University of Nebraska Celebrates Century of Extension


The University of Nebraska celebrates a milestone, with a century of education in each of Nebraska's 93 counties, helping farmers and ranchers and training the next generation through 4-H.

"It's really helped make our decisions with our cow herd," John Hanson of Lexington said.

As the name implies, Cooperative Extension is an extension of what happens on campus at the University of Nebraska.

Dr. Chuck Hibberd, Dean of Extension said, "We deliver research based information and that's part of the reason we hire masters and Ph. D folks because they've been trained to interpret research based information."

The same information delivered at Husker Harvest days and the Nebraska State Fair is available anytime.

Hibberd said, "We're using technology to add value to our work. We have about 15 different apps that are up right now. If you want to look at aphids in soybeans, or body scoring conditions in cows, those kinds of things, those apps are out there."

Apps don't replace the office at your local fairgrounds or courthouse.

"We use those to add value to the face to face programming we do," Hibberd said. "We still believe extension is personal. We want to engage with real people, understand their issues, and opportunities, but we also understand more and more people want to gather information 24/7 365 at their convenience when they need it."

Farmers like John Hanson say it's a great resource. something he was reminded of as he learned about trends in the cattle business at a recent workshop.

He said, "I serve on the Extension Board in Dawson County so I have an idea of what they do do, from the presentations they've had today, they've done a good job of presenting what they do do for our state. It's really helpful."

Even 4–H has changed. Hibberd said one in three Nebraska children of 4-H age are involved, and in ways no one could have dreamed of a century ago.

He said, "They're still engaged in livestock projects and ag projects and the other things we've traditionally done, but now they're looking at robotics, what it takes to be a scientist."

100 years after the Smith–Lever Act created extension across the country, the focus remains the same.

Hibberd said it's all about providing unbiased information farmers and families can rely on.

"Research is the key," he said.

Nebraska got things rolling a few years before the Smith–Lever Act. The first Nebraska office was in Merrick County.