The Hettinger Center was established by the North Dakota Legislature in 1909, essentially as a dairy station. In the 1940s, the focus turned to sheep. Today the Hettinger Research Extension Center is the largest state-owned sheep research center in the U.S. In the 1980s, working closely with the Dickinson Research Center, the Research Extension Center broadened its focus to include crops.
The 1,165-acre Center is located on U.S. Highway 12 just west of Hettinger, North Dakota. It is four miles north of the South Dakota border and 73 miles east of Montana. Hettinger is at the center of a four-state region-North and South Dakota, Montana and Wyoming-that accounts for 21 percent of the U.S. sheep population.