County Extension Service celebrates centennial

Open house this afternoon

From Press Reports

Most centenarians are slowing down and avoiding modern technology, but the Mississippi State University Extension Service is doing neither as it approaches its 100th birthday. Dr. Gary Jackson, director of Extension, recently reflected on many changes that have occurred during the last 100 years.
“Our nation and state have come a long way since 1914. We lived through boll weevil invasions, the Depression and world wars. Each one had crippling effects on the state, but Extension agents were present to help see clients through those challenges and others,” Jackson said. “For example, Mississippi’s cotton farms are 100 percent boll weevil free today, due in a large part to Extension’s efforts working with the farmers themselves, who all did what it took to eliminate cotton’s historic No. 1 pest.”
He added, “We can point to similar stories in other commodities, where simple or not-so-simple changes enabled growers to be more successful. Home demonstration clubs in the early years of Extension evolved into home economics programs and continue today in a variety of family and consumer science activities addressing topics such nutrition, health, financial literacy, volunteer programs and home-based businesses.
4-H, Extension’s flagship program for young people, has also evolved in the last 100 years, Jackson said. Mississippi received the first federal dollar budgeted in the United States for the forerunner of today’s 4-H. This funding was for corn club programs in Holmes County in 1907. These were precursors of 4-H, even before Extension was created.
“Early youth clubs sought to send children home to their families with better skills in agriculture, food and textiles,” Jackson said. “Today’s 4-H members still do those projects but so much more.”
Paula Threadgill, associate director of the MSU Extension Service, oversees the state 4-H program.
“Youth are involved in technology projects, such as robotics, and also programs like ATV safety and shooting sports,” she said. “Leadership skills and citizenship projects are where we really get the reassurance that our future communities will be in good hands.”
To celebrate 100 years of the Extension Service in Mississippi, the Webster County Extension office is hosting an open house today, May 8, from 2-4 p.m. at its office located at 16 E. Fox Ave. in Eupora.
“I’m not sure where we would be in Mississippi without the Extension Service,” said Randy Knight, president of the Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation. “They provide current research and information to farmers and consumers in all 82 counties. Without the technology advancements developed through Extension, our farmers would still be light years behind where they are now. We at Farm Bureau have a close relationship with Extension and congratulate them on their 100th birthday.”