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Happy 100th Birthday, Extension!
Today is a very important milestone. On this day, 100 years ago, the Smith-Lever Act was signed, establishing the Cooperative Extension Service.
Before the Smith-Lever Act, there were three important acts that paved the way for the purpose of the Extension Service.
It started in the 1860s, when a Vermont congressman named Justin Morrill sought to increase educational opportunities for the farming community in the United States. As a result, the Morrill Act of 1862 established land-grant colleges. The act authorized the federal government to provide 30,000 acres of federal land for each state member of Congress. With this land, a public college was to be built for the purpose of instruction in agricultural science and engineering. Kentucky received 30,000 acres in Lexington, and, in 1865, the Agriculture and Mechanical College of Kentucky University was founded. This college would later be collectively known as the University of Kentucky.
The Hatch Act of 1887 allowed land-grant colleges to develop agricultural experiment stations. These stations were created to conduct research in agricultural sciences, with aims to improve existing management techniques and overall production.
The Second Morrill Act of 1890 was enacted to ensure equal educational opportunities to all Americans, regardless of race. Thus, Kentucky State University became the state’s second land-grant institution, and one of the 105 Historically Black Colleges and Universities in America.
With a solid education center in place, and research in motion to improve farming methods, a “bridge” was needed to relay information and research findings of the college to the residents of the state. The Smith-Lever Act of 1914 created one such bridge by establishing Cooperative Extension Services. The Extension Services focused on educating people in agriculture, home economics, and later 4-H.
With this final act, the three branches of the land-grant system were in place: teaching, research, and extension.
In Carroll County, the Cooperative Extension Service began in 1919 with our county’s first agent for agriculture, Lawrence A. Bradford. Our first agent for home economics was Katharine Russell in 1940. In 1971, we gained our first official 4-H agent, Dave Herring.
The Cooperative Extension Service has deep roots in our county as well as our state and country.
All year, we will be celebrating the importance of Extension with our “Extension Tree.”
Has the Extension Service affected your life?
It has mine. Not only do I have the absolute pleasure of serving you as your ag agent, the person I am today was shaped by the many experiences I had as a 4-H’er. For instance, I attribute all my public speaking skills to my participation in 4-H Talk Meets and Dairy Judging. It gave me confidence for a lifetime.
Stop by the office and share your story with us. Add your leaf to our tree so that we can all show the impact Extension has made in our lives and our community.
For more information on our centennial celebration, please contact the Carroll County Cooperative Extension Service at (502) 732-7030.
Dates of Interest
May 15 – Master Stocker, Session 8 of 8: Facilities and Handling Equipment, 6:30 p.m., Carroll County Extension Office.
Christin Herbst is the Carroll County Extension agent for agriculture and natural resources. Call her at (502) 732-7030 or send e-mail to Christin.Herbst@uky.edu.