From Gene McAvoy, South Florida Vegetable Pest and Disease Hotline.
"Very relevant as we celebrate 100 years of Extension."
Seaman Knapp: the Father of Extension
So, how did this all start? How was it that this nation, rich in natural resources and vast in land, came to design a system that reached to each corner of its territory with access to education and service? ? The name behind this extraordinary accomplishment -- the name of the man whose work inspired a distinctive trait of land-grant universities and whose hands-on outreach is now replicated around the globe --is Seaman A. Knapp. During his life, Seaman Knapp was recognized for innovations that changed the course of history in America. His story is well known, especially to many in this room, yet it deserves to be told one more time.
Extension was among the first programs to encourage the direct participation of its users in the process of planning, implementation and assessment of its programs. Extension is not only about service and outreach: it is truly about engagement. “Extension,” explains Rasmussen, “went even further when it moved from the simple transfer of knowledge to the idea of helping people identify their problems and find the tools with which to solve them, This approach remains a capstone of the land-grand concept.” The vectors of Extension do not point just in one direction; Extension provides a two-way street promoting an exchange that strengthens the skills and the self- confidence of the user as much as the talents, expertise and knowledge of its providers.
We need Extension today, more than ever, because our society is growing not only in size, but also in the nature and complexity of its problems. The recent and painful lessons of natural disasters, the threats of man-made catastrophes, of pandemic diseases, and the fragility of the technological systems on which our trust and welfare so blindly reside, give us reason to be concerned. But we also need Extension not only for the times of deprivation and sorrow, but also for those of prosperity and happiness. People in Extension know that the future will always be better, of necessity, if it finds us with the unwavering commitment to learn from each other and to help each other.
Plain and simple, we need Extension and we are all called to be agents who transmit the message that a better, healthier, happier world is within our reach. One hundred years from now, we will still rely on the individual-to-individual contact that Seaman Knapp recognized as the most transformative tool for change that humans have at their disposal. There is a structure in Washington DC that, rich in symbolism, commemorates Seaman Knapp. It is not a building with thick walls: it is a bridge.
See full lecture at http://www.aplu.org/document.doc?id=4195
Remarks by Waded Cruzado, President Montana State University at the APLU Annual Meeting November 11, 2012 Seaman A. Knapp Lecture