Portage County derived its name from the Native Americans who lived, hunted, and fished there – they had to portage, or carry their canoes between the rivers. Now a mixture of urban, suburban, and rural townships, Portage County once was supported primarily by agricultural commodities.
In 1912, Dan Hanna called the first meeting of the Portage County Improvement Association, a group of local farmers and businessmen, and the association launched its membership with 2,000+ members. The first action was to secure the services of a county agricultural agent. In 1913, H.P. Miller, a staff member of the Ohio Experiment Station, assumed his duties in Portage County as the first county agent in Ohio and the 23rd Extension agent in the United States.
The Portage County Improvement Association’s goals were to improved the roads, livestock services, and cooperative farming services and to establish a county cooperative store. The association also made provisions to sponsor the Boys’ and Girls’ Clubs, which would later evolve into 4-H clubs.
Through many years of dedication and help from our county commissioners, we have grown to an office of Extension professionals, focusing on 4-H, Agriculture and Natural Resources, and EFNEP.