Agricultural Extension work started in Crow Wing County in August, 1914 when A. G. Galke was employed.
He remained on duty for about two years, resigning to take up extension work as a farm advisor in Illinois. Mr. Gafke's work consisted largely of meeting with farmers clubs, with 4-H club members and putting on exhibits at fairs. He traveled about the county with a horse and buggy, frequently starting from Brainerd at the beginning of the week, coming back the latter part of the week, staying over night with various farmers in the county.
The M. & I. train between Brainerd and points north to Jenkins and Pequot Lakes was also used. The county agent attended conferences, shows and other state events using the train for transportation. Roads in the county were poor and frequently only a horse and buggy could get through the deep sand around the lakes. Mr. Gafke organized 12 clubs in the county and formed them into a county confederation.
In 1916 E. A. Colquhoun became county agent working with farmers clubs, fairs and other extension activities. Mr. Colquhouns chief interest was in the development of the potato industry in the county by improving varieties, certifying seed and trying to locate markets.
Mr. Colquhoun was also instrumental in organizing the farmers cooperative creamery of Brainerd. This was a rather difficult assignment as there was strong opposition with two creameries already operating in Brainerd. He succeeded in getting the creamery organized, capital raised and in operation. In so doing he made bitter enemies especially among certain business people of Brainerd.
JUDGING SIRES--This picture was taken during the judging of some of the purebred sires brought here in 1927.
About this time which was in May, 1919 he received an offer with increased pay to be county agent for North St. Louis with headquarters at Virginia where he continued his Work. Because of his successful work with potatoes in Crow Wing county, he was selected as Extension manager of the Minnesota cooperative potato marketing association organized to handle the potato crop of Minnesota.
This organization was short-lived and soon failed. The difficulty in marketing potatoes cooperatively was too severe for the young cooperative at that time.
On June 10, 1919, E. G. Roth was hired as county agent and worked in that position to 1946. During the time that Mr. Roth was county agent, in Crow Wing county the program was involved in considerable change. The work developed from advising individual farmers to working with large organizations in which much of the work was done through committees, through leaders and through clubs.
In 1919 roads were poor throughout the county and automobiles had frequent break-downs making each trip into the county an excursion. An old Ford was a means of conveyance while a train was used for district and state meetings. The tires on the old Ford were poor and often as many as ten, repair jobs were necessary for a trip to Emily, a point 40 miles north of the headquarters.
IMPLEMENT FIRM--The scene above was taken at the E. Hessel implement firm in the 1890's. It was located at Fifth and Front and handled all kinds of farm machinery, wagons, plows, buggies and the like. The firm was a dealer for Deering harvester and binder, Dean and Company's implements, Old Hickory and Dean wagons, J. I. Case threshing machines and many others.
As the years went by, better roads and better automobiles made traveling more pleasant and less hazardous. Early Extension work consisted of development of the soil, dairying and feed of the county. The soil program consisted of locating and using marl beds. Over 50 such marl beds were discovered and farmers were aided in the 'use of marl for application on sandy, sour soil making it possible to grow legumes more successfully.
Alfalfa was not known at this time. Farmers stated that it was impossible to grow this particular legume. 4-H clubs had at this time as many as 60 club members, giving demonstrations at the same time that alfalfa could be grown in any part of the county.
In cooperation with the soils department of the University, the Extension Service carried on experiments showing that sandy land, after receiving an application of marl or lime, could grow alfalfa and cover legumes. At this same time land clearing programs were being developed ,by giving demonstrations on the use of explosives, helping farm groups and others to pool orders for explosives and organizing land clearing groups.
Thousands of acres were cleared in this manner. Prizes were offered for the clubs having cleared the largest acreages. Business men donated funds for this purpose.
The dairying was developed 'by assisting farmers in the purchase of high grade dairy calves. Interesting boys and girls in hood calves and organizing a pure bred sire association were a few of the ways in which dairying was assisted by the Extension Service. Many of the cattle purchased came from Wisconsin, from southern Minnesota and from various other places where high grade and purebred cattle could be purchased.
The sire association was organized with funds obtained from the help of Brainerd businessmen and the Chamber of Commerce; $3,600 was raised. Sires were secured and organizations formed with rules, and regulations adopted for the handling of the sires.
A pure bred sire association was organized in 1924 and operated successfully until 1947. This 23 year period in which the purebred sire association operated, contributed more to dairying in the county than could possibly be measured.
Farmers were also assisted in securing a high priced cattle market and the 'developing and opening of farms on newly purchased land. Farmers were helped in economizing to meet depression. During this period the county agent assisted' in the organization of the National Farm Loan Association and the Production Credit Corporation. Thousands of dollars worth of loans were secured from the regional Agricultural Credit Corporation to assist the farmers. Other organizations were the National Corn Hog Association, the AAA and the Agricultural Conservation Association, each having played an important part in the Extension program.
Chronologically certain items could be mentioned as being probably some of the more interesting items of the Extension Service down through the years.
1918 -- One hundred-sixty carloads of potatoes were handled through the County Agents office, the organization of the Farmers Cooperative Creamery of Brainerd, the initial purchase of dynamite by the carload for farmers.
1919 -- The first mention of soybeans being raised in Crow Wing county. Also mentioned that farm labor was scarce because the mines were paying from $6 to $7 per day.
1922 -- Ten thousand people gathered at Lum Park for the annual Farm Bureau picnic in conjunction with the 50th anniversary of the City of Brainerd. Marl use advocated with 18 pits being located, the largest one being at Star Lake estimated to have four square miles of marl.
1923 -- An average of 60,000 pounds of explosives per year was handled through the county agent's office for about five years.
The first marl bed was surveyed by Mr. Roth in 1921 and a large number more of marl beds were probed and tested for their carbonate content.
1924 -- Hard times were mentioned for farmers, pure bred sire association was organized and an egg market association was organized and a cooperative potato growers association was organized.
1926 -- Past work was evaluated in the field of legumes and it was estimated that alfalfa production had gone from. 40 acres to 5,000 acres since 1921, that red clover acreage had raised from 2,000 acres to 10,000 during that same period and that the dairy industry in the light of products sold had doubled.
1936 -- Cuyuna Range Berry Growers Association was organized and considerable work was done by the county agricultural agent to secure the initial $240,000 necessary for building the lines for the first district of the REA.
1938 -- The electric juice was turned on through the REA lines.
1939 -- Distributed 100 tons of poison to control grasshoppers and assisted in establishing prices for vaccinating horses to prevent them from dying from sleeping sickness.
1940 -- Fifteen farmers assisted with the first purchase of hybrid seed corn, variety 402.
1941 -- The county had the first complete Bangs test, testing 23,486 cows in 1,968 herds.
1942 -- Cooperated with Mr. Bill Cummins of the FHA, Mr. Gerald McKay, vocational agricultural instructor in organizing the artificial insemination cooperative.
1943-1944 -- Emphasis was on victory gardens and also assisted in the operation of public canneries. 80,000 cans of food were preserved through these public canneries in Crosby-Ironton and Brainerd in 1944.
1945 -- One hundred twenty-nine acres of forested lake shore on Whipple Lake was set aside by the county commissioners upon the recommendation of E. G. Roth, county agent.
1946 -- Howard Grant took over the responsibilities of :he county agricultural agency and served until the appointment of Harold Anderson in 1948.
1951 -- Harold K. Anderson took over as county agent and an egg show was established in cooperation with the Brainerd Civic association.
1953 -- Ray Norrgard began as county agent on May 1 and remained until 1962. During his years, a tree planting machine was purchased by the local banks, the extension service was separated from the Farm Bureau, Don Vollman was hired as an assistant agent in 1955 and was replaced by Glenn Smith in 1957.
1958 -- Grade A milk producers went to the bulk tank system.
1960 -- The extension office moved into the Federal building on Sept. 1.
1962 -- Glenn Smith took over as county agent and James Rabehl was his assistant. The agents stressed Civil Defense for the county and the Area Redevelopment Act committee was organized.
1966 -- David Hassinger became assistant agent and J. 0. Jacobson, area agent, came here to administer a five-county area for the TVA. County planning was begun this year.
1967 -- Hassinger became county agent and Al Ballavance was now associate agent.
1971 -- James Rabehl took over as county agent.