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Campus and Community

Public and Land-grant Universities and the USDA at 150


A program commemorating the 150th anniversary of the founding of land-grant universities and the USDA

The year 1862 marks the founding of two types of institutions that touch the lives of people across the United States and the world every single day: public universities and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Public and land-grant universities and the USDA partner with communities to put research into action in the areas of agriculture and food, health care, sustainable living, urban and rural revitalization, and education. This year's Festival program brought these partnerships to life through demonstrations, discussions, and hands-on activities.

Visitors to the Campus and Community program:

  • Exercised their green thumbs in our garden spaces; got advice from Executive Master Gardeners and learned how to grow their own pizza garden;
  • Attended a “mini-university” class on entomology, paleontology, sustainable energy, and many other topics;
  • Explored innovative ideas that communities are using to repurpose items usually considered trash;
  • Tried a wide variety of 4-H program family activities, from gardening with heirloom seeds to robotics competitions;
  • Enjoyed community-based music and dance, which helps preserve and nurture traditional knowledge and keeps students motivated;
  • Shared stories about their personal experiences with public university and USDA programs.

Did you know?

  • President Abraham Lincoln signed the Morrill Act, which created the land-grant universities, in 1862, during the Civil War.
  • The initiator of the bill founding land-grant universities, Justin Smith Morrill, was also a regent of the Smithsonian from 1883-1898.
  • The Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU) was founded in 1887 and today serves 217 members, including universities in the land-grant system as well as public universities and associated organizations across the U.S.
    The total number of land-grant universities in the system is 105, which includes at least one university in each state and U.S. territory.
  • The Cooperative Extension Service, created through the Smith—Lever Act of 1914, is a non-formal educational program administered by the USDA and based at land-grant universities. It is designed to help people use research-based knowledge to improve their lives.
  • Land-grant universities added to the system in 1890 (including historically black colleges and universities or HBCUs) are known commonly as “the 1890s.” Native American tribal colleges were added in 1994, and are called “the 1994s.”

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