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History marker honors UF/IFAS Extension’s role in helping Florida’s farmers, ranchers, families

Extension agents have been helping farmers, ranchers and homemakers for 100 years in Florida. UF Smathers Library

See photo caption below

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — In the early 1900s, every farmer and rancher in Florida knew their county Extension agent by name: It was the person from the University of Florida who taught them the best and latest techniques, and homemakers how to can and preserve their food—a skill that actually saved lives during the lean years of the Great Depression and World War II.

On Wednesday, Extension’s 100 years of contributions to the well-being of Florida residents is being honored with the unveiling of an historical marker at the Pugh Hall Patio along Buckman Drive, across from Rolfs Hall.  The ceremony will begin at 8:30 a.m.  The Extension program falls under the umbrella of UF’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.

“This permanent historic signage is a great opportunity to recognize and promote Extension at the University of Florida,” said Nick Place, dean and director of UF/IFAS Extension. “As a Land Grant University, it is important that we are able to emphasize to the public and students this critical aspect of the University of Florida.”

Today, UF/IFAS’s Extension program, with offices in all 67 counties, has expanded well beyond farming, ranching and homemaking.  It helps Floridians address issues concerning natural resources, health and nutrition, and youth development, among many other areas.

The Smith-Lever Act of 1914 created a partnership of federal, state and local governments to support Extension work and the Florida Agricultural Extension Service was established in 1915, with Peter Henry Rolfs as its first director.  Rolfs Hall was named for him.

“This marker recognizes the long history of the profound economic impact Extension has had on people and communities. Peter Henry Rolfs himself wrote 101 years ago that ‘The few thousands of dollars spent annually for Extension work is returned in millions annually to the needy but progressive people of the state,’” said Jack Payne, senior vice president for agriculture and natural resources. “Extension is still a great investment today. The marker reminds us that Extension enjoys a legacy of making a huge impact for a relatively low cost.”

By Kimberly Moore Wilmoth, 352-294-3302, k.moore.wilmoth@ufl.edu

Sources: Nick Place, 352-392-1761, nplace@ufl.edu

Photo Caption: Extension agents have been helping farmers, ranchers and homemakers for 100 years in Florida. UF Smathers Library

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