The Cooperative Extension Service was created through two Congressional acts, the Morrill Act of 1862 which created the land grant college system throughout the United States, and the Smith Lever Act of 1914 that created the Cooperative Extension Service, the link between the college and the public. The Land Grant college in Colorado is Colorado State University. The original mission was to teach agricultural and mechanical arts, hence its original name, Colorado A&M. Boulder County was one of the first counties in the state to have an Extension Office, hiring the first Agricultural Agent in 1914.
Over its 100 plus year history in Boulder County, the CSU Extension Office has served residents by providing research-based information on all aspects of life. In the early days, the Agriculture Agent assisted farmers and ranchers with herd improvement, milk testing, disease prevention, livestock nutrition, pasture and weed management, and developed programs, tours and educational opportunities for the agricultural sector of the county. They also provided programming on home yard beautification and growing your own food. The Home Demonstration Agent provided information on making your own clothes, preserving food grown in the garden, providing healthy meals in the schools, hat making, hair care and provided health information to residents prior to the county public health department. The agents also oversaw the 4-H clubs in the county.
Over the years, the mission has not changed but the delivery method has. Initially, agents may have walked, ridden a horse or, if they were fortunate enough, they might have had a car to drive to visit people. They also used the railroad to hold tours. Now most of the public contact is via phone calls, office and site visits, e-mails, and in-person and web-based programming. CSU Extension now serves all 64 counties of Colorado.
In February of 2021, the Natural Resource Building on the Boulder County Fairgrounds (where Extension is housed) had a frozen fire sprinkler line burst, dumping thousands of gallons of water into our office. After nearly 10 months of closure while our building was renovated and staff worked remotely, we finally reopened to the public last November.
Now, with the arrival of Spring and so many people in need of our services, we are inviting the public to an open house celebration and dedication of the Charles (Chuck) Bliss Trial Garden. Chuck Bliss spent 30 years as the Agriculture Agent and Director of the Boulder County Extension Office. Mr. Bliss was a third generation Greeley native who attended CSU receiving a degree in Agriculture. He started working at the Boulder County Cooperative Extension Office in 1954 as the Assistant Agriculture Agent answering residents’ questions on agricultural and horticultural issues while overseeing the Boulder County Fair and Rodeo, serving as sheep superintendent at the National Western Stock Show, working with the 4-H clubs, assisting county residents with recovery from and estimating damage caused by drought, flooding and animal and crop diseases. When the Agriculture Agent left, Mr. Bliss stepped into that role and later added the Director duties. During his tenure in the office the county’s population increased four-fold going from around 50,000 people to over 200,000 people. He also had his own farm west of Longmont producing hay that was fed to the family’s livestock.
The Open House will take place on Mon., May 16, from 3:30 to 6 p.m. and the dedication will be held at 4 p.m. with a reception to follow. Please join us at the Natural Resources Building located on the southwest area of the Boulder County Fairgrounds at 9595 Nelson Road in Longmont. We are excited to give tours of the Community Garden and numerous plant trials around our building, as well as offer children and families the chance to meet farm animals and explore youth programming with our 4-H staff. We will have lots of information to share on native plants, vegetable seeds and gardening tips, agriculture and other services that Extension offers County residents.
We hope to see you there!
By CSU Extension Staff