Long before people began virtual farming in Farmville, real farmers raised crops and livestock in California with the help of University of California Cooperative Extension (UCCE) advisors. Today, California produces about 400 agricultural commodities with an annual value of about $44 billion.
This year, UC is celebrating the 100th anniversary of Cooperative Extension. On April 29, UCCE Marin will commemorate the centennial at a regular meeting of the Marin County Board of Supervisors at the Marin County Civic Center in San Rafael.
“This will be an opportunity to enjoy state and local history for UC Cooperative Extension,” said David Lewis, UCCE Marin Director, “and also recognize partners as part of expressing our appreciation for the privilege to serve all of Marin.”
Part of the UC Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources, UCCE is made up of advisors, staff and specialists who, like their counterparts in other states nationwide, bring university knowledge to farmers and families to enhance their health, their business and the environment.
“For the past century, UC Cooperative Extension specialists and advisors have been educating Californians in their communities, at their places of work, and even sometimes at their own homes,” said Barbara Allen-Diaz, UC Vice President for Agriculture and Natural Resources. “UC Cooperative Extension’s network of researchers and educators continue to work with Californians to address local issues and use science to solve problems.”
UCCE in Marin County is known for its associations with local 4-H clubs, the Master Gardeners program, nutrition educators or farm advisors. UCCE researchers and educators live and work in each California county so they can understand and address local economic, agricultural, environmental, youth development and nutrition issues.
UCCE’s rich history officially began May 8, 1914, when President Woodrow Wilson signed into law the Smith-Lever Act, which created the nationwide Cooperative Extension to help farmers, homemakers and youth apply the latest university research to improve their lives. At first geared toward rural areas, Cooperative Extension soon became integral to urban and suburban communities as well. California’s population has grown from 2.5 million people to 38 million since UCCE began. As California has changed, UCCE has continued to work to help communities adapt and grow.
Through the 1920s, Marin was the leading dairy producer in the California, and Marin’s population was less than 30,000. Today, Marin has approximately 255,000 residents who live predominately in the heavily populated eastern portion of the county, with the western and northern portions consisting of connected open rangelands with nearly 160,000 acres in agricultural production.
Marin’s farmers and ranchers continue to be leaders in California through diversification, direct marketing and value-added production, including the highest concentration of farmstead and artisan cheese production west of the Mississippi. There is also a strong and mutually supportive connection between the urban and rural members to continue to advance and enhance Marin environment, economy and communities.
In addition to the April 29 presentation before the Board of Supervisors, UCCE Marin invites everyone to be a scientist for a day on May 8 by participating in our local celebration, a Day of Science and Service. It’s as simple as answering a question or two about the environment around your home or workplace. For more information about UC Cooperative Extension and the Day of Science and Service, visit http://ucanr.edu/sites/100years.