World War I in Lawrence: School board creates department of ‘agricultural instruction’

The Lawrence school board announced this week a two-fold concentration on gardening and agriculture.

Speaking on the project of school gardening, Superintendent R. A. Kent stated that “the World War is calling primarily for men and the industrial and agricultural products which will support men and the war…. One of the very most important of these products is food. If the public schools of America this year and as long as the war lasts will see to it that regular, competent instruction in home gardening is given to all children old enough and strong enough to do the work, the schools will be making a significant contribution toward winning the war. It is estimated that on a conservative basis one boy of about the age of 14 can plant, raise, and harvest enough vegetables during the summer to supply the average sized American family for the time of the summer school vacation.”

A second phase of the program, Kent explained, involved “the establishment and maintenance of a department of agricultural instruction. There are now enrolled in the Lawrence High School over 125 children whose residence on their enrollment card is designated as the country…. The mere statement of these figures makes it perfectly plain that the Lawrence schools ought to support a well organized and well equipped department which would give scientific agricultural instruction to such pupils in the high school and intermediate school as wish to avail themselves of the privilege.” There had never been a time in living memory, Kent added, when there had been a stronger need for “scientific agricultural instruction for the oncoming generation.” He confirmed that “the proposition to employ a competent teacher of agriculture has been under informal consideration and discussion for more than a year.”