Iowa Senate Resolution Celebrates Cooperative Extension

The Iowa Senate unanimously passed a bipartisan resolution March 27 celebrating the 100th anniversary of the Smith-Lever Act, the founding legislation of the nationwide Cooperative Extension System.

“We are honored and humbled that the Iowa Senate took this action,” said Cathann Kress, vice president for Iowa State University Extension and Outreach. “With this resolution the Iowa Senate encourages Iowans to observe and celebrate the centennial of the Smith-Lever Act, focused on continuing an innovative and sustainable future for extension education in Iowa and nationally.”

In 1914 Congress passed the Smith-Lever Act, which established Cooperative Extension, the nationwide transformational education system operating through land-grant universities in partnership with federal, state and local governments. In Iowa, Cooperative Extension is part of Iowa State University Extension and Outreach.

Extension work in Iowa first began in 1903, when a group of Sioux County farmers cooperated with Iowa State University to improve seed corn. They were first in the nation, establishing the “extension idea” — taking the land-grant university out to the people.

Iowa counties began organizing for extension work in 1912, two years ahead of the Smith-Lever Act. Today elected extension councils in every county partner with ISU Extension and Outreach to bring research-based education to their citizens.

“ISU Extension and Outreach is university-wide. This allows us to focus the total resources of the university on issues that affect all of Iowa, rural and urban," said Kress. "Our programs in Agriculture and Natural Resources, Community Economic Development, Human Sciences and 4-H Youth Development allow us to bring a wide array of educational programs to our citizens across the state. We’re extending even more of Iowa State to Iowans as we expand our ability to provide research-based education that meets their needs.

The Iowa Senate resolution was passed during ISU Extension and Outreach Week, March 23-29. County celebrations have been taking place across the state throughout the week. On March 29 the “Young Iowans Speak” forum is occurring in Ames – the first of 13 state-level events planned across the country to learn how extension services can best meet the needs of citizens over the next 100 years. Twenty-five young Iowans, ages 18–35, have been invited to engage in a conversation about the future of Iowa.

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