Timeline based on The People Came First: A history of Wisconsin Cooperative Extension, by Jerry Apps

Oneida County Extension agent EL Luther

E.L. Luther made his rounds on a two-cylinder Indian motorcycle.

1912: E.L. Luther is hired as the first Extension agent in Wisconsin, working in Oneida County.

1914: U.S. Congress passes Smith-Lever Act, which creates Cooperative Extension Service. Establishes relationships between counties, states and the USDA and makes federal funds available for Extension activities in states.

1914: 4-H is officially established in Wisconsin. Thomas Bewick serves as first Wisconsin State 4-H Leader for 40 years. The oldest 4-H club in Wisconsin is in Walworth County and still operates today.

1917: In response to World War I, USDA funds in 1917 provided total support for “Emergency Food Agents” to encourage accelerated food production through victory gardens, poultry production, and improved milk and crop production to meet wartime demand. 27 new agents are hired.

1928: Capper-Ketcham Act authorizes additional funds for Cooperative Extension, especially for salaries of agriculture, home economics and 4-H agents.

1938: Cooperative Extension celebrates 25 years in Wisconsin.

4-H Institute

What is now State 4-H Youth Conference grew from summer 4-H Institutes like this.

1938: State enrollment in 4-H reaches 30,877 members.

1941-1945: Another World War challenges Extension to increase farm production and at the same time promote victory gardens, homemade clothing and food preservation.

1954: First Farm Progress Days held in Waupaca County. Farm Progress Days later evolved into Farm Technology Days, which rotates counties every year and will be held in Outagamie County in 2012.

1960s: 4-H programs are introduced in several urban centers, including Milwaukee.

1960s: Cooperative Extension begins work on community and economic development in selected areas of the state. Programs become highly sophisticated by the 1970s.

1965: The University Extension Merger combines several extension units formerly part of UW-Madison: Cooperative Extension joins the University Extension Division, WHA Radio/TV and the Geological and Natural History Survey to become UW-Extension. Cooperative Extension is no longer part of the UW-Madison College of Agriculture.

1968: The Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program begins.

1974: Master Gardener programs begin in Milwaukee and Waukesha Counties.

Kenosha county Field of Dreams

In community gardens throughout the state, Extension horticulturalists show volunteers how to grow food for area families.

1980s: 4-H and youth programs broaden to include an emphasis on family and on community youth development beyond 4-H clubs.

1990s: Partnerships grow as Cooperative Extension collaborates with more public and private groups. Some partnerships result in new funding sources. Extension works with tribal colleges on a variety of programs.

1996: Cooperative Extension develops special urban initiatives involving Kenosha, Milwaukee, Racine and Waukesha Counties.

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