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100-Year History of AEE

Posted: June 5, 2011

“The Department of Agricultural Education had its origin in a course in teacher training in agriculture begun in the college year 1910-11, with Thomas I. Mairs, professor of agricultural education, in charge.” A four-year teacher preparation curriculum was initiated the following year. From its inception, the Department functioned in three areas: resident education, research, and service (outreach).
The Horticulture Building, later named the Weaver Building (on the left), was built in stages from 1912 to 1914 just west of the Main Agricultural Building (the Armsby Building where AEE was housed) (on the right). The picture was taken about 1920.

The Horticulture Building, later named the Weaver Building (on the left), was built in stages from 1912 to 1914 just west of the Main Agricultural Building (the Armsby Building where AEE was housed) (on the right). The picture was taken about 1920.

(This is taken from, The History of the Department of Agricultural and Extension Education at The Pennsylvania State University, written in Summer 2005.)

In 1910-11, the General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania mandated that one year of agriculture be taught in every rural high school, creating the need for additional qualified teachers. Apparently anticipating this legislation, the Department of Agricultural Education offered a “One–year Teacher’s Course” in 1910. During 1911-1912, the course was expanded into a major four-year curriculum leading to a baccalaureate degree in agricultural education.

Although the 4-H program for youth development did not officially become part of the Department until 1988, it has played a key role in the non-formal educational efforts in Pennsylvania since the early 1900s. The 4-H program had its roots in corn and pig clubs, and just about any kind of farm related activity in the early 1900s.  Each year additional types of clubs were formed including bread making, canning, livestock, and needlework.  Milk-testing clubs were organized in 1916 while in 1922, clothing clubs were organized in Warren County. It was in 1912 that 4-H programs were offered to rural youth.