Improving Lives Through Practical, Research-Based Information.

Cooperative Extension, Est. 1914


All universities engage in research and teaching, but the nation’s more than 200 land-grant colleges and universities, have a third critical mission—extension. “Extension” means “reaching out,” and—along with teaching and research—land-grant institutions “extend” their resources, solving public needs with college or university resources through non-formal, non-credit programs.

The Smith-Lever Act, which was passed in 1914, established the partnership between the land-grant colleges of each state, the federal government through the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), and local county governments to support extension work. Traditionally, each county of all 50 states had a local extension office, although some county offices have consolidated into regional extension centers. Today, there are approximately 2,900 extension offices nationwide.

What is Cooperative Extension?

How do you describe an organization that daily changes lives, makes a difference in a child’s welfare, engenders leadership in citizens and a voice to communities, provides the strategies for living a healthy lifestyle, guides children on the road to responsible adulthood, provides assistance for greater business profitability and individual financial management-in short, makes the quality of life better for every resident of each state and beyond?

Cooperative Extension is a unique education agency with statewide networks of professional educators, trained volunteers, and local offices. Extension reaches across the nation to address local priority needs. Collaborative programs enable extension educators and their partners to extend resources and prevent duplication of services.

“Cooperative” because it would be supported by federal, state, and county partnerships. “Extension” because this innovative system would use trained educators – university faculty – who would translate research from the state’s land-grant university to meet the needs of the citizens of the state.

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