extension photo

Jeannette Sherrod and Gloria Baker were FCS Agents in Union County.

February is Black History Month! This is a time to celebrate the strides and accomplishments made by African Americans all over our country. Even within Cooperative Extension, we celebrate African Americans in their contributions to work in Agriculture, Family and Consumer Sciences and 4-H. Here are some of the first earliest agents within North Carolina who paved the way.

Neil Alexander Bailey — Bailey was the first African American agricultural agent in the state of North Carolina. A graduate from the A&T State College in 1908 (Currently N.C. A&T State University), he served Guilford, Rockingham, and Randolph counties as an agricultural agent from 1910 to 1915. Most notably known for helping increase corn yield production through demonstrations.

Sarah Williams and Dazelle Foster Lowe were some of the first African American home demonstration agents to be hired through federal World War I emergency funding. Williams was hired with 6 other agents in 1922, with Lowe being hired the following year.

Their goals were to help African American women be sustainable in knowing how to plant vegetable gardens and preserve those foods through canning. Lowe would later become the supervisor of all African American home demonstration agents in the state.

Last, John D. Wray, was hired in 1915 as the first African American state club agent for African American clubs. With his work, African American clubs were able to hold their first county camp and district short course in Beaufort County in 1924. Later the population of African American club members would swell to 10,000 by 1936.

As North Carolina Cooperative Extension continues to pave the way with innovation and education to support the community, we hope to continue to celebrate African Americans in extension and their contribution to black history, our country, and the world.

N.C. Cooperative Extension provides information to help people, businesses and communities solve problems, develop skills and build a better future. Extension specializes in agriculture, 4-H youth development, communities, food and nutrition, and the environment. To learn more about our programs, please visit: https://union.ces.ncsu.edu/.