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WWII Community Programs

Emergency Farm Fire Protection Service

In addition to ensuring the continued productivity of Oregon’s farmland, a number of other successful programs were run by the Oregon Extension during this time as well.  One such program was the emergency farm fire protection service, which brought together more than 1,000 volunteer fire crews and helped to control 640 farm fires in Oregon.  The state Extension soils specialist served as the leader for the emergency fire program and county agents helped to coordinate efforts on the local level.

Captain Harry Mahan with Corporal Dwight Moser and Chet Enman
Sponsors of the Marine Corps Agricultural Project: Cpt. Harry Mahan, Cpl. Dwight Moser, and Chet Enman of the Klamath Jr. Farmers standing in front of a field of carrots, 1945.

Fires are an ever-present threat to farms; however, before WWII it was primarily the responsibility of the individual farmer and his neighbors to suppress farm fires.  Food and fiber production were an essential component of the American war effort, and it was recognized that a fire could potentially destroy supplies of these necessary war materials at any time.  Fears of Oregon’s agricultural resources being targeted by foreign attacks further heightened the need for an organized fire protection service.  The fire protection program focused on prevention, teaching its local volunteers to combat burning fires, as well as how to spot potential fires on homesteads before they started in order to “Keep ‘em Standing.”

Organizing for farm fire protection in Oregon, 1942

Milton-Freewater farm labor committee
Members of the Milton-Freewater farm labor committee and joint chamber of commerce development committee, 1945.

Neighborhood Leader Program

To help combat misinformation during the war, The Neighborhood Leader Program was instituted as a system to reach every rural family in Oregon with timely, factual information pertinent to the war.  Starting in 1942, the program established personal contact networks in each county to disseminate news, information on victory bond and United War Fund Drives, and updates on food production and scrap drive goals.  At the height of the program’s operation, a network of over 8,000 neighborhood leaders and 1,117 community leaders were working to keep Oregon’s rural populations up to date on the latest wartime developments.  

Voluntary community and neighborhood leadership in Oregon, 1942

Junction City farm labor information station
Junction City farm labor information station.

Salvage Drives

County extension offices were also instrumental in helping to coordinate salvage drives during the war.  These drives collected a wide range of materials important to the war effort, including scrap metal, rubber, fats, paper, burlap bags, and nylon stockings.  To save on fuel and tire wear, extension agents also coordinated county farm transportation committees to organize efficiency and cooperation amongst rural farmers. 

Scrap metal harvest, 1942

Cook Hitler's Goose in Aluminum
"Cook Hitler's Goose in Aluminum"
County Agent Office Aluminum Drive in Gold Beach, 1941.