With 39 locations throughout the state, WSU Extension is the front door to the University. Extension builds the capacity of individuals, organizations, businesses and communities, empowering them to find solutions for local issues and to improve their quality of life. Extension collaborates with communities to create a culture of life-long learning and is recognized for its accessible, learner-centered, relevant, high-quality, unbiased educational programs.
It’s hard to imagine farm life in Washington a century ago, a life devoid of conveniences we take for granted today. There were no telephones, running water or electricity. Light was provided by smoky kerosene lamps. Horses provided transportation as well as draft power. Food was cooked on wood or coal stoves. Clothes were washed by hand in a tub with homemade soap. Farm families faced a multitude of challenges and had few places to turn for help. Hungry for knowledge, thousands flocked to Farmer’s Institutes and demonstration trains staged by the Washington Experiment Station to hear about experiments at the state’s new land-grant college in Pullman.
It was soon apparent, there was a real need to apply new found facts to local conditions. 1913, a year ahead of federal legislation authorizing the present extension system, the state authorized a Bureau of Farm Development headquartered at Washington State College and provided for the appointment and maintenance of agricultural experts across the state. By then, however, George A. Nelson, the first county extension worker, had been on the job for more than two months. Nelson was appointed as agriculturist for Wahkiakum County December 12, 1912. He was absorbed into the new Bureau. Pioneer extension educators established a philosophy that’s still relevant today: “helping farmers to help themselves.”