Today, Purdue Extension delivers practical, research-based information that transforms lives and livelihoods. Tailored to the needs of Indiana, its programs include: Agriculture and Natural Resources, Health and Human Sciences, Economic and Community Development, and 4-H Youth Development. However, today's success is built on over a century of visionary hard work and outreach.
Imagine Indiana's farms at the turn of the last century. Having a good or bad year could mean the difference between prosperity and your family going hungry. Before farmers abandoned decades of proven practices or adopted new technology, they would have to be convinced that it would work and that using it was in their best interest. Enter county Extension agents, who took up their posts in 1912. Many of the most significant agricultural innovations of the last hundred years were still being developed in the laboratories and experimental fields of land-grant universities like Purdue.
Enriching the Hoosier Farm Family: A Photo History of Indiana's Early County Extension Agents captures the story of the state's first Extension agents in archival photos and words, when Extension was an idea and county agents were folks who traveled muddy back roads visiting farmers day after day, year after year.
Compiled from original county agent records discovered in Purdue University's Virginia Kelly Karnes Archives and Special Collections Research Center in the Purdue University Libraries, Enriching the Hoosier Farm Family includes hundreds of rare, never-before-published photographs and anecdotal information about how county agents overcame their constituents' reluctance to change. Through patient outreach and dedicated engagement, they built trust in communities and little by little were able to share new information that introduced farmers and their families to exciting new frontiers of productivity.