In 1862, an act of Congress created the first land-grant universities to respond to a growing demand for agricultural and technical education.
The Morrill Act of 1862 granted federal land to states to establish land-grant universities that focused on the practical teaching of agriculture, science, and engineering. In 1890 and 1994, Congress expanded the Morrill Act to create additional land-grant universities in the western and plains states.
In 1914, Congress widened the reach of land-grant universities under the Smith Lever Act, which established Cooperative Extension Services to bring research from land-grant universities to farmers, consumers, and families. With Cooperative Extension, land-grant universities are able to offer their resources directly to the public.
Today, there is at least one land-grant university in every state and territory of the United States, including the District of Columbia.
The land-grant universities and their accompanying Cooperative Extension programs continue to be an important resource for our communities by creating jobs, protecting public health, and ensuring national security.