By SCOTT MCKIE B.P.
ONE FEATHER STAFF
The North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service turns 100 this year. The EBCI Cooperative Extension Office celebrated the centennial with an event on Thursday, July 31.
“I am a gardener, and I love seeing everyone, especially the kids, getting involved with things outdoors,” said Principal Chief Michell Hicks who signed a proclamation at the event honoring the 100 years of the organization and its contributions to the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians over the years.
He spoke about the recent partnership between the Tribe and the state whereby 36 white-tailed deer were relocated to the reservation from an over-populated area. “I would love to get the children involved in this type of a program…I would love to see us continue to grow programs to keep these kids out in the woods learning about nature instead of necessarily inside a classroom.”
Chief Hicks said he greatly appreciates the partnerships between the Tribe and Cooperative Extension. “We’ve always had a great relationship with the State of North Carolina Cooperative Extension, and as we look at the future it looks bright and I think there’s a ton of opportunities that we have in front of us. We just need to make sure that we put the right resources in the right places to make them grow.”
Janet Owle, EBCI Cooperative Extension office interim director, related, “The EBCI Extension Office is unique in the state in that we have state employees, tribal employees and Preservation Foundation employees in here.”
She said that most Extension offices work within a certain county, but the EBCI Extension Office serves those who live on lands of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians including communities in Cherokee, Snowbird, Cherokee County and others.
“We’re here to serve the community,” said Owle. “We get to see what the community needs are, and this gives us an opportunity to see what our community is looking for and how we can better serve the public.”
A statewide Centennial celebration was held on May 19 at the Expo Center of the N.C. State Fairgrounds. County Extension offices have been holding and are planning their own celebrations throughout the summer.
The Cooperative Extension program began in 1914 with the signing of the Smith-Lever Act by President Woodrow Wilson. The Act made it possible for the USDA to partner with land-grant colleges to provide “demonstration services” to area farmers and those involved with agriculture. Over the years, it has expanded to include many more programs and services.