How Lives are Impacted by the Smith-Lever Act

From Growing Georgia

Thursday, May 29th, 2014

The land grant university system was created to advance agriculture and mechanical sciences 150+ years ago. It’s been 100 years since the Smith-Lever Act was passed which lead to the establishment of Extension Offices across the country.

Dr. Beverly Sparks: The land grant university system was created to advance agriculture and mechanical sciences 150+ years ago. And we realized that some of the research that was coming from out of the land grants, it was not reaching the people. So, the Smith-Lever Act was passed 100 years ago. The purpose of that act was to create the Cooperative Extension Service, which was to take the research that was created by the land grant universities, and actually give it to the people who could use it.

Dean Scott Angle: And so that was the genesis for the creation of the Extension Service, or the Cooperative Extension Service as it was called at that time, was to take the researched-based information from the university – from that land grant school – and get it to the people who need it so they could use it to improve their lives, their economy, and improve agriculture.

President Jimmy Carter: Well, I lived on a farm until I went off to be in the Navy and to go to college. And my father was a very fine and aggressive farmer; and, of course, the source of our advice when Daddy wanted to do something better or learn about a new species of peanut or cotton or corn was to go to the Extension Service. They gave him whatever advice he needed. It was just like a constant source of inspiration and advice and counsel, and sometimes, correction when he was doing something wrong. As I grew older and when I came back from the Navy and spent the next 17 years as a full-time farmer, I saw first-hand the great value of what the Extension Service offered to everyone in our county – not just farmers – but everybody in the . . . the merchants and the others who did business with the farmers and depended on agricultural income.

Governor Nathan Deal: My earliest experience with the Cooperative Extension Service came as a result of joining the 4-H club when I was, probably, in a middle-school age group. They encouraged us to participate in competitions and we had to learn our various project areas and make presentation in the local and the district competitions. And also, I began to show livestock as a part of my 4-H project and continued to do that for a number of years. The Cooperative Extension Service and its supervision of 4-H was an important part of my younger years.

Kisha Faulk: I serve Fulton County; it’s a large county. We don’t have that many farmers but we have a lot of people. We have a lot of families that just simply need help. So Extension brings that human touch to our community.We answer the questions directly; we give it to you in a manner that you can understand and you can use and you can apply it immediately. So Extension’s kind of like that friend next door – you may not talk to them every day but you’re really glad that they’re there.

Paul Pugliese: One of the advantages that we have is that we’re always on the cutting edge of the newest information, the newest research, that’s coming out of the University of Georgia. And we are a direct source that our clients can come to to find that information. We’re a filter for that information and we are able to explain it in a way that people can use it for practical and every day application whether it’s on the farm, in their families, or in their communities.

President Carter: An increasingly important element of Georgia’s, and America’s, total production of food will have to be designed towards meeting the needs of our own country and other nations more than it has been in the past. I think the gamut of influence of the Extension Service, I don ‘t think it’s been minimized in recent modern days, but I think the opportunities to expand the influence has been greatly increased now and, I believe, in the future.

Dr. Sparks: I think the future for Cooperative Extension across the nation is very strong and I know in our state it is.

Dean Angle: The simple problems in agriculture have been solved and they’ve been solved for the last 100 years or so; only complex problems remain. Our researchers on our land grant universities working in multi-disciplinary teams will provide solutions for these complex and complicated problems. But how you transfer that information back to the farmer, back to the agribusiness, back to the family or youth development specialist to 4-H is going to be very different. That’s where Cooperative Extension has always been good; that’s what their strength is. And that is where we see them being so important in the future.

Governor Deal: We’re continuing to see evolution in the production of agricultural products and I expect that to continue. We will probably have fewer farms but larger farms. The Cooperative Extension Service certainly has a role to play in that new structure.They’ve adapted very well to the changing circumstances and the changing economy of our country over the 100 years and I have every reason to believe that they will continue to do that here in Georgia for the next 100 years.

Mr. Pugliese: The most rewarding part of my job is being able to help people and provide current, research-based information for our clients. They come to us over and over for that information because they see us as the #1 source of information that they can rely upon – whether it’s for their farm, their agribusiness or for their families.

Ms. Faulk: Real life changes; Extension brings real life changes and being that agent in the community, on the ground, being that agent to serve, it’s a pretty miraculous thing.

President Carter: In all the ways that I had an early developmental life, in earning a living and learning how to live as a productive citizen, I would say the Extension Service had a major beneficial effect on me.