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Category: Regional Campuses

A Passage to India: Diary documents professor’s contributions to agriculture programs on subcontinent

Written by Christina Holmes

In September 1955, a team of four faculty members from The Ohio State University’s College of Agriculture travelled to India. The purpose of their trip was to aid in establishing and maintaining an agricultural education system in remote areas. As a joint venture between the university and the International Cooperation Administration – now the United States Agency for International Development – the Ohio State team’s objective was to assist in the establishment of agricultural universities in the states and territories of Punjab, Haryana, and Himachal Pradesh, and to provide them with the capacity to plan and administer statewide programs in agricultural teaching, research, and extension education.[1] The team from Ohio State included Prof. Thomas Sutton, assistant dean of the College of Agriculture; Prof. Everett L. Dakan, the Department of Poultry Husbandry; Prof. Charles L. Blackman, Department of Dairy Science; and Prof. Jacob B. Schmidt, Department of Rural Sociology.[2] The team was based out of the Government College of Agriculture in Ludhiana, Punjab.

Chandgurgh school faculty
viewing a corn field, 1956

Professor Schmidt recorded his experience in India between April 1956 and August 1957 in a series of diaries that his family recently donated to the University Archives. In addition to Prof. Schmidt’s diaries, also acquired (was) is the diary of his wife, Lorene Schmidt, dated between September 1955 and January 1956. Combined, the three diaries provide valuable insight on the trials and tribulations of the agricultural program, as well a peek into the inner thoughts of Prof. and Mrs. Schmidt. Mrs. Schmidt’s diary also includes detailed accounts on the couple’s travels on their way to India.

Professor Schmidt and his wife, Lorene, 1957

Professor and Mrs. Schmidt left Ohio on September 22, 1955, and made numerous stops along the way that included brief stays in New York, London, Paris, and Rome before arriving in Bombay on October 6. Mrs. Schmidt’s diary includes complaints regarding missing hotel reservations, reviews for superior and inadequate restaurant fare, weather reports, and details of their tourist excursions. It becomes evident at one point that Mrs. Schmidt had become tiresome of sightseeing.  On October 15, 1955, she wrote, “Took 2 taxis over to TCM – from there went on a tour of 7 cities in and around New Delhi & Old D. A lot of ruins. Have seen so many am getting tired of it.” Mrs. Schmidt also never failed to include even the most insignificant of details. For example, on October 5, 1955, she wrote that a small box of Tide detergent cost $1.00 in Rome and that she did not purchase it.

An exhibit for insect control, 1956

Professor Schmidt’s diaries, however, tell a different story than that of his wife’s. Although he was also meticulous with his inclusion of miniscule details – such as whom he received letters from on a particular day, or what he had for each meal – it becomes clear that he felt as though he was fighting an uphill battle when it came to his objective in India: “After all these less than 2 years in India cannot be counted too long as measured by a life time. Yet, there is a hauntingly empty feeling that I have not nearly achieved fulfillment of mission in India. Only sporadically have I felt that my efforts have been productive and fruitful.” Faced with unfamiliar roadblocks, such as religious and cultural differences, lack of supplies, government involvement, and student attendance (or lack thereof), Schmidt’s hands were often tied and his frustrations were frequently expressed through his writing.  On July 2, 1957, 36 days prior to his departure from India, he wrote, “More than halfway through another year. This time in India has not added an unalloyed richness to a productive life. In fact, the frustrations and inconveniences, if not hardships (for an older person) have more often than not been the center of thinking. This is bad, but it is true.”

Chandgurgh school faculty
in a corn hybrid field, 1956

Although Professor Schmidt only spent two years in India, the joint project between The Ohio State University and USAID continued long after his departure. In October 1961 the local government in the state of Punjab passed legislation to establish the Punjab Agricultural University, with assistance from OSU team members.[3]  Professor Schmidt may have felt that his time spent in India was fruitless, but it paved the way for a series of comprehensive improvements in the years that followed in the Punjab state. By 1964, the end of the initial nine-year regional contract, Ohio State team members helped to develop new university courses and youth programs, introduced new equipment and teaching methods, provided advanced training for 102 Indians in the U.S., and helped develop agricultural curricula, including a Master’s degree program in Farm Management at Punjab Agricultural University.[4]

Agriculture Extension Sign
at the OSU Office in India, 1957

In his last diary entry on December 31, 1957, Professor Schmidt wrote, “Of mother it was said it is good to be great, but it is greater to be good. So may it be said of me.” Although he left India without feeling any sense of great accomplishment, it was his consistent effort, dedication, and time spent attempting to enrich the lives of others that established Professor Schmidt’s true goodness. Professor Schmidt passed away in April 1965, and therefore never knew the totality of the extensive agricultural advances in India he helped pioneer. However, may it be said that his time spent in India was not as wasteful as he believed, but rather contributed to the overall success of the agricultural program in which he partook.

[1] AID-University Rural Development Contracts: 1951-1966 (Urbana, Illinois), June 1968; 59.

[2] “India’s Agriculture Gets Help,” Ohio State Lantern (Columbus, Ohio), October 10, 1956.

[3] Terminal Report: USAID Contract /Nesa-14. November 1, 1964-June 30, 1973; 15.

[4] Terminal Report: USAID Contract /Nesa-14. November 1, 1964-June 30, 1973; 18-19

Twelve Days: 4-H founder helped form better farmers for the future

A.B. Graham, 1911

A.B. Graham, 1911

Before A.B. Graham no one thought to teach children in rural communities in any organized fashion on how to be better farmers when they grew up. Because of Graham, though, the agricultural club system known as “4-H” was born, and has grown to include roughly 7 million young people in more than 50 countries.

Albert Belmont Graham was born on March 13, 1868, near Lena, Ohio. He attended school in a one-room schoolhouse; upon his graduation at the age of 17 he took over the teaching job. His father had died when Graham was young, and his mother supported her family as a seamstress. Graham’s grandmother, a Quaker, lent him money to attend the National Normal School, and after graduation in 1888 he enrolled in OSU. He stayed only one year, though, and returned to teaching. In 1900 he was elected superintendent of schools in Springfield, Ohio.

Girl posting 4H sign, no date

Girl posting 4H sign, no date

It was there, on January 15, 1902, that Graham founded the boys’ and girls’ agricultural club – the first of its kind in the United States and what would later become 4-H, which stands for Head, Heart, Hand and Health. The club was designed to supplement the education the children were receiving in school on the scientific study of agriculture.

no date, A.B. Graham collection, two boys digging in dirtYoungsters were given seeds and taught how to test soil quality, how to plant and grow the seeds, to take notes and study scientific theory. They were asked to present their findings among their peers, and to conduct group projects. The club also worked with parents, helping to improve the quality of life in rural communities and to encourage good agricultural practices. The first club had 83 members who planted experimental plots of corn, vegetables and flowers, and kept meticulous records of their results.

Graham talks with a young girl, 1945

Graham talks with a young girl, 1945

Meanwhile, Graham worked with OSU and the Ohio Agricultural Experiment Station at Wooster to test seed varieties and various agricultural methods. In 1905, OSU created the position of superintendent of agricultural extension for Graham, who by then was known statewide for his work with farming communities. The then-new service focused on what Graham had been doing all along: promoting healthy agricultural practices and encouraging schools to teach agriculture and home economics as part of their curriculum, as well as providing educational resources to students and the public.

Graham served as director at Ohio State until 1914, when he went to the New York State School of Agriculture to start a similar program there. Two years later, he moved to Washington, D.C., to work as chief of agricultural extension specialists for the U.S. Department of Agriculture. When he retired from that position in 1938, he returned to Columbus, staying active in the community and 4-H until his death on January 14, 1960, at the age of 91.

– Filed by C.N.

Twelve Days of Buckeyes: With 5 more campuses OSU extends education reach

#8-24After World War II, the resulting influx of war veterans and others seeking an affordable higher education nearly overwhelmed OSU’s original Columbus campus. So University officials sought a different way to serve these students that wasn’t exclusively in its campus classrooms.

A study by then-OSU Prof. Kenneth Arisman of the College of Education showed that Ohio’s population had grown 13 percent between 1950 and 1956, but because of a lack of local educational opportunities, many of these new residents had no choice to move away from their hometowns to seek a college degree. Often, this limited their chances at getting a degree because of the cost of going to school away from home. Arisman’s report persuaded OSU’s Board of Trustees to set up branch campuses; the first two opened in 1957 at Marion and Newark. Two regional campuses soon followed, in Mansfield (1958) and in Lima (1961).

Marion campus construction

Marion campus construction

From the beginning, local support was involved. In Marion, for instance, the local Chamber of Commerce agreed to underwrite operations the first year while individual businesses and organizations provided more than $7,000 in scholarships. In Newark, classes were offered in the evenings in city schools, and scholarship money was raised locally.

Not only was local support involved in the founding of these campuses, but also in their growth. For instance, at Mansfield, local fund-raising along with state support led to the purchase of a 500-acre property in 1965; three years later, Lima purchased 565 acres for a campus, thanks to private donations and a statewide bond issue.

In 1972, the University built a special institute that would provide specialized and technical training for young people interested in careers in agriculture. Located in Wooster, home to the University’s Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center, the OSU Agricultural Technical Institute has offered associate’s degrees in various agricultural fields ever since.

Agricultural Technical Institute

Agricultural Technical Institute

From the beginning, many students attended regional campuses for two years, then transferred to the Columbus campus to finish their bachelor’s degrees. Now, however, the campuses in Lima, Mansfield, Marion and Newark offer a selection of undergraduate and graduate programs. From their humble beginnings of evening meetings in high school classrooms, the regional campuses now enroll more than 8,000 students, who can complete their degrees without ever leaving their home counties.