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A Very Successful Farmer’s Institute


On this date in 1900, the Devils Lake Inter-Ocean reported on the Farmer’s Institute held in that community. Attendance was very good in spite of inclement weather. The institute was sponsored by the experimental farm at the North Dakota Agriculture College in Fargo. The college provided the speakers for the institute.

Many in the audience were skeptical of the professors who spoke – doubting they were experienced in farming. The newspaper reported that this attitude was reinforced by the professors wearing starched white shirts rather than farm clothes. But as they spoke, the professors removed all doubt. The audience was especially impressed when the “college boys” took questions and responded respectfully and courteously. The audience was quickly won over.

December was considered an ideal time for a farmer’s institute. The professors had time to be away from the college, and the farmers were able to take time from their farms. Professor Kaufman said he hoped farmers would take a greater interest in the experimental farm at the college. He said the farmers would learn the feasibility of moving away from old methods, learning new techniques to increase yield and efficiency. He said the more they learned about the new methods, the more farmers would come to appreciate the Agricultural College.

The professors explained that the farmers in the audience bore little resemblance to farmers of only twenty years before. In the past, farming was considered a marginal occupation. But with scientific advances, Professor Shepperd said farming had become the foremost business in North Dakota. He encouraged the farmers to keep up on the most modern farming methods. He said that far from being a waste of time and money, sending farm children to the agricultural college would pay off in the long run.

Dr. Worst, President of the school, admitted that it was unusual to think that farmers needed higher education, but he stressed that things were changing. He said North Dakota would always be an agricultural state, so it was important to keep up with the latest developments. Farmers should not strive just for a profitable business. They should farm in such a way that they would leave rich, prosperous land for their children.

Dakota Datebook written by Carole Butcher.

Sources: Devils Lake Inter-Ocean. “A Very Successful Farmer’s Institute.” Devils Lake ND. 14 December 1900.