National Extension Centennial Celebration

LaGrange County Commissioners recently celebrated the centennial anniversary of the National Extension Service during its first meeting in May. President Jac Price along with fellow commissioners Garry Heller and Larry Miller signed the proclamation recognizing one hundred years since the passage of the Smith-Lever Act on May 8, 1914.

Purdue-LaGrange County Extension Director John Emerson described to commssioners a few of the accomplishments of Extension over the past century, such as:

Providing research-based information that has help establish American farmers and ranchers as a world leader in agriculture;

Reaching millions of young people in 4-H youth development programs;

Helping lift people out of poverty and prepare them for healthy, productive lives through education;

Providing assistance through rapid response during disasters and other emergencies such as floods, drought and outbreaks of infectious diseases; and

Engaging with rural and urban leaders to foster community leadership and growth.

Emerson described the Smith-Lever Act as “solidifying the cooperative county, state, and federal relationship as we know it today.” He went on to comment that the original legislation generating Extension programming actually began with passage of the Morrill Act in 1862, which created the national land-grant system of unversities such as Purdue. Emerson said it was one of the most important accomplishments of President Lincoln’s tenure. “The land grant system of American colleges developed to teach agriculture and the mechanical arts brought higher education to people who previously didn’t have the means to afford it and helped build a middle class. It is remarkable how Lincoln’s transformative, advanced thinking over 150 years ago impacts us today.”

Some twenty-five Purdue Extension volunteers, county officials, as well as present and former staff members attended the ceremony. Emerson thanked commissioners and other county officials. “This is a terrific county to be in the Extension field because of the community support. There is well over one hundred years of Extension service right here in this room.”  One of those present, Peggy Webb, served in the county office for forty-five years before retiring in 2000.

Every Indiana county supports an extension office administered by Purdue University. For more information about the LaGrange County office, contact 499-6334 or visit the links on this page.