News Release Distributed 09/03/14
BATON ROUGE, La. – An exhibit commemorating 100 years of the Cooperative Extension Service in Louisiana will open at the LSU Hill Memorial Library on Sept. 22.
Entitled “Cooperative Extension at LSU: Commemorating the Centennial of the Smith-Lever Act of 1914,” the exhibit will feature selections from the holdings of the LSU Libraries Special Collections. Items include historical documents regarding LSU President Thomas Boyd and the establishment of cooperative extension at LSU, photos from early extension agent annual reports, and first edition extension bulletins, which contain advice on farming and food safety.
"Materials in the exhibition highlight the diverse experiences of Louisianans over the past century in rural and urban regions, from a variety of cultural and ethnic backgrounds, across age, gender and socio-economic groups," said Jessica Lacher-Feldman, head of LSU Libraries Special Collections. "Rare, early works on agriculture spanning from the 16th to 19th centuries from our holdings are included as well."
Items of note include personal calendars by Terrebonne Parish agent Joseph Richard in the 1920s, a page from the scrapbook of agent Mary Mims, and a host of photographs of agents, 4-H members, and demonstration attendees documenting a broad range of extension activities during times of war and peace across Louisiana.
The Cooperative Extension Service came into being nationwide with the signing of a bill put forward by two Southern Congressmen – Sen. Hoke Smith of Georgia and Rep. Frank Lever of South Carolina – which allowed for federal money to flow to state land-grant universities to shore up educational efforts to reach rural residents.
The Cooperative Extension Service was created to improve agricultural practices and farming efficiency, which it still does. Over the years, however, extension has expanded its outreach into urban as well as rural areas with a wide range of educational programs aimed at economic development, food safety, nutrition education, gardening and disaster recovery. Extension also oversees the 4-H youth development program.
“This exhibit will help people understand the tremendous contribution that extension has made to the state of Louisiana,” said Frankie Gould, LSU AgCenter communications director. “The centennial celebration has provided the opportunity to showcase this important part of LSU’s history.”
In addition to photos and documents, the exhibit will include a listening station with a touchscreen computer at which visitors can select audio clips from current and retired extension employees, said Cristina Caminita, the LSU Libraries liaison to the College of Agriculture and the LSU AgCenter.
She said these people share stories about gardening by the Farmer's Almanac, earning money by sewing ladies clothing, the importance of livestock shows and 4-H clubs, how telephones revolutionized communication, and how shrimpers once blocked a channel to protest the Endangered Species Act.
The full oral history interviews will be added to the T. Harry Williams Center for Oral History and will go online through the LOUISiana Digital Library, she said.
“We plan to keep adding more stories about the history of extension to this collection as funding becomes available,” said Jennifer Cramer, director of the Williams Center and the oral history project manager.
The exhibit is open Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Tuesdays from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m., and Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., except for home football game Saturdays.
The exhibit runs through Jan. 24, 2015. A public reception for the exhibit will be Oct. 16 from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. with a program at 6 p.m.
Linda Foster Benedict