Our History

1868 College of Agriculture

The College of Agriculture was established at the University of Maine in 1868 and would go on to provide courses on animal husbandry, farm management, forestry, dietetics, household management, handwork, childcare and child welfare, home economics education, history and economics of agriculture, food processing, and horticulture. 

Over time, UMaine established additional programs in response to emerging needs and opportunities of our state. Many of which, including forestry (est. 1903), wildlife (est. 1935), nursing (est. 1939) and social work (est. 1950s), were connected to various colleges prior to their association with the College of Natural Sciences, Forestry, and Agriculture today.

1885 Maine Agricultural and Forest Experiment Station established.

In 1883, the Maine Board of Agriculture called for the establishment of a formal experiment station in Orono. With the support of state funds, the Maine Fertilizer Control and Agricultural Experiment Station was established in 1885. Through the Hatch Act of 1887, the station grew to become a federal experiment station. 

From its inception, the station has been an integral part of the college. The work in the station focused on farm and home research, including: genetics and breeding, entomology, forestry, foods, and potatoes, but as the station grew it started to expand into other areas as well like dairy and fruit. In 1888, the Station began publishing its own bulletins. A number of prominent faculty have worked at the station including pioneering entomologist Edith M. Patch

The station maintains offices and principle research laboratories, as well as the Lyle E. Littlefield Ornamentals Trial Garden and the Roger Clapp Greenhouses, on the University of Maine campus to this day. Over time, the station grew to include off-campus research facilities including Highmoor Farm in Monmouth, Blueberry Hill Farm in Jonesboro, Aroostook Farm in Presque Isle, and the J.F. Witter Teaching and Research Center and the Dwight B. Demeritt Forest in Orono and Old Town.

Today, the station is the college’s center for applied and basic research that strives to enhance the profitability and sustainability of Maine’s natural resource-based industries, protect Maine’s environment, and improve the health of its citizens. As UMaine’s largest research center, the station supports faculty members who use cutting-edge tools to address emerging and longstanding challenges in agriculture and food sciences, forestry and wood products, fisheries and aquaculture, wildlife, outdoor recreation, and rural economic development. Other research programs strive to protect Maine’s environment, promote public health, and assist rural communities. Discoveries are translated into new production methods, new pest management and disease treatments, new value-added products, new programs to improve the nutrition of Maine citizens, and new information for community leaders. The station’s use-inspired research has a proven track record for developing new knowledge that fuels innovation in Maine’s businesses and communities. 

1965 College of Life Sciences and Agriculture

The college was renamed to reflect the developing programs within the College. The objectives of the college were to provide high-quality educational opportunities in the agricultural and life sciences and to contribute to the economic, social and cultural development of Maine. Basic and applied research, coupled with extension educational techniques aimed to help groups and individuals properly manage and develop Maine’s resources: people, land, forest, water and climate. 

The college offered several baccalaureate, graduate, and associate degree programs. It was composed of the School of Forestry, which housed the wildlife curriculum and research unit, the School of Home Economics, and the departments of agricultural business and economics, agricultural engineering, animal sciences, animal pathology, bacteriology, biochemistry, botany and plant sciences, entomology, food sciences, and plant and soil sciences. Both schools and departments were considered part of the Experiment Station.

1965 Darling Marine Center established

The University of Maine had a limited marine biology center at Lamoine from 1933 to 1942, but in 1965 the purpose-built Ira C. Darling Center for Research Teaching and Service was established with support from the estate of Ira C. Darling, who provided the location at Walpole on the Damariscotta River. The center, now called the Darling Marine Center or DMC, is closely associated with the UMaine’s School of Marine Sciences.

The DMC has resident faculty who conduct research focused on aquaculture and marine fisheries; biogeochemistry and microbial ecology; conservation science and policy; invertebrate biology and biodiversity; marine archeology; and remote sensing, phytoplankton ecology, and ocean optics. In addition to being used by University of Maine researchers and students, the DMC is open to visitors and offers public education programs about Maine’s coastal and marine ecosystems. 

1988 College of Food, Agriculture and Applied Sciences

Under Dale W. Lick’s tenure as University of Maine president the University went through a reorganization which disbanded the College of Life Sciences and Agriculture and created the College of Food, Agriculture and Applied Sciences and College of Sciences.

1993 College of Natural Resources, Forestry and Agriculture

In 1993, the College of Forest Resources (est. in 1982) merged with the College of Food, Agriculture and Applied Sciences to form the College of Natural Resources, Forestry and Agriculture. 

1996 College of Natural Sciences, Forestry, and Agriculture

In 1996, the University of Maine underwent restructuring and created five new colleges, including the College of Natural Sciences, Forestry, and Agriculture. The School of Marine Sciences was established that same year. 

In 1997, School of Nursing and Department of Molecular and Biomedical Sciences joined the college. The interdisciplinary Ecology and Environmental Sciences program established in 2002.

In the following years, the School of Earth and Climate Sciences (2004), School of Biology and Ecology (2007), School of Economics (2010), School of Social Work (2011), and Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders (2011) joined the college. In 2013, three departments were combined to create the School of Food and Agriculture.

Today, the college’s multi-disciplinary combination of social, health, life, and environmental sciences empowers impactful collaborations and novel approaches to solving some of our society’s most pressing issues.

2023 College of Earth, Life, and Health Sciences

Under Diane Rowland’s tenure as dean of the college and director of the Experiment Station, the college was renamed in fall 2023 to better reflect its diverse fields of study. The name the College of Earth, Life, and Health Sciences was developed through a two-year process that engaged with faculty, staff, alumni, students and external partners. The new name was selected from a shortlist advanced by a task force of faculty, staff and students from all 12 of the college’s schools and departments. 

“The new name captures the breadth of our community’s impact. It comprehensively represents the systems and unique collaborations we foster,” said Rowland. “I am so grateful to the faculty, staff, students, partners and UMaine’s leaders who helped us develop this modern and vibrant representation of the teaching, research and service we deliver every day — to the state and the globe.”