University of Maryland Extension

MomentUM Focuses on Extension at 100 Years

(This article appeared in the Summer 2014 issue of MomentUM Magazine which focused on the 100th anniversary of University of Maryland Extension. To view the magazine, click here.)

Dwight Baugher stood in the middle of his soybean field one recent morning, contemplating the coming crop. Elsewhere on the 600-acre Carroll County farm the pick-your-own strawberry operation was poised for a roaring start as the cool spring suddenly had temperatures shooting into the upper 80s. In the midst of all this happy possibility, Baugher recalled what could be called his “cantaloupe crisis.”

“Based on my experience, I was sure it was downy mildew,” the grower said of his 15 acres of cantaloupe plants with their yellow leaves and lesions that were starting to form, but the treatment he was using wasn’t working. That’s when he turned to Bryan Butler from the Carroll County Extension office who determined it was instead powdery mildew, requiring a different tactic. “The plants perked up and did fine. It could have cost me a lot” not to have the right answer, he said.

Like so many growers, farmers, 4-H kids, Master Gardeners, homemakers and others around the country, Baugher places great importance in Extension, which this year is celebrating its 100th anniversary.

 “When you think about it, they’re connected to different experts around the world. Sometimes if a farmer’s in the middle of his field he can feel pretty lonely,” Baugher said. “It’s all about speed and Extension is quick to get their feet on the ground. Like when we started getting stink bugs, we didn’t even know what that thing was that was causing all that damage, but they were right on it.”

 The Cooperative Extension Service officially started on May 8, 1914, with passage of the Smith-Lever Act that also extended federal support to land-grant institutions, including the University of Maryland.

Dr. Stephen Wright, associate dean and associate director of Extension at the University, said, “The purpose was to take the theoretical advances in agriculture and home economics, take the experiments, and then transfer it in a way that was practical to the public—a translation of research into practical applications” whether it was genetic research to improve livestock or crops, or advances in health and nutrition. “The act was designed to make sure the family farm was vibrant and healthy … to improve the well-being of the entire family.”

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