Extension Service Celebrating 100 Years of Extension work in the United States over the next year. Just read on:
Why the Extension Service? 100 years of the Smith-Lever Act.
May 8, marked the 99th Anniversary of the enactment of the Smith-Lever Act of 1914 which created the Cooperative Extension Service at the nation’s Land-Grant Universities. In West Virginia those land grant institutions are West Virginia University and West Virginia State University.
The act was originally introduced by Senator Hoke Smith of Georgia and Representative A.F. Lever of South Carolina. The purpose of the act, as stated in the text is ”...to aid in the diffusing among the people of the United States useful and practical information on subjects relating to agriculture, home economics, and rural energy, and to encourage the application of the same, there may be continued or inaugurated in connection with the college or colleges in each State, Territory, or possession…agriculture extension work which shall be carried on in cooperation with the United States Department of Agriculture…”
Smith-Lever created the nation’s largest and most successful network for non-formal constituent based education: Cooperative Extension. Part of the innovation of this system was the unique funding mechanism to ensure local support which we still use today. Now, as in 1914, Cooperative Extension work is carried on with support from federal, state, and local governments (the participation of various levels of government is where we get the “cooperative” part of our name). This system institutionalized the positive early extension education carried on in the late 1800s and early 1900s by pioneers in our field such as Seaman A. Knapp and A. B. Graham.
The purpose and system originally created through the Smith-Lever Act has been so successful that Congress amended and expanded the role of Extension throughout the years (especially following major tests and successes of Cooperative Extension during two World Wars and the Great Depression). Today, the USDA lists six major focus areas for our work: 4-H Youth Development, Agriculture, Leadership Development, Natural Resources, Family & Consumer Sciences, and Community & Economic Development. If you are interested in learning about the early history of the Cooperative Extension System, please check out the USDA’s website at http://www.csrees.usda.gov/qlinks/extension.html.
For nearly a century the work of Cooperative Extension has been continually seen as a vital and positive force in the development of American society. We, and our colleagues across the nation, have many reasons to be proud of our rich heritage and of the teaching, research, and service we are conducting now which will benefit future generations. Feel free to utilize the WVU Extension Office and its resources here in Monroe County by visiting us on the web at http://monroe.ext.wvu.edu/ or by calling to 304-772-3003.