University of Missouri Extension:
100 years of making practical education available to everyone across Missouri

It’s an organization that has helped Missourians set up the first rural electric cooperatives, assisted the citizens of Joplin in recovering from the devastating 2011 tornado, works with farmers to promote the best farming practices and helps citizens start up small businesses. It trains thousands of Missouri firefighters, provides guidance on proper nutrition for families, and promotes youth development through a variety of 4-H programs.
In short, University of Missouri Extension does it all for Missourians and their communities, and it has been doing it all for the past century. It is also yet another great example of how the University of Missouri System touches Missourians in every county of our state, every day, in a variety of ways.
2014 is the 100th anniversary of Extension. It’s origins date back to the establishment of “land-grant” universities in the mid-1800’s, which were created to provide practical education to people in the working class. While the practical focus of land-grant universities like the University of Missouri made higher education more relevant to many people, the education was primarily for university students. So to make practical education truly available to all, Congress passed the Smith-Lever Act in 1914, which provided land-grant institutions federal support to offer educational programs to enhance the application of useful and practical information beyond their campuses. University of Missouri Extension was born.
Today, Extension has a local presence in every one of Missouri’s 114 counties. In Boonville, the Cooper County Extension Center is continuing the tradition of taking the University of Missouri’s research-based knowledge to people in local communities throughout our state. Programming sponsored by Extension is so comprehensive that many folks in small towns throughout Missouri may not realize that this important information to help better their lives is actually a product of the University of Missouri. But on the 100th anniversary of this pivotal organization, there has never been a better time to take a moment to appreciate what an asset Extension is, especially to rural Missouri.
Extension is organized into five areas of focus, all of which directly benefit Missouri communities, including Educational Attainment; Community, Economic, Business and Workplace Development; Environmental Concerns; Global Food Systems, and; Health Systems. But from five areas of focus come thousands of examples of how Extension improves the lives of Missourians on a daily basis.
Like the 13,000 fire and emergency service first responders that received training in 2013 from the Extension’s Fire and Rescue Training Institute, which is critical when you consider that about 80% of firefighters in Missouri, especially in rural Missouri, are volunteers. Or the 4-H activities in many Missouri towns, maintaining the long tradition of educating young people in the best practices of agriculture, but also offering many new opportunities in areas like robotics, aeronautics, e-commerce and filmmaking. Many people might not realize it, but Missouri 4-H is a University of Missouri program.
Or the wide variety of educational opportunities available to local citizens at the Cooper County Extension Center, including areas like lawn and garden, home and consumer life, nutrition and health, business and career, and emergency management. Or how Extension helped the citizens of another mid-Missouri town, Pilot Grove population 723, develop a plan to bring a much-needed grocery store to the town, negating the need for residents to have to drive long distances to buy food.
There are countless additional examples of how Extension has been providing knowledge to Missourians to help them make informed decisions about their lives for the past century. I salute this great University of Missouri asset on its 100th anniversary year of 2014, and invite you to visit your local Cooper County Extension office today.   
Tim Wolfe is president of the University of Missouri System
For more information about University of Missouri Extension, please visit  http://extension.