Agricultural and Extension Education Home

Main Navigation

About Us


Agricultural and Extension Education History

Agricultural and Extension Education was established in 1917 as part of a new department of vocational education in the School of Agriculture at NC State University. Tom Browne became the first department head, and Leon Cook was the first teacher educator in agriculture. This new department graduated three students in 1918. In 1923, the department moved from the School of Agriculture to the School Of Science and Business. Harry Graves Wharton earned the first Masters degree from the department in 1925. By 1927, NC State had established it’s own school of education, but in 1931 all education programs were moved to the UNC Chapel Hill – all programs except Agricultural and Extension Education.


Members of the FFA Organization in front of the NCSU memorial Bell Tower, circa 1932. Early FFA events were held on the NCSU campus.



The 1930’s were a period of rapid growth for the department, and the need for qualified agriculture teachers in North Carolina caused a significant increase in student enrollment in agricultural education at N.C. State. Faculty in the department were engaged in outreach efforts through technical bulletins and “suggested helps for teachers.” The collegiate FFA organization and the Agricultural Education Society were established during this period. World War 2 interrupted the plans of many students, but the department continued to grow and provide services on the home front. Professor J.K. Coggin invented shop safety color-coding, and the department prepared materials to train veterans returning from the war. In 1948, the college of education is re-established at NC State, and Agricultural Education became a department again. Faculty continue to publish outreach bulletins to help agriculture teachers perform better in the classroom.

James A. Graham ‘42 (Center Back) is the longest serving commissioner of agriculture in the United States.

By the end of the 1950’s, Agricultural Education at NC State was graduating 48 students per year. The 1960’s saw the development of the National Center for Occupational Education at N.C. State. Four members of the Agricultural Education faculty work in the Center, disseminating research about agricultural education. In 1977, the department merged with other departments in the College of Education to form the Department of Occupational Education.

In 1995, the department returned to the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, merging with extension education to form the Department of Agricultural and Extension Education. More than 2000 graduates from this program served or continue to serve the people of North Carolina as teachers, extension agents, public officials, and industry leaders. Students in the department are campus leaders who carry out community service and civic engagement. Notable milestones in the history of the department are:

  • James A. Graham ’42 graduates with a degree in agricultural education in 1942. Mr. Graham becomes the longest serving Commissioner of Agriculture in the United States.
  • James B. Hunt Jr. ’59 graduates with a degree in agricultural education in 1959. Mr. Hunt served as a four-term governor of North Carolina, and continues to be a national leader in education.
  • June Richey ‘71 becomes the first woman to graduate with a degree in agricultural education.
  • Eight graduates become National FFA Officers – Jeff Rudd ’82 elected in 1978, John Pope ‘85 elected in 1981, Marty Coates ’86 elected in 1982, Graham Boyd elected in 1984, Kip Godwin elected in 1985, Jones Loflin elected in 1986, Mickey McCall ‘92 elected in 1987, and Ray Starling ’99 elected in 1996.