Cooperative Extension celebrates 100 years of service

May. 15, 2014 @ 12:38 AM

Across the country, cooperative extension programs are celebrating 100 years of service. In 1914, state university researchers were beginning to discover better ways of raising crops and safely preserving food for the home -- information that was useful to rural citizens.

In North Carolina, C.R. Hudson was sent by Seaman A. Knapp to set up farm demonstration work in North Carolina, while I.O. Schaub started corn clubs for boys, followed by tomato clubs for girls, led by Jane S. McKimmon. Parents began asking for educational programs of their own. Thus began the three major programs Cooperative Extension delivers:

-- 4-H youth development

-- Family and consumer sciences

-- Agriculture, natural resources and community and rural development

A century ago, the goal was simple, but ambitious: to extend the knowledge of our nation’s universities to the people so that they might lead better lives. Today, N.C. Cooperative Extension has centers in the state’s 100 counties and the Qualla Boundary of the Eastern Band of the Cherokee Indians, supported by experts at the state’s land-grant universities, N.C. State and N.C. A&T. 

Cooperative Extension and North Carolina have changed a lot over the years.  However, extension’s educational mission of focusing on helping businesses, communities and individuals gain knowledge and skills that allow them to thrive, has not.

As the needs of people have shifted, so have extension’s programs. We strive for a holistic approach,  one that involves the many audiences who have a stake in the issue(s). These people include farmers, agribusiness professionals, consumers, gardeners, community leaders, school teachers and students, 4-H’ers and whole families. In other words, people of all ages, in communities from the mountains to the coast.

Durham County Cooperative Extension continues to provide the traditional programs and services that marked the beginning of extension’s existence.  However, Durham Extension has adopted an urban approach and developed programs specifically designed to address the needs of our urban community while incorporating our rural heritage.  Durham’s major nontraditional programming includes:

-- Welcome Baby:  Child development education and support to parents/guardians of young children birth to age 5.

-- Kids Voting:  Civic involvement education that helps young people understand and believe in the power they have as active well informed citizens and future voters.

-- Project BUILD: A gang prevention and intervention program serving at-risk youth ages 12-21.

-- Strengthening Family Coalition:  Advocacy training that involves parents, volunteers and organizations working together to assist parents who want to better navigate our public schools to help their children achieve.

-- Community capacity building:  Assisting non-profits and grassroots organizations in all aspects of organizational development and group facilitation.

-- Coordinated Transportation Program:  Assures accessibility to transportation for citizens that meet the eligibility requirements of ADA, low income, elderly or disabled and/or need transportation for employment, medical appointments, shopping and social/entertainment venues. 

Extension provides practical education you can trust, to help people, businesses and communities solve problems, develop skills and build a better future.

In recognition of NC Cooperative Extension’s 100th year of service, N.C. State University College of Agriculture and Life Sciences invites the public to join them for the N.C. Cooperative Extension Centennial Celebration on Monday starting at 6 pm at the N.C. State Fairgrounds Exposition Center in Raleigh.

Durham Cooperative Extension invites you to our local celebration on May 31 from 9:30 a.m. to noon at the Briggs Avenue Community Garden, 1598 S. Briggs Avenue. In addition to a brief presentation by local dignitaries, we will recognize the previous three County Extension directors -- Cheryl Lloyd Lemay, Mary Jacobs and Carl Hodges, the first African-American extension director in North Carolina; experience our livestock and dairy heritage by actually milking a robotic cow; learn from our on-site food preservation demonstration; and plant a vegetable plant in our garden for the future nourishment of others.  Each person will leave with a complimentary herb plant to grow for the enhancement of his or her nutritional intake.

For more information about the services of Durham County Cooperative Extension and/or its Centennial Celebration contact Delphine Sellars, county extension director at 919-560-0525 or dsellars@dconc.gov.