The Country Life Program

From History and Data Relative to the State Institute of Agriculture at Farmingdale, New York, November 1945 Archival Document.

In 1920, the Institute began its annual Farm and Home Equipment Show under the auspices of the Mechanics Department. "There was a large attendance. Several makes of tractors were shown and there were exhibits of pumps, water systems, and electric light plants."

In 1926, the show became a three day affair. "Machine companies brought in the machinery for show and demonstration. Largely through contacts made in this way, the Institute received loans of valuable machinery and equipment from various companies concerned. These loanes greatly enhan ced our instructional program during the years up to WWII. Then practically all loans were withdrawn and the Institute was left without much modern machinery with which to carry on its war time production."

"In the 'thirties' other departments of the Institute began putting on their own demonstrations and exhibitions at the same time as the Mechanics Department and the affair came to be known as the Country Life Program. It was extended to four days in 1940. For the year 1942 the attendance was approximately 10,000 over the four day period. The feature exhibits for this year were:
1. A Victory Garden - vegetable production and preservation for home use.

2. The 23rd Annual Farm and Home Equipment exhibit

3. The Long Island Baby Chick and Egg Show

4. Farm machinery and tractor adjustment and repair.

In addition there were innumerable other attractions."

"The Country Life Program was somewhat curtailed during the war years for reasons which are obvi ous. However, it will be again expanded because there is no other medium through which certain services can be so effectively rendered. Through it the latest developments in all phases of agriculture were quickly and vividly brought to the attention of the rural peoples of Long Island. Moreover, the entire Institute staff was always on hand to help the people with their problems and to give information about the various horticultural and farming enterprises" (written 1945).

The following is from Halsey B. Knapp and the Agricultural and Technical Institute at Farmingdale, by Frank J. Cavaioli, Ph. D., Archival Document, written sometime after 1976.

"In keeping with Knapp's policy of community involvement, the latest developments in agricultural and technical education were displayed before the Long Island population. The entire faculty extended themselves to assist. Through this direct contact, Knapp was able to build public support for the Institute and publicize its unique educational programs. Such community involvement became an important tradition in the success of Farmingdale as a public institution.

The 32nd Annual Country Life-Open House Program, held February 22, 23, 24, 1951, presented over 100 demonstrations and exhibits prepared by students and faculty. Several years later in 1955, the 36th Program drew a crowd of 32,155 visitors. On Saturday alone, 17,299 people visited the campus. Knapp always insisted that the Program was student oriented and students had to assume the leadership in this endeavor.

Overshadowing all events of the 1956 Program was Director Knapp's retirement statement made on February 23. Since he placed so much importance on this even, it was appropriate that he should make this announcement on this occasion. His statement was embellished with much nostalgia covering the highlights of his thirty-three years as Director."

Thomas D. Greenley

Greenley Library

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