In 1911, a legislative appropriation secured funds to establish two agricultural production demonstration farms. One was to be located in northern Minnesota and the other in the southern part of the state. In August 1912, the University of Minnesota’s Board of Regents purchased 246 acres of land ½ mile to the south and west of Waseca, on the edge of the city limits. The Southeast Demonstration Farm and Experiment Station began operations in 1913.
As the mission and focus of both the Minnesota Agricultural Experiment Station (MAES) and the University changed over time, name changes and land acreage increases were made in order to better accommodate specific needs and services provided. In 1925, the Southeast Demonstration and Experiment Station became the Southeast Experiment Station. In 1941, with an additional land purchase, the station totaled 598 acres. Land was set aside for the Southern School of Agriculture which admitted its first students in 1953.
In 1969, the Southern School of Agriculture evolved into the University of Minnesota Technical College-Waseca (prior to its final renaming as the University of Minnesota-Waseca), sharing land with the newly named Southern Experiment Station (SES). Finally, in 1999, the Southern Experiment Station became the Southern Research and Outreach Center (SROC), one of ten Research and Outreach Centers strategically located around the state as part of the College of Food Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences (CFANS). Today, 926 acres are dedicated to research, outreach, and extension activities.
In the early years, increased agricultural production was of paramount importance and thus, the focus of all activities. While efficient and effective production practices remain a major focus of the research, education, and outreach programs at the SROC, equally vital today are the development of new technologies and practices that have positive impacts on food production systems, human health, renewable energy, and the environment.
The overarching goal of present and future basic and applied research, education, and outreach programs at the SROC is to enhance the overall quality of life in communities across Minnesota, the United States and beyond, through social and economic development and the judicious use of resources.