UNHCE's history, mission, values and vision


The University of New Hampshire Cooperative Extension provides New Hampshire citizens with research-based education and information, enhancing their ability to make informed decisions that strengthen youth, families, and communities, sustain natural resources, and improve the economy.

Cooperative Extension derives its name from partnership structure which combines federal, state, and county funding. This “cooperative” effort ensures all people have local access to their state university and the knowledge and resource available to address needs and problems. The principal partner is the University of New Hampshire. As a state land-grant university it is charges by Congress to conduct resident instruction, research, and outreach to people beyond the classroom.

The CE grew out of the U.S. Congress’ concern for the education of the average citizen. Prior to the Civil War, very few college courses addressed the problem of citizens who made their livelihood from agriculture. In 1862, however, Congress passed the Morrill Act, which provided for a university in every state which would educate citizens in agricultural and mechanical fields. These colleges are known today as “Land-Grant Universities.”

Congress soon realized that to be effective, the educational function of land-grant universities must be supplemented with research capability. Consequently, it passed the Hatch Act in 1887. This act provided for the establishment of facilities where colleges could conduct research into agricultural, mechanical, and related problems faced by rural citizenry.

Finally, in order to spread the benefits of the land-grant universities into even the most rural and remote parts of each state, Congress passed the Smith Lever Act of 1914. This act provided for the establishment of the Cooperative Extension Service.

As a result of the Smith Lever Act, there are now Extension offices in every county which serve to “extend” to the public the information which has been developed on the campuses and research stations of the land-grant universities. In fact, Extension agents are considered members of the university faculties, since their role is primarily educational. In all states where the program exists, Master Gardeners are trained and supervised by Cooperative Extension. When you work as a Master Gardener, you are acting as a representative of Cooperative Extension.


UNH Cooperative Extension strengthens people and communities in New Hampshire by providing trusted knowledge, practical education and cooperative solutions.


  • Our position as a primary outreach unit of UNH, one of the nation’s leading comprehensive land-, sea- and space-grant universities.
  • Our formal partnerships at the county, state, regional and national levels, helping us to serve N.H. people.
  • Our collaborations, formal and informal working relationships with University faculty, individuals and local, state and regional partners.
  • Our volunteers, their knowledge, contributions and commitment to our mission.
  • Our responsibility to involve citizens in identifying the needs of diverse audiences and tailoring our educational programs to meet those high-priority needs.
  • Our accessibility to engage learners where they are and when they are available, providing diverse educational opportunities, and reaching out to new audiences.
  • Our accountability to N.H. citizens and decision-makers, ensuring that our educational efforts remain relevant, efficient, grassroots-based and continuously evaluated.
  • Our staff comprises well-educated, informed, resourceful professionals with the expertise and desire to work collaboratively. They are committed to accomplishing our mission through applied research, proven and innovative delivery methods, and new technologies.


For over 100 years, UNH Cooperative Extension’s innovative, energetic
and connected staff and volunteers have been developing and promoting
contemporary, practical education to meet New Hampshire’s needs.
As we look ahead to the next 100 years of service to New Hampshire’s
people and communities, we will build upon our productive and
accomplished history in the following ways:

• We will keep our longstanding promise to meet people where
they are by using effective technologies, online learning
platforms and face-to-face interactions that match the ways
people learn and engage, while continuing to provide the
customized, in-person programming and assistance that is the
hallmark of our services.

• We will forge new connections and relationships with people who
are unaware or under-served by our programming, while bringing
people with diverse perspectives, experiences and expertise
together to find practical solutions to the issues they care about.

• We will rise to the new challenges facing our state, including the
growing impacts of climate change and our aging population,
while continuing to provide the expert resources and advice in
established focus areas that so many rely on.

This vision meaningfully reflects our core values: passion for service,
relationship-driven engagement, responsiveness,