GATESVILLE — Coryell County this week joined the rest of the nation in celebrating the 100th anniversary of the Cooperative Extension System.

The Smith-Lever Act of 1914 created the system to expand the vocational, agricultural and home demonstration programs in rural America through the nation’s land-grant colleges.

At Monday’s commissioners’ court session, county extension agents Julie Gardner, Pasquale Swaner and Annie May presented the commissioners with the Building a Better Texas Award in recognition of the partnership among federal, state and county governments.

While commissioners in every county in Texas received the award from their county extension agents this week, it is the extension service staff members who deserve most of the credit for the system’s century of success.

Gardner, Swaner and May, along with secretary Bridgette Alvarado, man the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service office at 303 Veterans Memorial Loop in Gatesville.

Gardner, the senior member of the team, has 20 years with the extension service, including 15 in Coryell County. She handles family and consumer sciences activities and coordinates the county office. She previously worked for the extension service in Williamson, Grayson and Lamar counties.

Swaner, who joined the staff in November 2012, is county agent for agriculture and natural resources. He has 15 years with the extension service, including duty in Falls and San Patricio counties.

May, who joined the staff in March, is a Gatesville native who grew up a member of the Hard Bargain 4-H Club. She is now in charge of 4-H and youth development for her home county, after working with 4-H youngsters on Fort Hood since 2012.

The group is upholding a long, proud tradition in Coryell County.

Gardner was preceded in her post by Wanda Hargrove, Arla Felts, Cheryl Mapston, Jane Pair, Janice Berry Goyne and Wanda Brown.

Swaner follows in the boot prints of Lyle Zoeller, Donald Kelm, Dirk Aaron, Jeff Howard, Jimmy VanStory and Don Callahan.

Preceding May were Shane Martin, Zach Davis, Stephanie James and Marilyn Prause.

The idea of a Cooperative Extension System was to extend knowledge and scientific research from the country’s land-grant agriculture and mechanical universities out into the rural communities.

A century later, judging from the success in Coryell County, it appears to have been a good idea.

Call your county extension agents and wish them happy anniversary at 254-865-2414.

Contact Tim Orwig at

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