Creeds Associated with the Extension Service (2/21/2020)

In this Friday Footnote we conclude our series about various creeds associated with our profession. Today we will look at several of the creeds associated with the Cooperative Extension Service.

In the first Footnote of this series we learned of “The Country Boy’s Creed” written by Charles Osgood Grover. This creed was used with corn clubs and was also printed in the early FFA manuals. So, wouldn’t it make sense to also have “A Country Girl’s Creed.” There was one but Grover didn’t write it. Here is how it went:

I am glad I live in the country. I love its beauty and its spirit. I rejoice in the things I can do as a country girl for my home and my neighborhood.

I believe I can share in the beauty around me – in the fragrance of the orchards in the spring, in the bending wheat at harvest time, in the morning song of birds and in the glow of sunset on the far horizon. I want to express this beauty in my own life so naturally and happily as the wild rose blooms by the road side.

I believe I can have a part in the courageous spirit of the country. This spirit has entered into the brook in our pasture. The stones placed in its way call forth its strength and add to its strength a song. It dwells in the tender plants as they burst the seed cases that imprison them and push through the dark earth to the light. It sounds in the nesting notes of the meadowlark. With this courageous spirit, I, too, can face the hard things of life with gladness.

I believe there is much I can do in my home. Through studying the best way to do my every day work I can find joy in common tasks as well done. Through loving comradeship I can help bring into my home the happiness and peace that are always near in God’s out-of-door world. Through such a home I can help make real to all who pass that way, the highest ideals of country life.

I believe the love and loyalty I have for my country home should reach out in service to that larger home that we call our neighborhood. I would join with the people who live there in true friendliness. I would, wholeheartedly, give my best to further all that is being done for a better community. I would have all that I think and say and do help to unite country people near and far in that Kingdom of Love for, neighbors, which the Master came to establish, the Master who knew and cared for country ways and country folks.

This creed was written by Jessie Field Shambaugh from Page County, Iowa in the early 1900s. Jessie was a rural schoolteacher who started Boys Corn Clubs and Girls Home Clubs in the Goldenrod School near Clarida, Iowa in the early 1900s. This work expanded to all 130 rural schools in Page County, Iowa when she became the School Superintendent in 1906.

 Jessie Field Shambaugh

“In 1910, to reward students who strived for excellence, she designed a three-leaf-clover pin with the letter “H” on the leaves, representing “head,” “hands” and “heart.” Soon after, she added another leaf and another “H,” for “home,” which later became “health” (Longden, N.D.). She also came up with a motto for the club work – “Learning by doing, to make the best better.” Numerous people (Cray, 1947; Friedel, 1981; Reck, 1951; Whitmore and Cheshire, 1963) have identified Jessie as “the mother of 4-H.”

Historial Marker Honoring Jessie Field Shambaugh

Since modern 4-H work involves both males and females, there is a more inclusive creed used today. The current 4-H Creed reads:

I believe in 4-H Clubwork for the opportunity it will give me to become a useful citizen.

I believe in the training of my HEAD for the power it will give me to think, plan and to reason.

I believe in the training of my HEART for the nobleness it will give me to be kind, sympathetic and true.

I believe in the training of my HANDS for the ability it will give me to be helpful, skillful, and useful.

I believe in the training of my HEALTH for the strength it will give me to enjoy life, to resist disease, and to work efficiently.

I believe in my country, my state, and my community and in my responsibility for their development.

In all these things I believe, and am willing to dedicate my efforts to their fulfillment.

The 4-H Creed was developed in Wyoming in 1918 and was adopted at the national level a few years later.

Extension Professionals Creed

There is a creed for Extension Professionals (commonly known as extension agents, workers, advisors or educators). However, one might get confused in trying to find the current version because the literature refers to both the “Extension Worker’s Creed” and the “Extension Professional’s Creed.”

This creed was written by W. A Lloyd (the founder of Epsilon Sigma Phi, an Extension Honorary) in 1922 as a New Year’s greeting to county agricultural agents. It was adopted by Epsilon Sigma Phi in 1927. The original creed was titled “The Extension Worker’s Creed” and has been revised from time to time to reflect changes in societal values, educational trends and federal law.

This is the current Extension Professional’s Creed.

I believe in people and their hopes, their aspirations, and their faith; in their right to make their own plans and arrive at their own decisions; in their ability and power to enlarge their lives and plan for the happiness of those they love.

I believe that education, of which Extension is an essential part, is basic in stimulating individual initiative, self-determination, and leadership; that these are the keys to democracy and that people when given facts they understand, will act not only in their self-interest, but also in the interest of society.

I believe that education is a lifelong process and the greatest university is the home; that my success as a teacher is proportional to those qualities of mind and spirit that give me welcome entrance to the homes of the families I serve.

I believe in intellectual freedom to search for and present the truth without bias and with courteous tolerance toward the views of others.

I believe that Extension is a link between the people and the ever-changing discoveries in the laboratories.

I believe in the public institutions of which I am a part.

I believe in my own work and in the opportunity I have to make my life useful to humanity.

Because I believe these things, I am an Extension professional.

There is a neat video of Extension Professionals reciting this Creed at A nicely formatted and colorful copy of the Extension Professionals Creed is available – The Extension Professional’s Creed_0

At the Joint Council of Extension Professionals meeting last week in San Antonio, there was some discussion of possibly revising the Creed. If there is a revision it will be very minor and will only be a word or two. Mike Knutz, National President of Epsilon Sigma Phi, believes the current creed “…still solidly reflects the values and beliefs of Extension Professionals.”

A much, much earlier version of the creed (date unknown) is substantially different. At one time one had to have worked in Extension for 10 years in order to be considered for membership in Epsilon Sigma Phi. The web site where I found this creed refers to ten years of extension work.

In the early days of Extension, the primary focus was on the farm. This version of the creed reflects that. Later, the mission of Extension broadened substantially; thus the creed was rewritten to reflect that change. This early creed reads:

I love the open country with its changing seasons; the smile of the sun; the patter of the rain; the caress of the wind; the odor of freshly turned soil; the song of the birds; the laughter of the trees; the peace of the country day and the starry silence of the country evening.

I love the growing crops, the impatient rustle of the corn; the golden billow of the ripening grain; the blue shimmer of the grass; the sweet scent of freshly cut hay; the glory of the orchard in full bloom and the musky odor of ripening fruit.

I love God’s creatures that minister to man’s needs. Their friendship, their gentleness and their confidence in mankind represent the response of service to kindness and care.


I believe in the life of country people; in their hopes, their faith, their aspirations; in their ability and power to enrich their own lives and to plan for the happiness of those they love.

I believe in the farmer as essential to the Nation’s life; as a fundamental source of its wealth; as its haven of security from those who would despoil it.

I believe in the farmer’s right to a comfortable living; to such recompense for his capital, labor and skill as will make him the peer of those who work in office or shop; in his right to cooperate with his neighbors in seeking the service of science and security in his farm business.

I believe in the sacredness of the home as the real goal of farming, and in the home’s influence on the family’s culture, grace and power.
I believe in the rural boy and girl; in their longings for opportunity; in their right to trained minds, healthy bodies and loyal hearts.

I believe in the Extension Service; in the opportunity it offers to do useful work; in its touch of human sympathy and its joys of fellowship.

I believe in the public institutions of which I am a part; in their right to my loyalty and enthusiasms in extending their knowledge and ideals.

With sincerity of purpose, I pledge myself to work faithfully and earnestly with farmers, homemakers, and young people in helping to make agriculture prosperous, home life beautiful, the rural community satisfying and my own life one of unselfish service.


Jim Langcuster, an Extension Blogger, who is a retired news and public affairs specialist with the Alabama Cooperative Extension System has proposed “A 21st Century Extension Creed”. However, this creed has not been submitted to ESP or the Joint Council for Extension Professionals. A copy of what Jim has proposed can be viewed at 21centurycreed.

Concluding Remarks

John Lawrence, Vice President for extension and outreach programs at Iowa State University, calls the Extension Professional’s Creed “… a touchstone that can help us all stay grounded” and encourages us to read it when we are having a good or not-so-good day. You should read his short 2017 message about the Extension Professional’s Creed.

There are other creeds that could be examined in this series of Friday Footnotes such as The Farmer’s Creed (there are several), the Grange Creed, and The Farm Bureau Creed (there are several). But we are leaving the world of creeds behind and will explore other facets of the history of agricultural and extension education next week.

Creeds are important confirmations of what a professional and a profession believes. These Creeds should guide our daily actions. From time to time we should heed the advice of Dr. Lawrence and review our creeds.


Cray, Homer (1947). The 4-H Clubs Were Started by a Woman”. Corn County.

Friedel, Janice Nahra (1981). Jessie Field Shambaugh: The Mother of 4-H. Palimpsest 62.

Longden, Tom (N.D.). Jessie Field Shambaugh. Des Moines Register.

Reck, Franklin M. (1951). The 4-H Story. National 4-H Service Committee. The Iowa State University Press, Ames.