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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."

LeeAlthough 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.

HatchIn 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.

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News

Girl wading knee-deep in water measuring its depth with a yardstick
Filed Under: Undergraduate Apprenticeship Program, Environment May 26, 2021

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.

Smoke rises from a mostly burned structure.
Filed Under: County Extension Offices April 8, 2021

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.

Filed Under: 4-H, About Extension January 5, 2021

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.

Filed Under: 4-H, Extension Administration, Extension Administrative Council, Extension Leadership Council December 18, 2020

Longtime Mississippi State University Extension Service administrator and MSU Extension professor Paula Threadgill announced her retirement effective Dec. 31, 2020.

A daughter and her mother wearing masks in a rodeo building with two lambs leashed beside them.
Filed Under: 4-H, 4-H Livestock Program, Extension Administration September 15, 2020

Many of Mississippi’s annual traditions were interrupted this year due to COVID-19, but the Mississippi State Fair Livestock Show will go on.

Success Stories

A man with hands in his pockets stands smiling in front of a large concrete building.
Extension Program Development Teams, Economic Development
Volume 2 Number 3

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.

A man stands next to an ATV with a young boy sitting on the seat.
About Extension
Volume 2 Number 2

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.

Three signs with “Handwashing Station Here,” “Keep a 6-foot distance from others,” and "Hand Sanitizer Here” next to a large watermelon sculpture.
4-H, Disaster Response-Youth, Extension Administration, Community, City and County Government, Disaster Response, Family, Children and Parenting, MSU Extension Head Start, Health, Coronavirus
Volume 6 Number 2

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.

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About Extension, Beef, Marketing and Business Planning, Rural Development, Food, Food Safety, Health, Nutrition, Rural Health
Volume 4 Number 3

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. 

A white sign with dark green lettering reads, “Monarch Waystation: This site provides milkweeds, nectar sources, and shelter needed to sustain monarch butterflies as they migrate through North America. Certified and registered by Monarch Watch as an official Monarch Waystation. Create, Conserve, & Protect Monarch Habitats.”
Wildlife Youth Education, About Extension, Master Gardener, Insects, Lawn and Garden, Flower Gardens, Herb Gardens, Places for Wildlife, The Story of Plants and People, Vegetable Gardens, Urban and Community Forestry, Urban and Backyard Wildlife, Wildlife Economics and Enterprises
Volume 4 Number 2

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.

Watch

Voices From The Flood 5 | A Community Rising
Voices from the Flood

Part 5: A Community Rising

Thursday, September 17, 2020 - 8:00am
Voices From The Flood 4 | The Hidden Costs
Voices from the Flood

Part 4: The Hidden Costs

Thursday, September 10, 2020 - 8:00am
Voices From The Flood 3 | The Economic Loss
Voices from the Flood

Part 3: The Economic Loss

Thursday, September 3, 2020 - 8:00am
Voices From The Flood 2 | A Perfect Storm
Voices from the Flood

Part 2: The Perfect Storm

Thursday, August 27, 2020 - 8:00am

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