The Vermillion Rotary Club held its weekly luncheon meeting on Tuesday, Nov. 10, at the Neuharth Media Center on the campus of USD. President David Lorenz opened the meeting and led us in the invocation and recitation of the Rotary 4 Way Test. This was followed by a round of singing, introduction of guests including two Vermillion High School seniors, and announcements.
Rotarian Barry Vickrey introduced Todd Kennedy and Larry Wagner as our speakers for the day. Mr. Kennedy holds the position of South Dakota Cooperative Extension Service Educator for 4-H and Youth. Mr. Wagner holds the position of Agronomy Educator for Union, Clay, and Yankton counties.
Mr. Wagner began by giving us a brief history of the Extension Service starting with the Morrill Act signed by President Lincoln. This Act authorized the sale of land in each state to fund a land grant college in each state. In total 17.4 million acres across the United States were sold to raise 7.55 million dollars to fund the colleges. This changed the face of education from strictly classical to both classical and applied science.
The Hatch Act of 1887 set up agricultural experimental stations in each state leading to a growth in science based information to be applied directly to agriculture. The Smith-Leber Act authorizing agricultural extension services providing vocational education in agriculture and agricultural economics followed this in 1914.
The establishment of cooperative extension services provided for cooperation between county, state, and federal resources that contributed to a vast increase in food production during the time of World War I.
Other highlights of the effectiveness of cooperative extension services were: the introduction of 4-H in the 1920's which was, in effect, the first national after school program which included both boys and girls; another highlight was the introduction of the school lunch program across the US.
Focusing on educating the youth was also an effective way of reaching the parents about advances in food production.
Other programs stemming from the cooperative extension service were advances such as: Rural Electrification, Dustbowl Reconstruction, sustainable agricultural practices, weed and pest control practices, and recently encouraging and training people in the "Victory Garden" resurgence.
Todd reported that 4-H continues to be a strong and evolving program encouraging continued interest in agriculture and in the sciences. Operation 'Military Kids' is an attempt to provide support for military families. He also reported a strong emphasis on science and education technology intended for the youth who are involved in 4-H but are more interested in science.
They concluded their presentation with a time for questions.