The dedication of the Charles (Chuck) Bliss Trial Garden and open house underscores the history of the CSU Extension

CSU Extension Staff

The Cooperative Extension Service was created by two acts of Congress, the Morrill Act of 1862, which created the land grant college system in the United States, and the Smith Lever Act of 1914, which created the Cooperative Extension Service, the liaison between the college and the public.

The Land Grant College in Colorado is Colorado State University. The original mission was to teach agricultural and mechanical arts, hence the original name Colorado A&M. Boulder County was one of the first counties in the state to have an Extension Office, hiring its first agricultural agent in 1914.

In its more than 100-year history in Boulder County, the CSU Extension Office has served residents by providing research-based information on all aspects of life. In the early days, the Agricultural Agent assisted farmers and ranchers with herd improvement, milk testing, disease prevention, livestock nutrition, pasture and weed management, and developed programs, tours, and educational opportunities for the county’s agricultural sector.

They also offered programs to beautify your own garden and grow your own food. The Home Demonstration Agent provided information on making your own clothes, preserving garden-grown food, providing healthy meals in schools, making hats and hair care, and provided health information to residents in front of the county health department. The agents also oversaw the 4-H clubs in the county.

Over the years, the mission hasn’t changed, but the method of delivery has. Initially, the agents might have walked, ridden a horse, or, if lucky, had a car to visit people in. They also used the railroad to hold tours.

Today, most public contact occurs through phone calls, office and field visits, email, and in-person and web-based programs. The CSU Extension now serves all 64 counties of Colorado.

In February 2021, in the Natural Resource Building at the Boulder County Fairgrounds (where Extension is housed), a sprinkler line froze and then burst, dumping thousands of gallons of water into our office. After almost 10 months of closure, during which our building was renovated and staff worked remotely, we finally reopened to the public in November.

Now, with the arrival of spring and so many people in need of our services, we invite the public to an open house celebration and dedication of the Charles (Chuck) Bliss Trial Garden. Bliss spent 30 years as an agricultural agent and director of the Boulder County Extension Office.

A third-generation Greeley native, Bliss attended CSU and received an agricultural degree. He began working at the Boulder County Cooperative Extension Office in 1954 as an assistant agricultural agent, answering residents’ questions on agricultural and horticultural issues and overseeing the Boulder County Fair and Rodeo. He was Sheep Superintendent for the National Western Stock Show and worked with the 4-H Clubs, which help county residents recover and assess damage caused by drought, floods, and animal and plant diseases.

When the farming agent left, Bliss took over that role and later added director duties. During his tenure, the district’s population quadrupled from around 50,000 to over 200,000 people. He also had his own farm west of Longmont which produced hay that was fed to the family’s cattle.

The open day will take place on Monday, May 16 from 3:30 p.m. to 6:00 p.m., with the inauguration taking place at 4:00 p.m. followed by a reception. Visit us at the Natural Resources Building on the southwest section of the Boulder County Fairgrounds at 9595 Nelson Road in Longmont.

We are happy to provide tours of the community garden and numerous plant trials around our building, as well as offering opportunities for children and families to meet farm animals and explore youth programs with our 4-H staff. We have lots of information about native plants, vegetable seeds and gardening tips, farming and other services Extension offers to county residents.

We hope to see you there!

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