Wednesday, December 3, 2014

How to Get Vocational Agriculture Taught in the Schools, 1921

From the Dec. 16, 1921, issue of The Elizabeth City Independent

A short talk on the teaching of vocational agriculture in public schools, given by Roy A. Thomas at the State Live Stock Meeting in this city the other day, aroused the interest of many farmers throughout the county and Mr. Thomas has already had many inquiries as to how vocational agriculture may be acquired for this county. In a letter to this newspaper this week Mr. Thomas says:

“In order that you may acquaint the people of the county with the provisions of the vocational act, I am giving you briefly the procedure to be used in introducing this work.

If there are at least 20 farm boys enrolled in a rural high school who are interested in studying agriculture, a department of vocational agriculture may be introduced in that school according to the following plan:

“The State Board for Vocational Education will pay three-fourths of the total salary of the teacher in agriculture, who must be employed on a 12-months basis.

“The local community must pay the other fourth of the teacher’s salary and furnish approximately $250 worth of laboratory equipment the first year.

“We are planning to start 15 new agricultural schools next fall and it is our policy to introduce the work in counties where there are no schools at the present time. We can put the work in Pasquotank County provided the county superintendent makes application within the next few months.”

Mr. Thomas is the State Supervisor of Vocational Agriculture.

Agricultural Education
The General Assembly of 1911 passed what is known as the State Farm-Life School Act. For several years thereafter special schools for the teaching of agriculture and home economics were established in various parts of the State, some under the County-Wide Act, more under what is known as the Guilford County Act, which makes the department of agriculture and home economics a part of the high school work.

In 1918 there were 21 such schools in operation, some in strictly rural communities, others in villages, without any survey of the community as to whether or not such a school was needed. In many cases these schools were allowed to open with practically no equipment either as to live-stock or indoor equipment. As a result, the effectiveness of the schools was not what was expected. Those with adequate land and equipment established in communities where there was a real demand on the part of the patrons for this type of training, have met with a degree of success. Others which were established with the chief purpose of securing additional State aid for the high school have been abandoned. Several with only a few acres as a farm have found it impractical to try to maintain a school farm on so small an area and have abandoned the Farm Life School and established what we term as Departments of Vocational Agriculture in the high school.

As a result of these changes, there are today only 12 farm-life schools, several of which will be transformed into departments before the opening of another session. In addition to these 12, there are 19 departments of vocational agriculture in white schools and 13 similar departments in Negro schools. The development of agricultural education in secondary schools will undoubtedly be along the line of departments in the rural high schools, these departments being established after a survey of the community has determined the fact that there is a real need for the teaching of agriculture. The departments established up to the present use the home project plan for the practical work, and have proved very successful and popular.

What Farmers Think of It
For the purpose of finding out what the people in the communities in which the agricultural schools are located think of the agricultural work, a questionnaire was sent to 186 farmers, and 180 replies were received. Every reply contained favorable comment on the value of the work. Not a single farmer stated that he did not think the work worth while. As indicated by the replies the following are some of the chief benefits the communities have derived from the schools:

1.       The boys are more interested in the farm.

2.       More boys are remaining on the farms. It is interesting to note that two-thirds of the replies stated that agricultural work had been the means of keeping more boys on the farms.

3.       Boys remained in school longer.

4.       Farming conditions in the communities have been improved.

5.       Individual aid to farmers has brought beneficial results.

Three hundred sixty-seven boys representing 12 of the schools in this state put on an exhibit at the recent State Fair, which is said to have been the best exhibit at the Fair.

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