After the Ohio Agricultural Experiment Station went through its many trials for original funding and relocation, it took decades of dedication for it to become the world-recognized station it is today. In 1895, two OAES students, Charles Burkett and Franklin P. Strump, wanted to start an active group that would bring the OAES’s research and findings directly out into surrounding farms. With Thorne’s help, they established the Agricultural Student Union through OSU, which would later develop into the nation's first official extension programs in 1905.1 A. B. Graham was appointed the first director of extension. He founded Mr. Graham’s boys and girls clubs, which then developed into 4-H clubs.2 Beyond scientific discoveries, the OAES started huge movements of social change within agriculture by implementing the first 4-H clubs and extension services. To celebrate these achievements and gain even further reach, Charles Thorne instituted Field Days in 1917. They allowed local farmers to see the organization’s current projects, and soon became popular county-wide events.3 What they did not know, even then, was the rapid expansion these programs that had started at the OAES would soon see. There are now over 90,000 4-H clubs across the nation, as well as extension services being offered to farmers from agricultural research stations around the world.4
After many similarly-impactful scientific discoveries, publications, and social innovations, the OAES inducted a new director in 1959, Roy Kottman. He was said to be a born-leader with a knack for fundraising.5 It was through Kottman that the OAES underwent a name change to the Ohio Agricultural Research Development Center (OARDC). Kottman wanted the name to reflect the broad range of scientific research being conducted in the late 20th century. Just as the station's first great leader Charles Thorne did, Roy Kottman led with gusto and the newly renamed OARDC made many great advances in the following years. By the 1970s, the OARDC was at the forefront of creating a corn resistant to viruses, which averted the risk of a global corn scarcity. They brought this out into the fields of Ohio with extension, teaching farmers tactics to help prevent their corn and tomatoes from becoming disease ridden. These techniques were then implemented across the US. The OARDC’s research continued to progress immensely and by the 1980s, they were looking to the future with projects including genetically engineered turkeys and tractors run on sunflower oil.6
1 R.E. Whitmoyer, A View From the Tower: A Collection of Historical Facts and Anecdotal Stories Covering the Early Years of the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center (Wooster, OH: OARDC, 1992), 14.
2 Ibid., 15.
3 Sue Gorisek, "The Wizards of Wooster: Bill Krauss is recording 102 years of agricultural miracles on The Farm in Wooster", Ohio Magazine, January 1985, 71.
4 "2016 Annual Report", National 4-H Council, accessed June 9, 2017.
5 Christopher Cumo and R.E. Whitmoyer. Seeds of Change: A History of the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center (Wooster Book, 2000), 84.
6 R.E. Whitmoyer. “A Brief History of OARDC,” Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center, accessed 2013.