Celebrating a century and a new start

Sunday, February 9, 2014
Jennifer Cannon

Visit the Purdue Extension Putnam County office at 152 E. Columbia St., Greencastle, to join in a celebration of 100 years of Extension and meet the brand new Putnam County Health and Human Sciences Extension Educator, Jennifer Cannon.

The entry to the office is just to the left of the PNC Bank drive-up.

Jennifer (Jenni) is passionate about health education/promotion as both her bachelor and master's degree from the University of Eastern Illinois focus on health education/promotion. In fact, while pursuing her bachelor's degree, she served as a community health educator for the county's health department.

Her true passion for health care predates her undergraduate career as her interest for health education was sparked at a young age after losing her best friend from complications associated with HIV/AIDS.

Since her untimely passing, she has actively taught health education in roles such as Community Health Liaison, Public Health Research Assistant, Diabetes Educator, Sexual Health Education Coordinator, Youth Outreach Mentor, and host of other titles. Come meet, greet and welcome Jenni aboard during the 4:30- 6:30 p.m. open house at the Extension Office this coming Thursday.

The candles on the cake will also be burning to celebrate a century of nationally recognized Extension programming.

Extension nationally was established by the Smith-Lever Act on May 8, 1914. A considerable number of building blocks led to the formation of the one of a kind non-formal educational programming known as Extension.

The short version is that in 1862, the Morrill Act was passed which established the land grant universities, which for Indiana is Purdue University. Purdue was founded in 1869, establishing a center for advanced learning and study, which at that time was primarily agriculturally focused.

The passage of the Morrill Act was somewhat a miracle due to the fact that the Southern plantation states were opposed to the act that would further education. However, the succession of the southern states at the onset of the Civil War enabled the passage of the act due to the absence of the opposition.

While there was extensive learning and studying occurring, there was very little application of this knowledge to the real world. In 1887, the Hatch Act established the Experiment Stations where real world trials and comparisons occurred. Experiment Stations and Land Grant Universities were collocated in most cases in an effort to be more efficient.

By the early 1900s, the realization that information was not flowing to the common citizenry caused concern. On May 8, 1914, the Smith-Lever Act established the Cooperative Extension Service where agents conducted educational demonstrations. There are early, interesting pictures of Extension Agents on trains speaking to hundreds of people as they went from town to town.

Extension started with its roots being totally agriculture related. The need to reach individuals early in life resulted in initiating the 4-H Youth program we know today. Home economics demonstrations initiated the Health and Human Science Program we know today. This history is much abbreviated for this column, but provides a glimpse of Extension's roots.

Visit our homepage at www.extension.purdue.edu/putnam or you can contact the local Purdue Extension Office by calling 653-8411 for more information regarding this week's column topic or to RSVP for upcoming events. It is always best to call first to assure items are ready when you arrive and to RSVP for programs. While many publications are free, some do have a fee. All times listed are Eastern Time.

Upcoming events

Feb. 13 -- Extension open house, 4:30-6:30 p.m., Extension Office.

Feb. 16 -- 4-H launch (enrollment and material pickup), Fairgrounds, 2-4 p.m.

Feb. 19 -- Mobile mammography registration due, Extension Office

Feb. 22 -- Master Gardener Area Program, Fairgrounds, 8 a.m.

March 14 -- 4-H Beef weigh-in, Fairgrounds, 8 a.m.-noon.

March 15 -- Putnam County Ag Day.

March 17 -- Putnam 4-H enrollment deadline for availability of all projects.

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