The new Orange County Environmental Agricultural Center — set to open in late summer — is being renamed in honor of Bonnie Davis, an agent of the North Carolina Cooperative Extension, who died in 2018.
The center will be named the Orange County Bonnie B. Davis Environmental and Agricultural Center. She will be the first Black woman to have a building named after her in the county.
The building will house offices for various government agencies. This includes the Extension department, which focuses on outreach with farmers in the community, as well as the soil and water conservation division, the forestry service and the county parks and recreation department.
The dedication to Davis was approved at an Orange County Board of County Commissioners meeting in March.
“She was such an icon, breaking barriers, helping the community and advancing our community,” Chairperson Renee Price said. “When we talk about progressive people — she lived and breathed that.”
As an agent of the Extension department, Davis would travel out to farms and homes and set up demonstrations on a variety of topics that fall under the umbrella of home economics: cooking, nutrition, home financing and house care. She worked for over 40 years until retiring in 1990.
Davis’ career did not end with her retirement, however. She continued to be active in the community, being a founding member of the Friends of the Department of Social Services, and active in other organizations.
In her early career, Davis faced segregation in the workplace. When she began working in 1950, there was no restroom she could use in the office she worked in. They were whites only, and she was told to use an outhouse. She fought against this and soon had a bathroom she could use in the building.
Tyrone Fisher, the county Extension director, said he is proud of the legacy Davis leaves behind.