Mississippi State University President Mark E. Keenum delivered the 2014 Seaman A. Knapp Memorial Lecture in memory of “The Father of Extension” at the annual meeting of the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU) in Orlando, Florida, in November.
Keenum’s lecture focused on the historic and future role of Cooperative Extension in helping producers, consumers, families and communities find science-based solutions to the challenges they face.
“We can look back with pride and satisfaction on what Extension has accomplished during its first century,” Keenum said. “And while we can scarcely guess what the world of 100 years hence will look like, we can have considerable confidence that a system of helping people learn by doing where they live and work can make it a better place.”
The Seaman A. Knapp Lecture is one of three rotating lectures presented by the APLU and U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) honoring three historic Land-Grant University figures: Seaman A. Knapp, Justin Smith Morrill, and William Henry Hatch. Nominations for this prestigious award are submitted by land-grant universities, stakeholders, foundations, public interest groups and international organizations.
Keenum discussed how American universities, and land-grant institutions in particular, are well equipped to help governments, international organizations, the private business sector, and nongovernmental organizations in addressing pervasive global problems such as vitamin deficiencies, access to clean water, hunger and malnutrition.
“We have only scratched the surface of what research, extension and teaching at academic institutions will be able to contribute in the fight against world hunger in the years ahead, improving the health, safety and security of millions,” Keenum said. “Our challenge is to bring our resources to bear on critical global issues. One of the greatest tools at our disposal is the Extension model,” he added.
Knapp’s success as a national leader of the Farm and Home Demonstration System helped bring about the Smith-Lever Act of 1914, which resulted in the creation of the Cooperative Extension Service in every state.