A native of West Virginia, Fleming became active in 4-H when she was just 13 years old. She represented the Flatts Fair Flyers 4-H Club and Monongalia County at the State Fashion Revue for two years. She was also a county winner in Home Environment with her Club Girls Room project.
But it was 4-H camping programs that would change the course of her life. She was an avid camper and received many camping awards and participated as an exchange camper with another county.
While attending 4-H camp, Fleming met her husband. She and her husband were both 4-H leaders for 18 months until the couple moved to Taylor County, West Virginia where Fleming became a county extension agent working with 4-H and home economics. Fleming worked as an extension agent in West Virginia and Florida for 40 years.
After their retirements in 1995, Fleming and her husband returned to being volunteer 4-H club leaders again.
“4-H leaders, home economics teachers and extension agents influenced my selection of home economics as a career goal,” said Fleming. “My activities in the camping program developed friendships which grew throughout college and my career.”
She also reflected that 4-H helped her grow personally. “Competition in 4-H helped me to change from a shy child to an outgoing teenager and adult,” said Fleming.
Fleming set a precedent for other agents involved with the cooperative extension service by establishing 4-H clubs in minority neighborhoods, where others have had difficulty establishing relationships.
Located in a low-income housing project, her 4-H clubs have helped countless girls who were considered “at-risk” by the school system, make a successful transition from high school to college or post-secondary training. Through her support, each year ten or fifteen of “Helen’s Kids” attend 4-H camp either as a camper or counselor.
She had a tremendous impact in home economics and other family related fields. Fleming was recognized as Citizen of the Year 2001 by the Hernando County Chamber of Commerce and has won many distinguished service awards from both West Virginia and Florida 4-H programs.