Extension celebrates 100 years
The Cooperative Extension Service marked its centennial in 2014.
The Smith-Lever Act established Extension to “aid in diffusing among the people of the United States useful and practical information,” particularly in the areas of agriculture, home economics and rural energy.
A national network of educators affiliated with land-grant universities extends research-based information on these subjects and a lot more to the people.
Extension came to Alaska in 1930, after Congress amended the Smith-Lever legislation to include the territory. In its early days, Extension helped Matanuska colonists, homesteaders and others thrive in Alaska’s challenging environment. It continues to work with Alaskans today — whether it’s helping them garden, can salmon, use a GPS or season firewood.
Extension provides the “service” in its name in a variety of ways, whether it’s providing advice on food preservation, or, as a Bethel agent did this year, walking through a house with a flashlight looking for bedbugs.
Alaska Extension celebrated its centennial with weeklong information fests in several communities — teaching practical classes on everything from keeping moose out of your gardens to baking bread — plus serving up birthday cake.
- After Extension was founded in Fairbanks, the two Extension agents almost immediately left on a road trip around Alaska to organize 4-H clubs, and teach home economics and agriculture.
- Extension’s first field office opened in Palmer in 1936 to work with the 200 Matanuska Colony farm families and 100 other families that had homesteaded in the area.
- Extension now has eight district offices with 34 agents in Fairbanks, Palmer, Anchorage, Nome, Soldotna, Juneau, Bethel and Sitka. 4-H offices are also offered in Dillingham, Kodiak and at Eielson Air Force Base.
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