Farm Bureau, Guthrie County Extension celebrate 100th anniversaries

The Iowa Farm Bureau and Iowa State University Extension and Outreach: Guthrie County each celebrated their 100th anniversaries in Guthrie County during the 2018 Guthrie County Fair.
The two groups teamed up throw a celebration, which included free food and a couple of guest speakers.
John Lawrence, the Vice President of Iowa State University Extension and Outreach program, was the first to speak.
Lawrence gave the crowd a history lesson on how Extension began in Iowa. He explained it all started in 1862 when President Abraham Lincoln signed the Morrill Act, which allowed for the creation of land-grant colleges by using the proceeds of federal land sales.
Iowa State University began educating students in 1862, but Lawrence said the University hadn’t quite figured out what it wanted to teach. 
Then, in 1887, the Hatch Act was implemented. The act gave $15,000 to each state land-granted college so they could create experiment stations.
Lawrence said the college began doing research, but didn’t know how to share that research with people who could really use it. 
“That’s where the Extension council came in,” Lawrence said. “Iowa was the first in the nation to start the Extension concept, which began by putting a professor on a train to Northwest Iowa to talk about seed corn.”
The concept kept growing and by 1905 the University was sending trainloads of professors to rural Iowa. The first week-long short course was held in Red Oak, which taught the rural town about agriculture, home economics, community development and provided a boys and girls club to children, which would later become 4-H. 
Extension has kept growing over the last century, and it now serves a million Iowans each year. Lawrence said Extension serves about 1 of every 5 children in the state.
Iowa Farm Bureau President Craig Hill, of rural Warren County, also spoke at the anniversary celebration at the fair.
Hill said the Farm Bureau actually opened began in 1912 in Iowa, and it was formed by farmers who wanted to improve their lives.
“They wanted better education. They wanted better help. They wanted better economics,” Hill said. “They knew they had to join together to speak from one unite voice. They knew they couldn’t go it alone.”
He said the Farm Bureau inspired farmers to work together to defeat big problems, and that when the Farm Bureau began taking members in the early 1900s 96 percent of the farmers that were approached joined. It cost the original members $5 to join the group. 
Hill said Iowa Farm Bureau’s very first mission was to “advance and improve in any possible way the agricultural interests of the great Common Wealth of Iowa, educationally, socially, and economically and through the united efforts of the county farm bureaus.”
He said the Farm Bureau has been so successful because everything it does is implemented at and led from a grass-roots level. 
“That’s why we’ve been successful for 100 years,” Hill said. “And we’ll continue on into this next century being successful.”

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