Imagine a world with no internet, no television, no telephone, no radio. How do you get information? In the past, information traveled differently and it moved much more slowly. In North Carolina, the Agricultural Extension Service—based at NC State—has played a key role in distributing information about farming and food to rural families
Founded in 1887, the North Carolina College of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts—now North Carolina State University—served an unmet need: it provided a place for students to pursue a technical education in agriculture and engineering. But there were plenty of rural residents and farmers across the state who could also benefit from the research being done at the college and the information being taught in the classroom. By 1890, just a year after the university opened its doors to students, the school started bringing information out to the fields, showing farmers how to grow heartier crops more reliably and more efficiently with new, scientifically proven farming methods. Meanwhile, women learned about preserving food through canning in order to improve their families’ diet and add to their families’ income.
Established in 1914, the North Carolina Agricultural Extension Service formalized and expanded these ongoing efforts to bring information about new and improved farming methods and homemaking practices to people across the state. Soon, the Extension Service became a major channel through which information about nutrition—the science of food—traveled.