The Agriculture And Home Economics Extension Division
Report Of The Director
To the President of the Virginia Polytechnic Institute:
Extension work in agriculture and home economics is an enterprise in public education, financed jointly by the federal, state and county governments. The purpose is to present to rural people in their homes and on their farms information which will prove helpful in meeting the many problems with which they are confronted. This information is largely the result of actual investigations carried on by the state experiment stations and the United States Department of Agriculture.
The Virginia extension service maintains headquarters on the campus of the Virginia Polytechnic Institute at Blacksburg, Virginia, and is one of the three divisions of the state agricultural college. The extension work with Negroes is conducted through the state college for Negroes at Petersburg, where the Negro district agents have their headquarters. However, this work is under the direct supervision of the director of extension and the Board of Visitors of the Virginia Polytechnic Institute.
The administrative department consisted of one director, one assistant director in charge of farm demonstration work, and one state agent in charge of home demonstration work. The duties of the administrative officers are to make plans, select personnel, secure funds and see that the work of the various departments is so coordinated as to get maximum results.
The supervisory staff consisted of five white men district agents, four white women district agents, two Negro men district agents and one Negro woman district agent. These agents have headquarters within their districts and their duties include supervising the activities of the county extension agents, helping the agents develop plans for effectively reaching the largest possible number of people, securing local finances, and seeing that the proper extension organization is maintained. Each district agent supervises the activities of from twelve to eighteen county workers.
The specialist staff consisted of a highly trained corps of technical field specialists with headquarters at the college. These specialists have their offices in connection with the experiment station workers of the institution and take to the farmers, through the county agents, the results of investigations along their particular subject matter line. The Virginia extension division maintains subject matter specialists in agronomy, dairy husbandry, poultry husbandry, agricultural economics, agricultural engineering, rural sociology, farm forestry, clothing, foods, home management, plant pathology, and animal pathology.
The club department consisted of a state boys’ club agent, an assistant state boys’ club agent, and a state girls’ club agent. These club agents have their offices in the same building with the administrative offices and are in direct charge of all activities with juniors. They are not classed as administrative officers, though they have some administrative duties. Their chief work is developing plans and methods for doing effective 4-H club work.
The county farm demonstration agents are located within the counties, usually at the county seat, and work particularly with farm men and boys. There were eighty-one white farm demonstration agents and twenty-one Negro farm demonstration agents employed in Virginia during the period covered by this report, an increase of ten over the number in 1929. These agents do their work through meetings, demonstrations, tours, exhibits, visits, newspaper articles, and circular letters.
The county home demonstration agents are also located in the counties and often have their offices in the same building with the farm demonstration agents. These agents work largely with farm women and girls and give them information which will help them improve living standards. During the last year, fifty white home demonstration agents and six Negro home demonstration agents were employed in Virginia. This is the largest number of such agents ever employed in this state in any year except the war years when a large number of emergency demonstration agents were engaged.
Activities Of Extension Agents
The extension agents in agriculture and home economics carried on extension work of some kind in practically every county of the state. More than 1,500 communities were definitely organized and instruction of a special nature was given them periodically throughout the year. Six thousand three hundred and sixty-five voluntary local leaders helped in furthering the extension program in these communities, and 25,513 members were enrolled for instruction in the various phases of agriculture and home economics. Everyone of the members of organized clubs carried on a definite farm or home demonstration which was supervised by the county agents.
In, addition to this organized demonstration work with club members, extension agents made 98,942 visits to the farms and homes of rural people during the year; they answered 113,000 office and telephone calls, wrote 11,104 news stories and articles, and 106,422 individual letters. The extension agents also addressed nearly 400,000 people at institutes, fairs and meetings of a more or less informal nature.
Special Public Services Rendered
The outstanding piece of public service rendered by extension agents during 1929 and 1930 was in connection with the disastrous drouth which extended practically throughout the entire period covered by this report. The actual rainfall as reported by the weather station at the college from December 1, 1929, to November 30, 1930, was 21.06 inches, whereas, the average normal rainfall for this period is 42.25 inches. In many sections of the state the shortage of rainfall was even greater.
When the state drouth relief committee was appointed by the governor, the director of extension was made a member of the committee and was later asked to serve as vice-chairman. In this position he took an active part in helping to organize the counties and communities for drouth relief work. In each of the counties the farm demonstration agent was a member of the county drouth relief committee and the home demonstration agent cooperated with the welfare agencies.
The railroads announced emergency reduced rates and the county extension agents not only issued the reduced rate certificates but also developed plans with cooperatives, bankers, and dealers whereby Virginia farmers received greater benefits from the reduced rates than did the farmers in any other state. More than 10,000 carloads of feedstuffs were brought into the state at estimated savings to our farmers of more than $750,000.
When it was announced that the government would make loans to needy farmers the county agents took an active part in organizing local loan committees and helping these committees reach the farmers in real need. The county agents helped 14,500 Virginia farmers fill out application blanks and these farmers were loaned approximately $2,000,000 for the purchase of seed, feed, and fertilizer.
Both the county farm and home demonstration agents rendered valuable assistance to the Red Cross and other relief agencies in giving assistance to the actually destitute. In addition to distributing 19,851 packets of garden seed to needy farmers these agents helped the relief agencies in distributing food and clothing to the amount of nearly $250,000.
The extension division in agriculture and home economics publishes regularly each month two house organs. One of these is an eight-page paper which goes to approximately 50,000 persons in this state. The Extension Division News carries timely information of special interest to farm men and women. The other publication, The Agricultural Club Letter, goes to more than 20,000 club members each month and contains special instructions as well as other items of interest to club members.
During the year the following bulletins and circulars have been published and distributed:
Spray Calendar, by A. H. Teske, 7,000 copies.
Norfolk Plan of Marketing Milk, by C. C. Taylor, 5,000 copies.
Leaders’ Manual, by Mary B. Settle, 1,000 copies.
Vegetable Garden Suggestions, by L. B. Dietrick, 20,000 copies.
Farm Inventory Form, by W. J. Nuckolls, 15,000 copies.
Future Plans And Needs
The outstanding needs of the extension division in agriculture and home economics are a better trained personnel and more effective organizations through which to reach farm people.
In order to meet the first of these needs our employees are being encouraged to take additional training at institutions of higher learning. The chief obstacles in the way of accomplishing this are that we have no provision for sabbatical leave and that our salary scale is low.
The second of these needs is being overcome by the training of voluntary local leaders, who are proving to be of great service in developing effective county and community organizations.
JNO. R. HUTCHESON, Director.