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December 2008 Archives

Extension's Beginnings

Hatch Act

Hatch Act funds are provided for agricultural research on an annual basis to the State Agricultural Experiment Stations (SAES's) which were established under the direction of the college or university or agricultural departments of the college or university in each State in accordance with the act approved July 2, 1862 (7 U.S.C. 301 et seq.); or such other substantially equivalent arrangements as any State shall determine.

Hatch Act Of 1887 (48 K PDF)

Morrill Act

The original Morrill Act allowed for the creation of land grant colleges and universities. It was signed into law by President Abraham Lincoln on July 2, 1862.

View Morrill Act

Smith-Lever Act

The Smith-Lever Act of 1914 establishes the Cooperative Extension Service and provides federal funds for cooperative extension activities. The act requires that states provide a 100% match from non-federal resources. The act also authorizes special extension projects under section 3(d). Current projects funded under this authority include the Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program, Farm Safety, Integrated Pest Management, and Children, Youth and Families at Risk.

View Smith-Lever Act (48 K PDF)

Extension Division Established in Minnesota, 1909

An Act to create and maintain a division of agriculture extension and home education in the department of agriculture of the University of Minnesota, to provide for the publication and distribution of home education bulletins and appropriating money therefore.

View Extension Division Established in Minnesota (108 K PDF)

Share your Extension memories

You can help us celebrate Extension's Centennial. Your stories can help tell Extension's story.

  • Remember your Extension stories: successes, obscure and nearly forgotten facts, funny anecdotes, photos, copies of educational publications.
  • Select the very best. We are limited in what we can use, but we would like a few photos from you (up to three). We cannot take old scrapbooks or boxes of materials. Select the best for Extension's Centennial website, and donate the rest to the University Archives.
  • Submit your materials. See what we are looking for, and how you can contribute your stories and photos for the Extension Centennial Celebration.
  • We will donate your photos to the University Archives. You can also submit collections of Extension-related photos directly to the University Archives. Learn about the Archives, their policies and requirements.
  • Include a University Deed of Gift form, which MUST accompany each photo donation to Extension and the Archives. Print a copy of the form (56 K PDF).

Tourism owners learn benefits of 'green tourism'

Lake at Sunset

In a state that depends heavily on natural resources for its tourism industry, it's vital that we protect and preserve our environment. That's why Extension tourism educators work to teach local communities how to practice sustainable tourism. Since 2006, the University of Minnesota Tourism Center has taught hundreds of tourism operators to "green up"? their businesses with environmentally responsible practices like recycling, reusing, water conservation and energy audits. Both visitors and residents can enjoy quality experiences ranging from environmental adventure parks to family resorts that use sustainable landscaping or lakescaping techniques. And satisfied visitors can return home and tell stories that bring more friends and relatives to Minnesota.

Main Street learns to compete with 'big box' retailers

Main street

Retail businesses are vital to small communities. They provide income, jobs and products that people need. But it's a challenge to get people to buy locally and help small businesses compete alongside the "big box"? stores. Two Extension programs help Minnesota communities get the best of both worlds:

Small Stores Success Strategies helps business leaders prosper by providing services and products the large stores avoid. And Retail Trade Analysis gives communities of more than 5,000 people a comprehensive report that compares their retail sector to those of similar-sized communities. Local leaders use this information to help support and grow their own businesses.

Horizons brings hope to Minnesota communities

Extension Horizons Program

Extension's Horizons program helps small communities with high poverty rates to develop their own leaders and create a thriving community. St. James is one of nine Minnesota communities to complete the program in 2008. With a boost from Extension and the Northwest Area Foundation, St. James factory workers, high-school students, business people, educators and civic leaders together shaped an exciting new future for their town.

The secret to success is a "grass roots, not top-down"? approach and getting together everyone in the community to solve their own issues. Since beginning in 2003, Horizons has worked with 21 Minnesota communities. Fifteen additional communities began Horizons programs in 2008.

4-H's unique approach teaches life skills

4-H Teaching

Minnesota 4-H has come a long way in 100 years. Young people from cities and towns now learn the basics of life skills that mostly rural kids were getting back in the early 1900s. And 4-H's unique principle of engaging kids in something they like—"learning by doing"?—helps them make better decisions, give back to their communities, and grow up to be solid, contributing citizens.

Adult volunteers still guide kids through the learning process. But young people today develop their "head, heart, hands and health"? by designing and participating in their own activities. In 2007, some 113,000 young people throughout Minnesota participated in 4-H.

Radon education, reduction saves lives

Architects discussing a building

Radon, a byproduct of radioactive decay, is the second-leading cause of lung cancer in the United States. And Minnesota is ranked fourth-highest in the nation with highly dangerous levels in many homes. Thanks to the work of Extension housing technology specialists, Minnesota's homes are much safer from this threat. Extension experts teach builders and other housing-related professionals how to prevent and fix radon problems. Their goal is to improve the long-term quality, efficiency, environmental health and durability of residential and other buildings in Minnesota and other cold-climate regions. Due in part to Extension's teamwork, Minnesota was first to establish a statewide building code to reduce radon in new homes.

Dedicated volunteers become Master Naturalists


Minnesotans tend to know a lot about birds and plants. But they may not know as much about water quality, geology or land issues. In 2005, Extension and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources created the Master Naturalist program to teach people about their environment and build a corps of dedicated, enthusiastic volunteers. Master Naturalists learn the natural history of one of Minnesota's three biomes: Big Woods, Big Rivers; Prairies and Potholes; or North Woods, Great Lakes. Then they perform nature-related service, like gathering prairie seed and helping educate others. So far, Master Naturalists have contributed $191,000 in services, improved more than 57,000 acres of land and helped educate 47,000 people.

Nutrition education assistants aid thousands of Minnesotans

Nutrition education

Neighbors helping neighbors. For 40 years, Extension's nutrition education assistants have taught thousands of people about how to eat healthfully and to stretch their food dollars. Funded by U.S. Department of Agriculture food stamp dollars, the Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP) helps limited-income households and families with children. Today, Extension's 100-plus nutrition education assistants teach in community centers across the state. Nutrition education assistants of different ethnic backgrounds also help Minnesota's newest populations adjust to the American food scene and choose healthy foods for their families. In 2006, nutrition education assistants in the Twin Cities metro area alone reached more than 7,700 families.

Number of obese school children reaches new heights

Children and nutrition

From 1976 to 2004, the percentage of overweight grade-school children in the United States nearly tripled, from 6.5 to 18.8 percent. In 2007, Extension nutrition experts and nutrition education assistants began piloting an activity-packed curriculum, "Go Wild with Fruits and Vegetables,"? in 22 Moorhead-area schools. The program uses stories, songs, games and "mystery food"? taste tests to make the lessons fun, and is based on studies showing that children are more likely to believe and act upon a message if they hear it from multiple sources. So far, 3,600 grade-school children have learned that good food and physical activity are smart choices. The Go Wild curriculum is expected to go statewide in 2009-10.

Soybean aphids arrive in Minnesota

Soybean Aphids

Extension is known for pulling together partnerships to tackle problems fast. In 2001, Extension educators discovered soybean aphids in Minnesota fields. Entomologists confirmed the outbreak and Extension quickly joined forces with Minnesota soybean growers and state and federal agencies. Together, they reduced economic losses by teaching farmers how to scout for aphids and when and how to control them. Within a year, Extension was using a sophisticated University of Minnesota computer model to combine weather information with agronomic and entomology expertise to guide growers. The model has since been adopted throughout the Upper Midwest and will help north central states save an estimated $1.3 billion over 15 years.

Demand increases for community leadership education

Leadership in 4-H through 1990

Extension has been teaching leadership to kids through 4-H for decades. In the 1980s and '90s, Extension saw that Minnesota communities needed more informed adult leaders. Believing that anyone who cares about a community issue can learn to lead, Extension recruited local leaders to attend programs such as Family Community Leadership, Supporting Community Diversity, Building Common Ground and Northwest Emerging Leadership. In two decades, 700 Emerging Leadership and U-Lead program graduates have boosted their skills in leadership, citizen involvement and the legislative process. Today, many of those participants are senators, legislators, mayors or board presidents. Extension educators now teach more than 25 different leadership programs every year.

Producers learn to balance agriculture, water quality


Farmers need good soil drainage to grow productive crops, but it's a challenge to achieve this while protecting the environment. With help from Extension, producers are learning how to install new systems to drain runoff from fields. One system, for example, features wood chips that remove nitrogen from water before it empties into nearby lakes or streams.

In 2008, Extension also began teaching landowners and others involved in agricultural drainage water management about a "conservation drainage"? approach that uses controlled drainage systems to keep water where it will do the most good.

View 'Agriculture and water quality' on the Centennial Videos page.

Concept of low-maintenance lawns catches on

Lawnmower in a Back yard

"Don't bag it,"? the catchphrase for leaving grass clippings on your lawn, was coined in the 1980s by Extension horticulturists. Since then, Extension educators have taught thousands of Minnesotans to "green up"? their lawns with fewer pesticides, less water and less work. Decades of turfgrass research by University agronomists backs up Extension's information. Lawn-service businesses and the government benefit, as well. An added bonus is research-based information about composting. Thanks to Extension, Minnesotans are making more informed choices and protecting other natural resources such as lakes and streams by caring responsibly for their lawns and green spaces.

Minnesotans learn water resources stewardship from early age

Water Stewardship

Young people are the future users and stewards of Minnesota's lakes and streams. Extension's Water Resources Center involves boys and girls early through programs they can enjoy. Through fishing, learning how to restore water resources and volunteering as water monitors, kids gain skills and knowledge they can use throughout their lives. In the Twin Cities area, Extension obtained grants from the Metropolitan Council and the McKnight Foundation for the Volunteer Stream Monitoring Partnership (VSMP). This shoreland education program teaches high school students to use bioengineering techniques to stabilize stream banks and keep them from eroding.

Invasive species education moves to the forefront

Boat gliding across a lake

Extension has always worked to manage invasive species in agriculture. But in the late 1980s, Extension also led the way in addressing threats to Minnesota's water recreation and economy from aquatic invasive species. Educators moved fast to get information out to the public about zebra mussels, which can clog pipes and cost millions of dollars for clean-up. Educators also helped Minnesotans curtail other major threats--purple loosestrife, Eurasian water milfoil, curly leaf pondweed--saving the state from untold numbers of dollars in clean-up and landowners from heavy loss to property values. Today, Extension educates about the benefits of prevention, containment and minimizing impacts to keep new species from spreading.

Families turn to Extension when disaster strikes

People having a conversation in front of destroyed buildings

Minnesotans have long relied on Extension in times of disaster. When the St. Peter tornado and the floods of 1997 struck, for example, Extension educators were there in the communities, helping residents pick up the pieces. Ready with research-based information, Extension showed people how to dry out their homes and belongings, prevent mold and keep their food from spoiling. People also called on Extension to help them deal with insurance, cope with stress and address tough financial questions. From pulling together the agencies needed to helping with long-term recovery, Extension educators are prepared to help people get their lives and communities back on track.

View 'Responding to disaster' on the Centennial Videos page.

Hmong farmers begin growing, marketing in Minnesota

Hmong Farmer

In the late 1970s, after the United States withdrew from the Southeast Asian conflict, more than 10,500 Southeast Asian refugee families settled in the Twin Cities area. In 1983, Extension launched an intensive program to help these families support themselves by growing, processing and marketing vegetables. After four years of training and Extension's help in setting up an agricultural business cooperative, Hmong farmers set off on their own.

Today, many people of Southeast Asian descent sell produce through Minnesota's agricultural specialty markets and farmers markets. Extension's early work with banks, businesses, agencies and communities also created the current network of resources for Hmong and other immigrant farmers across Minnesota.

Farm crisis hits Minnesota producers

FINPACK Development

In the 1980s, a devastating financial crisis forced thousands of Minnesota farmers into bankruptcy and foreclosure. Family ties also unraveled under deteriorating financial situations. In 1984, Extension agricultural economists developed farm financial software (FINPACK) to help farmers analyze their businesses, and educators trained more than 33,000 people to help families reduce stress and manage their resources. In 1986, Extension developed a state-requested farmer-lender mediation program to facilitate discussions about credit problems. By the early 1990s, Extension had worked with 85 of Minnesota's 87 counties. Since then, FINPACK has been used by tens of thousands of farmers nationwide.

Master Gardener program enlists volunteers

Gardener and Student

From showing kids how to grow vegetables to teaching homeowners about composting, Extension's Master Gardeners have served thousands of Minnesotans every year since the program began in 1977. Master Gardeners are volunteers trained by Extension professionals to share their knowledge in their communities. In 2007, 1,550 Master Gardeners across Minnesota contributed nearly $2.1 million in volunteer service. The combined 106,549 hours they worked equaled more than 51 full-time staff positions. The program has expanded from its early days of answering home gardener questions. Today's Master Gardeners help build rain gardens, combat invasive species in lakes, involve kids in plant science programs, work with organizations like Habitat for Humanity, and much more.

New programs boost Minnesota tourism owners


Extension's first tourism programs were developed in the 1960s for resort owners in northeastern Minnesota. Tourism specialists used the tried-and-true Extension model for working with farmers and small communities. They helped community leaders plan and develop tourism while boosting business activity, respecting the interests of local citizens and protecting natural resources. The programs spread as community development educators provided research and educational programs across the state. Throughout, the Minnesota Department of Tourism provided feedback and support. In 1987, Extension and the University of Minnesota, with private endowments, created the Tourism Center for ongoing educational programs.

Volunteer 4-H leaders attend first national forum

4-H Volunteer

In 1960, the first nationwide forum for volunteer 4-H leaders was held at the National 4-H Center in Washington, D.C. Adult volunteers play a critical role in 4-H's unique learn-by-doing model. They guide kids through a discovery process by getting them to question, analyze and reflect. They are trained in the important "keys to youth development"? and they make sure youngsters feel a sense of belonging.

Today, more than 11,000 Minnesota volunteers contribute 92,700 hours annually. That's a contribution worth more than $21 million each year. But volunteers' greatest value is the incalculable contributions they make to the lives of young people.

Anoka County holds first 'Field Days'

Curtis Klint hosts first Field day

In Anoka County in 1965, Extension organized a new program that took elementary school teachers and their students outdoors to learn about Minnesota's natural resources. Extension faculty taught 2,000 kids at natural camp settings. The workshops, outdoor lab sessions and field trips all offered a new kind of experience that laid the foundation for today's environmental science field days. Now, Extension offers innovative classes across the state for nature center educators, teachers and youth environmental educators (like those who work with 4-H and Scouts groups). Today, Extension environmental science education programs offer curriculum tips, research-based best practices and ready-to-teach content.

New ways of reaching families gain popularity


During the post-war 1950s and '60s, women wanted to know more about family life, mental health, farm policy, farm business and improving their homes. Extension responded with new programs and in 1958, using a new way of communicating, began broadcasting best food buys over Minnesota's 22 TV stations. Heart disease among women was a big concern, and Extension taught lessons in eating right to manage weight. Extension also developed nationally known programs to teach handicapped homemakers how to manage with less energy or limited motion. Now more than ever, families relied on Extension's research-based information to help them make good decisions.

Programs reach American Indian communities

Two Native American boys standing in a kitchen

Extension expanded its health and nutrition programs in the mid-1950s to American Indian families. Invited by the Bureau of Indian Affairs to set up programs on the White Earth and Red Lake reservations, Extension hired its first agents to work with those communities. These agents became known and trusted on the reservations. They organized 4-H clubs and homemaker groups and taught gardening, nutrition and clothing projects. This work laid the foundation for programs such as the White Earth Math and Science Academy in the 1990s and ongoing interactive nutrition programs that help increase understanding today between Minnesota's oldest and newest cultures.

View 'Bridging Cultures' on the Centennial Videos page.

Message spreads about safe chemical use


In the 1960s, Minnesotans became concerned about the safe use of chemicals. Farmers used pesticides to control weeds, insects and plant diseases. Using additives in animal feeds to encourage growth and promote animal health was another concern. And a big worry was the direct hazards to people who applied chemicals. In 1964, Extension pulled together a committee of entomologists, agronomists, plant pathologists, animal scientists, nutritionists and others to gather research and set up educational workshops. Working in concert with state agencies and industry groups, Extension presented courses across the state for chemical applicators, farmers, pesticide dealers and others responsible for safe environmental practices and a safe food supply.

Electric cooperatives come to rural Minnesota

Electric Mixer

President Roosevelt established the Rural Electrification Administration (REA) in 1935, but the U.S. Department of Agriculture left it up to individual groups to organize. On their own, local groups asked Extension for help. Two months after REA went into effect, Meeker County Extension agent Ralph Wayne and former agent Frank Marshall organized the first rural electric cooperative in Minnesota. This two-year work in progress became the first demonstration site in the nation.

In 1940, Extension sponsored nine farm and home equipment shows across the state showing how electricity could be used in operating farms and modernizing rural homes.

4-H youth conservation programs take root

4-H Conservation Program

As early as 1926, 4-H participants were contributing to conservation and environmental work. The Conservation Leadership Camp at Itasca, begun in 1934, continued for 51 years. Each year, 200 youth learned firsthand about wildlife and land conservation. Taking their knowledge back to their hometowns, they planted thousands of trees, started windbreaks, built bird feeders and seeded forest tree nurseries. The seedlings the early campers planted in Itasca State Park are now towering red pines that park visitors still enjoy. 4-H environmental work goes on today in county camps and programs.

4-H pledge comes of age

4-H Pledge

By the 1920s, 4-H club work appeared in every county's plan of work. In 1927, based on the term 4H-Club work and the fourfold concept of head, heart, hands and health, Extension adopted the well-known 4-H pledge:

I pledge my head to clearer thinking,
my heart to greater loyalty,
my hands to larger service, and
my health to better living,
for my family, my club, my community, and my country.

Minnesota and Maine were the only states to add "my family"? to their pledges. The only other change, in 1973, was the addition of "world"? to the pledge.

Mattress-making provides dual solutions

Mattress Making

After the Great Depression of the 1930s, many rural and low-income people were sleeping on cornhusk mattresses. In 1941, the U.S. Department of Agriculture had a large amount of surplus cotton, bought up from Southern cotton producers. Extension agents in 84 counties accepted the offer of cotton and ticking and organized mattress-making centers in village halls and county fair buildings. They helped 70,000 Minnesota families make their own mattresses and comforters. Total cost of supplies was 88 cents per mattress and 33 cents per comforter. With this program, Extension helped solve an economic problem in one part of the country and assist low-income farm families at home.

Hot lunch programs become new norm

Kids eating lunch

In 1935, a St. Louis County home demonstration agent predicted that schools would serve hot lunches just as they hired teachers and bought books. As early as 1911, Extension had set up a hot lunch program in the rural schools, complete with bulletins and recipes.

By 1940, hot lunch programs had been established in more than 200 Minnesota schools. In the 1940s and '50s, Extension nutritionists taught school lunch staff around the state how to transform surplus commodities into healthful meals.

Marketing of agricultural goods reaches new levels

Sales at a General Store

As World War II ended, farmers were concerned about how to effectively market the abundant crops they were producing. In 1946, the Research and Marketing Act gave funds to Extension nationally for marketing programs. Minnesota used its share to develop three projects: improving efficiency in marketing and distributing eggs and poultry, improving market quality of milk, and developing and marketing frozen foods. In 1950, Extension added a consumer marketing project to let people know where they could find plentiful food supplies. This helped producers get a better price for their products. Consumer marketing specialist Eleanor Loomis used radio and television to broadcast Extension information.

Minnesota farmers become acquainted with soybeans


As early as 1937, southern Minnesota farmers were experimenting with soybeans as a new oil crop. Extension tried to hold off promoting this until it was clear whether it was really marketable. The farmers insisted, however, and Extension listened. By the 1940s, soybean variety demonstrations were among Extension's regular agricultural programs. University soybean geneticist Jean Lambert developed new varieties that made Minnesota a leading soybean state. Extension introduced the varieties to farmers through field days, publications and the mass media. Farm income from soybean production alone was huge, more than the entire University budget in the 1950s.

Grasshoppers destroy Minnesota crops

Grasshopper invasion

Tough times in Minnesota in the 1930s brought economic depression, droughts, and clouds of grasshoppers that destroyed crops across the state. Extension entomologist H.L. Parten and county agents conducted grasshopper-baiting demonstrations with poison bait provided by state funds. In 1939, one-fourth of all Minnesota farmers spread the bait and avoided an estimated $12.6 million crop loss during a time of 40-cent-per-bushel corn. Extension's response to the grasshopper plague helped create a research-based approach that farmers, state officials and Extension would use to tackle future problems, such as the 1980s farm foreclosures and the 2007 bovine tuberculosis outbreaks.

St. Paul hosts first junior livestock show

Livestock Show

A state 4-H livestock show was the brainchild of Extension livestock specialist W.A. McKerrow. Supported by the Minnesota Livestock Breeders Association and the St. Paul meatpacking firms, and with rules set up by the boys and girls club staff at University Farm, the show was held at the South St. Paul stockyards in December 1918.

The first show produced 31 only "rather plain beef calves,"? but the idea caught on and became a major 4-H event. Most valuable, the program gave agents a way to build trust with parents by teaching their children how to manage their livestock.

4-H grows out of first boys and girls clubs

4H Club Photo

Minnesota's 4-H clubs grew out of the boys and girls clubs in the early 1900s. The first 4-H symbol, in 1907, was a three-leaf clover, for head, heart and hands. The fourth leaf was added in 1911 to symbolize health (resistance to disease, enjoyment of life and efficiency). In 1914, the Smith-Lever Act brought 4-H into Extension nationwide. By the early 1920s, the clubs were known everywhere as "4-H clubs."? By immersing kids in learning and leadership activities and instilling a healthy spirit of competition through project judging, 4-H contributed directly to the nation's leadership position in world agriculture and other industries.

Early 4-H projects include seed corn contests

Barrel of Corn

Growing seed corn and baking bread were the first statewide 4-H club projects. In 1904, T.A. Erickson, then Douglas County school superintendent, organized seed corn contests for local boys and girls clubs. The aim was to educate youth (and their parents) about raising better corn. Seeking wider involvement, Erickson organized Minnesota's first county school fair, at Nelson School in Alexandria. Project exhibits included corn, potatoes and poultry.

Erickson, who became Extension's first state 4-H leader, wrote 4-H's founding principles: to interest youngsters in county life, to teach kids and adults at the same time, and to help the schools "teach boys and girls how to do things worth while."?

Women pioneers lead way in home economics

Woman next to a Model T

As early as 1911, rural schools had hot lunch programs, thanks to Mary Bull, Extension's first state home economics leader. Before World War I, Minnesota's home economics staff grew by only four. But in 1917, with U.S. Department of Agriculture funding, Extension added 11 home demonstration agents. They expanded their reach through judging county fair exhibits, demonstrating baking and canning, and holding short courses at farmers' institutes. Specialists backed them up with popular leaflets on milk, fish, eggs, conservation, textiles and recreation. Today's Extension learning circles still help families use their resources wisely, from food and nutrition to family finances.

President Wilson calls for food to 'win the war'

Examining food rations

With world food supplies desperately low in 1916, Extension agents worked closely with farmers to aid the war effort. As the United States entered World War I, President Wilson provided $4.3 million to national Extension under the Emergency Food Production Act. County agents responded to the call, "Food will win the war,"? by teaching people to grow and preserve more food and change cooking and eating habits. Home economists traveled out to the people around the state, teaching canning classes and providing recipes for meatless and wheatless meals. This was Extension's first response to a major emergency and a trademark of its mission.

View 'Access to Healthy Food' on the Centennial Videos page.

Drainage increases tillable farmland

Man digging ditch

The 1920s brought an increasing demand for tillable land. Stumps and boulders were a big problem and removing them was slow, difficult and expensive. Extension county agents taught farmers to use low-powered war surplus explosives on these and on constructing drainage channels on poorly drained flatlands.

In 1921, Extension had helped farmers in 22 northeastern Minnesota counties clear 35,000 acres of land, saving $70,000 above other removal costs. Many farmers remember that Extension helped their fathers and grandfathers drain wetlands to grow more crops. Today, Minnesota ranks among the national leaders in both corn and soybean production.

First milk cooperatives assist dairy farmers

Milk Trucks

In 1915, dairy farmers in the Twin Cities area were struggling to get fair prices from milk dealers. In 1916, four Extension county agents, led by Hennepin County agent K.A. Kirkpatrick, helped form the Twin City Milk Producers Association, a marketing cooperative. Kirkpatrick became the general manager and held the post for many years.

In 1917, the cooperative was attacked for "the offense of representing farmers" to sell their milk collectively, but in two years, the association was accepted. Extension went on to help organize two other cooperatives now known (and still thriving) as the Central Livestock Association and Land O' Lakes, Inc.

Hog cholera hits western Minnesota

Examining an ill pig

A disastrous hog cholera epidemic in 1913 threatened the swine industry in Minnesota's west central counties. Renville County Extension agent W.E. Morris helped save hog producers close to $1 million. Renville County cholera losses dropped from 56 percent in 1913 to less than 5 percent in 1914, and Minnesota set a nationwide record in controlling the disease.

Morris organized a team of swine raisers in each township to help inform their neighbors and help veterinarians. In 1923, the legislature asked Extension to set up hog cholera vaccination schools led by Extension veterinarians. The veterinarians also taught improved herd management, and by 1972 the disease had been eliminated from the state.

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