'Extension Memories' book available from College of Ag Sciences

March 27, 2009

More than 100 years of history of Cooperative Extension in Pennsylvania -- as recalled in stories by 100 retired and current extension agents, educators and administrators -- is covered in a new book, "Extension Memories of the 20th Century," available from Penn State's College of Agricultural Sciences.

With a foreword by Guy Temple, professor emeritus of cooperative extension, the 324-page volume is a collection of more than 200 short stories, arranged into eight themes: Philosophy, Humor, History, Nostalgia, Achievement, Contributions to Society, Effective Programs and Personalities. The Nostalgia chapter features more than 20 old black-and-white photographs.

Temple, who retired in 1993, was the driving force behind the project. He worked as a county extension agent for years. "After spending almost 40 years with extension, the book was a labor of love," Temple said. "I reviewed all the stories as they came in, but Darlene Jury at University Park actually did the editing and put the book together.


"Years ago, a regional director wrote a history of Penn State Cooperative Extension, but it was from an administrative point of view," Temple added. "A few of us talked about it and we decided that the real story of extension was the day-to-day working with people around the state. So that is what this book is about."


According to Temple, Epsilon Sigma Phi, an honorary fraternity recognizing excellence in cooperative extension, supported creation of the book and appointed a committee to oversee its content. Members -- retired Penn State Cooperative Extension administrators, specialists and county agents from around the state -- included Helen Bell, John Bergstrom, Tom King, Jane Marhefka, Jack MacMillan, Betty Parks Strutin, Elton Tait, Eunice Tibbott, Bernard Wingert and Frank Zettle. Temple was the group's chairman.


Temple has received a lot of feedback on the book since it became available last October. "I have heard a lot of good comments from people around the state, and a number of retired extension agents who didn't get a story in have asked me whether there is going to be a second edition because they have a story to tell," he added, chuckling. "Well, of course every extension agent has a story to tell!"


For her part, Jury, an administrative support assistant in the Cooperative Extension director's office, recalled that the book was a year and a half in the making, although the entire project probably spanned twice that period. "We had various individuals do the typing, and I organized and edited the stories and designed the book," she said. "It was a challenging editing job because I tried to edit with a light hand, not changing the thoughts, personalities and subtle humor of the extension agents telling their stories."


She enjoyed working with Temple, going to Pattee and Paterno libraries and poring over archived photos from the College of Agricultural Sciences. "I just sat back and watched Guy pick up photos, his memory not failing him, as he’d name all of the people in each one and tell their stories," she said.


Her favorite story in the book? "It would have to be on page 166, titled 'MargueriteIde's First Days in a County,' " Jury said. "It tells about how in 1919 she would take the trolley to visit with a farm family and then stay overnight in their farmhouse. She relates how the homemaker used chunks of wood to warm the guest bed. And then on cold mornings, the extension home economist would have to break a hole in the ice in the pitcher to get water to wash her hands and face. How times have changed!"


Copies of "Extension Memories of the 20th Century" are available for $10 (plus $5 for U.S. shipping and handling) from the College of Agricultural Sciences Publications Distribution Center. For ordering information, call (814) 865-6713 or visit the college's publications Web site at http://pubs.cas.psu.edu. To order using Mastercard, Visa, American Express or Discover, call (877) 345-0691 toll-free. (Pennsylvania residents pay 6 percent sales tax.)


  • Darlene Jury edtied the book 'Extension Memories of the 20th Century.'

    IMAGE: Penn State

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Last Updated November 18, 2010