OSU Extension: A Brief History

The Cooperative Extension Service system got its start in 1862 when Congress passed the Morrill Act, which provided for a university in each state to provide education to citizens in agricultural and mechanical fields. These colleges are known today as "land-grant universities." The Ohio State University is Ohio's land-grant university.

Congress soon realized that to be effective, the educational function of land-grant universities needed to be supplemented with research capabilities. The Hatch Act was passed in 1887 to establish research farms where universities could conduct research into agricultural, mechanical, and related problems faced by rural citizens.

Congress passed the Smith-Lever Act in 1914 to establish the Cooperative Extension Service.

Some milestones for Ohio State University Extension:

Ohio State School of Agriculture students organize the Agricultural Students Union with the goal of getting the latest agricultural information from the college and experiment stations out to farmers.

Albert B. Graham, a Clark County school teacher who had attracted national recognition by establishing boys' and girls' clubs (the forerunners of 4-H), is named superintendent of agricultural extension at Ohio State, the first position of its kind in the United States.

Ohio Agricultural Extension trains travel the state carrying agricultural exhibits and offering presentations on farm practices. In 1911, 16 trains made 418 stops and reached more than 45,000 people.

The first Ohio 4-H camp is held in Summit County.

The Capper-Ketcham Act provides Extension work in agriculture and home economics for men, women, boys, and girls.

OSU Extension helps carry out New Deal programs, such as price supports, production control, and rural electrification to help the nation overcome the Great Depression.

OSU Extension works with farmers and 4-H members to increase production as the United States enters World War II. Extension conducts farm-labor recruitment programs, leads scrap metal drives, allocates scarce supplies of fertilizer and machinery, and helps homemakers substitute for unobtainable foods during the war emergency.

OSU Extension hires its first rural development agent.

Ohio State holds its first Farm Science Review in Columbus to exhibit and demonstrate the latest advancements in farm power machinery and agricultural science and technology.

The Ohio Sea Grant Extension program is established.

OSU Extension's Master Gardener Volunteer Program begins in Cuyahoga County.

The Family Nutrition Program, a partnership between the Ohio Department of Human Services and OSU Extension, is created to teach money management, nutrition and food safety to food stamp recipients.

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Gene Mays

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Ohio State University Extension embraces human diversity and is committed to ensuring that all research and related educational programs are available to clientele on a nondiscriminatory basis without regard to age, ancestry, color, disability, gender identity or expression, genetic information, HIV/AIDS status, military status, national origin, race, religion, sex, sexual orientation, or veteran status. This statement is in accordance with United States Civil Rights Laws and the USDA.

Keith L. Smith, Associate Vice President for Agricultural Administration; Associate Dean, College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences; Director, Ohio State University Extension; and Gist Chair in Extension Education and Leadership.

For Deaf and Hard of Hearing, please contact Ohio State University Extension using your preferred communication (e-mail, relay services, or video relay services). Phone 1-800-750-0750 between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. EST Monday through Friday. Inform the operator to dial 614-292-6181.