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Purdue University. Agricultural Extension Service

 Organization

Dates

  • Existence: 1869-

Historical Information

In the 1880s Purdue University started interesting experimental work in agriculture. Valuable information on crop rotation, soil fertility, care of livestock, fruit production and marketing, and other numerous farm related topics were generated from the ongoing research. In 1889, Professor W. C. Latta became a key figure in the enactment of the Farmer’s Institute Act, which legally recognized the work the university had been doing in holding farm schools and ‘moveable’ schools throughout the state.

The first county agents were appointed in 1906, along with the appointment of the first home demonstration agents in 1910. This work in turn led to the Clore Act in 1911, which authorized expansion of extension work, under the direction of the Department of Agriculture Extension. On May 8, 1914, President Woodrow Wilson signed the Smith-Lever Act which provided for co-operative relations between state and nation to aid in agricultural education. Extension Service became the educational arm of the United States Department of Agriculture. Forty-two states had extension work in some form in 1914 and 929 counties already employed 1,350 extension workers. By mid-June 1918, nationally 2,435 counties had agriculture agents, 1,715 counties had home demonstration agents, and 4-H membership had soared to a half million members.

In 1940 about 55,000 Indiana boys and girls between ten and twenty years of age were enrolled in these groups, which led to great improvements in farm life. More than 2,000,000 persons attended in one year the lectures and demonstrations that the county agents, home demonstration agents and specialists from Purdue conducted. In the 1960s and 1970s additional programs were added, and the Agricultural Extension Service was changed to the Cooperative Extension Service, and agent titles were changed to County Extension Agent. In the 1980s and 1990s, the “farm crisis” redirected extension; Indiana combined 10 areas into 5 districts, positions were downsized in 1987, with a strong emphasis on accountability and collaboration with organizations with similar goals.

Extension continues to take the university to the people and the demonstration method is still in use. Goals remain to empower customers, develop volunteers, build collaborative partnerships, increase the capacity to secure resources, utilize appropriate technologies and communication networks and create a climate for staff to realize their potential. Extension educators with agricultural and natural resource specialties offer programs and information on agricultural production and financial management for farmers, food and fiber processors, manufacturers and consumers.

Citation

Frederick Whitford, Neal Harmeyer, and David M. Hovde. Enriching the Hoosier Farm Family: A Photo History of Indiana's Early County Extension Agents. Purdue University Press, 2016.

Found in 4 Collections and/or Records:

Annabel Rupel papers, addition 03

 Unprocessed — Multiple Containers
Identifier: 20190408

College of Agriculture, Department of Agricultural Economics records, addition 01

 Unprocessed — Box: 1
Identifier: 20190812
Dates: Majority of material found within circa 1950s - 1960s

Jeannette O. Parvis papers

 Unprocessed — Box: 1
Identifier: 20200922

Tippecanoe County Extension Homemakers records

 Unprocessed — Multiple Containers
Identifier: 20190808.1