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FAMU Celebrates 100th Anniversary of Smith-Lever Act




The Florida A&M University (FAMU) Cooperative Extension Program will kick off its year-long observance of the centennial anniversary of the Smith-Lever Act of 1914 on Jan. 31 at noon. The event will be held in FAMU’s Perry Paige Auditorium located 1740 S. Martin Luther King Blvd.

Honorary centennial chairperson and FAMU alumnus Chester Gipson, Ph.D., deputy administrator of animal care for the USDA’s Animal Plant Health Inspection Service, will be in attendance.

The historic Smith-Lever Act established the National Cooperative Extension System, which affords FAMU, and other land-grant institutions, the capacity to extend their resources to local communities to assist in solving public needs and improving the quality of life through research-based information and direct technical assistance.

The Extension Program is the outreach arm of the College of Agriculture and Food Sciences (CAFS) and works in conjunction with the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agriculture Sciences.

“The importance of the Smith-Lever Act is very worthy of being celebrated due to the rich benefits it has sown and grown for the past century,” said Vonda Richardson, associate director of the FAMU Cooperative Extension Program.  “Cooperative Extension has opened a plethora of opportunities for citizens in Florida to enhance their quality of life via the wealth of resources that exist within a super network of collaborators and partnerships.  Florida A&M University and the University of Florida are proud to be a part of that educational network.”

Since its inception, countless residents in the North Florida region (18 counties) have been enriched through the program including: farmers, rural and urban families, the elderly and youth, entrepreneurs, small business owners and underserved communities. Services provided by the extension include, training and resources to assist: farmers with growing crops, homeowners with maintaining their homes and children with preparing to become the leaders of tomorrow through programs such as 4-H.

According to a recent report, the extension program served 234,933 clients in 2013, a 50 percent increase from 2012. Overall, the Smith-Lever Act has provided assistance to approximately 3,000 counties.

The program is currently adding to its lists of research and resources, as its staff is developing new strategies to help address contemporary issues of the day such as food security, food safety, poor health, nutrition and entrepreneurship.

“We are working diligently to provide a special glimpse of everything we do here in FAMU Extension at this celebration,” said Lawrence Carter, Ph.D., FAMU chairperson of the Extension Centennial Planning Committee. “A special invitation is extended to our clientele, stakeholders, partners, the community and the entire FAMU family to come and join us to learn more about all the great things the FAMU Extension is doing in North Florida and beyond.”

A commemorative birthday celebration is also scheduled in May, the month that the Smith-Lever Act was passed, and the yearlong celebration will culminate with a holiday gala in December honoring FAMU Extension staff and community partners.

Members of the public may RSVP for the kick-off celebration on or before Jan. 30 by calling, (850) 599-3546 or emailing, extension@famu.edu. For more information, visit, www.famu/cep.

Photo: Children at Oak Ridge Elementary learn to garden through the assistance of the FAMU Cooperative Extension Program.
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