The University of Idaho was established by the territorial legislature as Idaho's founding, national land-grant university in 1889 a year before Idaho became a state. The university is part of Idaho's constitution.
Founded under the Morrill Act of 1862 as one of the nation's first publicly funded universities, the orginal mission called for a focus on agriculture, the mechanical arts, military science and classical studies.
Outreach efforts in the university's earliest days included moveable schools, faculty members aboard special train cars that toured Idaho to transfer research-based knowledge to improve the lives of Idaho's citizens.
By 1910, the university had established an extension office in Boise, in addition to research centers operated statewide by the Idaho Agricultural Experiment Station.
On May 8, 1914, federal legislation was signed into law that created the Cooperative Extension System.
The act passed by Congress created the program "In order to aid in diffusing among the people of the United States useful and practical information on subjects relating to agriculture, uses of solar energy with respect to agriculture, home economics, and rural energy, and to encourage the application of the same, there may be continued or inaugurated in connection with the college of colleges in each State, Territory, or possession . . ."
The law was unique in establishing a partnership among federal, state and county governments.
Today, University of Idaho Extension provides information to Idaho citizens statewide. The partnership includes 42 county offices and UI Extension faculty provide research expertise at a dozen research and extension centers across the state.