We are kicking off our celebration, 100 years of Cooperative Extension in Montgomery County. Purdue Extension has been operating in the county for 100 years. The following is a small accounting of the early years of Extension work in Montgomery County:

Records from the State Extension Office show that on January 1st 1913, Mr. R.A. Chitty was appointed County Agent in Montgomery County being the fourth county in the state to employ a county agent. Mr. Chitty served until May 31, 1919. On October 9, 1919, O.E. Ackerson was appointed county agent and served until October 5, 1922. From that date until January 1, 1939 there was no agricultural work carried on in the county. Mr. Chitty campaigned to interest farmers in the growing of alfalfa. Some of the early sheep improvement work, started in 1920, was conducted in Montgomery County under the direction of Claude Harper from Animal Husbandry Department of Purdue University. Mr. M.O. Pence, from soils and Crops Department of Purdue University, likewise did his first extension work in Montgomery County. At that time, Mr. Pence was doing soils survey work.

This is a brief of the first Extension Agents and their primary work here in the county.

Over the last century, extension has adapted to changing times and landscapes, and it continues to address a wide range of human, plant, and animal needs in both urban and rural areas. Today, extension works in six major areas:

• 4-H Youth Development -cultivates important life skills in youth that build character and assist them in making appropriate life and career choices. At-risk youth participate in school retention and enrichment programs. Youth learn science, math, social skills, and much more, through hands-on projects and activities.

• Agriculture -research and educational programs help individuals learn new ways to produce income through alternative enterprises, improved marketing strategies, and management skills and help farmers and ranchers improve productivity through resource management, controlling crop pests, soil testing, livestock production practices, and marketing.

• Leadership Development -trains extension professionals and volunteers to deliver programs in gardening, health and safety, family and consumer issues, and 4-H youth development and serve in leadership roles in the community.

• Natural Resources -teaches landowners and homeowners how to use natural resources wisely and protect the environment with educational programs in water quality, timber management, composting, lawn waste management, and recycling.

• Family and Consumer Sciences -helps families become resilient and healthy by teaching nutrition, food preparation skills, positive child care, family communication, financial management, and health care strategies.

• Community and Economic Development -helps local governments investigate and create viable options for economic and community development, such as improved job creation and retention, small and medium-sized business development, effective and coordinated emergency response, solid waste disposal, tourism development, workforce education, and land use planning.

Regardless of the program, extension expertise meets public needs at the local level.

We hope you are making your plans to join us at our first celebration of the year, the Montgomery County Annual Meeting tonight at the 4-H Building at the Montgomery County Fairgrounds, 400 Parke Ave. We will begin the at evening by hearing from some very special 4-Hers who had an extraordinary experience this year. We will hold the Montgomery County Annual Meeting, then commence to perusing and engaging in activities and discussion with various areas of Education through Cooperative Extension and their partners. Our event begins at 6 p.m. and the celebration lasts until 8 p.m. Light hor dourves will be served, so please RSVP to Autumn or Joy by calling or emailing: 364-6363 or alcline@purdue.edu or jvanest@purdue.edu

Joy Dugan is the Extension Director and Health and Human Sciences Educator at the Purdue Extension Montgomery County. Contact her at 364-6363 or by email at jvanest@purdue.edu.