Since 1918, Cornell Cooperative Extension of Schenectady County (CCE-Schenectady) has responded to the needs of local residents with unbiased, research-based information, tools and education that people have come to depend on and trust. As we celebrate our 100th year in Schenectady County, we reflect upon our legacy in the community, celebrating the fact that the local needs that brought Extension to Schenectady County in 1918 are actually still relevant today, 100 years later...
Connecting Our History to Present-Day Relevance
At its inception in 1918, CCE in Schenectady County provided programming in what was referred to as the Agricultural Division, the Home Economics Division and the Junior Division, which included 4-H.
In the early days, Extension's focus was on rural people and farmers. During both World Wars, the Agricultural Division at Extension promoted Victory Gardens to lessen the food shortage. Today, Extension still works to address the need for local food shortage by not only connecting people in need to local food banks, but also by ensuring they have access to nutritious and healthy foods at these food pantries. Demonstrations were the prime educational tool and to this day, demonstrations are an effective tool we still use. We offer classes and demonstrations on gardening and composting, and we have a growing network of volunteers, and these specially-trained volunteers offer education about environmental and horticultural topics.
Pictured above: (left) men raising chicks, CCE Schenectady circa 1950 (right) children learning about chickens, CCE Schenectady 2017
Among the early activities taught by the Home Economics division were how to best use ration stamps; furnishing a “refuge room” with blackout curtains; how to grow plentiful victory gardens and how to can the produce they grew; and how to repair, remodel and recondition home furnishings not replaceable during the war. Today, the Home Economics division is called Wellness and Health, and CCE continues to teach food safety and proper food storage. Our nutrition educators works mainly with a limited-income families, parallel to the needs the Home Economics division sought in 1918. Wellness and Health educators can be seen at the local Farmers Market preparing a healthy recipe and giving out samples.
Pictured above (left) man tending gardens CCE Schenectady circa 1960 (right) teenagers tending gardens CCE Schenectady circa 2015
The Junior Division was primarily 4-H clubs and began in the spring of 1928. By 1930, 402 youth were enrolled, growing to 573 in 1931. The main audience was the traditional rural 4-H club member. Club projects in the early years centered on homemaking and gardening, and these topics are still popular today. 4-H groups have grown to lead projects on STEM topics such as rocketry, wind power and photography among many others. 4-H is meeting the needs of today’s technology-oriented youth.
Last updated March 9, 2018