NC Cooperative Extension History

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Extension has a long history in the United States. President Lincoln signed the Morrill Act that created the ‘land grant’ colleges for teaching agriculture and mechanical arts in every state. In 1889 The North Carolina College of Agriculture and Mechanical Arts, now NC State University, opened, followed by NC A&T State University in 1891.

James Butler is hired in 1907 as the first county agent in Iredell County, followed by Neil Alexander Bailey, who became the state’s first Black Agent in 1910, working in Guilford, Randolph and Rockingham County. Home demonstration agents, now Family & Consumer Science Agents, started Girls’ Canning Clubs in 1911. In 1914 Congress passed the Smith-Lever Act, creating the national Cooperative Extension system associated with each land grant university. And on May 8, 1914, North Carolina Cooperative Extension is born.

In addition to the national and state Extension history, Pender County has a long history working with Extension. Based on newspaper articles published in the Pender Chronical and other sources, I have tried to piece together the history of the County Agents / County Extension Directors in Pender County since Extension began in 1914. Pender County’s first Extension Agriculture Agent was G. H. Highsmith. His counterpart, Eva Logan was the first Home Demonstration Agent in Pender County, both hired in 1914. Since then sixteen people have held the position of ‘County Agent’.

R.T. Melvin (1917-1920)                J.R. Powell (1921-1922)

C.M. James (1922-1924)              W.H. Robbins (1925-1935)

C.V. Morgan (1936)                       R.R. Rich (1937-1948)

Joe Honeycutt (1949-1973)           William Walker (1974-1984)

William ‘Bill’ Jester (1985-1988)   Whit Jones (1988-1989)

Mark Keene (1989-1993)              Sandra Maddox (1993-1997)

Mike Jones (1997-1999)               James Parsons (2000)

Wayne Batten (2001-2010)            Mark Seitz (2010-present)

One hundred years of progress and successes are laid out in the graphics below. It has been a joy and privilege to serve as County Agents / Director since 2010 in Pender County. I hope you enjoy this stroll down memory lane. In the coming weeks/months I’ll add some of the history of the other Agents and Staff that have served the citizens of Pender County over the years.
Historical Milestones timelineHistorical Milestones timeline Historical Milestones timeline