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A Chronology of Development 1849-Present


Minnesota granted the rights of a territory.


University of Minnesota founded.


Col. John Harrington Stevens founded the Hennepin County Agriculture Society (later to become Minnesota Territorial Agriculture Society).


Minnesota became a state.

Col. Stevens and William S. Chowen introduced a bill to establish an agricultural school in Glencoe, Minnesota. Bill passed, but no funds were allotted.


Civil War broke out, and Stevens returned to the army.


Morrill Land Grant Act passed in Congress (Minnesota received 120,000 acres, 40,000 acres per Minnesota member in Congress.) Proceeds were used to establish agriculture and mechanic arts education.

Organic Act passed to establish United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).

Homestead Act passed, opening western lands for settlement.


Minnesota legislature accepted the land grant, but sales of land were delayed because of the Civil War and Indian uprisings.


State legislature agreed that the land grant should be used for agriculture school in Glencoe, Minnesota.


Legislature reversed its decision on the Glencoe location under pressure from University of Minnesota Regent John S. Pillsbury. Sales and proceeds from land were used to establish agricultural education as part of the University of Minnesota.

Series of agriculture professors hired by U of M:

  • 1868-69 Edward Twining
  • 1869-70 D.A. Robertson
  • 1872-73 Dalstron Strange
  • 1873-80 Charles Lacy
  • 1881-89 Edward D. Porter

U Farm moved to St. Paul "old Bass Farm" in St. Paul from Prospect Park in Minneapolis.


Farmers lecture course started.


First Farmers Institutes formed.


Orin Gregg appointed superintendent of Farmers Institutes. Hatch Act passed (agricultural experiment stations and agricultural research).


The Extension division was created as a part of the University by the state legislature. The bill was introduced by Joseph Hackney, a St. Paul dairy farmer.


A.D. Wilson appointed first Extension director (a position held until 1920).

West Central Development Association formed.

George P. Howard appointed by the Extension Division of the University of Minnesota to serve as a part-time lecturer for boys and girls club work.


Frank Marshall named Minnesota's first county Extension agent.


Seventeen Minnesota counties named county Extension agents.

Minnesota state legislature appropriated $860,000 for county agent work for 1913-14 and empowered counties to appropriate money for agent work.

F.E. Balmer named first county agent supervisor.

First county farm bureau organized in Minnesota (Kandiyohi).


Smith-Lever Act passed Congress and was signed by President Wilson. It provided federal funding for Extension work in the states to be matched by the states dollar-for-dollar.

Memorandum of Understanding signed between USDA and the various land-grant institutions in the individual states establishing joint supervisory power over Extension work.

States Relations Division established in USDA to be responsible for Extension work. Minnesota Extension Division reorganized to meet new structure established by Smith-Lever.


Bess Rowe appointed Minnesota's first home demonstration leader.


U.S.A. entered World War I.

First home demonstration agent hired (Rosamund Adams, Mower County).

Emergency Food Production Act approved by President Wilson provided $4,348,000 for Extension to increase food production.

Number of counties with Extension agents increased from 16 to 85.

Smith-Hughes Act passed Congress and was signed by President Wilson. It provided vocational training in agriculture and home economics in schools.


First county 4-H club agent hired in Minnesota (Maynard Coe). National County Agents' Association passed a resolution favoring the organization of a state and national farm bureau federation.


Minnesota Farm Bureau Federation created.

National Farm Bureau Federation created.

Minnesota state legislature required a county to have and maintain 100 Farm Bureau members before a county agent could be appointed.


F.W. Peck became director of Extension upon Wilson's resignation.


Statement signed by A.C. True of USDA and James R. Howard, president of the American Farm Bureau Federation, saying that agents would serve all farm people regardless of their organizational affiliations, and agents would not solicit members for the Farm Bureau.

First county home demonstration group organized in Steele County.


True/Howard memorandum was formalized by Secretary of Agriculture Henry Wallace and established as policy.


Minnesota state legislature revised the Extension law by increasing the required Farm Bureau membership in a county to 200. The county Farm Bureau was also to have a budget committee to be known as the County Cooperative Extension Committee.


Pi Chapter of Epsilon Sigma Phi organized in Minnesota (fraternity of veteran Extension workers).


Passage of Kapper-Ketchum Act by Congress: provided $1,480,000 additional federal funds for Extension to be matched by the states dollar for dollar.

Minnesota Extension director F.W. Peck signed a Memorandum of Agreement with State Farm Bureau secretary J.S. Jones, stating that "agents cannot organize Farm Bureaus, conduct membership drives, receive dues, handle Farm Bureau funds, edit Farm Bureau publications, or manage the business of Farm Bureau."


Agricultural Marketing Act passed Congress; established the Federal Farm Board and provided funding to encourage cooperative marketing. This established a new Extension priority on agricultural marketing. Economics and marketing specialists are hired.


Deficiency Act provided Extension funds to employ specialists in economics and marketing.


Congress passed the Emergency Agricultural Adjustment Act (AAA). This Act established the tradition of Congress encouraging farmers to adjust their production to consumer and market demand.

Purposes of the Act:

  • Restore farm purchasing power to the level it was between 1909-1914.
  • Provide direct payments to those farmers who participated in acreage control.
  • Regulate marketing through voluntary agreements with processors.

Extension was charged with administering the AAA program nationwide. Allotments were made by the Agricultural Adjustment Administration to add county agents in counties not previously served and add more staff in some overburdened counties.


Bankhead-Jones Act passed Congress:

  1. Authorized additional appropriations for research and Extension work in agriculture and home economics.
  2. Stated that federal funds did not need to be matched by the states (a departure from previous Extension legislation).
  3. Directed that funds were to be appropriated based on the number of farms rather than rural population.

Federal Agricultural Adjustment Act declared unconstitutional. The Social Conservation and Domestic Allotment Acts were approved to take the place of AAA. Objectives were to promote soil conservation and reduce agricultural production. Extension moved out of its regulatory role as administrator of AAA.


First rural electrical association organized (Meeker County).


F. W. Peck resigned as Extension director; Paul E. Miller appointed director.


Federal amendment to the Hatch Act restricted political activity of federal employees.


U.S. entered World War II. Agricultural legislation was passed during the war years (1941-45) to create high price supports and encourage production. Extension slogan: "Food for Defense"


Congress passed the Bankhead-Flanagan Act, which provided additional funds for Extension work.


Bills first introduced in the state legislature to formally separate Farm Bureau and Extension in Minnesota.

Federal agriculture legislation continued high price supports to encourage production as reaction to wartime shortages.

Minnesota Grange and Farmers Union step up the fight to separate Extension and the Farm Bureau.


Outbreak of the Korean War was an incentive for Congress to keep price supports high and fixed for agricultural farm products.


Bills again introduced in state legislature to formally separate Farm Bureau and Extension. (Minnesota was one of only five states that still maintained formal ties in 1951).


J.S. Jones died: University of Minnesota Regent and executive secretary of the Minnesota Farm Bureau.

Paul Miller resigned and Skuli Rutford became director of Extension.

Bill passed state legislature to formally separate Extension and the Farm Bureau.

Korean War ended and federal agriculture legislation began favoring production control.

Consolidation Act passed by Congress to bring together under one Act all previous Extension legislation; authorized Congress to appropriate "sums as Congress may from time to time determine necessary."


Public Law 480 passed to authorize sales of surplus agriculture commodities for emergency relay, foreign currency, and barter of farm products for basis materials. Disposed of surplus farm products.

Agriculture Act provided price supports on basic commodities on a flexible basis.


Agriculture Act established soil bank, encouraged crop restriction and conservation.


Minnesota Extension Law of 1953 was amended to more adequately reflect county differences and provide for financing of enlarged county programs.


Extension Committee on Organization and Policy (ECOP) Scope Report suggested Extension priorities for the 1960s.


Congress passed Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Skuli Rutford resigned; Luther Pickrel became director.


Luther Pickrel resigned; Roland Abraham became director.

ECOP scope report, "A People and A Spirit," suggested Extension priorities for the 1970s.


State Extension Law of 1953 was amended to provide for more funding in counties.

Congress appropriated funds for Expanded Food & Nutrition Program (EFNEP)


Congress passed Rural Development Act. It provided funding for Extension rural development work, "to develop and demonstrate activities which are effective in solving rural development problems at the local level."

Congress appropriated funds for urban 4-H work.

Agricultural Extension Service reorganized into 7 districts.


Affirmative Action plans required by each state Extension service.

Special earmarked federal funds made available for 4-H urban and community development programs.

Agriculture and Consumer Protection Act passed by Congress. Emphasized increased agriculture production because of world crop shortages.

State Extension Law of 1953 amended to remove funds ceilings appropriated by individual counties.


$1,000,000 federal funds earmarked for small and part-time farmers' work.


Food and Agriculture Act passed Congress mandating an internal evaluation of the Cooperative Extension Service to be reported to Congress in March 1978.

Minnesota Extension Citizens Advisory Committee informally organized.


North Central Extension Advisory Committee organized in Minneapolis.


Roland Abraham resigned; Hal Routhe became acting director.


Norman A. Brown became director.

National Extension Advisory Council organized March 28 in Washington, D.C.

Evaluation of economic and social consequences of Cooperative Extension Programs Report is completed and submitted to the Secretary of Agriculture and Congress.


Mission and Goals Statement developed for Minnesota Agricultural Extension Service. Minnesota Extension is reorganized into 5 districts and 4 program areas.


$2,500,000 federal funds appropriated for renewable resources extension work, but President rescinded funds.

House agriculture subcommittee, co-chaired by Representatives Brown and Wampler, conducted oversight hearings on Cooperative Extension System.

"Extension in the 80's," a national committee to help the nation's Cooperative Extension Service determine future direction and scope of its educational programs, was appointed. Minnesota Governor Al Quie was named to the committee.

Minnesota was one of the first states to place computers in every county Extension office through the statewide EXTEND (EXTension Educational Network and Database) program.


Norman Brown resigned; Patrick Borich became dean and director.


Extension strategic plan, "Focus on People," broadened Extension's educational mission as an outreach arm of the University of Minnesota and restated Extension's commitment to serve Minnesota's people.

Minnesota legislature directed the University of Minnesota Board of Regents "to review the functions and responsibilities of county Extension agents and report to the legislature on their future role and mission.


Extension changes its name from Agricultural Extension Service to Minnesota Extension Service. Purpose is to recognize that Extension provides a broad base of educational programming to Minnesota.

Findings of the Regents' review reaffirmed the University's commitment to the land-grant philosophy. It recommended that the Extension function be "of a prominence equal to" that of research and resident instruction.


Blue Ribbon Task Force to study the University-County Extension partnership recommended revisions to the Minnesota County Extension law to broaden the definition of county Extension work to clarify that Extension serves all Minnesotans.

Minnesota Governor Rudy Perpich declared 1989 the Year of Minnesota Extension Service, to celebrate 80 years of providing research-based education to Minnesotans.


County Extension Law changed to reflect the 1989 Blue Ribbon Task Force recommendations. Main provisions. It expanded the definition of county Extension work from the areas of "agriculture and home economics" to "educational programs and services provided by extension agents in . . . agriculture, economic and human development, community leadership, and environment and natural resources."


Extension was restructured to reflect broadened educational mission. Restructuring document, "Reinventing Minnesota Extension for the 21st Century," included: reorganizing counties into 18 county clusters; renaming county agents to Extension educators, working in 10 areas of specialization; and establishing direct connections between Extension and colleges throughout the University.


Patrick Borich resigned; Gail Skinner-West became acting dean and director.


Katherine Fennelly became dean and director.


Extension changed its name to University of Minnesota Extension Service to clearly show that the University of Minnesota is integral to the identity and mission of Extension.


Katherine Fennelly resigned; Charles H. Casey became acting dean and director. "Rural Response" to help Minnesotans deal with a rural financial and social crisis was deemed a top Extension priority.

Extension was reorganized into 8 districts


Extension prioritized work into five capacity areas: agriculture, food and environment; community vitality; natural resources and environment; youth development; and family development.


Dr. Charles H. Casey's appointment as dean and director approved by University of Minnesota Board of Regents June 15, 2001.


Extension opened 18 Regional Extension Offices in July. Extension Educators and Extension faculty delivered programs across the state, while locally funded educators and staff in county offices delivered educational programs.


Beverly R. Durgan appointment as dean and director approved by University of Minnesota Board of Regents in September 2005.


Minnesota men and women faced the longest brigade-level deployment in the history of the National Guard. Through Operation Military Kids, Extension's youth development and family development programs helped create a network of support for military families.


"University of Minnesota Extension Service" became "University of Minnesota Extension."


Extension celebrates 100 years of extending the University into every corner of the state, connecting the University to the people and taking University research from the labs into people's lives.

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