During the Great Depression, the Experiment Station expanded its role in community action. Federal emergency relief programs needed local administration, and few knew local communities better than the local agricultural Extension agents who lived and worked there.
During World War II, Oregon State College (the forerunner of OSU) commissioned more cadets than any other non-military institution in the nation. And Extension took responsibility for federal domestic war projects, organizing the Neighborhood Leader Plan to reach rural families with information on programs to control inflation, conserve wartime resources, and boost food production with Victory Gardens. Extension agents were leaders for the Emergency Farm Labor Service that organized temporary workforces of women and children and helped recruit braceros to work Oregon farms. After the war, agricultural Extension agents helped establish veteran agricultural advisory boards in every county and supported agricultural enterprises for Japanese-Americans released from internment.