Cooperative Extension Celebrates 100 Years of Working for Wisconsin
Cooperative Extension’s first agent, E.L. Luther, hired in 1912 in Oneida County, made farm visits using a two-cylinder motorbike. One hundred years later, both modes of transportation and Cooperative Extension programming have changed, but one important point remains the same.
Cooperative Extension educators continue to serve as a portal to educational resources from the University of Wisconsin to address issues faced by individuals, families, businesses and communities around the state.
“Our centennial creates opportunities for us to celebrate 100 years of Cooperative Extension history through stories that highlight how we’ve evolved and changed to meet the needs of people, businesses and communities in Wisconsin and beyond,” said Cooperative Extension Dean and Director Richard M. Klemme. “Our past serves as the foundation for our current work. Throughout 2012, we will explain and demonstrate how the work we do today positively influences the future of Wisconsin.”
In 1911, the Wisconsin legislature provided funds for counties to jointly employ with the University of Wisconsin College of Agriculture “an agriculturist who is an agent of a restricted area, a county or a part of one.” The Oneida County Board was the first county to send three of their members to Madison, asking the University for this service, with expenses to be shared on a 50/50 basis. Luther was hired in February 1912, and two additional agents were hired that same year, one in Eau Claire County and the other in Barron County.
In 1912, Luther provided agricultural information about livestock, winter feed, soils and legumes. Today, Cooperative Extension is home to four program areas offering local information in person and online, providing research-based information 24/7. Local Cooperative Extension offices also connect communities with University of Wisconsin campuses, where Cooperative Extension faculty and staff provide research-based information about the issues facing the people of Wisconsin.
With an office in each of Wisconsin’s 72 counties and on three Native American reservations, Cooperative Extension develops practical educational programs tailored to local needs and based on university knowledge and research. Cooperative Extension delivers expertise to the public, addressing a wide range of needs, in both urban and rural areas of the states.
Colleagues in Cooperative Extension, a division of the University of Wisconsin-Extension, will be incorporating the 2012 Centennial Celebration into a variety of conferences, workshops and educational programs throughout the year. Examples include the Garden Expo in Madison in February; Farm Technology Days in Outagamie County in July; county fairs; and the 2012 Wisconsin State Fair.
“Our centennial provides us with a timely opportunity to thank our clients, partners and friends for their continued support of our educational programs,” added Klemme. “It also creates opportunities for people to share their memories of Cooperative Extension, highlight our relevance and celebrate the impacts of our educational programming.”
More information about the Cooperative Extension 2012 Centennial, including historical photos and timeline, is available online at http://100.ces.uwex.edu >>>