Extension TodayNews from and about the 1890 Land-Grant Extension System
Message from the Chair
Dr. Carolyn Williams Executive Associate Director, Prairie View A&M University
Welcome to the February edition of Extension Today. This digital newsletter highlights the significant impact of programs and activities from the 1890 land-grant system. This month, we present a wide range of competence and excellence featuring Extension individuals and program activities.
We continue to fulfill the legacy of our 1890 history through educational delivery that produces greatness. In 1890, a number of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) were added as land-grant institutions. We take the university to the people by addressing issues and proposing solutions designed to respond to the needs and aspirations of individuals, families, organizations, agencies, schools and communities - both rural and urban.
Enjoy this month’s journey through the lens of the 1890 Land-grant Universities.
James I. Dawson: The history maker
The late James Ira Dawson has a history of being the first to make major achievements in life. For example, he is the first 1890 Extension administrator at Alabama A&M University (AAMU). His influence on the Huntsville community in north Alabama is evident by the people who knew him, his life of service and the facilities named in his honor. Those facilities include the Cooperative Extension Building on the AAMU campus.
Dawson was born on Jan. 14, 1925, in Pike County, Alabama. Like many young people who grew up in small towns, he desired to leave for greater opportunities. He earned his bachelor's degree and master’s degree from Alabama A&M College and Tuskegee Institute, respectively. He then became the first African American to earn a doctorate in agriculture from Penn State University.
At AAMU, Dawson served as a professor, dean, department chair and eventually, 1890 Extension administrator. Under his leadership, the Cooperative Extension program was established and flourished. It grew annually to serve more than 100,000 people across 12 counties in north Alabama. Dawson also consulted at several 1890 Land-grant Universities across the nation. After retiring from AAMU, he remained active in various professional and community organizations and was elected five times to serve on the Huntsville City School Board. Growing up in a small town in Alabama, Dawson did go on to achieve great things. He became a history maker.
Building healthy youths, families through Alcorn State University 4-H Healthy Habits program
Through the 4-H Healthy Habits Cooking classes, Manola Erby, 4-H youth specialist at Alcorn State University, has taught more than 3,500 youths about healthy eating and meal preparation through virtual and in-person cooking demonstrations and education. She teaches food safety, handling and preparation, healthy eating and nutritious recipes to youths in middle and high schools throughout southwest Mississippi.
The goal, Erby says, is to teach youths how to prepare an easy, healthy and nutritious meal and to share that knowledge with their family members to benefit the entire family.
“Through 4-H Healthy Habits, youths learn kitchen basics such as how to use measuring spoons and cups and other food preparation tools,” said Erby. “The curriculum 4-H Cooking 101 also covers MyPlate and proper portions to make a healthy meal.”
Through the National 4-H Council, the Walmart Foundation funds the 4-H Healthy Habits program. Erby explained that “these funds have helped us expand this program to 14 schools in six communities, helping youths build healthy habits with a core focus on nutrition and food preparation skills while they learn the importance of physical activity and social-emotional wellness.”
Central State University Extension charters the Dayton Urban Riding Center
According to the National Bureau of Economic Research, between 1890 and 1899, African American jockeys won the Kentucky Derby six times, but by the early 1900s, they were history. In July 2020, riding clubs like Compton Cowboys and Houston’s Nonstop Riders shed the spotlight on this disparity when they rode their horses during a protest march.
“The Buffalo Soldiers were among the first National Park rangers and date back to the 1860s. Black cowboys worked on ranches before and after the Civil War, especially in states with big cattle industries like Texas, where I grew up,” said writer Sarah Enelow-Snyder in her article for Conde Nast Traveler, titled “For Black Equestrians, Horseback Riding Brings Power and Peace.” She added, “…they subverted the old narrative that horses carry mounted police high above Black pedestrians. Instead, we saw (witnessed) horses uplifting Black people.”
“This is just one of the many reasons why our partnership with the Dayton Urban Riding Center (DURC) is so important,” said Prosper Doamekphor, Ph.D., program leader for Central State University 4-H. “Youth of color who reside in urban areas don’t have opportunities to see Black riders, let alone opportunities to become one. For them, an equestrian culture doesn’t exist. This partnership changes all that.”
To learn more about DURC, visit thedurc.com. For more information about 4-H programs at Central State University, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
A celebrated life
Dr. Ulysses Samuel Washington Jr. was born July 16, 1920, in Dilwyn, Virginia. The second of eight children, Washington attended public elementary and high school in that small Buckingham County town before completing his bachelor’s degree in agriculture education at Virginia State College (now Virginia State University) in 1942.
As a World War II U.S. Navy veteran, Washington earned his master’s degree in agriculture education from Rutgers University in 1949. That same year, Dr. Thomasson, then acting president of Delaware State College, hired Washington to teach farm mechanics at a salary of $3,000.
During his 42-year tenure on campus, Washington coached football and taught in the Department of Agriculture, laying the foundation for what later became the College of Agriculture and Related Sciences. He received an honorary doctorate from Delaware State University in 1981 and retired from service in 1991.
Family and community preservation: A local perspective from families looking back while moving forward
The city of Apalachicola, Florida, is recognized for one of two characteristics - a resource for oysters, fresh shrimp and blue crabs or as the symbol of “Old Florida” heritage tourism. While these are the two more publicized storylines, additional realities exist.
The city also illustrates the challenges many small towns face, such as young people moving away for job opportunities. The Florida A&M University Family and Consumer Sciences (FCS) program will use the end process to reshape and focus programming that speaks to family and community concerns. Working with communities and families is vital to community growth and family sustainability. Engagement processes can take place individually or collectively, but the overall aim of the process is to meet community-identified needs.
Traditional community work often leaves out the voices of families. Traditional visioning works have not always produced equitable and sustainable communities, particularly when it comes to environmental, social and economic aspects of the community. The Hill neighborhood and its existing rich history, culture and community-based arts have the potential to transform in ways nontraditionally. Place-based education is essential to collaborative community art, which can impact The Hill’s physical, social and economic development.
Fort Valley State spotlights the ‘Progress’ of underserved farmers
In honor of Black History Month, Fort Valley State University is celebrating Black farmers with a tribute to seven Georgia farmers who are helping to feed and clothe America.
Every Monday throughout February, a series called #Progress will be featured on Facebook and Twitter. This series chronicles the progress of underserved farmers who have developed improved relationships with government agencies. It will also share each farmer's history and how they work hard to maintain their land.
The first farmer featured, Charlie Backey of Colquitt, Georgia, became the principal operator of her family’s farm when her husband of 50 years, Charles, died in 2020. Now age 70 and retired from a career in customer service, Backey considers farming the 72 acres of land her way of carrying on her late husband’s memory.
“It means a lot to me just to be able to work the soil, to be here and see the crops mature enough to harvest. You get excited,” she said with a chuckle. “Land is something we should all try to preserve.” Watch her video on YouTube.
Kentucky State Extension employees teach kids about eating healthy
With a Nutribike and a group of students, Kentucky State University personnel worked toward several of the Cooperative Extension Program’s goals and initiatives.
Kentucky State programming frequently highlights healthy nutrition for both children and adults. And since 2021, Kentucky State has been part of an initiative to help address issues of health education, wellness and food insecurity in West Louisville, Kentucky. On Nov. 18, 2022, Dare to Care and Kentucky State University Cooperative Extension partnered for an event at Care Community Kitchen, where 37 seventh grade students from Grace James Academy engaged in STEM-related (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) activities that focused on awareness and prevention of food insecurity in their communities.
“This is part of our goal to reach and serve clientele within the metropolitan city,” said Turquoise Brown-Patterson, Kentucky State University Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP) nutrition program assistant/coordinator.
Brown-Patterson and Nicole Swinson, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Education (SNAP-ED) program coordinator, provided the Nutribike, which allowed students to get exercise and make a healthy, tasty smoothie. The pair also taught the students the importance of eating healthy.
Langston University retired educators mentor future gardeners
Micah Anderson serves as the horticulture Extension educator for Langston University’s Sherman Lewis School of Agriculture and Applied Sciences, Cooperative Extension and Outreach Program (LU SL/SAAS-CEOP). He recalls the difficulty he experienced five years ago in finding soil plots to grow research vegetable crops. That is until a community partnership was developed with Drs. Lester and JoAnn Clark, retired professors from Langston University.
Lester Clark served as chair of the education department for 40 years, and upon retirement, the Clarks decided to become residents in Langston, Oklahoma. The Clark Farm is conveniently close to the Langston University campus. The farm is equipped with watering spickets in many places, allowing crops to be planted throughout the garden.
Over the past few years, Lester Clark’s passion for horticulture has allowed LU-SL/SAAS-CEOP to conduct amazing watermelon and cantaloupe trials. Extended partnerships with Oklahoma State University Extension have resulted in research on the squash bug problem in Oklahoma, along with cabbage and Brussels sprout trials. The produce has supplied a complete farmers market at the Langston Park Pavilion on multiple occasions.
Since Lester Clark also enjoys growing sweet potatoes, the Cooperative Extension and Outreach Program assisted in connecting his farm to the local grocery store, Urban Agrarian. They have purchased all of his extra sweet potatoes over the past two years.
Highlighting the Black experience through video
Lincoln University Cooperative Extension (LUCE) Caruthersville Outreach Center’s 4-H staff created and designed the Lights, Camera, Awareness program. First introduced in February 2021, the aim is to provide a platform to inform local communities about the issues that are important to the youth population.
The Caruthersville staff accomplished this using the artistry of filmmaking to heighten performance skills in public speaking. The focus of this project was to engage youths in introducing Black educators to the community during the designated Black History Month. Having youths in the leadership and decision-making role put a special emphasis on this program and gave a hook for engagement for the teachers involved and those who watched the videos for information and entertainment.
LU area educators employed at each Lincoln University Cooperative Extension Outreach Center know that keeping youths involved with accountable projects and community engagement reduces risk factors. This project demonstrated the conventional wisdom of “engage the youths and the parents will follow.”
Longtime farm superintendent reflects on more than 40 years serving N.C. A&T, Black farmers
The name Leon means lion, the king of all animals. He’s a big presence with authority that commands attention. But it’s his ability to get the job done that commands respect.
For 42 years, North Carolina A&T State University’s “lion” has been Leon Moses, superintendent of the University Farm. In a career that includes roles as a student worker, research assistant and, for the past 18 years, superintendent of the 492-acre operation, Moses has groomed and guided the farm to preeminence in North Carolina agriculture and the farm staff to excellence in their work.
“I’ve always admired his commitment to excellence. He leads by example, and the farm has thrived under his leadership,” said North Carolina Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler. “The research he’s facilitated has likely generated millions of dollars for our state, and the investments that he has made in others will matter even more in the years to come.”
Now, as Moses plans to retire from the farm he helped create, he looks toward the future with excitement and energy.
4-H volunteer spotlight: Tauleeće Thomas
Tauleeće Thomas and her family of 4-H’ers are widely known throughout the Cooperative Extension Program at Prairie View A&M University. Since 2017, the Thomas family has volunteered through various 4-H projects, national trips, camps and even college graduations. Their 4-H journey is inspirational.
Thomas and her husband, Roger, first heard about the 4-H Youth Leadership Lab Camp when their son, Raymond, entered his first year at PVAMU. From there, younger brothers Russell and Robert participated in their first 4-H activity. Thomas then sought out additional opportunities on the county level. As a homeschool parent and founder of the Homeschool Resource Network (HRN), she quickly discovered that a gap in 4-H programming exists between the needs of homeschooled youths and traditional education groups. As a result, she decided to start the HRN 4-H Club. Utilizing the PVAMU 4-H agent and other resources, she challenged herself to provide a positive source of information for her 4-H Club.
The HRN 4-H Club has become a prime example of what a caring and purposeful volunteer can do. The club grew to include the family’s youngest, Ryleigh, as a young 4-H’er. Since then, the club has participated in several projects, such as food and nutrition, archery (Roger became a certified coach), robotics, animal science/conservation and several state 4-H camps. The action does not stop there. Three of the couple's sons, Raymond, Russell and Robert, graduated from or will graduate from PVAMU College of Agriculture and Human Sciences. All three received the 1890 U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) scholarship. As far as Ryleigh, she plans to attend PVAMU and major in animal science.
SC State, Clemson awarded historic $70M as part of USDA’s Climate-Smart Commodities project
South Carolina State University, in partnership with Clemson University, is a recipient of a $70 million Climate-Smart Commodities investment grant, which will provide incentives for South Carolina farmers to implement selected climate-smart commodities production practices. The funds, designated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), mark the largest single award from a federal agency in the history of both land-grant universities.
Working with an established strategic partnership of 27 entities, the project will focus on various agricultural production sectors of South Carolina and the southeast, including vegetables, peanuts, beef cattle and forest products, and will ensure meaningful involvement of small and underserved producers.
“The Clemson University and SC State Climate-Smart Commodities partnership will create strategic opportunities for scores of small-scale, socially disadvantaged and limited-resource farmers to introduce and adopt climate-smart practices in their farming operations,” said Dr. Lamin Drammeh, director of strategic initiatives, evaluation and engagement for SC State 1890.
Drammeh, who also serves as the co-principal investigator, noted over the course of the five-year grant, participating farmers and producers will receive training, financial incentives and additional resources. They will also participate in demonstrations to encourage the adoption of climate-smart practices. Out of the total funding awarded, SC State University will receive $26,383,507 from the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS).
SU Ag Center to celebrate 80th annual livestock show March 2-4
Since 1943, the Southern University Ag Center has continued the tradition of holding a livestock show for the youths of Louisiana. Making Southern University the only 1890 Land-grant University to still hold this time-honored tradition.
To mark the show’s 80th year, the Ag Center hosted several events to celebrate this historic occasion. These events included a Boots and Bling Affair, an Ag Showcase and an Educational Experience Expo for youths all leading up to the annual livestock show on March 2-4 at the Maurice A. Edmond Livestock Arena. More than 100 youths from across Louisiana will show more than 120 animals in various breeds of cattle, hogs, sheep, lamb, goats and poultry. Award winners receive premiums, banners, ribbons, rosettes and trophy belt buckles.
The Ag Center’s Livestock and Poultry Show was established by J.W. Fisher, director of the College of Agriculture, and Tom J. Jordan, state Cooperative Extension agent, along with a group of statewide vocational agricultural teachers, agricultural Extension workers and community leaders. A dairy calf project was added in the second year, and the show’s name was changed to the State Poultry and Dairy Show with youth exhibitors from limited-resource families.
The livestock show cultivates the development of responsibility, dedication, decision-making, leadership and entrepreneurship skills in the youths who prepare throughout the year for competitions through the possession and personal care of a live animal project. For more information, visit https://www.suagcenter.com/news/5426.
TSU students go underground to learn Black history
In fall 2022, a dozen Tennessee State University students journeyed to Mammoth Cave as part of a program to get students at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) more comfortable with hiking, camping and being outdoors. Aria McElroy is a TSU student who organized the trip and serves as an ambassador to the National Park Trust and HBCUs Outside, whom she worked with to secure funding for this outing with a TSU student organization.
After McElroy’s internship in the Rocky Mountains last summer, she felt passionate about encouraging others to explore the outdoors. “It was just an opportunity for me and other students to get back outside and rekindle the love that they may have had or just have a new love that they didn’t even know they had,” she said.
While visiting Mammoth Cave, TSU students learned that at one point in the cave’s history, enslaved African Americans did the labor-intensive work of mining saltpeter for gunpowder. One of these enslaved people was Stephen Bishop, who was made to give tours of the cave in the mid-1800s and later created a map of the entire cave from memory.
Due to the overwhelmingly white population within the outdoor recreation industry, it was vital that TSU students were given the opportunity to both get outdoors and learn about the Black history that has been commonly ignored.
From runaway to leader, Dr. Marilyn Bailey honored for Black History Month
Dr. Marilyn Bailey was once a homeless runaway. Today, she is a leader worthy of honor during Black History Month. To say that Bailey has come a long way is an understatement. She is now the interim chair of the Department of Human Sciences at the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff (UAPB).
“From a young age, I became fascinated with human behavior and was determined to find meaning in my own life,” Bailey said. “After running away, my life became a marathon of sprinting over obstacles and learning through both harsh and joyous experiences. I soaked in wisdom from mentors who challenged me to keep striving.”
Bailey holds a doctoral degree in educational leadership and change from Fielding Graduate University in Santa Barbara, California, and a master’s and bachelor’s degree in human development from Pacific Oaks College in Pasadena, California.
“I met fellow students who shared their personal stories, allowing me to look through the lenses of their lives and see how to make better decisions for myself,” Bailey said.
In addition to her current appointment at UAPB, Bailey serves as project director and associate professor and previously served as director of the university’s Child Development Center. She has received nearly $14 million in grant funds during her tenure at the university.
“My endeavor has been to work toward motivating people by creating learning environments that stimulate development, encourage student voice and foster collaboration,” she said.
Annual Small Farm Conference helps Black farmers increase profits
University of Maryland Eastern Shore Extension added another Small Farm Conference to the books Nov. 4-5. Nearly 200 attendees representing a diverse group of agricultural producers flocked to the university for the 19th annual event. In keeping with tradition, the 2022 edition featured hands-on training clinics, bus tours to sustainable and unique farming operations, notable speakers, networking opportunities and agricultural vendor exhibits — all geared toward helping farmers increase their bottom line.
“The immediate goal is to equip farmers on and near Delmarva with strategies to increase farm profitability and promote sustainability,” said Berran Rogers Jr., event chair and coordinator of UMES Extension’s Small Farm Program. “The long-term objective is to better position limited-resource, new and beginning farmers and other underserved farmer audiences for success.”
Derrick Mayes, a first-time attendee and local farmer originally from Ohio, said, “It’s really important for this (conference) to happen.” When asked what he’d like to come away with, his answer was, “some solutions to staying economically sound in this business and new insight on farm management.”
“In addition to familiar faces, it was refreshing to see people attending our event for the first time, many of whom traveled from a considerable distance. Throughout the conference, I received countless comments of positive feedback from attendees,” Rogers said.
Small Farm Outreach Program helps small-scale Black farmers make big impacts
Despite incredible hardships, obstacles and risks, by 1920, Black farmers owned nearly one million farms in the United States. Yet, that number plunged to about 45,000 or 1.3 percent of all farms in the U.S., according to a 2017 U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) report. The drop was in large measure due to systemic racism and failure to equally administer government programs intended to support farmers. Furthermore, technological advancements created a chasm between small family-owned farms and huge corporate farms. The government is now making progress in addressing past wrongs and accessibility to agricultural technology.
The Small Farm Outreach Program (SFOP), part of Virginia State University College of Agriculture and Virginia Cooperative Extension, empowers small-scale, limited-resource, socially disadvantaged, minority and veteran farmers and ranchers to own, operate and sustain their independent enterprises through education, information and assistance. SFOP serves Virginia and parts of Maryland and North Carolina. It is making a big impact, especially on small-scale Black farmers.
“Education is key,” said Clifton “Clif” Slade, Black owner of Slade Farms in Surry, Virginia. “Gone are the days of mediocre farm management. SFOP ensures I have the knowledge, skills, information and connections I need to remain successful.”
Virginia Cooperative Extension extends the resources of Virginia's two land-grant universities, Virginia State University and Virginia Tech, to solve problems facing Virginians every day.
Westbrook joins WVSU leadership team
Dr. Johnnie Westbrook is the new associate dean and associate director of West Virginia State University Agricultural Research and Extension.
A North Carolina native, Westbrook comes to WVSU with extensive experience in land-grant programs, having worked in Cooperative Extension since 2004. Over the past 19 years, Westbrook has held a variety of administrative leadership positions in both agricultural research and Extension. Most recently, he served as an assistant professor and coordinator of the undergraduate agricultural education program at Virginia State University.
Westbrook is excited to begin the work of connecting with West Virginia communities, meeting and hearing from the people whose lives are being positively impacted by the WVSU Extension Service. He plans to work closely with Extension program leaders and improve collaborations with academic departments and research faculty in an effort to expand programming that benefits West Virginia citizens. He will also focus on providing many opportunities for student engagement.
“Extension is all about taking the university to the people, whether it be through programs such as Healthy Grandfamilies, 4-H, STEM or any of the other various programs that we offer,” said Westbrook. “We have to keep finding new ways to connect with community members and address their needs.”