Open main menu

Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 54.djvu/862

This page has been validated.
838
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

and this inclination was encouraged by President Abbott and some of the members of the Board of Agriculture. He had filled the professorship of zoölogy and animal physiology with complete success, and had he consulted his most cherished tastes alone he would have remained there, but he gradually suffered himself to be called to another field. The duties of "acting superintendent of the farm" were attached to his chair in 1864. In 1865 he became professor of animal physiology and practical agriculture and superintendent of the farm; in 1869 he ceased to teach physiology, and gave his whole time to the agricultural branch of his work; and in 1875 the work of the superintendent of the farm was consigned to other hands, and he confined himself to the professorship proper of practical agriculture.

The farm and its appurtenances, with fields cumbered with stumps and undrained, with inadequate and poorly constructed buildings, with inferior live stock, and everything primitive, were in poor condition for the teaching or the successful practice of agriculture. Professor Miles's first business was to set these things in order. Year by year something was done to remove evils or improve existing features in some of the departments of the life and management of the premises, till the concern in a certain measure approached the superintendent's ideal—as being a laboratory for teaching agriculture, conducting experiments, and training men, rather than a money-making establishment.

In this new field, Professor Kedzie says, Professor Miles was even more popular than before with students, and created an enthusiasm for operations and labors of the farm which had been regarded before as a disagreeable drudgery. The students "were never happier than when detailed for a day's work with Dr. Miles in laying out some difficult ditch or surveying some field. One reason why he was so popular was that he was not afraid of soiling his hands. His favorite uniform for field work was a pair of brown overalls. The late Judge Tenney came to a gang of students at work on a troublesome ditch and inquired where he could find Dr. Miles. 'That man in overalls down in the quicksands of the ditch is Dr. Miles'; the professor of practical agriculture was in touch with the soil."

Prof. Byron D. Halsted, of the New Jersey Agricultural College Experiment Station, who was an agricultural pupil of Dr. Miles in Lansing, characterizes him as having been a full man who knew his subjects deeply and fondly. "In those days I am safe in writing that he represented the forefront of advanced agriculture in America. He was in close touch with such men as Lawes and Gilbert, Rothamstead, England, the famous field-crop experimenters of the world, and as for his knowledge of breeds of live stock and their origin, Miles's