HARRISBURG, Pa. — Pa. Gov. Tom Corbett saluted Penn State Extension during the annual public officials’ luncheon Jan. 9 at the Pennsylvania Farm Show.
The governor presented a proclamation to Penn State University President Rodney Erickson, declaring Jan. 9, 2014, as Cooperative Extension Day, in recognition of the work done by the land grant university and its outreach system over the past 100 years.
Corbett called Penn State Extension an “important link in the resources and solutions available from the university to all Pennsylvanians.”
He recognized the role Extension plays in creating “innovative partnerships” that strengthen Pennsylvania’s agricultural industry, and expressed gratitude for its work in “providing science-based learning and hands-on knowledge.”
Erickson, in accepting the recognition, said ‘the ‘cooperative’ in ‘cooperative extension’ is what it’s all about.”
The university president grew up on a Wisconsin farm, and said his father used the local Extension office, saying the Extension bulletins used to line the kitchen table.
“It’s been a great first 100 years,” Erickson said. “We’ve accomplished tremendous things during that period of time, but we’ve got a lot to do in the next 100 years.”
“Things will change; the issues will change, the way that we deliver Cooperative Extension will change , but as long as we maintain that strong sense of support and that strong cooperation, we’re in store for a great next 100 years.”
Farmers don’t ask for much
“Agriculture and the community of agriculture has truly been a special focus on my administration in the past few years and will continue to be,” said Corbett.
“It’s more than just an industry, it’s truly a way of life,” he added. “But it’s one way of life that extends its values of independence, self-reliance and hard work into the very fabric of the culture of our society here in Pennsylvania.”
“Our farmers don’t ask for very much here in Pennsylvania,” he continued. “They only ask for a fair chance to turn a modest profit, to raise their families and to pass on their traditions to the next generations.”
And he used that moment to praise the bipartisan effort to pass House Bill No. 465, which Corbett signed into law July 9, 2013, that adds an inheritance tax exemption for any real estate devoted to agriculture, bequeathed to members of the same family, which received applause from the Farm Show audience.
Corbett said more common sense regulations like that are needed.
“All we need to do is listen, listen to the people who work in Pennsylvania’s first and most memorable business, agriculture.”
Behind the scenes
J. Craig Williams, a member of the Penn State Extension Dairy Team and educator from Tioga County, was at the Farm Show at the same time the governor presented his proclamation, but was too busy assigning numbers for the next day’s open class dairy show to attend the luncheon.
“Walk around the Farm Show and you’ll find Extension agents working in every department behind the scenes. And that’s just fine,” he said. “But it’s nice to get the recognition of our value to the community.”
One of the key roles Extension has played in its first 100 years, Williams added, has been bringing people together, and sharing information “and that’s still valid.”
“Our challenge is that it’s a hard role to market.”