History of Extension
The University was established in 1878 as the Agricultural and Mechanical College of the State of Mississippi. It became part of the nation's land-grant system created by the Morrill Act, passed by the U.S. Congress in 1862. Its mission was to educate students in "agriculture, horticulture, and the mechanic arts...without excluding other scientific and classical studies."
Although the University has greatly expanded its educational opportunities in a number of arts and sciences disciplines, its commitment to agriculture has not diminished. For more than a century, this commitment has benefitted Mississippi's major industry and all of its people in immeasurable ways. The University's Division of Agriculture, Forestry, and Veterinary Medicine exists because of the state and the nation's commitment to making America's food and fiber system the most effective one in the world. That commitment dates to the mid-19th century and is as up-to-date as the space age. As a matter of fact, agriculture forms the indispensable base on which all our modern technological and economic advances rest.
The nation's more successful farmers have always been those that sought the most reliable information about agricultural practices. Among their ranks are founding fathers George Washington and Thomas Jefferson. These gentlemen farmers maintained detailed production records and networks of contacts for information exchange.
As the United States developed, influential men like Washington and Jefferson expressed greater interest in a more scientific approach to agriculture. At the same time, interest in the general welfare of the common people increased. The federal government responded with a series of actions beginning with the establishing of the United States Department of Agriculture as a Presidential cabinet-level department in 1862.
Broader training and deeper scholarship in production and marketing of agricultural products was needed to enhance the nation's major industry. This need fueled one of the nation's greatest contributions to modern education--the agricultural and mechanical college. This approach to education combined the scholarly with the practical with the avowed purpose of improving opportunity for the masses.
The Morrill Act of 1882 established these colleges nationwide. Called the land-grant system, this class of colleges was originally endowed by grants of public lands in the developing western United States. Mississippi joined the movement with the first assignment of land-grant funding to Alcorn University and the University of Mississippi in 1871. The State A&M College near Starkville was established as Mississippi's land-grant institution in 1878.
In 1887, the Hatch Act established the agricultural experiment station system, modeled on European stations, but with a distinctly American interest in applied research. The Mississippi legislature responded with its experiment station act in 1888. Although the federal act bears the name of Missouri's William Henry Hatch, significant credit must be given to our state's Senator James Z. George. He introduced the first experiment station bill in 1885 only to see it stall in the House of Representatives.
The Second Morrill Act, passed in 1890 after 18 years of debate, provided for direct annual appropriations to each state to support its land-grant college.
The existence of land-grant colleges and experiment stations resulted in a growing logjam of knowledge that needed to be made available to the farmer and farm family in the field. A variety of activities including farmers institutes, agricultural societies, and corn and tomato clubs tried to meet these needs. In response, the Smith-Lever Act of 1914 established cooperative extension work.
Like sea levels, expenses related to flooding in communities and businesses along the Gulf Coast are rising.
One student spent last summer investigating ways to mitigate these costs while enhancing approaches to shoreline protection during her time in the Mississippi State University Extension Undergraduate Apprenticeship program. The program is targeted toward high-achieving undergraduates from across the country to give them firsthand experiences in research and extension to understand how research can be applied.
POPLARVILLE, Miss. — The Mississippi State University Extension Service in Pearl River County has a new temporary location after the building housing its office sustained irreparable damage from an overnight fire.
Located at 204 South Julia Street in Poplarville behind the county courthouse, the facility is scheduled to be operational by April 16. The main office number, 601-403-2280, is still active for clients in need of assistance. MSU Extension operations in Pearl River County will take place at this location indefinitely.
The Mississippi State University Extension Service is launching a new Extension Center for 4-H Youth Development to grow the next generation of leaders. This name change leverages current funding and restructuring of existing positions to allow for greater support and service to Mississippi’s young people. 4-H provides nonformal youth development education across the state for 8- to 18-year-olds through programs delivered locally by Extension agents and registered 4-H adult volunteers.
Longtime Mississippi State University Extension Service administrator and MSU Extension professor Paula Threadgill announced her retirement effective Dec. 31, 2020.
Staggers encourages individuals, businesses to support Extension
Contributing to the Mississippi State University Extension Service just got a little easier. William “Will” Staggers joined the MSU Foundation in December 2015 as an assistant director of development. He works to attract additional support for Extension’s research-based educational programs, facilities, professional development, and other needs.
Mississippi Shines as Spotlight State at Sunbelt Ag Expo
The MSU Extension Service, along with Alcorn State University, the Mississippi Department of Agriculture and Commerce, and the Mississippi Farm Bureau, hosted the Spotlight State building at the Sunbelt Ag Expo, North America’s premier farm show, in October 2015.
Mississippi Small Businesses Receive Extension Support
When federal and state lending programs specifically geared toward small businesses were announced as part of the government’s response to natural disasters and COVID-19, Mississippi State University Extension Service personnel went into action to distribute information to Mississippi Main Street’s businesses, organizations, and farmers markets.
See what's new in Extension: Gather for First Extension Beef-Production Workshop, the Food Factor Goes Digital, Extension Professionals Share Expertise, and Extension Offers New HappyHealthy Program.
See what's new in Extension: a new monarch garden, a storytelling series will begin, the Garden Expo highlights Extension education, and Keep America Beautiful recognizes MSU Extension.