Justin Smith Morrill Scholars

Program Overview

The Justin Morrill Scholars Program is a student organization open to all UNL students. The program draws upon the life experiences and accomplishments of Justin Smith Morrill, U.S. Senator and author of the Land-Grant College Acts.
Annual Holiday Party
Morrill Scholars at their annual holiday party - one of the many opportunities
to gather each year for fun and fellowship.

Through the program, students will have the opportunity to:         

  • Embrace and engage in life-long interdisciplinary learning and education
  • Exhibit the qualities of a successful leader and act in a leadership role when appropriate
  • Plan and participate in civic engagement and service activities
  • Appreciate and articulate the importance of theLand-Grant College Acts and the role of the Land-Grant university in the modern era.

Morrill Scholars are developed through a rich variety of learning opportunities inside and outside of the classroom. During their first semester, Scholars are required to take a seminar that discusses Morrill's life and accomplishment, as well as the history of land grant universities. Outside the classroom, Scholars have the chance to participate in a variety of service projects and activities, including:

  • Engaging in research and intern opportunities with one of Nebraska's congressmen while earning class credit
  • Maintaining a local bike trail
  • Participating in charitable events, such as the Relay for Life
  • Sponsoring social events, such as the CASNR Snow Stomp Dance and Bowling and Bingo
  • Planning and enjoying several program activities, like the Spring Awards Luncheon, holiday parties and BBQs

Governor Dave Heineman
Morrill Scholars accept a proclamation from Nebraska Governor Dave
Heinemandeclaring April 14, 2010 the 200th Anniversary of

Justin Morrill's birth in Nebraska.

Scholars also have the unique opportunity to travel to Morrill's homestead in beautiful Strafford, Vermont to tour the area where Morrill grew up, complete a service project and stay with the friendly locals, all while cultivating a deeper appreciation for Morrill and the Scholars program.

Service Project
Morrill Schoalrs excavate a collapsed irrigation
tunnel as a service learning project at the Morrill
Homestead in Strafford, Vermont.

If you're on campus, check out the newly-built Justin Morrill Conference Room in Agricultural Hall. Don't forget to stop by the Dairy Store to try Morrill Orchard Medley, the program's very own ice cream created and developed by Justin Morrill Scholars! Also, check us out on facebook at "Justin Morrill Scholars: Prospective Students."

Apply to the Scholars Program
We are very excited about the Justin Smith Morrill Scholars Program and value it will add to the undergraduate experience. If you are passionate about serving the greater societal good, recognize that true success is framed within the context of integrity and ethics, and are intellectually curious, we believe the Justin Smith Morrill Scholars Program is for you. To apply, please complete the online application. If you have questions regarding the application process, please contact Sue Ellen Pegg at (402) 472-0615 or email.

 J.S. Morrill Biography

Justin S. Morrill (1810-1898) was the chief sponsor of the 1862 and 1890 Land-Grant Acts. These were the most important pieces of legislation for American higher education in the 19th century. For the first time, America's working class and minority citizens had the opportunity to pursue higher education.

Justin Morrill, born and raised in Strafford, Vermont, the son of a blacksmith, had to leave school at age 15. He desperately wanted to attend college, yet his family did not have the means to send him. This did not deter Justin's intellectual curiosity. He became self-educated in business, architecture, horticulture, and politics. He ran a general store in Strafford from 1831 to 1848, when he retired and took up farming. After a brief retirement he entered politics in 1854 and served in both the United States House of Representatives and Senate for nearly 44 years.

Morrill's 1862 Land-Grant Act, followed by the second Act in 1890, allocated the funds from the sale of federal lands to support new Land-Grant colleges and universities that taught agriculture, business, engineering, mechanics and home economics. Today the 105 Land-Grant colleges and universities have over 20 million graduates worldwide.

Related Links

Contact Information
For information about the scholars program, or to apply, contact:
Sue Ellen Pegg
(402) 472-0615
spegg2@unl.edu