Winter 1990 // Volume 28 // Number 4 // Futures // 4FUT1

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The Future of the 1890's


L. R. Hughes
Extension Community Development State Specialist
Lincoln University
Jefferson City, Missouri

In 1862, as most Extension faculty and staff know, President Abraham Lincoln signed into law the Morrill Land-Grant College Act, now referred to as the 1862 Morrill Act. That first land-grant college act gave land (but no federal dollars) to the states, while the Second Morrill Act (as we now know it) - passed 100 years ago in 1890 - was introduced to permit direct, annual appropriations to each state and territory for support of its land-grant colleges.

This second act provided for continuing federal funding needed to support agricultural and mechanical arts education for all races. And, while prohibiting racial discrimination in the admissions policies of land-grant institutions, the 1890 act allowed for separate but equal institutions in those states that wouldn't admit blacks into their 1862 institutions.

These funds were supposed to be equitably, but not necessarily equally, divided between the two institutions in those 17 states that chose to have a second land-grant institution called an 1890 College.1 Generally, the 1890 institutions "were founded on a tenuous financial base and received little consistent support until the 1960s."2 In fact, many of the historically black land-grant institutions received no federal funding until fiscal year 1967 for research and later in fiscal year 1972 for Extension. Today, few, if any, 1890 institutions receive the level of state support for their 1890 Extension programs that 1862 institutions do. Since the 1890 institutions have been more closely associated with federal funding, this may in part explain the difference in titles for those who manage Extension programs in the two systems. Generally, those who are responsible for Extension programs at 1890 institutions "officially" carry the title of "administrator," while at 1862 universities the corresponding title is "director."

This year, as part of the historically black, land-grant institutions' centennial celebrations, the federal administrator of the United States Department of Agriculture's Cooperative Extension Service, Myron Johnsrud, and the associate dean and administrator of North Carolina A&T State University's component of North Carolina's Agriculture Extension Service, Dan Godfrey, agreed to answer a few questions while discussing the future of the 1890's. Their half-hour conversation was recorded and edited specifically for the Journal of Extension.

Dan Godfrey (left) and Myron Johnsrud discussing the 1890 agenda in Athens, Georgia.

HUGHES: Please describe the 1890 programmatic role today.

GODFREY: First of all, we think the kinds of things we're doing need to be effective in making contact with the hard-to-reach audiences - rural or urban-and must also continue to be tailored to the specific needs of our diverse audiences. In other words, we need to be certain they're relevant to the people we serve within their environment. Where teaching takes place is as important as the technologies and techniques we use. Of course, a need exists to devise more relevant and diversified strategies for implementing many of the programs currently offered by our 1890's. We'll want to continue most of the kinds of programs we've offered for almost two decades as they relate to the 1890's.

JOHNSRUD: I think it's an appropriate observation that the 1890 institutions have targeted their Extension programs quite well as you look across our land-grant system. And, one of the hallmarks that Dan mentioned is the hard-to-reach and limited-resource farmers and families. In non-1890 institution states, the Extension Services must and do serve these same audiences. In addition, the 1890 institutions have become quite specialized in aquaculture and the arena of goat production for food and fiber that are just examples of targeting - a strength that one builds on.3

HUGHES: Are you suggesting we continue these programs in the 1990s with no changes?

JOHNSRUD: I don't think that would be a fair statement; things are changing all the time. I think, and Dan would probably be the first to say, that there have been significant changes in the 1890 Extension programs in the last two decades, just as there have been in other institutions that conduct Extension programming. As always, I think any organization builds on its strengths and we know the 1890 administrators have had intense discussions about future priorities on which to focus. One advantage where two or more land-grant institutions exist in one state is an opportunity to serve specialized audiences.

HUGHES: So in those states where we have 1890's, should historical black, land-grant institutions be targeting some of those special audiences that 1862 institutions may not be?

GODFREY: Where we have the 1890's, we have an opportunity to look at expanding our resources and hopefully reaching even more needy people. We also have unique kinds of faculty and staff employed who have the ability to help identify special needs, then target and focus our resources to address their needs. To prepare for the challenges of the '90s, we addressed some of those issues at this year's 1890 meeting in Atlanta, where all our 1890 institutions' Extension staffs assembled for the first time ever. There we began the strategic planning process that included strategies for the future. Our focus was guided to a large degree by the social and economic conditions of the future. We obviously looked at the circumstances surrounding the issues we've selected to address: youth at risk, drug abuse, and the needs of small minority farmers as well as other special audience types. The '90s pose a challenge particularly for us in the 1890 institutions to more clearly articulate what some of these opportunities are and more aggressively design programs tailored to meet special needs.

HUGHES: How do the roles of the 1890/1862 programs complement each other in carrying out a single state program of Extension work?

GODFREY: Again, the job to be done is a big one. It's going to take all the resources we can muster in both the 1890 and 1862 institutions. As we look at the 16 states with two land-grant institutions (three in Alabama), each 1890 and 1862 has successfully focused on a special niche in terms of programmatic activities. At the same time, we've worked cooperatively to achieve an even greater impact on as many people as possible. Especially here in North Carolina, we've jointly developed administrative operating policies to make certain there's coordination between our two land-grant institutions, thus ensuring that coordinated programs are delivered to the people of this state. I think this is true for most of the 16 states in which the 1890's are located.

JOHNSRUD: One addition: a comprehensive statewide plan of work exists between 1890 and 1862 institutions within the same state which is necessary to receive federal funding for the Extension function. And, as Dan has so clearly stated, there's more to do and more needs to be met than there are resources with which to do so. This again is one of the advantages you have with two or more land-grant institutions: more resources with which to work.

HUGHES: You both agree that in those 16 states with two or more land-grant institutions, the two systems have strengthened the national Cooperative Extension System.

JOHNSRUD: Definitely.

GODFREY: I'd also say it has strengthened it.

JOHNSRUD: These multiple systems, however, haven't been without their administrative challenges over the years. With the increased attention and visibility the 1890's are receiving in this centennial year, I think that the two types of land-grant institutions strengthen our entire Extension System. We depend on one another. When one enjoys success, the other does also. It should be that way, but this doesn't mean there won't be times of trying challenges in the future that are all part of viable partnerships.

GODFREY: I agree. I don't think the citizens of our states are concerned about which programming comes from which institution. They're just interested in receiving good information to help them make decisions to improve the quality of their lives.

HUGHES: The 1862 universities in states where their counterpart 1890 institutions receive little or no state support for Extension programming may feel that helping historically black institutions to gain state funding dilutes 1862 state funding. Similarly, 1890 institutions faced in May 1990 with the possibility that 22 Tribal Community Colleges might find their way into the 1890 federal funding package feel a very real possibility that their funding from Congress could be diluted. Nevertheless, do you feel 1862 schools should take a more active and open role in helping 1890's receive state funding for 1890 Extension programs?

GODFREY: State budgets, particularly here in North Carolina, are tight but at the same time we've seen a new awareness and interest in terms of the state legislature for supporting our 1890 efforts. One other element I want to mention is county level support, which in a few instances is fairly substantial to even out 1890 funded efforts - at least in North Carolina. Since 1974, nearly all of our local positions are cost-shared with the county, even though state support hasn't been at that same level. However, in terms of state support, we've seen a new awareness, interest, and desire come forward with state dollars even though we in North Carolina are almost in a budget deficit situation. In two or three other states, the 1890's may be receiving state funds for Extension for the first time. As to whether we should expect our 1862 sister institutions to help us in this effort, we simply have to recognize that the 1862's have their own agendas, which doesn't mean we wouldn't greatly welcome any support from them in this regard.

JOHNSRUD: This is a question of policy that's really state-specific and I consider it less than appropriate for a person in my job to take a position on this question. At the same time, we need to recognize that what was 20 years ago, 10 years ago, or even five years ago in terms of sources of funding for the various land-grant functions, at either a 1862 or 1890 institution, has been changing. Where it's headed we don't really know at this juncture.

HUGHES: Do you feel that the 1890's should be designated the LEAD institution for certain program emphasis within their state, that is, the small farm programs, teen pregnancy, or EFNEP?

JOHNSRUD: I believe in some states this already is the case. As I said earlier, as you look at what Dan called hard-to-reach or limited-resource farmers and families, it's fair to say that an institution like Dan's already is and should be the LEAD institution.

GODFREY: Again, this is a question of leadership. When I think what the word LEAD may infer at 1890's, I think we've done a pretty good job in most states assembling a group of highly trained professionals who can help to do the kinds of things that Myron was talking about earlier: targeting and focusing our attention at special audiences where our historically black 1890 institutions have unique credibility. Additional resources from whatever source would give even greater credence to these kinds of efforts. We're smaller than most, if not all, of our 1862 institutions in terms of total resources. On the other hand, we may be more flexible than our larger 1862 institutions to adjust to certain structural changes deemed necessary.

HUGHES: When thinking about some of these questions in terms of urban versus rural at Lincoln University, we've become very interested in developing urban 4-H programs to better serve our minority audiences that live primarily in Kansas City and St. Louis. Do the other 1890 schools see a need to adopt more of our established Extension programs to the urban setting?

GODFREY: Rather than urban versus rural, we look first at the data based on the poverty factor where the greatest needs appear to exist and try to focus programs there. It might be in Charlotte, Micklenburg County, our largest urban center; here in Greensboro; or maybe in our more rural counties like Halifax. If it happens to fall in both rural and urban areas, fine. For instance, nutritional education for pregnant teens exists both in rural and urban areas. That also holds true for other programs like those for six- and eight-year-olds or the child/parent community type programs where the risks are just as great regardless of where they occur.

HUGHES: In Missouri, as I've said earlier, St. Louis and Kansas City have our largest concentration of black audiences. We also have low numbers of blacks that have traditionally been involved in Missouri's 4-H programs. Therefore, a lot of thought has been given to involving more Kansas City and St. Louis youth in 4-H programs.

GODFREY: Well, we try to take a broader view of youth work. Preferably, we try to do it within the context of 4-H. At the same time, we have community-based activities for youth in public housing programs, and programs of that sort, that are still a part of our youth development efforts that may not necessarily fit into the traditional 4-H programs.

JOHNSRUD: I feel we often get to thinking about program comparisons based on rural versus urban, farm versus nonfarm, etc. That approach to decisions really doesn't take us very far. We've got to look at issues. I agree with Dan that we first look at where the needs are. It's a little bit like the food and fiber chain: there are producers, consumers, people who do the marketing, and people who dispose of by-products. There are a variety of issues that surround the clientele within the food and fiber chain. This may be a more useful approach than programming around rural versus urban, farm versus nonfarm because rural, urban, farm and nonfarm are involved in the food and fiber chain. This same programming concept may well apply to the 1890-1862 university partnership.


1. There were 17 historically black, land-grant institutions in 17 states: Alabama (a second Alabama institution became eligible for 1890 funding in 1972), Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, and West Virginia. With the loss of the 1890 institution designation in West Virginia, there are today 17 historically black institutions in 16 states receiving 1890 funding; two in Alabama.

2. Wayne D. Rasmussen, Taking the University to the People: Seventy-Five Years of Cooperative Extension (Ames: Iowa State University Press, 1989), p. 24.

3. In other words, the 1890's are more focused on the small farm family/producer as well as the animals and crops typical to that agricultural segment.