By Elizabeth Sagehorn
A long time ago — 100 years, as a matter of fact — in a little town called Davis, a woman named Kate Fizell had an idea for a social organization for women. She was the matron of the dormitory and dining hall at the University Farm School, and she wanted to provide an opportunity for women new to the University Farm to form friendships while at the same time helping students.
There wasn’t much in the way of entertainment in Davis, and the Yolo Causeway hadn’t opened so there was no travel to Sacramento at night. Fizell thought this new group could create its own entertainment and provide assistance to students.
The 25 women she gathered together were all associated in one way or another with the University Farm — later to become UC Davis — and back then a group of women was called a “circle,” so the name decided upon for her group was University Farm Circle.
They held their first social event, a Valentine Dance, on Feb. 14, 1914. They continued having social events, raising money for their student loan fund and helping students in other ways, cooking special holiday meals, providing jobs, mending clothes and bringing students and faculty together for social events. In 1937, they gave their first scholarship — a $100 grant.
University Farm Circle now has 490 members, a scholarship endowment fund of more than $350,000 and annually gives as many as nine $2,000 scholarships to UCD women students. And the members are still having fun. They have one or two monthly programs and 28 interest sections on many diverse subjects ranging from antiquing to yoga.
To celebrate the 100th birthday of their group, past presidents organized a Valentine’s Day luncheon at the UCD Conference Center that was attended by 250 members. The event also included displays of fashion and memorabilia from the past 100 years.
Co-presidents Sheila Beyer and Linda Ziskind introduced the emcee for the luncheon, Sandi Redenbach, and Chancellor Linda Katehi welcomed all of the attendees. The keynote speaker, state Sen. Lois Wolk, spoke of the importance of organizations like UFC and how being president of the group had led to her career in public service.
The mission statement of the University Farm Circle is to welcome newcomers to the campus and community, assist students through scholarships and provide programs and activities to meet the needs and interests of its members.
Local women who think UFC might be right for them are invited to visit www.ufcdavis.org.
Members don’t need to live in Davis, they don’t need to be associated with UCD and they definitely don’t need to have a farm, just an interest in staying informed, having fun and furthering education.
— Elizabeth Sagehorn is a Davis resident.