History Book Project    Historian – Linda Kustka

History Book Available Now!Book cover of "The People Came First " by Jerry Apps
Order your copy now of the book, The People Came First, a history of Wisconsin’s Cooperative Extension written by historian and story-teller Jerry Apps. Only $18.95, (plus shipping & tax) the book covers 150 years of our history. Read about your co-workers, past and present.

A new book chronicling the history of Wisconsin’s Cooperative Extension is now available. The book, “The People Came First”, was written by historian Jerry Apps, a former Wisconsin County Extension agent and specialist.

The book highlights 150 years of history, including an early history of the University of Wisconsin and agricultural education, the beginning of extension, the many years of development and continued growth, expansion and change.

Through the book you can read about how Al Francour started meetings with a bang. Learn how Extension radio personality Larry Meiller interviewed a stress expert who “froze” on the air. Find out how a family living specialist paid for her own train to get to an extension meeting in a snowstorm. Writer Jerry Apps shares a story about the strange love affair between an Alice in Dairyland and the project lambs of one of Jerry’s 4-H members.

“We can see history come alive and revisit our past in this unique story – our story,” said Rosemary Stare,” Epsilon Sigma Phi member. Stare, along with ESP members Mary Mennes and Vern Forest, were instrumental in working with Jerry Apps and Cooperative Extension employees to collect stories for the book and get it published.

  • To order your copy of “The People Came First” visit the Learning Store

Proceeds of book sales benefit the ESP Endowment Fund, which will provide grants to Cooperative Extension faculty and staff for professional development.


The Wisconsin Alpha Sigma Chapter was organized on October 7, 1930 with 35 members. In his 1935 book “Wisconsin History of Agricultural Extension”, local historian Ernest L. Luther stated that

“The purpose of the organization was to maintain the traditions, uphold the ideals, stimulate the morale of cooperative extension service, and to promote fraternal spirit among its members.”

In 1927, the Extension Creed was reflected in the following verse:

I love the big out-of-doors;
the smell of the soil;
the touch of the rain;
the smile of the sun;
the kiss of the wind;
the song of the birds;
and the laughter of the summer breeze in the trees.

 Extension Professionals Creed (1 page, 5 KB)

ESP Song – Words and music by T. L. Bewick, a member of Alpha Sigma Chapter