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TimeLinks: Agricultural Extension Services

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Miss Curtis, Cattle Judge In 1907, the Province of Manitoba reinforced its commitment to rural adult education with the establishment of the Agricultural Extension Services.

This action was taken in response to political pressure from farm women's groups and the agricultural press for a system which was less élitist and catered to a broader community than the agricultural societies and farmers' institutes, which had been the basic tool for the communication of new innovations in farming since the 1870s.

Extension Services was closely associated with the Manitoba Agricultural College, which was established in 1905 with the objective of advancing practical knowledge about farming principles and bringing about the professionalization of farming in Manitoba. Its immediate goal was to broaden the scope of the education that was being conducted at the College and by the Institutes. College faculty were enlisted as lecturers and as judges at agricultural fairs. The Services sponsored winter seed fairs, farming competitions, ploughing matches and a variety of social events which became venues for the advancement of messages about good farming practice.

Efforts were made to reach not only men, but women and children as well. The Agricultural College had a Department of Household Sciences, and later a Faculty of Home Economics, which was dedicated to the study of domestic technology and household management. Faculty in Home Economics took part in Extension activities targeted at farm women, and in 1910 faculty members were instrumental in establishing the first Home Economics Societies (Women's Institutes).

Three years later, similar steps were taken with the establishment of the first Boys and Girls' Clubs, organizations that promoted good farming practices and rural lifestyles among youth, and which provided a way to speak to the parents, primarily of immigrant children, who were not reached by the Institutes.

In addition, Extension services sponsored a number of other educational programmes, including the Better Farming Trains, shelter belt programmes, and bursaries for young people to attend the Agricultural College.

Page revised: 27 August 2009

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