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On November 16, 2013, the Hidalgo County Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service held a Centennial Celebration in recognition of the 100th anniversary of Extension's presence in Hidalgo County. Extension was first Over 100 leaders, farmers, parents, children, and families were in attendance to welcome special guest, Dr. Douglas Steele, Director of Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service, who discussed Extension's 100 years of extending knowledge and changing lives. Also in attendance were former Congressman Kika de la Garza, State Senator Juan "Chuy" Hinojosa, and Hidalgo County Judge Ramon Garcia, among many other prominent agricultural community leaders. There were also testimonials from individuals who shared their personal narrative about Extension's impact on their lives and their families. In addition, the Hidalgo County 4-H Foundation and the Edinburg 4-H Foundation awarded youth scholarships.
The official 100th anniversary is on January 14, 2014. Since 1914, over a year before Texas created the Extension Service, there became a strong Extension Service presence in our area, since the area was quickly becoming the booming and prosperous agricultural mecca that it was during the turn of the century.
The first commercial citrus in the area was in 1907, and there became a big commercial push in agriculture with the railroad. Texas A&M University researchers played a big part in promoting and supporting the booming agricultural industry, and the “Magic Valley” was being promoted and marketed to farmers as far away as Europe, encouraging them to take advantage of and participate in the prosperous agricultural economy.
By 1915 when the voters ratified the legislation enacted to officially create the Extension Service, Extension Service had over a year of helping farmers, homemakers and families, who were actively participating in its programs and learning how to become sustainable. Extension Service offered classes in canning, mattress making, clothing, and involved the children as well. Extension was a viable part of the development of Hidalgo County since the earliest days, and continues to impact our residents today.
Extension Service has played an integral role in supporting the immediate needs of our residents, but also in adapting and accommodating as the times have changed. From teaching residents how to can and store their harvest for sustainable consumption in the winter, to nowadays teaching residents the value of a balanced diet and exercise to maintain a healthy lifestyle, Extension Service continues to meet the needs of our community, and will continue to meet the needs of our residents in the future.
Congratulations to Extension Service on this momentous occasion!