directors, including:

President: Robert Harper, president of Hopkinsville Milling Company, Kentucky
First Vice President: Paula LaBine, marketing director with ADM Milling & Baking Solutions, Illinois
Second Vice President: Ileana Durand, senior manager with ASR Group, American Sugar Refining, Inc., Florida

Falk will continue to serve on the Educator Award Committee and was elected to serve on the Board of Directors.

Learn more about the Home Baking Association and check out the fantastic resources developed by Patton and Davis at homebaking.org.

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Written by Julia Debes for Kansas Wheat

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