Crawford, Robert S. (ed.) / The Wisconsin alumni magazine
Volume 26, Number 3 (Jan. 1925)
Alumni news, pp. 103-105
Russell, H. L.
Origin of short course in agriculture, p. 105
THE SHORT COURSE ANNE ELIZABETH EDWARDS, '16, died in November at Muirdale Sanitorium, Wauwatosa. Miss Edwards was the first woman to receive the science medal at the University and was lebeted to Phi Beta Kappa with the highest average of any student who had graduated up to 1916. Fo1lowine her graduation, Miss Edwards taught in Madison Central high school from 1916 to 1922. She was made head of the science department of the East Side high schoolupon its opening in 1922, and served through the year 1922-1923 when she was overcome by'illness. Her mother, Mrs. Anna Edwards, 415 W. Wilson St., Madison, survives. DR. SAMUEL PLANTZ, LL.D. '19, president of Lawrence College, Appleton, since 1894, and a leading state educator, passed away at Sturgeon Bay on November 14. Death was due to heart failure. Dr. Plantz is survived by his wife and two daughters. ORIGIN OF SHORT COURSE IN AGRICULTURE By DEAN H. L. RUSSELL, '88 W 1)~'..~-~iN±I Wlb- LlLU tIAbL LVui~gUiii a new type of agricultural instruc- Stion. Curiously enough it was not proposed by agricultural educators but by business men. Colonel Vilas and Judge Keyes, then~regents of the University, saw the necessity of devising some type of agricultural education that would meet the real needs of the farmers of that time. The agricultural work which was then under the auspices of the University was confined mostly to the work of the Experiment Sta- tion which was oiganized in 1881. Colonel Vilas called to his library one evening Professors Henry and Armsby, who then made up the entire agricultural faculty of the University, and laid before- them his plan of a brief course of instruction that could be given to farm boys during the win- ter months. No university up to this time had ever attempted to take agricultural students without adequate high school training for entrance and give them less than a full collegiate year of instruction for a period of approximately four years. In those days Wisconsin farmers were struggling to master their financial difficul- ties. In'the seventies chinch bugs and low prices for wheat had plunged almost every farmer into debt. Only here and there a mui"Uutr.u Lu U1igntt o1 tle kil~liVurl-Zy, iLs cradle was as in a manger. In the winter of 1885 the work was first given to 19 young men who registered for the twelve weeks course. The next year even a smaller number of students appeared for the work. The growth of the course for several years was relatively slow. Finally. Professor Henry secured the services of R. A. Moore, then superintendent of schools in Kewaunee County, to take charge of the course and spend his entire time in present- ing the merits of this work to the farmers of the state. Under the stimulus of Moore, who soon came to be known as the "Daddy of the Short Course" this course of instruc- tion developed in a remarkable way. The character of the work was definitely and positively practical. The course of instruc- tion related itself particularly to those problems that were directly applicable to Wisconsin- farm conditions. The newly developed knowledge acquired in the Ex- periment Station was applied -wherever possible. Soon the Short Course became so definitely established that its influence throughout the state in agricultural de- velopment became recognized. ; Probably there is no single factor in agri- cultural education which has been fraught difficulties.7 Their laboý,rl proble-m- _wa~s largely solved by the work of their own families. It was, therefore, exceedingly difficult for the father to allow his son to leave the farm for any extended period sufficient to secure a college education. Colonel Vilas was of the opinion that a course might be arranged which would be given during the winter months when farm work was slack, and which would be open to all farm boys, regardless of their previous scholastic qualifications. Such an audacious educational proposal flew in the face of all academic tradition. No university had ever had the temerity to try such a radical measure. Farmers were apathetic, if not positively unsympathetic with an effort to give academic instruction to their sons. Vilas and Keyes in their emphatic way made it obvious to the then existing agri- cultural staff that such a course should be tried. Armsby said it would not work. Henry said it must be tried, or he- and Armsby would probably lose their jobs, so the Short Course in Agriculture in Wiscon- sin was born. Scoffed at by the farmers themselves, spurned by the academician as ment and improvement of Wisconsin agri- culture as has the Short Course. Over six thousand students have taken this brief course of winter instruction. By far the larger number of these students have found their way back directly on the Wisconsin farms, which, of course, is not the case with the higher type of academic instruction. In this way the state has received directly the benefit of this training more than from any other university course.' Ninety per cent of its graduates are in some phase of agricultural work and over eighty per cent are living on Wisconsin farms. The rural leadership of Wisconsin in a very large measure is in the hands of the graduates of this course. In the halls of the legislature, on the boards of commissions of the state, in the public service, are frequently found its graduates. From a twelve weeks winter course, this course has now grown to thirty weeks duration, being given for two winters of fifteen weeks each, and in 1922 a third winter of optional work was added so that it is now possible for Wisconsin students to secure a fairly adequate agricultural educa- tion during these winter months when farm operations are at a minimum. (To be cosiid) A+1, - --1. 4- 4'h- A_-1__ 1+ +1 11 1" . II I1 ?? . .. .. " .L TT 105 + m "I" 4PI i'l i" "IL y l"l T "IL ? " 11 l'+ * l, _ *
This material may be protected by copyright law (e.g., Title 17, US Code).| For information on re-use, see http://digital.library.wisc.edu/1711.dl/Copyright