Centennial

Then and now

From rural electrification to wind farms

THEN
Extension agents helped Missourians set up the first rural electric cooperatives  — bringing electricity to rural communities and rural Missouri into the 20th century. Getting electricity to communities throughout Missouri was one of the most important community development activities of the time.

NOW
In the 21st century, extension specialists in northwest Missouri shared research-based information with communities during the development of Missouri’s first wind farms. Wind farms provide an important new source of income in rural communities, which rarely have new sources of tax revenue.

From rail car classrooms to virtual field days

THEN
In the 19th century, governments and universities reached out to rural communities by building mobile classrooms in rail cars. Later, in the 20th century, extension agents helped citizens form rural telephone companies and library districts, and later set up the first distance learning centers.

NOW
Today, extension specialists use a variety of communication methods to reach Missourians in convenient, affordable and effective forums. Although poultry farmers prefer a virtual field day so they can avoid bringing diseases or contaminants to each other’s facilities, crop farmers prefer to attend a hands-on irrigation field day at the University of Missouri Delta Center to learn how to increase efficiency in their operations.

From the first silos to smart phone apps

THEN
In 1914, extension agents showed Missouri farmers how university-developed hog management practices could eradicate swine cholera in the state, and helped farmers beat the drought by introducing silos and silage techniques when fields weren’t producing enough corn to fill the traditional corncribs.

NOW
Extension specialists still bring the latest research and developments from the university to farmers. Field days show farmers how to use new technology like GPS and smartphone apps to increase efficiency and cut costs.

From backyard flocks to hot chocolate in China

THEN
Early extension agents, like C.M. Long in Johnson County, carried research-based solutions not only for agricultural practices, but also for business management. Whether it was the “SWAT the Rooster,” campaign urging women to eliminate roosters from flocks because unfertilized eggs sold for more money, or sharing income analysis techniques from the university, Long’s mission was to improve the business of Missouri’s number one industry — agriculture.

NOW
International development specialists have helped Missourians sell Harley Davidson T-shirts in Australia, American snack food in China — including hot chocolate with marshmallows, potato chips and chocolate chip cookies — and sleek, functional and comfortable blood donor chairs in Saudi Arabia. MU Extension’s Small Business and Technology Development Centers work with business owners to better compete in a diverse global economy.

From corn contests to film fests

THEN
When 4-H became an official part of extension in 1914 with the Smith-Lever Act, nearly all of the participants lived on farms. Corn acre-yield contests and tomato clubs were ways for farm children to make some money, develop friendships, learn valuable skills and pass-on new ideas to their parents.

NOW
From the 4-H film festival, to aerospace projects, to livestock judging, Missouri 4-H helps one in four Missouri youths develop life skills and citizenship, whether they live on a farm or in the city. 4-H has stayed true to its mission by adding new projects to meet the needs of young Missourians, who are now 13 times more likely to work in education or health care fields than in agriculture.

From hot lunch on a pot-bellied stove to recipes on Pinterest

THEN
During the Great Depression, many children weren’t getting enough food. Extension agents organized volunteers to cook hot meals at home and deliver them to rural schools where they were heated on pot-bellied stoves and served to the students.

NOW
In the 21st century, an abundance of processed foods — high in fat, salt and sugar and low in nutritional benefit — has contributed to a myriad of health issues across the nation. Family Nutrition Education Program staff visit classrooms and teach children how to make healthy choices. Sharing colorful pictures of healthy recipes on Pinterest and nutrition articles on Facebook are new, supplemental ways the nutrition staff can reach busy parents and teens.