UCCE Centennial Timeline
The 100-year anniversary of the signing of the Smith-Lever Act of 1914, which officially created the national Cooperative Extension System, occurs May 8, 2014. Cooperative Extension is administered in each state by a land-grant college. In California, the University of California System is the land-grant institution. Below is a timeline of UC Cooperative Extension’s development.
1862 - Signing of the Morrill Act
President Abraham Lincoln signs the Morrill Act, authorizing federal funds for the development of agricultural "land-grant" colleges in each state.
1868 - UC opens its doors for the first time
University of California opens its doors to teach "agriculture, mining and the mechanical arts."
1887 - Signing of the Hatch Act
The Hatch Act establishes federal funding for agricultural research in state land-grant colleges.
1913 - First UC Agricultural Clubs (precursors to 4-H)
UC Agricultural Clubs are formed at Arcata, Ferndale and Fortuna. Agriculture Clubs like these, organized by UC in the early 1900s, evolved into today's 4-H program (see 1928, below).
1913 - First UC farm advisor hired
Andrew Hansen Christiansen becomes the first UC Extension farm advisor working in Humboldt County. His hiring is the result of a cooperative agreement between UC, the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors, the Ferndale Dairymen's Association and the county Chamber of Commerce.
Learn more about Humboldt County becoming the first Cooperative Extension site in California by visiting their website here.
1914 - Smith-Lever Act establishes Cooperative Extension nationwide
Congress passes the Smith-Lever Act, making federal funds available for extension work.
1915 - UC Agricultural Extension Service (later renamed "Cooperative Extension") spreads to four more counties
UC Agricultural Extension Service farm advisors are appointed in Glenn, Solano, Stanislaus and Placer counties.
1916 - Director's report describes the role of farm advisors
UC Agricultural Extension Service director's report states that each farm advisor is "typically called each week to visit 16 farms, hold 2.8 meetings with an average attendance of 101, and travel 277 miles."
1917 - "Food for Victory"
Emergency war appropriations from 1917 through 1919 provide a flush of growth for UC Agricultural Extension Service as "Food for Victory" becomes a national priority.
1918 - First UC Extension research specialist is hired
The first Agricultural Extension Service specialist, a poultry man, is hired. His goal: to double egg production. At the time, laying hens averaged 80 eggs per year.
1919 - B. H. Crocheron appointed director of UC Agricultural Extension Service
B. H. Crocheron, a young Cornell University graduate and director of an agricultural high school in Maryland, is recruited to lead UC Agricultural Extension, a position he holds until 1948, a 35-year tenure.
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1920 - Week-long traveling conferences become an AES tradition
B. H. Crocheron establishes week-long traveling conferences, which continue periodically through 1930. For each conference, a caravan of automobiles will travel several hundred miles, carrying county farm advisors and Farm Bureau representatives to a series of stops statewide where they view selected farms and other sites. The tours, following Crocheron's direction, include a bugle call every morning to signal that it's time to form up the caravan.
1920 - Farm Bureau centers are established in more than 500 rural communities
Crocheron insists that no county will be given a farm advisor until it has established a Farm Bureau, consisting of 20 percent of the county's farmers, to organize the advisor's work.
1921 - Volunteer leadership instituted for youth Agricultural Clubs
The volunteer leader concept is implemented for boys' and girls' Agricultural Clubs organized by farm advisors in high schools, establishin the basic structure and philosophy that has carried forward to today's 4-H Program.
1922 - Farmers begin to acquire tractors for the first time
UC Agricultural Extension Service holds one-week schools in 12 counties to teach farmers how to adjust and repair their new farm machinery.
1923 - UC Agricultural Extension Service completes its first decade!
Agricultural Extension Service now consists of 40 farm advisors, 33 assistant farm advisors and 21 home demonstration agents working in county offices.
1924 - Outbreak of foot and mouth disease
An outbreak of foot and mouth disease creates serious problems in some areas. Some farms are quarantined. UC Extension workers help bring the disease under control.
1925 - Hilgardia is first published
Quickly becoming a highly respected journal of agricultural science, Hilgardia continues a series of technical papers that began publication two years earlier.
1926 - Bulletin and circular publication begins
Between 1926 and 1930, UC Agricultural Extension Service publishes hundreds of bulletins and circulars on an astonishing variety of subjects.
1927 - Farmers start to specialize; UC AES responds
Farmers are moving away from running all-crop farms and toward specialization. UC Extension specialists are soon specializing too, working across the state in such areas as poultry, dairying, citrus, walnuts and agricultural engineering.
1928 – Agriculture Clubs officially become 4-H Clubs
"4-H" appears for the first time in California reports on youth work.
1929 - Agricultural Extension Service to the rescue
UC AES provides emergency assistance when a break in the St. Francis Dam inundates portions of Ventura and Los Angeles counties.
1929 - Crocheron investigates specialty crop markets; fall brings onset of the Great Depression
Extension Director Crocheron, backed by the U.S. Department of Commerce, embarks on an 8-month fact-finding tour of the Far East to determine potential markets abroad for California specialty crops. His outlook is not optimistic. In fall of the year, October 29, 1929 marks the start of years of economic hard times, the Great Depression.
1930 - UC Agricultural Extension Service focus: the practical application of science to agriculture
Researchers make significant progress in soil fertility studies. New chemical dusts and sprays are introduced for control of smut and fungus on crops. UC-developed plans for barns and other outbuildings are promoted to the farming community.
1932 - "Cal-Approved" seed quality program begins
The "Cal-Approved" seed program is instituted to ensure the availability of high-quality seed for standard and improved crop varieties.
1933 - Agricultural Extension Service spreads to Siskiyou
UC Agricultural Extension Service opens a new office in Siskiyou County.
1934 - Agricultural Adjustment Administration programs draw on UC Agricultural Extension Service staff
As part of the national recovery effort, Agricultural Extension Service staff are tapped to help the federal government implement, direct and administer Agricultural Adjustment Administration programs that are established to help farmers stabilize their income.
1934 - Severe drought hits California
Eighteen counties in drought-stricken Southern California are declared emergency areas eligible for federal funds. UC Agricultural Extension Service farm advisors serve as government agents, purchasing livestock in the hardest-hit areas.
1935 - Windbreaks protect Southern California citrus
At the encouragement of a UC forestry specialist, growers plant more than 2,000 miles of windbreak trees to guard their Southern California citrus groves.
1936 - Soil Conservation and Domestic Allotment Act approved by Congress
Congress approves the Soil Conservation and Domestic Allotment Act to conserve soil and prevent erosion. The new federal law gives Agricultural Extension Service agents responsibility for carrying out the organizational work.
1937 - George B. Alcorn joins UC Agricultural Extension Service as an agricultural economist
George B. Alcorn, holding a UC Berkeley master's degree in agricultural economics, would eventually serve as the third director (1956–1975) of UC Agricultural Extension Service and oversee an era of huge expansion and modernization for the industry.
1938 - Pilot land-use planning programs begin
Federal-state agreements establish a pilot land-use planning program in counties throughout the U.S. The UC Agricultural Extension Service monitors these programs in Riverside, Kern, Sonoma and Yuba counties.
1940 - Agricultural Extension Service supports wartime efforts
Farm advisors and home demonstration agents provide leadership on wartime committees, conduct war bond campaigns, provide information on blackouts and organize a state militia that recruits more than 23,000 volunteers.
1941 - Victory gardens
Victory gardens and rural fire protection are important areas of UC Agricultural Extension Service work.
1942 - UC Agricultural Extension Service responds to Pearl Harbor
In response to the bombing of Pearl Harbor, UC Agricultural Extension Service agents organize the Emergency Farm Fire Protection Project, forming more than 2,000 volunteer fire companies in 42 counties, with a roster of 28,200 fire fighters, to thwart possible incendiary attacks.
1942 - California Minute Men formed
Director Crocheron organizes a rural militia, the California Minute Men, and 20,000 men sign up for reserve duty through county Agricultural Extension Service offices.
1943 - UC Agricultural Extension Service ensures adequate supply of farm workers for wartime efforts
Extension is charged with responsibility for administering the Emergency Farm Labor Project to ensure an adequate supply of workers for wartime agricultural production.
1944 - Agricultural Extension Service spreads to San Mateo County
UC Agricultural Extension Service opens a new Ag Extension office serving San Mateo County.
1945 - Better understanding of range needs for grazing cattle
With establishment of the US Forest Service and national forests, ranchers encounter severe limitations on grazing range for their livestock. Agricultural Extension Service advisors step in to help determine the most efficient locations and methods for feeding cattle.
1946 - UC Agricultural Extension Service continues to grow
Director Crocheron appoints 60 new extension agents.
1947 - ... and grow
Another 78 new extension agents are hired.
1948 - Sudden death of Director Crocheron ends an era
Ag Extension acting director Chester Rubel eulogizes, "...a deep understanding of rural problems, a genius for organization, and a devotion to agriculture and to rural people...made [Crocheron] an outstanding leader. The contributions which he made to agricultural thought were brilliant. The foundations which he laid are sound and enduring. ... His work will go on."
1949 - Reorganization of UC Agricultural Extension Service
Under the guidance of new UC Agricultural Extension Service director J. Earl Coke, state leaders are designated for six Agricultural Extension Service "districts" of 6 to 10 counties each. Statewide leaders are hired for the home economics and 4-H programs. Home demonstration agents become home advisors in the new plan. County directors are named to coordinate local farm and home advisor programs.
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1950 - Specialization: the order of the day
New subject-specific research specialists are hired in range management, ornamental horticulture, subtropical horticulture, plant pathology, vegetable crops, deciduous fruits and nuts, agricultural engineering, marketing, extension education, 4-H, home economics, youth counseling, apiculture, biometrics, climatology, crops processing, forest products, nematology, parasitology, enology, pesticide safety, consumer marketing, wildlife management, public affairs, radio-TV, dairy products, and soil and water salinity.
1951 - Mariposa County joins AES
UC Ag Extension opens a new office to serve Mariposa County.
1953 - 4-H hires statewide leader
A new stateside 4-H Club leader is brought into the Ag Extension network.
1953 - Air pollution–crop damage connection studied
Agricultural Extension Service researchers study possible air pollution damage to various crops in the Los Angeles Basin and the San Francisco Bay Area, looking to establish causality and identify research-based solutions.
1954 - Shade structures protect livestock from excess heat
UC Ag Extension specialists coordinate with USDA researchers to develop new shade structures that will help keep livestock comfortable and healthy in hot weather.
1955 - Ag Extension staffing reaches new high
The staff total reaches 549, more than double the number of workers in 1940.
1956 - Farm advisors, researchers find best tomato varieties
UC Davis scientists working with Agricultural Extension Service farm advisors develop and test tomato varieties around the state, identify three new hybrids with superior yields in California.
1957 - Increased irrigation efficiency
Farm advisors work with farmers to improve irrigation efficiency, applying water based on actual soil and crop needs and reducing runoff and overwatering.
1958 - Protecting bees from pesticide
Following several years of study, UC Extension entomologists release new guidelines for farmers to minimize harm to bees from pesticides.
1959 - Ag economists help state grapple with increased urbanization
Rural-to-urban transition becomes more widespread in the state; UC Ag Extension agricultural economists study challenges and opportunities, seek ways for agriculture to adapt to new realities.
1960 - Drops in number of growers, farmed acres, necessitate increased efficiency
Concerns rise over urban sprawl and the resulting loss of productive farmland. Extension efforts in production agriculture contribute to rapid advances in farm productivity and mechanization.
1960 - New urban programs developed for 4-H
4-H institutes new programs suited to urban, low-income areas. The home economics program is reorganized as "Family and Consumer Sciences" to reflect a shift in emphasis from homemaking skills to science-based education on nutrition, consumer economics and healthy family relationships.
1961 - Biocontrol: nonchemical pest management
UC Extension scientists continue their biocontrol efforts, releasing imported parasitic wasps for control of specific citrus pests, such as California red scale. Their pioneering biocontrol efforts begin to take hold around the state.
1962 - UC pioneers redwood forest conservation measures
Agricultural Experiment Station researchers and Extension specialists study ways to protect the state's redwoods from soil compaction and other types of damage that result from recreation, logging and development activities.
1963 - Advances in rice fertilization
UC farm advisors work with rice growers in Butte, Colusa, Glenn, San Joaquin, Sacramento, Sutter, Yolo and Yuba counties to increase fertilization efficiency.
1964 - 50 years of Extension!
UC Agricultural Extension Service celebrates the 50th anniversary of the Smith-Lever Act. The state boasts 532 specialists and farm and home advisors working in 50 subject areas.
1965 - Dawn of drip irrigation
A Sacramento County based UC farm advisor, working with an Extension irrigation specialist, encourages local container nurseries to switch from their overhead sprinkler irrigation systems to irrigation through plastic tubes, with valves controlled by an electric timer. Modern drip irrigation is established in the state.
1966 - Natural enemy pest control explored for cotton
Extension entomologists and a Fresno County farm advisor study the impact of insecticides on beneficial insects in cotton fields, part of an ongoing UC effort to develop pest management methods that rely on naturally occurring beneficial insects, mites and spiders.
1967 - New disease-resistant pepper varieties
UC farm advisors work with UC Davis Department of Vegetable Crops faculty to develop and test new varieties of peppers that are resistant to tobacco mosaic virus (TMV).
1969 - EFNEP founded
An Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP) is instituted to reach low-income families.
1970 - Ag Extension recognizes its growing global role
Extension programs begin to take on an international view in response to concerns over the availability of an adequate world food supply.
1970 - Extension recognizes, adapts to changing social concerns
UC Ag Extension establishes programs in community development, farm personnel management, integrated pest management and marine fisheries.
1974 - Reflecting a new, more-inclusive role, Ag Extension becomes UC Cooperative Extension
UC officially recognizes the broadening social and economic purview of the institution and gives the Agricultural Extension Service its new name, UC Cooperative Extension (UCCE).
1977 - Small-scale growers get a new seat at the table
The Small Farm Program is established to focus on specialized needs of small-scale and limited-resource farmers.
1979 - IPM Project
The new Statewide Integrated Pest Management Project accelerates education and research into production alternatives that require less use of pest-control chemicals.
1981 - UC offers information in Spanish
UC creates a communications unit to help UCCE advisors and specialists find ways to better reach and serve Spanish-speaking audiences in California.
1986 - New initiative on oaks, other hardwoods
An Integrated Hardwood Management program is established, and charged with investigating the problems that face oak trees and other California hardwoods.
1987 - UC SAREP
The Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program is established to develop alternatives to traditional, high-input agricultural practices.
1988 - UCCE reorganized to emphasize research-campus connection
UCCE is reorganized to make campus-based specialists more integral to campus academic departments. Regional directors are given increased authority to tailor programs to suit regional needs.
1989 - 4-H: so much more now than farming
4-H Club members, aged 9 to 19, number about 76,000 in California. More than 40% of members live in large cities or suburbs, and 55% of them are girls.
1990 - Money Sense program guides families out of poverty
A team of UCCE home economists develops the Money Sense program to help low-income families improve their financial situation.
1991 - Challenges of all kinds: fair trade, water and land use, research funding
UCCE specialists research proposed international fair trade agreements and their potential effects on California-grown commodities. Water- and land-use issues multiply. Research funding shrinks.
1992 - Sweetpotato whitefly study
A team of UCCE experts analyzes the economic impact of sweetpotato whitefly on agriculture in California's Imperial Valley.
1993 - New avenues of outreach for Small Farm Program
In Fresno County, a new workshop series reaches out to post-Vietnam War immigrants from Southeast Asia, an increasing presence in the local small farming community.
1994 - Sustainability trend grows
UCCE scientists document an increasing trend of farmers moving toward more sustainable agricultural practices.
1995 - New, less chemical-intensive options for almonds
Cooperative Extension scientists help almond growers in Merced County reduce their use of chemical pesticides.
1996 - Internet, email bring new extension and research opportunities; radio seen as new avenue to reach Latino clientele
UCCE explores emerging electronic media for new ways to conduct outreach and research. "Already we can use email to exchange messages with our counterparts anywhere in the world, almost instantaneously. Since the World Wide Web and browsers ... became widely available in 1993, we have been able to receive powerful graphics, images, and even videos on home and office computers. Those of us who have installed desktop video cameras can transmit our faces as well as our voices. In just a few years, the equivalent of the Library of Congress will be available on everyone’s desk through the computer," says one observer. UCCE's Spanish language unit begins research on the use of radio for nutrition extension to Spanish-speaking families.
1997 - Just enough water, just where it's needed
In a collaborative publication, UCCE researchers document agriculture's shift from furrow and flood irrigation to the use of sprinklers, microsprinklers and drip systems.
1998 - Dust pollution gets UCCE solution
Windblown dust in Southern California's Antelope Valley becomes an increasing pollution concern. UCCE scientists respond, finding new ways to stabilize the soil and reduce airborne dust.
1999 - Exploring agritourism
A UCCE team looks into the growing field of agritourism. They report significant, specific benefits to farmers and communities in San Diego County and other metropolitan areas.
2000 - School gardens teach kids good nutrition
UCCE study finds that gardening projects in schools go beyond just teaching students how to till, plant, and weed—they also teach kids healthier eating habits.
2001 - Breakthrough against sudden oak death
After considerable study, a team of UCCE scientists develops an IPM method to deal with sudden oak death, a disease that has killed tens of thousands of oak trees in the state.
2002 - Focus on career readiness for teens
A UCCE study of high school seniors in Northern California shows that state youth need more effective, practical preparation for employment and adult careers.
2003 - Artisanal cheeses: Who buys what?
UCCE researchers look into the shopping habits and views of consumers who buy specialty cheeses, then share their conclusions with California cheese makers so they can develop new promotional and production strategies targeted their market.
2004 - Low income link to increased obesity identified and addressed
A UCCE workgroup uncovers an important link between a lack of food security among low-income Latino families and their increased risk of obesity. New, more effective nutritional education programs are developed in response.
2005 - 40 years of Kearney REC research, education
Kearney Research and Extension Center turns 40, celebrating decades of partnership with UCCE on research and extension education for California agricultural producers.
2006 - In grape harvest, size does matter
A UCCE study shows that using a smaller grape harvest basket makes for healthier farm workers with fewer back problems.
2007 - A rose is a rose, but a bug is a bug
UCCE develops and tests a new IPM approach to managing commercial rose pests. The result is improved business for the largest component of the California cut-flower industry.
2008 - Biocontrol enters the vineyard
Sonoma and Napa county UCCE staff apply biocontrol methods to vineyards, continuing Extension's tradition of cooperation with California producers in making grape growing culture more sustainable.
2009 - Long-term, strategic view
UC ANR, the parent organization of UCCE, adopts a new strategic vision for its work through 2025.
2010 - Strategic initiatives help refocus UCCE work
Four of nine newly identified strategic initiatives are underway, addressing sustainable food systems, healthy families and communities, endemic and invasive pests and diseases, and sustainable natural ecosystems.
2010 - UC best practices adopted by nursery industry
A UCCE study finds that Southern California nurseries are using UC-identified best practices to reduce overwatering and irrigation runoff from their facilities.
2011 - Nitrate pollution solutions
In response to concerns over nitrate pollution in California groundwater systems, UCCE promotes known and potential solutions. UCCE advises agriculture on nutrient and irrigation management strategies to control nitrate pollution.
2011 - UC ANR focuses on water research
A fifth strategic initiative addressing Water Quantity, Quality and Security is launched.
2012 - Internal ANR grants program focuses funds on new research
UC ANR funds an internal grants program to support cutting-edge research and extension education efforts, including work in such areas as biofuels and local and regional food systems.
2013 - Global Food Systems Forum
The UC ANR-sponsored Global Food Systems Forum draws attendees from across California, the United States, and beyond. The Forum's rich online presence attracts 1,500 viewers from more than 70 countries.
2014 - 100 years, and plenty more to come!
UC Cooperative Extension celebrates 100 years of putting science and service to work for Californians in local communities.