HOUSTON – Almost a century ago Congress established the Cooperative Extension Service to link the nation’s agricultural research universities to farms and farmers – and that assistance continues to this day.
The Chickasaw County Extension Service will host an open house at its offices at 415 Lee Horn Drive from 1 to 3 p.m. Thursday and they are urging the community to come by and celebrate with them.
“The MSU Extension Service has helped a lot of people in this community for many years,” said Dr. Scott Cagle, Chickasaw County Extension Agent. “We have always been here to help people find answers to problems on the farm, at home or in their yard or garden.”
The Smith-Lever Act, signed May 8, 1914, established the Cooperative Extension Service, the nationwide education system operating through land-grant universities in partnership with federal, state and local government.
“What you had at that time was these universities using new scientific and technical methods to produce crops and raise cattle,” said Cagle. “There was a need to get this information into the hands of farmers in rural areas. The Cooperative Extension Service was formed to link this vast amount of knowledge and information to the people who needed it and could use it the most.”
Farmers who found a bug or weed they couldn’t identify in their field or who had cattle with a disease quickly learned to contact extension agents placed in virtually every county in the country.
“And they still call us today wanting to know about the latest seeds, chemicals, farm implements and techniques,” said Cagle. “Dr. Glover Triplett, research professor at Mississippi State University, is the father of no-till farming and the methods he pioneered in the 1960s are now used all over the country.”
Cagle said Extension has evolved to serve the needs of housewives, kids and an increasingly urban society.
“They were initially called Home Demonstration Clubs and they helped the wives of farmers with everything from farm finances and sewing to nutrition and how to can vegetables and fruit,” said Cagle. “Today we call it FCS – Family & Consumer Services — and we have seen a resurgence in the desire of homemakers to can, sew, bake bread and even clean their home safely with chemicals.”
Cagle said 4-H grew out of the same Extension concept of getting cutting-edge information and techniques into the hands of young people.
“In Mississippi we started with corn clubs,” said Cagle. “Again, the idea was to teach kids better agricultural skills and methods by doing projects and events. ‘Learning by doing’ is the 4-H motto.”
There are more than 200 kids enrolled in Chickasaw County 4-H learning everything from farm safety and animal science to robotics and leadership skills.
And most of that knowledge comes from Mississippi State University.
“The Mississippi State University Extension Service is committed to providing research-based learning opportunities designed to help Mississippians solve problems, develop skills and build a better future,” said Gary Jackson, director of the MSU Extension Service. “Along with our many state and local partners, we look forward to celebrating our past accomplishments while maintaining a focus on the bright future ahead.”
Cagle urged those who have benefited from Extension programs to come by and celebrate this birthday. He urged those who may not know a lot about Extension to come by, too.
“It is estimated only one-in-three people in the state know what Extension is about,” said Cagle. “We’re trying to tell people about the best-kept secret that can help them with their farm, their home and their kids.”