The University of California, in 1913, created a new division – Agricultural Extension – in preparation for federal funding that would become available in 1914 through the Smith-Lever Act (federal law that established services connected to land-grant universities to inform citizens about current developments in agriculture and home economics and other matters).

Through the Agricultural Extension division, farm advisors could be requested by California counties. Sutter and Yuba Counties put in requests in 1918, both were granted, and farm advisors were assigned and began work that year.

In 1974, the Sutter and Yuba County Farm Advisors merged offices, in order to maximize resources and better serve the community.

For more than 100 years, the University of California Cooperative Extension has been working to improve the agriculture industry throughout the state.

The UCCE is a network of researchers and educators who work together to develop and provide science-based information to solve locally-relevant economic, agricultural, natural resource, youth development and nutrition issues, according to their website.

Sutter-Yuba director Janine Hasey recently discovered historical documents at the local office and credits Jessica Hougen of the Sutter County Community Memorial Museum for creating a display highlighting the information.

A century later, and the Cooperative Extension Service is still going strong and the service, as well as the issues it addresses, has evolved.

Agriculture markets have grown sophisticated over the years, with technological improvements and new ways to gather and use information, but the importance of local reports remain crucial to growers.

“We collaborate on various issues with the ag commissioners,” Hasey said. “This was the first time that I can remember that we submitted articles for their crop report. I requested it and both ag commissioners graciously gave us space to tell our story.”

The University of California Cooperative Extension is part of the Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources and the advisors work in every California county, applying research from the University of California to help local businesses. The UCCE experts partner with local specialists and innovators to develop and disseminate best practices through the UC’s local and global networks.

“Our grower cooperators and agency cooperators are very important to our research and education programs,” Hasey said.

Programs include 4-H Youth Development, Master Gardeners, Expanded Food and Nutrition Education, and the Statewide Integrated Pest Management Program.

Nancy Perkins, 66, of Live Oak is the co-community leader of Franklin 4-H with her daughter, Erin Cucchi, but her connection to the club runs deep and said the UCCE is a big part of that

“The UCCE is pretty intertwined with 4-H and they go hand-in-hand with all the great programs,” she said. “When I was in fourth-grade, we had a home advisor and a farm advisor and they organized things like training about canning food.”

Perkins said even though the training needs change over the years, that collaboration still exists today and it’s more comprehensive.

“Both advisors were crucial to the 4-H program because of the 4-H camp in Dobbins and the Yuba-Sutter fair, plus there used to be a spring fair that was called exhibit day,” she said. “Janine (Hasey) is still involved in the spring fair – it’s a like a mini fair where kids learn to show their animals and learn to create photos and arts and crafts for their projects. It’s all wound and bound together and they’re invaluable to the ag community.”

Her late father, Alban ‘Bro’ Byer, and mother, Mary Lou Byer, had almond and walnut orchards and both were involved in 4-H.

“My father and his siblings were in Franklin 4-H, and it was a way of life for them back in the 1930s,” she said. “My dad was part of 4-H, I was part of 4-H, my children were part of 4-H and my grandchildren are part of it.”

Perkins is still working in the ag industry as a crop insurance adjuster, but has fond memories of learning the value of hard work through 4-H.

“I was a member of the District 10 4-H and growing up I raised poultry – about 60 laying hens – and I’d ride my bike along Highway 70 to sell all the eggs. It’s hard to imagine a kid doing that today,” she said. “It was common back then because my brother had a dairy cow and he and my sisters would milk the cow and sell some of the milk but we’d keep most of it.”

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