Jerry Apps of Madison, retired county Extension 4-H and agriculture agent, UW professor emeritus and author, says three important pieces of legislation provided for the creation of the Cooperative Extension Service and 4-H on the national level:
•President Abraham Lincoln signed the Morrill Act in 1862, during the Civil War. The act established land-grant universities. UW-Madison is the land-grant institution for Wisconsin.
• In 1887, the Hatch Act was passed. This legislation provided funding for research stations at each land-grant institution. The ag experiment station in Madison was established before the Hatch Act
• In 1914, the Smith-Lever Act provided budget support from USDA for Extension functions at the land-grant institutions."This was the beginning of the three-way partnership of state, county and federal governments; thus, Cooperative Extension was born," Apps says. "It was one of the most creative educational programs ever put together. The USDA, the University of Wisconsin and the county government all three entities contributed money to the support of the county Extension office. People mistakenly when they hear about Cooperative Extension think it is about co-ops. It is not it is about cooperation."