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C.J. and Smith-Lever

March 20th, 2014

C.J. Gauger and Cathann KressRecently I attended a birthday party — a 100th birthday party — for an Iowa icon, C.J. Gauger. As Iowa’s state 4-H leader from 1959-1979, C.J. was a visionary, guiding 4-H. He brought the boys’ and girls’ 4-H programs together and emphasized life skills development for all youth, rural or urban. He truly believed in listening to Iowa’s young people and involving them in shaping their 4-H program.

Another icon with a 100th birthday this year is the Smith-Lever Act, which established Cooperative Extension nationwide. For 100 years, the Smith-Lever Act has stimulated innovative research and vital educational programs for youth and adults. State-by-state, a network of educators extend university-based research and knowledge to the people, improving lives and shaping a nation.  Later in May, I’m taking a delegation from Iowa State to Washington, D.C., to a national convocation to celebrate this birthday too.

Birthday parties are fleeting – the balloons deflate and the leftover cake dries out as we pick up the crumpled gift wrap. But the reason for the celebration remains long after the party is over. In C.J.’s case, his legacy lives on through one of every five Iowa youth, who participates in our 4-H programs. And as for Smith-Lever, in Iowa alone, nearly a million people directly benefit from our educational programs every year. During Extension and Outreach Week, March 23-29 we’ll be celebrating our continuing mission to provide access to education through meaningful partnerships. It’s a great time to celebrate icons like C.J. and Smith-Lever, and to show our appreciation for our clients, colleagues, volunteers, community leaders, organizations, agencies and many other partners who support ISU Extension and Outreach work in Iowa. See you there.

– Cathann

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  1. Margaret VanGinkel
    | #1

    I heard the interview WHO radio did with CJ. ( Doug Cooper). He is really sharp and had some great things to say about Extension and how as a young professional in his early years it hit him that things had to change with 4-H or it would not be around. I know we all look at change differently, but his thoughts on what had to change were great and helped move the 4-H program ahead as we know it today. WE are probably at another one of those benchmarks and are going to have to create and experience change in order to move our organization forward for the better. May we all be able to celebrate our 100th in such a positive way!

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