ISU Extension and Outreach Honors Land Grant Legacy April 17-22

Iowa State University Extension and Outreach Week celebrates education, partnerships for a strong Iowa

April 11, 2017, 8:30 am | John D. Lawrence, Laura Sternweis

AMES, Iowa – Iowans are beginning to discover their connections to Iowa’s Land Grant Legacy. They’ll have the opportunity to celebrate and share their stories during Iowa State University Extension and Outreach Week, April 17-22.

Iowa’s 100 county extension and outreach offices will host activities throughout the week sharing the legacy and demonstrating how ISU Extension and Outreach is building a strong Iowa.

A legacy from Lincoln

Iowa’s Land Grant Legacy began in 1862, when President Abraham Lincoln signed the Morrill Act. Iowa was the first state to accept the terms of the act, which provided a grant of federal land to fund a university for the people. In Iowa that land-grant university is Iowa State.

“To continue to grow our democracy, our nation needed to provide access to education about agriculture and the mechanical sciences – what we now call engineering – and other practical pursuits,” said John Lawrence, acting vice president for extension and outreach.

“People may think the land that the federal government gave to the state of Iowa is the land in Ames that the university is built upon. But it’s not,” Lawrence added.

Iowa’s land grant came from the western part of the state, which had not yet been opened for settlement when the Morrill Act was passed. The federal government granted the state of Iowa more than 200,000 acres of land to lease or sell to fund Iowa State University.

“About four years ago we started identifying the original parcels and the current landowners. We are the first state to do so,” Lawrence said.

ISU Extension and Outreach developed a website,, describing the Land Grant Legacy project. It includes a map showing the locations of the land grant parcels. Landowners may explore the website and the map to discover their connection to the Land Grant Legacy.

Stories of land and people

There’s more to Iowa’s Land Grant Legacy than the actual acres that were granted. The legacy also includes the stories of the land and the people. Over the next year, ISU Extension and Outreach will be reaching out to discover more connections to the land grant legacy throughout the university, among state leaders and with Iowans across the state.

“We want to share the legacy of the land and the people who helped to build Iowa State University and the state of Iowa,” Lawrence said.

More than 1 million benefit

ISU Extension and Outreach educational programs cover the entire life span, from Iowa’s youngest to oldest residents. More than 1 million people directly benefit from ISU Extension and Outreach educational programs each year. Extension education online reaches more than 4 million.

ISU Extension and Outreach is part of the federal Cooperative Extension Service — a network of more than 100 land-grant institutions, including Iowa State University, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture serving communities and counties across the United States. Every county in Iowa has an elected extension council that decides how to support ISU Extension and Outreach educational programs at the county level.

For more information about ISU Extension and Outreach, visit or contact any extension office.

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