I grew up on a large dairy farm in western Augusta County. As a child, I was involved in gardening, preserving food, and a variety of farm chores. At age 9, I began making my own clothes. 4-H was a favorite social outlet, and through competing in food demonstration contests, sewing and fashion shows, and leadership opportunities, I learned to think on my feet and to speak in public. My mother was a professional home economist and a teacher. She was patient and encouraging— willing to let an inquisitive child take over her kitchen and experiment with cooking and baking, or put scissors in cloth and create with needle and thread.
I graduated from Bridgewater College with BS in Home Economics, and Virginia Tech with an MS in Housing, Interior Design, and Resource Management. At age 21, I landed my dream job, serving as Home Economist for Cooperative Extension in Shenandoah County. It must have been a shock to the women in Shenandoah County to work with such a young Extension Agent, as I followed an experienced and much-loved county agent.
The Extension Homemakers took me under their wing, and we learned together. Teaching cooking, baking, food preservation, sewing, quilting, curtain making, along with managing a family budget, parenting, and skills for taking care of home and family brought me a sense of joy and accomplishment.
Before the time when new skills could be acquired by watching how-to videos on the internet, the most reliable place to get questions answered in rural America was to call the Extension Office. When the agents did not know the answers to client questions, they would call the specialists at Virginia Tech for back-up support. As a result, I was immersed in learning the newest research and information throughout my Extension Career.
In addition to my time serving as home economist in Shenandoah County, I worked with the communities of Augusta and Fauquier Counties. I retired with 30 years of experience at the county and administrative district level from Virginia Cooperative Extension. The next day, I changed careers, and headed into the collegiate setting to work for Bridgewater College and Lord Fairfax Community College in development.
As I reflected on my favorite parts of my career, teaching classes and learning together with neighbors and colleagues topped the list. Now, as I near retirement (again!), my husband and children encouraged me to start a business to teach those home arts that provide self-sufficiency and satisfaction for individuals and families. We built a teaching studio, and Fieldsmith LLC came into being.
The name Fieldsmith is a blend of my maiden name of Smith and my married name of Butterfield. Fieldsmith LLC is an umbrella for Fieldsmith Home Arts—the teaching side, and Fieldsmith Consulting—fundraising consulting work. I have enjoyed 42 years of marriage to my husband, Wayne Butterfield, a now-retired pilot. We have two children—Kate Grisdale (married to husband, Aaron) and Evan Butterfield (married to wife, Kim). It is a joy to welcome you to our home and studio—a place where friends can gather to learn and be creative.