In just about two weeks (May 8, 2014), we’ll celebrate the 100 Anniversary of the Smith-Lever Act. Passed in 1914, the act created a system of cooperative extension organizations. Usually extension agencies were associated with land-grant university, like Virginia Tech (or Virginia Agricultural and Mechanical College and Polytechnic Institute, as we were back in 1914). The law stated that:
Cooperative agricultural extension work shall consist of the development of practical applications of research knowledge and giving of instruction and practical demonstrations of existing or improved practices or technologies in agriculture, uses of solar energy with respect to agriculture, home economics, and rural energy and subjects relating thereto to persons not attending or resident in said colleges in the several communities, and imparting information on said subjects through demonstrations, publications, and otherwise and for the necessary printing and distribution of information in connection with the foregoing; (U.S. Code, Title 7 ,Chapter 13, Subchapter IV, § 342- Cooperative agricultural extension work)
The practical work of cooperative extension agents involved educating the rural and urban public about agriculture, farming and 4-H; home economics; economic development; government and public policy; leadership; and just about any subject that might be related! Here in Virginia, extension work had already begun back in 1906, but the passage of the Smith-Lever Act led to a change of location for the base of operations, from Burkesville to Blacksburg.
Continue reading “Celebrating the Smith-Lever Act (& Cooperative Extension!), Part I”