History of Cooperative Extension

In 1862 the Land Grant College System in America was created to fill a need for education in agriculture and mechanics. Twenty-five years later teaching was identified as only one aspect of meeting societal needs, and the Agricultural Experiment Station was created with a research mission aimed at making agriculture more productive.

In the early 1920s, after it was recognized that university-based curriculum and major research breakthroughs reached only a fraction of those who could benefit from them, Cooperative Extension -  the outreach arm of the Agricultural Experiment Station - was funded and charged with responsibility for extending new knowledge to the public-at-large.

Today the Cooperative Extension System represents a national, publicly funded, non-formal educational system that links educational and research activities and resources of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), 74 Land-Grant Universities and 3,150 county administrative units.

The Cooperative Extension System helps people improve their lives through an educational process that uses scientific knowledge focused on issues and needs. Cooperative Extension specialists, including faculty members in Veterinary Medicine Extension, are increasingly called upon to address complex economic, technical and social issues. Campus-based extension specialists address the needs of their clientele including farmers, ranchers, youth, families at risk, people in need of nutritional services and others, either directly or through county-based advisors.