Merced farm advisers to celebrate 100 years

Sun-Star staffApril 28, 2014 

The University of California Cooperative Extension system is celebrating its 100th anniversary, and in that vein the Merced chapter plans a couple of educational events.

An open house is set for 3 to 8 p.m. May 8 at Merced Mall, 851 W. Olive Ave. The extension will have four tables with information about its programs, including 4-H, master gardeners, nutrition education and agriculture, according to a news release.

“We will have some fun things to do that are interactive and educational,” said farm adviser Maxwell Norton, in the release.

The extension also will set up a booth at the Merced County Spring Fair in Los Banos. Master gardeners will answer questions from the booth during the day and 4-H volunteers will answer questions in the evenings. The fair is planned Wednesday through Sunday at the Los Banos Fairgrounds, 403 F St.

In its 100 year history, cooperative extension advisers have helped Merced County farmers produce crops and raise livestock. In addition to advising farmers, the extension takes part in local 4-H clubs and nutrition education and master gardeners.

The extension exists to understand and address local economic, agricultural, environmental, youth development and nutrition issues, according to the news release.

On May 8, 1914, President Woodrow Wilson signed into law the Smith-Lever Act, which created a national Cooperative Extension System to help farmers, homemakers and youths apply the latest university research to improve their lives, the release stated.

Three years later, an extension office and farm bureau were organized in Merced County. The county and the UC system have been partners in that effort since 1917, the release stated.

With a raw product value of more than $3 billion, agriculture is Merced County’s No. 1 industry and collectively employs the largest workforce. The local extension’s 4-H program has 16 clubs for its 989 youths and 234 adult volunteers.

Thirty-eight master gardeners offer information to local gardeners, the release stated, and nutritionists teach others about healthy eating choices.

For more on the UC Cooperative Extension, call Norton at (209) 385-7403.

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