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Fifth, traditional academic thought and attitudes have been noticeably lacking in Smith-Lever procedure and objectives. Cooperative arrangements with local, State, and national groups and publicity of a character that can be understood by the people distinguish Smith-Lever extension. Freedom from restrictions, both of academic regularity and of academic aloofness, have made Smith-Lever extension the best understood and the most heartily supported element of the land-grant colleges by those who directly and indirectly control legislative support.
It is fully recognized that none of these reasons for the strong position of Smith-Lever extension in institutional organization and public appreciation would be operative or legitimate were it not for the fact that it renders an actual and far-reaching service that deserves recognition and support for its own sake. The point is that this recognition and support have been given more heartily and more completely because of the five contributing factors just described—a historical ideal, Federal support, private economic advantage, political consciousness, and cooperation supplemented by effective publicity.
Objectives of Smith-Lever Extension The Smith-Lever Act in establishing cooperative agricultural extension work emphasized the vocational training of farm people by stating that its purpose was “ to aid in diffusing among the people of the United States useful and practical information on subjects relating to agriculture and home economics and to encourage the application of the same.” Obviously the basis of argument used by those who urged the passage of this Federal act was largely that of the great need of increasing the earning capacity of farmers through more efficient production and distribution of their products. This was the economic motive.
Accompanying this appeal, and usually used to strengthen it, was the underlying reason for desiring greater economic returns, namely, the need of changing the “standards of rural living” by providing those essentials of physical and mental satisfactions that make for richer life.
In other words, the ultimate objective was not more and better food, clothing, and housing. These were merely means and conditions prerequisite to improvement of human relationships, of intellectual and spiritual outlook. Apparent preoccupation with economic interests must be interpreted in terms of the purposes that material welfare is intended to serve.
Of the 46 statements made by the land-grant institutions for the purposes of this survey, 29 placed the economic or income objective
first, 8 considered it a secondary purpose, and 2 gave it third mention. Only 7 failed to emphasize this practical aim of agricultural extension education. The second objective given most common consideration was changing standards of living.” Nine replies gave this first rank, 17 listed it second to the economic motive, while 10 gave it third ranking.
The “improvement of community social life” was prominent in the statements of objectives. It was not mentioned first by any institution, but 18 considered it an important aim of the service. In 10 of the replies, emphasis was laid upon the development of leadership as a specific objective, and the same number indicated “the development of people” as a major purpose, although only four gave it first rank. The principal objectives stated by the institutions may be summarized as follows: To increase farm earnings (economic), 39; to improve “standards of living,” 36; to improve social life, 18; to develop leadership, 10; to develop people, 10; to give opportunities to rural boys and girls, 4; to provide vocational training, 3; to teach cooperation, 2; to improve health of rural people, 2; and to maintain soil fertility, 1.
It is worthy of note that statements concerning the objectives of Smith-Lever extension indicate a tendency to name practical, immediate means toward desired ends rather than the fundamental purposes underlying this form of adult education. For example, one reply stated that the prime objective of extension work was to assure the maintenance of the soil fertility of the State. Obviously this is not an aim but a method or an application of a farm practice out of which may develop some training of the individuals who utilize this particular project. Likewise statements relating to improving the health of rural people, or increasing the understanding of the relations of rural folk with townspeople, or emphasizing the teaching of hand skills in doing farm work, all have degrees of importance but are merely phases or methods in the attainment of basic objectives. In some cases, however, even though immediate and perhaps expedient aims were given first mention, following statements interpreted the purposes in more fundamental terms. In statements made concerning home economics extension, for instance, objectives are defined quite generally in terms of cultural and social interest in the home and community. Improved practices in housekeeping mentioned by 27 of 44 States as an objective was in all but one instance further explained as a medium through which cultural or intellectual interest might be developed or as a means whereby time might be freed for these aspects of life.
Broad viewpoints concerning Smith-Lever extension need special emphasis because of the practical nature of the educational “services” rendered, the historical development and growth of the system, and the character of educational training and experience of many of the staff who have manned the various State extension organizations. The close relation of extension projects to the many agencies shaping the life and habits of rural people and the pressures resulting from some of these relationships make necessary adherence to sound and definite ideals, to long-time objectives, and to procedures determined by such ideals and objectives. The fundamental function of Smith-Lever extension education is the development of rural people themselves. This is accomplished by fostering attitudes of mind and capacities which will enable them better to meet the individual and civic problems with which they are confronted. Unless economic attainment and independence are regarded chiefly as means for advancing the social and cultural life of those living in the open country, the most important purpose of extension education will not be achieved.
Chapter III.-Administrative Organization of Smith-Lever
Any statement of the objectives of a movement or activity is little more than the expression of hope unless machinery and personnel are provided appropriate to the procedure and activities necessary to practical attainment. The Smith-Lever organization for the accomplishment of its primary and secondary objectives will therefore be considered in considerable detail. For convenience of presentation this discussion will be grouped under three topics: (1) The form or mechanics of organization; (2) the financial organization; and (3) the personnel organization.
Certain elementary distinctions familiar to all extension people are not so well known to other members of the institutional staffs or to the general public. No understanding of the organization is possible without a clear picture of these basic matters. Therefore it is essential that as a preliminary to detailed discussion of Smith-Lever organization a bird's-eye view of the main features of the organization and of its relationships be presented.
There are three more or less distinct divisions in the national system of Smith-Lever extension organization—the Federal Office of Extension in the Department of Agriculture, the central extension office in each of the land-grant colleges, and the local county organizations. Each of these aspects of the organization has certain characteristic functions, but in the actual conduct of the work all are intimately related to and dependent upon one another.
The State central organization is responsible for the Smith-Lever extension work of the State carried on directly and through local county organizations. It has certain financial responsibility to the Federal Office of Extension and in addition maintains close advisory and cooperative relationships with the Federal office. Further, the central State extension office as a part of the land-grant college, has direct contact and important interrelations with the resident teaching and experiment station staffs, as well as with the institutional administrative authorities.
The local county organizations constitute the main operating agency and are responsible both to the State central organization in the land-grant college and to such local authorities as participate in support of local activity.
Functionally these three organizations are all concerned with agricultural extension, home economics extension, and boys and girls' club work.
Further discussion of the Federal Office of Extension does not seem necessary at this point. The remainder of this section of the report on the form of Smith-Lever organization will therefore deal first, with the general descriptions of the central State office and of the local county organization; second, with the problems and relationships of the State office and with the duties of State office personnel; third, with the problems of the county organization.
Form of Organization The form of organization is important only in so far as it indicates division of labor and administrative responsibility of staff personnel. In many of the States the population is so small and so scattered that special problems of organization are presented. In other States it is apparent from the reports that wide variations exist in the supervisory responsibilities and relationships of those in charge of various types of activities.
At the head of the Smith-Lever extension work in all of the landgrant colleges is a director of extension. This is true, although in eight States the offices of dean of the agricultural college, director of the experiment station, and director of extension are under the direction of one person. In two of these instances vice directors of extension are in immediate charge.
Because of the size of the staff engaged upon various phases of Smith-Lever extension work it is necessary that the director of extension depend upon assistants for supervision of certain groups of the staff busied with specific lines of activity. Thus the members of the extension staff whose function it is to provide specialized technical information in regard to specific subjects such as poultry, dairying, food preservation, and so on through the whole range of matters with which agriculture and home economics are concerned may be supervised by one assistant who is known as the State leader of subject-matter specialists. Such leaders are found in seven States. In the same way State leaders or supervisors may be placed in charge of county agricultural work, home demonstration, and club work. Two or more of these activities may be combined under a single leader or supervisor. In all but four States, however, there are separate leaders for agricultural, home demonstration, and club work. In some organizations the duties of the State agricultural, home demonstration, and club leaders are performed through