Panhandle Center to celebrate U of Nebraska’s 150th

 SCOTTSBLUFF, Neb. – The Panhandle Research and Extension Center will celebrate the University of Nebraska’s 150th Birthday today (Friday, May 10) with an open house event in the afternoon.

The celebration begins at 1:30 p.m. at the Panhandle Center, 4502 Avenue I, Scottsbluff. Ronnie Green, University of Nebraska-Lincoln Chancellor, will be the featured speaker at 1:45 p.m.

Also on the agenda are a band performance by Gering High School, a choral performance by Scottsbluff High School, and cake made by the Culinary Club from Scottsbluff High.  “Nifty 150” ice cream from the UNL Dairy Store on East campus, made especially for the N 150 celebration, will be served.

Tours of the laboratories, greenhouses, and displays will highlight the work being done at the Panhandle Center.

A traveling exhibit highlighting the University of Nebraska–Lincoln’s 150-year history will be on display during the open house. The traveling exhibit features key moments in the university’s history — from influential alumni, legendary athletic programs and cultural contributions to agricultural, technological and science innovation and environmental stewardship. Scottsbluff will be the exhibit’s fourth stop outside Lincoln in a year-long tour throughout Nebraska.

Finally, a special announcement will reveal details about a new scholarship fund established by the NU Foundation for Panhandle high school students.

For more information on the university’s sesquicentennial celebration, visit

The University of Nebraska was chartered on Feb. 15, 1869, and charged with its land-grant mission of public education and service to Nebraska. The actual anniversary date of the University’s charter was observed in Lincoln and statewide with several events in February. Nebraskans statewide were urged to show their support with the Glow Big Red campaign. But Extension offices around the state are continuing to sponsor N 150 celebrations for local residents throughout the year.

Originally, the University of Nebraska was located entirely on the Lincoln campus. But as the years passed, the University extended its reach throughout the state by establishing extension offices in many of Nebraska’s 93 counties to share research-based knowledge, especially in agriculture and home arts.

Research stations also were established in several locations around the state to conduct research in Nebraska’s widely varying climate and geography, addressing local priorities.

Jack Whittier, Director of Research and Extension for the Panhandle District, said the Scottsbluff event brings the birthday celebration to Nebraskans who are far from the original campus.

“Nebraska is a big state, and we realize that being 400 miles from Lincoln campus sometimes limits how involved western Nebraskans can actively participate in events like the 150th anniversary.  So, we determined to host a western Nebraska N|150 celebration to show off what the university is doing in the Panhandle,” he said. “While agriculture is still a key part of our mission, we invite community members who may not have been to the Center to come check out the resources of the university that are in your own backyard.”

Whittier is Director of Research and Extension for the Panhandle Center and 16-county Panhandle Extension District. Jeff Bradshaw is Associate Director.

The Panhandle Research and Extension Center was established in 1910 as the Scotts Bluff Experimental Substation. The original location was a quarter-section of ground five miles east of Mitchell jointly homesteaded by the University of Nebraska Experiment Station and the U.S. Department of Agriculture on land provided by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, which had just constructed the
North Platte Project.

The North Platte Project, one of the first reclamation projects in the West, provides irrigation, hydro power, flood control, and recreation to a 111-mile stretch along the North Platte River in Wyoming and western Nebraska. After irrigation came to the North Platte Valley, farmers needed research-based information on crop rotations, farming methods, and livestock production in the valley.

Initial research was in the area of crop production under gravity irrigation. Studies in sheep, swine, dairy, and beef production, in addition to many other crop areas, soon followed. The 800-acre Experimental Range in Sioux County was deeded to the University of Nebraska by President Woodrow Wilson in 1918. Satellite agricultural laboratories at Alliance (since closed) and Sidney were added.

The headquarters of the Panhandle Station moved to the current location (the site of the former Hiram Scott College campus) following Hiram Scott’s closing in the 1970s. To reflect the University’s involvement throughout the Panhandle, the name was officially changed to the Panhandle Research and Extension Center in 1985. Extension and research missions were integrated.

Today, the Panhandle Research and Extension Center houses 12 faculty members with appointments in UNL’s Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources (IANR), in addition to office support and research support staff. It also is the location of the Scotts Bluff County Extension Office. Several other organizations have offices in the center, including the Nebraska Business Development Center, the Nebraska Dry Bean Commission, Nebraska Dry Bean Growers Association, ESU 13 Head Start, and the Bird Conservancy of the Rockies.

Many of the programs still focus on agriculture, the region’s largest industry. And 4-H has become a common way for Nebraskans to have their first experience with their land-grand university. But in 2019 Nebraska Extension also provides programming with research-based information in community environment; community vitality; food, nutrition and health; and the learning child.


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