Our History

Cooperative Extension was created in 1914 as an integral part of the land grant university system in this country; its historic purpose is to provide continuing information education to people in their home communities. The basic mission of the Cooperative Extension is to disseminate and encourage the application of research generated knowledge and leadership techniques to individuals, families, and communities.

New York Cooperative Extension, established in 1906 by Dean Liberty Hyde Bailey, is part of a nationwide network of partnerships encompassing 69 land grant universities and their staffs in nearly every county. This national system is supported by financial and administrative arrangements among three levels of government – federal, state, and county. Cornell University, New York’s land grant university, founded in 1865, is the knowledge base for Cooperative Extension in the state. It provides educational resources through the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and the College of Human Ecology. Extension programs based on these resources are conducted by professional staff with paraprofessional and volunteer assistance through 57 county extension associations and office in each of the five boroughs of New York City.

In 1913, the State Legislature voted its endorsement of agriculture extension with passage of Chapter 712, Laws of 1913. This was the forerunner of County Law 224, which designates responsibility for supervision of extension programs to Cornell University and provides local funding for agriculture, home economics, 4-H, and community development programs. The purpose of that appropriation was to encourage the formation of local administrative boards and contribute to their support. The first local citizen association supporting county agent work was organized in 1913 in Broome County and by the end of that year, 20 extension sponsoring groups had been started.

Cooperative Extension was officially created in 1914 with the passage of the Smith-Lever Act. The Act and its amendments are the formation of the National Cooperative Extension network mentioned above.

Last updated April 9, 2015