The Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources (IANR) within the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL) is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. Created in 1973 with the Legislature’s passage of LB 149, the Institute was the culmination of years of discussion by agricultural leaders, education officials, and elected leaders who were concerned agriculture was not being given proper financial support, administrative access, and prominence within the University. The legislation elevated agriculture within the university hierarchy, and in so doing assured UNL would remain a leader and relevant in agricultural research, teaching, and extension.
The Institute is unique among universities. Mike Boehm, vice-president of the university and vice-chancellor of IANR, says no state has a similar structure, although the University of Florida has taken similar efforts to elevate agriculture within its system. The IANR is composed of the College of Agriculture Sciences and Natural Resources (CASNR), the Agricultural Research Division (ARD), Nebraska Extension and the ARD and Extension components of three departments in the College of Education and Home Economics. It is comprised of about 3,200 students, 1,900 faculty and staff, and 43,000 acres of land engaged in research, teaching, and extension. Boehm says 46 percent of all research expenditures at UNL go through the IANR. The Institute’s work reaches all 93 counties.
The IANR’s faculty, staff, and students work on diverse topics including crop production, animal science, agricultural profitability, environmental sustainability, water management, rural entrepreneurship, and community development to better the state. The wisdom of Nebraska’s leaders 50 years ago in creating IANR has been proven repeatedly since 1973. Nebraska agriculture is among the nation and world’s most productive and the IANR is one reason why. Boehm notes that “wickedly, complex challenges” face agriculture and rural communities. No doubt the IANR will continue to play a vital role in meeting the challenges, advancing agriculture, supporting rural economic growth, and preparing leaders.