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Extension Office celebrates 100th anniversary

(4/29) After the recent budget crisis that threatened the closure of the Adams County Extension Office was resolved, the local Penn State Extension office can now celebrate its 100 anniversary!

The idea of an Extension office in Adams County was brought up on April 11, 1916 at a meeting held at the Courthouse by the county superintendent of schools. F. P. Weaver, from State College spoke to a small group of farmers about the Farm Bureau work. On May 13th a constitution was adopted and the officers were elected.

One year later Hiram Hershey started as the Adams County Agent, and served as such until 1919. After his resignation, the position of county agent stood vacant for 9 months. Many that had questioned the worth of the county agent idea in the beginning stages then realized the major contributions made to the county farmers and pushed for a replacement. In 1920 Paul Hoffman accepted the job and during Mr. Hoffman’s time as county agent, the program continued to grow stronger and even expanded to youth work.

A lot developed over the next six years. The 1st 4-H Beef club began in 1925 and 4-H youth clothing groups were formed starting in 1928. In 1927 the first woman representative was elected to the Executive Board as well as a committee made up of seven women to work with her. They had an interest in nutrition and health, clothing, home furnishing and the Girl’s club.

During World War II, Extension actively did what was necessary to help the county residents. From sugar rationing and substitution recommendations in 1942, to having 4-H girls fill in on household duties if a brother left for the service, Extension was there.

In 1945, Senior extension, designated for 18-28 year olds, was developed. The age requirement was adjusted in 1957 to include those up to 35 years of age, whether single or married. This served as a base for training 4-H leaders and community leaders. The group unfortunately also dissolved in 1965, replaced by a group of all boys with a common goal – college.

It was during this time that horses started being replaced with tractors. Tomatoes, peas, sweet corn, and beans were in high demand by local processors. Merle Hartman, county agent, introduced packaged bees for pollination and also assisted 66 landowners in constructing farm ponds.

With an ever growing 4-H program, new animal clubs made their way to Adams County, these including a Dairy Club, Swine Club, Beef Club and many more. In 1976, the 4-H Embryology program started in elementary school classrooms.

Due to Extension programs, the Adams County Beekeepers Association formed with 75 members. With heavy demand on bee renting, averaging $18 per colony for pollination, beekeepers had a big increase in enterprise. This was largely due to the 1,398,193 commercial fruit trees in the county.

Landscaping and general gardening questions continued to be a growing interest for Adams County residents. Daily phone calls, walk-in visitors and home visits were received, and in 1990 The Master Gardeners graduated its first class of three men and one woman. Today there are over 48 active Master Gardeners!

Many of these programs are still thriving today, and can their success will be celebrated on May 15th from 1:30 – 3:30 at the Adams County Agricultural and Natural Resources Center. There will be an official program at 2:30-3 with cake and ice cream from the Penn State Creamery after the program. Those attending are asked to bring lawn chairs and many family activities are planned. Come out and celebrate with us!

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