Agricultural education in America is comparatively new. Previous to 1870 but few colleges of agriculture existed in this country. During the period between 1870 and about 1890, interest was awakened in this field of education. Many of the agricultural colleges graduated their first classes along in the seventies. Excepting a few men who had been trained in chemistry, as applied to agriculture, there were almost no instructors who had received what we now regard as an agricultural education. The instruction known as agricultural, then consisted of lectures on familiar farm practices, frequently supplemented by manual labor on the part of the student. Text books were few, and the preparation of new ones was slow.
Agricultural education under these conditions lagged, and how to encourage interest became a serious problem with the colleges. Educators insisted that the teaching should be largely based on pure science, and it was often difficult for the students to see the application.
Recognizing this lack of interest, a few Western colleges conceived the plan of giving short winter courses of a popular nature, in which practical laboratory instruction should be given. Work in dairying, horticulture, and live stock judging first received attention. This practical training was most favorably regarded by the students. These winter courses grew rapidly in popularity, and paved the way for more attractive forms of instruction for the regular students.
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