"Helping People Help Themselves"
Soon after Dr. Booker T. Washington, founder of the historic Tuskegee State Normal School, began teaching the first class of 30 men and women in a one-room shanty on July 4, 1881, he assumed the new school had the obligation to educate its neighbors. Of particular concern was the destitute, illiterate ex-slave farming families who were earning a meager existence from the land. Washington visited the homes of many such families to learn of their needs.
In1892, Washington began holding annual Farmers Conferences on campus so the faculty could show these families improved methods of farming, home construction, food processing and other ways to improve their lives. However, the most needy families in isolated areas did not attend these Farmers Conferences. Thus, Dr. Washington had Dr. George Washington Carver design a mule drawn wagon, the "moveable School," equipped "to carry sufficient tools and materials for demonstrations of methods of improved farming and living to the very doors of the Negro farmers." On November 12, 1906, Thomas M. Campbell (former student of Dr. Washington) was appointed to serve as a collaborator with the U.S. Department of Agriculture to take charge of the "Farmers College on Wheels." Campbell's salary was derived from three sources including the U.S. Department of Agriculture (for fighting the spread of the Mexican cotton boll weevil) and the University. Thus, Campbell was the first extension agent to be employed in a "Cooperative Extension Program," though on the same day, W.C. Stalling was appointed as a "County Agent" to serve in a single county, Smith County, Texas.
For more than 110 years, the Tuskegee University Cooperative Extension Program (TUCEP) has provided non-formal educational and technical assistance programs to hundreds of thousands of Alabama citizens, and thousands of community groups. TUCEP is organized as a two-tiered programmatic system: (a) Statewide Major Programs (SMPs), and (b) Extension Team Projects (ETPs). Statewide Major Programs encompass generalized extension activity in broad areas of concentration. An Extension Team Project is an impact driven initiative usually defined as a series of related activities which take place over a specified period of time (sometimes years), and involves one to several funded Extension employees working together to achieve specific goals and objectives.
Beginning in 1997, TUCEP strengthened its relationship with the various stakeholders and community interest groups by forming six County Advisory Councils and a State Advisory Council. Each county council consists of representatives from existing and targeted clientele organizations. From this membership, an Extension State Advisory Council emerges, including farmers, educators, public officials, and other individuals. TUCEP's programs are designed to be beneficial to meeting the critical needs of our citizens and satisfy the stated program goals of our local, state, and federal partners.