Oregon State UniversitySpecial Collections & Archives Research Center

Extension Service Records, 1903-2002

Historical Note:

On July 24, 1911, Oregon Agricultural College's Board of Regents organized the Oregon Extension Service in response to requests from citizens of Oregon for assistance (particularly in agriculture) from the college. R. D. Hetzel, professor of political science, was named as the first director of the Extension Service. The first county extension agents began in Marion and Wallowa Counties in September of 1912. Legislation permitting counties to appropriate money for extension work that would be matched by state funds was enacted in 1913.

In May of 1914, nearly three years after Oregon had established its Extension Service, President Woodrow Wilson signed the federal Smith-Lever law, which provided federal money for the establishment of extension services in all states for developing off-campus programs, primarily in agriculture and home economics. The first home extension agents were hired in August 1917 to do wartime emergency work; several of the agents were retained by counties after World War I. By 1937, all counties had at least one county extension agent.

During the Extension Service's first forty years, it concentrated on three traditional programmatic areas -- agriculture, home economics, and 4-H. After World War II, four other program areas were added -- forestry (late 1940s), the Marine Advisory Program (late 1940s and greatly expanded in the 1960s), Community Resource Development (1960s), and the Energy Extension Service (1970s).

Traditionally, the Extension Service Director reported to (or was) the Dean of the College of Agricultural Sciences. In 1993, as part of a university-wide reorganization, the OSU Extension Service was made part of the Office of Extended Education under the university's Provost. As of 2004, the Extension Service is a separate unit whose director reports to the Provost.

For an in-depth history of Oregon's Extension Service's first fifty years, see Frank L. Ballard's "The Oregon State University Federal Cooperative Extension Service, 1911-1961," located in this record group and in the Memorabilia Collection's Extension Service-History file.


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