University of Maryland Extension Celebrates 100th Anniversary Statewide

In every Maryland county and in Baltimore City, communities came together throughout the month of October to celebrate the 100th anniversary of University of Maryland Extension and to discover how the organization is preparing for its next century of service.

Each Extension office across the state hosted an open house during which citizens were invited to find out about programs offered, learn the history behind Maryland’s Extension system and to partake in games, refreshments and fellowship.

At one such event in Carroll County, Principal Agent Bryan Butler pointed to a picture during a slideshow of himself sitting on a crate inspecting a bushel of apples. The next image in black and white depicted an agent in virtually the same position, doing the same thing in the same county in 1914.

“It wasn’t staged or anything,” said Butler. “I just thought ‘Wow’ I’m doing the same thing for farmers that he was doing 100 years ago.”

While traditional agriculture is still a major focus for University of Maryland Extension, the services it renders have evolved over the last century to keep pace with the state’s shifting landscape, economy and demographic.

In 1914, President Woodrow Wilson signed the Smith-Lever Act into law, creating the National Cooperative Extension Service – a state-by-state educational outreach network designed to bring research and information to the public from land-grant universities like the University of Maryland. Today, Extension educators not only help farmers tend to their crops, they help them incorporate sustainable practices, develop business plans and navigate complex legal issues. Off the farm, Extension is teaching families how to make informed decisions about health insurance and plan nutritious meals while saving money, inspiring youth through a myriad of 4-H programs from robotics to livestock judging to public speaking, and empowering people to grow their own food and flowers through the Maryland Master Gardeners program.

“The work of Extension is just as relevant and necessary to citizens of our state today as it was 100 years ago. It just looks a lot different than it did in 1914 and will continue to grow and change over the next century,” said Cheng-I Wei, Director of University of Maryland Extension and Dean of the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources.

From the western mountains to the lower Eastern Shore, each Extension office in Maryland incorporated its own local “flare” into the open house celebrations. Visit the UME 100th Anniversary Open House photo gallery for more details.    

 

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