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History in Photos

Throughout its history, Cooperative Extension has had photographers who’ve captured the stories and the impact the organization has had throughout North Carolina. Each week, we’ll feature one of those images to help tell Extension’s story.

Extension forester Graebner in McDowell County, 1931Sept. 10: Extension’s earliest foresters focused their efforts on helping woodland owners understand the importance of managing their forests. Today, the Extension forestry program supports an industry worth $24 billion a year to the state’s economy, while it helps communities manage their forests, homeowners take care of their trees, young people learn about the natural environment — and more.

Agricultural club members staff a Stanly County Poultry Demonstration Booth in about 1922. Over time, club members would come to be known as 4-H'ers.

Feb. 17: A young extension service in North Carolina got involved in agricultural fairs across the state, with agents and specialists serving as judges. They also made presentations and shared exhibits and the farmers, wives and mothers, and children that extension served, exhibited and competed for prizes. The tradition, though not universally lauded, continues today in annual county and state fairs.

This 1919 photo from the NCSU Libraries Digital Program depicts wheat farm operations in Buncombe County. Wheat is being cut by cradle and bound by hand.

Feb. 10: World War I was perhaps Cooperative Extension’s “first big test” nationwide. In North Carolina, Extension responded before the U.S. entered the war by helping farmers address fertilizer shortages. Once the U.S. declared war, Extension focused on aiding farmers in increasing the supply of food and feed available to U.S. consumers and helping family members grow, conserve and preserve food for home use.

campintegration3February 3: Until 1965 4-H across the country had been two separate programs — one for white students and one for blacks. But in the mid-1960s, the programs began to be integrated. In North Carolina, the first step was the integration of 4-H camps.“North Carolina 4-H History” captures the story on Extension’s YouTube channel through the voices of those who experienced the change and ones who followed.

"Old worn-out soils": Soil erosion was a high-priority agricultural issue that Extension addressed early on. Here, an agent and farmer inspect a seriously eroded field in the late 1920s.January 27: From its start, North Carolina Cooperative Extension has recognized that agriculture depends on a strong natural resource base. Indeed, J.F. Eagles of Iredell County realized this in 1907, when, as the first N.C. farmer to undertake a demonstration under the supervision of a county Extension agent, he used U.S.D.A. recommendations to address worn-out soils. Even today, Extension’s soil management efforts continue to emphasize ways to protect against the erosion that occurs with stormwater runoff and thus protect farmers’ profitability as well as everyone’s drinking water supplies.

Early 4-H Corn Club members Absenia Johnson and Aron Johnson, of the Dawson 4-H Club in Scotland Neck examine their corn. The two brothers produced 80 bushels of corn an an acre of ground, R.E. Jones took this photo Nov. 8, 1939.January 20: With more than 237,000 young people between the ages of 5 and 19 in rural and urban communities participating, North Carolina Cooperative Extension’s 4-H youth development program is N.C.’s largest organization for children. It got its start in 1909, when the U.S. Department of Agriculture joined with what is now N.C. State University to offer corn clubs and other demonstration programs. I.O. Schaub became the state’s first 4-H agent.

Mrs. Joe Kelly presides at the Watha Home Demonstration Club meeting. The picture, set in rural Pender County, was probably taken between 1925 and 1930.

January 13: Today’s Extension & Community Association got its start in yesterday’s Home Demonstration Clubs. Over the years, these clubs have made a difference in their communities through educational and volunteer efforts related to health, education, the economy, the environment, nutrition and more. They have reached out to military troops and their families during wartime, launched bookmobiles, carried out blood drives and health campaigns, helped North Carolinians prepare and recovery from disasters and raised money to help young people attend college.

jeter3January 7: It’s fitting that we should start this series with a 1923 photograph of someone who himself took hundreds of images of Extension workers and clients. Frank H. Jeter was Extension’s first editor, but he did so much more in his 40 years with N.C. State.