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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 56.djvu/233

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FOREIGN AGRICULTURAL EDUCATION.

cultural experiment stations, and still further when it organized a Department of Experiment Stations as an integral part of the Department of Agriculture.

But several of the countries of Europe have anticipated our action in behalf of agricultural education by a quarter of a century. Germany and France and little Switzerland realized fifty years ago that agriculture in its various departments must be pursued with the aid of the latest science combined with the broadest experience. These countries have not waited for the laborer to perfect himself in experience—an impossible attainment—but they have opened schools of every possible grade, arranged courses of lectures by the best educated scientists, made elementary agriculture a compulsory subject in the curricula of the common schools, sent out traveling instructors to confer with and advise and give courses of lectures to the older farmers, made it possible—even compulsory—that young people should attend technical schools at odd hours of the day or evening, and even tempted them to pass a serious examination in their respective studies by the offer of a valuable prize as the reward of success. It is said that Charles Dickens once made a speech at an agricultural dinner in which he somewhat derisively said that "the field it paid the farmer best to cultivate was the one within the ring fence of his own skull." Dickens was correct. The farmer needs scientific education. The best civilized and progressive nations of to-day are admitting the utterance of Dickens to be a serious truth. Vast sums of money are appropriated by European governments to prevent their agricultural classes from continuing in or subsiding into ignorance of their art. Even the peasants of Russia, notably in the province of Ekaterinoslav, by the generous appliances for special agricultural education made by the Ministry of Agriculture and State Domains, united with the efforts of the Ministry of Public Instruction, are made to feel that without expert teaching a man can not succeed even in the raising of fowls or of bees, the culture of silkworms, the making of wine, or the manuring of his fields. Consul Heenan[1] says that in the province named above the Government annually rents thirty-two experiment fields, each eight acres in extent, distributed four in each district, and each one located in the midst of peasant fields. Each of these fields is placed in charge of some scientifically educated public-school teacher, who is paid twenty-five dollars per year for his direction, and receives, besides, all the harvest produced. The teacher uses the native tools and seeds, and hires neighbor peasants to assist in demonstrating that with care in plowing, cleaning of seed, cultivating,


  1. See United States Consular Reports, vol. lvii, No. 215, August, 1898, article on Gardener's Schools in Russia, by Consul Heenan.