Thursday, May 8th 2014 is the centennial of the Smith-Lever Act, which you can read more about by clicking here. The legislation created the Cooperative Extension (CE) Service; it was signed by Woodrow Wilson on the same day he signed the legislation creating Mother’s Day. You may know Cooperative Extension today and not even be aware of it: 4-H, Master Gardener and Master Food Preserver programs, university researchers working with farmers on agricultural issues, natural resource management…that’s CE.

You can read all about this and more – including what’s up with Cooperative Extension today, 100 years after its creation – in my book, “Sowing the Seeds of Victory: American Gardening Programs of World War 1.”

1914 was a momentous year. The Panama Canal opened. Ford Motor Company established an 8-hour workday and increased wages. The National Guard fired upon striking miners in Colorado. Racial tensions ran high, as did tensions between rural and urban populations. U.S. naval forces landed and occupied Veracruz, Mexico, bringing the two countries to the brink of war. By August, World War I had started, and U.S. agricultural products were sorely needed to feed and support our allies. Efficient agriculture backed by scientific solutions became a national priority.

To celebrate Smith-Lever’s Centennial, join the University of California, Agriculture and Natural Resources on May 8th and “Be a Scientist.” Join thousands of others entering observations about pollinators, where food is grown in their communities, and water conservation efforts. Be a part of history!

“A Garden for Everyone. Everyone in a Garden.”