UWP celebrates 75th anniversary of ag degree with history of ag education at Platteville

September 13, 2002

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PLATTEVILLE-With the month of October looming just around the corner, the University of Wisconsin-Platteville readies itself for the celebration of the 75th anniversary of the bachelor's degree in agriculture. To celebrate this event, a brief "History of Agricultural Education at Platteville," was compiled by Ken Killian, UWP professor of agriculture.

The history begins in 1866 with the Platteville Normal School, now UWP, and the school's educational objectives. Included among the objects is the school's mission to provide instruction in agriculture, however, no mention of agricultural education is listed in the school's catalog until 1901. In 1901, a 10-week agriculture course entitled, "Elements of Agriculture" was offered.

"The purpose of this course is to give such knowledge and training as shall fit students to teach the subject in the public schools," reads the 1901-1902 catalog. "At the same time, effort is made to interest students in country life, in the attractiveness of nature and in farm problems."

Killian's historical outline continues with early teachers of agriculture and costs of schooling. In 1914, the Department of Agriculture was established with appropriations made for equipment and additional teachers.

"Platteville is located in one of the best agricultural districts in the state," reads the 1914-1915 catalog. "The growing interest in this phase of environment lead the Board of Normal Regents to establish a special department of agriculture in the Platteville School."

Although the Platteville Normal School Department of Agriculture had been established and was a successful department, it would be another 13 years before a bachelor's degree in agricultural education would be offered. In 1927, the degree was established. A four-year course in agriculture, meeting the requirements for a secondary education, and a three-year course in agriculture were offered to students pursuing interests in agriculture.

Under the direction of F.T. Ullrich, R.F. Hints, E.J. Stoneman, W.H. Borden and W.H. Brownell, subject matter was expanded for the new degree offerings and second courses in agricultural education, soils and poultry were offered. Other new listings included entomology, plant pathology, veterinary science, feeds and feeding, general forage and bench work, journalism and gas engines.

Students striving to earn the new degrees would now be eligible to teach not only agriculture, but also biological sciences, chemistry or industrial arts in secondary schools.

"The degree in agricultural education remained the staple until 1960 when a comprehensive major in technical agriculture was offered in the Division of Arts and Sciences," stated Killian's historical compilation. "Technical agriculture was a non-teaching major. Minors were available in agricultural economics, agronomy, animal science, agricultural engineering technology and technical agriculture."

The popularity and success of the agriculture department has continued to grow, as is evident through the additional majors and minors added to the department throughout the years. The School of Agriculture now offers majors and minors in agribusiness, animal science, ornamental horticulture, soil and crop science and reclamation, environment and conservation. Agricultural education is now offered as a comprehensive teaching option or an agribusiness non-teaching option.

Killian's compilation also includes "Women in Agriculture," "Early Leadership" and "The Campus Farms," which were located where William's Fieldhouse, Ottensman Hall, the Science Building, Glenview Commons and other residential halls are now located. The history of the Pioneer Farm and Ullrich Hall are also included in the compilation.

The celebration of the 75th anniversary of the degree in agriculture will be celebrated the week of Oct. 1 - 6, UWP's homecoming week. A ribbon-cutting ceremony and open house will be held at the new greenhouse facility, located on Southwest Road, west of the Ralph E. Davis Pioneer Stadium.

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