One, Two, Three Day Farmer's Institutes Compared.

Material Information

One, Two, Three Day Farmer's Institutes Compared.
Series Title:
Writings and Speeches 1891-1920
Rolfs, Peter Henry
Physical Location:
Articles, Speeches and Other Writings
53. One, Two, Three Day Farmer's Institutes Compared.


Subjects / Keywords:
Agricultural extension work -- Florida.
Agriculture -- Study and teaching -- Florida.
Florida Cooperative Extension Service.
Agricultural Experiment Station.
University of Florida.
Rolfs, Peter Henry
Farmers' Institutes


A comparison of one, two, and three day Farmers' Institutes.

Record Information

Source Institution:
University of Florida
Holding Location:
University of Florida Archives
Rights Management:
Copyright Board of Trustees of the University of Florida
Resource Identifier:

UFDC Membership

Peter Henry Rolfs
University Archives


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Dy P. H. iOLFS,
Superintendent, Florida Farmers' Institute

In making a comparison or these three different forms of

Farmers' institute, it is necessary to take into consideration

the fact that places in which it would be very profitable to

hold a one-day Farmers' Institute might give unprofitable returns

i'f.. a two-day Institute were held, and would pretty certainly.

be nothing short or a failure ir one attempted to hold there a

three-day Institute. in choosing the type of Institute to be

held every consideration must be given to this point. Possibly

this is not the case in such we-1 developed states as Wisconsin,

Iowa, Minnesota, Illinois, and other old agricultural states.

As I do not wish to discuss this question from a theoretical

S*:" .standpoint I must necessarily fall back on my personal experience
: in developing and maintaining the Farmers' Institute work iE-Eg=t=a.

Florida is an essentially pioneer state, going through all or the

vicissitudes and qualms incident to a very rapidly growing popula-

tion.and the evolution of farming from a desultory maintenance vo-

cation to that of an actual business, it must also be remembered

that many, yes, a large majority of the centers or agricultural

industry in Florida have very few, or no, really progressive agri-

culturists in them. Jby progressive agriculturists I mean men who

Study not only how to produce a crop .bu he question as to the
cost or production of that crop. In many cases the most progres-

S sive farmer in a community is. only enthusiasts along cerItain,

particular lines or crop production and is usually a specialist ;,-

or: a man with a hobuy for sorie particular thing. :This kind or man
.. .. i, ,* *' k n d o m*a


may stand out as a leader in the community who is very successful

when considered from the standpoint of the net returns ror that

particular kind or work.

in Florida the Farmers' institute work has at its command a

very small amount or money when compared with the area that has

to be covered. There are approximately 54,000 square miles,

laid out in somewhat -. s;P at~ e ith c+inesvi leocated in the

angle. We are required to travel 400 miles to reach the most west-

ern portion and about 380 to reach the most southern portion.

Our railway transportation is very good for the stage or develop-

ment and that is about all we can say about it. As long as we

travel on the trunk lines no particular difficulty is experienced

but the moment one attempts to cross one or other of the limbs of

the ageW exasperating delays are certain to occur.

Ohe-.uav institute.

The one-day institutes are best adapted to backward commu-

nities that are sufficiently progressive, however, to call ror

work of this kind. it is a" necessary to see to it that one-

day Institutes are not located in centers where the population

is so small as to give only a dozen or two in attendance when the

whole population should be present. The .advance Institute must

go off with vim and vigor. There must be a good crowd in attend-

ance since the audience scarcely knows what they are to expect,

and expect to be entertained rather than e~uetT u. This feature

must be borne in mind, and the speaker must be or such

cative kind as will counterbalance this disappointment. in Insti-

tutes or this kind edueatien and polish are not the chief desiderata

but a forceful speaker, having a large fund of elementary agricult-

ural facts at his command and preferably with a considerable amount

of local vernacular in his speech will be round most acceptable.

Hie must be absolutely sure or his ground and deliver a dogmatic

discourse. A suggestive, educational and philosophical discourse

will fall flat and=^disappointing, He must have the power or

holding the attention of his hearers, and frequently has to resort

to anecdotes, direct personal questions or other methods or hold-

ing the attention and holding his audience.

Morning session. The farmers in attendance on this institute

will frequently have travelled A. over indifferent

or even bad roads. I' it were not ror their patience and stoicism

they probably would never have made the trip under the conditions.

This must not be forgotten, since a weary body is not likely to

be conducive to making a good listener. At such Institutes it

is almost imperative to have at least two good speakers from the

Institute force.

The morning session is usually opened by a good speaker, who

has decided sympathy with his audience and speaks to them from

their own standpoint, and works on elementary subjects, such

subjects as the removal of stumps, or the best method of cultivat-

ing and plowing with the crude implements that are pretty

certain to be found under such conditions.

The second speech on the program can then be made of a more

technical nature, appealing more to the reason and the intellect

than the first speech. This latter speech will have with it a

considerable amount of illustrative material in the way of enlarged

photographs and large charts.

The noon recess is probably the most critical portion of the

day. At this time the audience is likely to scatter not having

found the matter entertaining and having found that it was necessary

to do a considerable amount of thinking, they have grown somewhat

weary of the business. Here tact is necessary to see that the audi-

ence reassembles a e a tble ti. Where it is

possible to have a picnic dinner there is no difficulty in keeping

the audience from scattering.

The afternoon session is then devoted to a discussion or

special subjects, choosing only such crop$ or products as are

being used in that community. It is rarely wise in the initial

Institute to launch out into recommendations for a change of crops

or products or to make the attempt to have new or untried crops


Costs. The expenses of this Institute lie mainly in the

payment of salaries for the time consumed, travelling expenses,

and local maintenance. Advertising in the ordinary sense of the

word usually brings very little results. Special attractive feat-

ures are not altogether desirable. Local expenses for halls, and

expenses of that kind are usually not incurred, since the speaking

is most likely to be done under an oak tree or in a church or school


Two-Day Institute

Thaee are not a great many communities in the StAte;6f Florida

where the two-day Institute can be held profitably. By profitable

I mean .wo Tif-o L-,' t w, Two-day Institutes would

necessarily crowd out a certain number of one-day Institutes. The


two-day Institutes must be held in communities that have been

-previously well worked in the" way of Farmers' Institutes, so that

the audience knows exactly what to expect. One step further, how-

ever, is taken in these Institutes, in making the matter -fmae=:r

an educational one than an entertaining one. After a certain

amount of one-day Institutes are held, where lecturing or giving

out of information has become quite the rule, it becomes necessary

to take a step in advance and make it a matter of educational de-

velopment. This is often somewhat difficult tq attain and the

Institute force is sometimes unable to do more than hold a length-

ened out or duplicated one-day Institute. This, however, should

not be the case. By the time a community is ready for a two-day

Institute a sufficient number of the audience will be personally

known to the leader of the squad to enable him or the speaker to

adopt more or less of the class-room style. Frequent interruptions

in the nature of questions from the audience to the speaker, is a

good sign. Questions from the speaker to certain persons in the

audience are also desirable. Uare and discretion must be exer.--

cised, f; nh t (a.ragig controversial or trivial questions

the audience; rthe asking of embarrassing and confusing

questions by the speaker. By using f proper amount of tact the

audience in a two-d'ay institute not only become prepared to ask

certain questions but are also prepared to answer certain questions,

and frequently forget their stage fright and indulge in expla-

nations in a perfectly conversational and clear tone. By the

time a community is prepared for a two-day session a.considerable

number of those in attendance will have contracted the reading

and observing habit.

Attendanee. ir no extra e'rort is made at these two-day

Institutes the audience will continue practically or the same per-

sonel as were in attendance on the one-day Institute. Special at-

tractions, therefore, have to be provided ror in some way. They'

a44trcfteMtoa stimulate a larger attendance and bring in persons who

had not previously been there. The Farmers' Institute is quite

different from a school or class-room. The Institute either grows

or languishes. There seems to be very little probability of any

of them-remaining in a static condition.

Corn Shows. As one attractive feature of these two-day In-

stitutes, a Corn Show is held under certain conditions and at cer-

tain times of the year. This brings in not only a large number

of new faces into the audience but also brings in the younger mem-

bers of the community. People like to have something to look at,

and when a person has something that looks good he likes to have his

neighbors see it. When the various specimens of corn are placed

along side of one another, the size of the ear in the estimation

of the grower is likely to very materially decrease. What was

thought perfection at home will be found to be very defective wnen

compared with the same points in other exhibits.

Crop Shows. Corn is not the only possible exhibit that may

be made in connection with the. armers' Institutes. Sweet potatoes,

sugar cane, peanuts, and even certain of the vegetables lend them-

selves pretty readily to work of this kind.

Woman's Institutes. After a community has gotten suffi-

ciently used to the Farmers' Institute to know what to expect, a

considerable number of women will be found in attendance, and while

these make an important addition to the audience and help very much

in keeping up the interest, the subjects discussed are not such as

are --- 0the majority of women present. The intro-

duction, then, of the woman's institute or the woman's session,

presents somewhat of a novelty, it becomes an attraction. The

woman's session, like the one-day Institute or one session Insti-

tute starts out under a considerable amount of misapprehension.

As a rule the women in rural communities have no conception of

there being any underlying principles to the preparation of rood,

the work of preparing clothing, or of home sanitation. To them the

Institute merely means a pleasant exchange or numerous recipes that

have been tried, or general criticism, favorable or unfavorable,

on particular forms of dress. But since the Institute has grown

to the point of a social gathering there is rarely ever any diffi-

culty in securing a reasonable attendance on the woman's institute,

and it really becomes an tteat feature for the men's institute.

Costs. The cost of holding the two-day Institute is probably

as great or greater per capital or for the time consumed as is the

cost of the one-day Institute. While holding two one-day Insti-

tutes would incur some loss or time and some extra travelling ex-

pensesI the two-day Institute involves the use of a considerable

amount of time on the part of the Institute organizer since the

plans must be pretty well matured at headquarters before the en-

terprise can be launched. More or less advertising, also, is neces-


sary and odds and ends of local expense occur that do not come up

.with one-day Institutes.

The educational results, however, or the two-day Institute

when properly carried out are so much greater that it is not like-

ly that any two one-day Institutes would be as good as the average

of the twro-day Institutes.

There are however two features which limit the number o' two-

day Institutes that can be held. The first and most important

feature is that the Institute habit is not sufficiently developed

in every community, and second and probably the determining one -

is that the funds are not sufficient for holding any large number

of two-day Institutes.

Three-Day Institute

In Florida we have adopted the plan of calling the three or

more day Institutes by some special designation, such as citrus

seminar, stoclkmen's seminar and other similar terms. This method

of giving them a descriptive name has the advantage or calling at-

tention at once to the fact that these are specialized forms of

the Farmers' Institute. They are attended by people who have given

their particular subject a very large amount of study. Usually

they have studied most of the Experiment Station bulletins print-

ed on their speialty, text books on this subject, and are constant

readers of special journals devoted to their lines of work. Spe-

cialization of lines of agriculture of course is not peculiar to

Florida and this form of Institute is held in practically all states.

SWith us i i works better nl tan would be

the case if we were to attempt to run a general Institute covering

the entire range, or a wide range, of agricultural subjects.

The disadvantage of holding Institutes of this kind is the

fact that a large n ~ber of specialists on particular subjects are

required. a rule,. .in Florida by

the Institute force. We have to depend upon getting special lect-

urers from the college of Agriculture, from the Experiment Station,

or from otier sources.. With this also comes the difficulty of

the Institute so as to make it possible for a large num-

ber of persons to attend &--tite- when these special lecturers

are available.

Costs. The cost of holding such Institutes is rather high

when one takes into consideration the compensation of the special

lecturers. "h e od rtand expense ri' holiCng the In-

I-*4t=tes. The attendance on these Institutes, oz course, is

smaller, but the amount of instruction that can be given is far

superior to what would be possible in any.general Farmers' Insti-

tute. The members in attendance on these Institutes become in

turn propagandists of the information that is given to them. So

that while the attendance is somewhat small the amount of real good

done cannot be calculated in this way.


As stated in my introductory remarks that what I wa about to

say in regard to Farmers'IVnst t s mus be from e erience with

them in Florida and not based on an academic study of the situation

in other states or the United States as a'whole,. likewise the con-

clusions ~i ~~'^d-4-EBS agggA4 on the same experience.

(1) One-day Institutes are useful and economical in commu-

nities where the families are widely scattered and in other com-

munities where the Institute habit has not been established.

(4z) One-day Institutes require the maximum expense in time

and trbtSE-,

(3) Two-day institutes are the logical sequence to the one-

day Institute.

(4) Two-day Institutes are more economical or time in the


(5) The three-day Institute enables us to co a higher grade

of instructional work so far as the individuals in attendance are

concerned, but reach fewer individuals.

(6) So far as our present status or Institute work in Florida

is concerned we shall have to hold the three types, being govern-

ed by the special needs of each community and of each line of agri-

cultural work.



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