The Great Depression

Farmer.jpgThe depression began to take its toll. The January 1932 annual meeting attendance fell to 338. Action was taken to lower the price of the 1933 dinner to two tickets for one dollar. It was also decided to eliminate the barbecue that had been held at the state fair meeting and simply serve lemonade and wafers. Discussion was held on the organizing of pool transportation for the drive to Chicago as a cost-deducing measure for the radio show participants. 

The depression was also affecting attendance at the University. This initiated student recruitment and support activities, which were to become long-time activities of the Ag Alumni Association. A county essay contest for short-course scholarships was initiated and the association undertook a special student-oriented advertising campaign to stimulate short-course attendance. The Ag Alumni Student Loan Fund was initiated with a collection of $30; counties were notified that donations of $1 or more were most acceptable. When funds were available, loans were to be made to worthy juniors and seniors of "no more than $100 with proper security." A special relationship was initiated during these difficult years with the student publication, the Agriculturalist. The Agriculturalist was to carry a special page of Alumni news, and in return, students were permitted to canvass the annual meeting for subscriptions. Two other activities were noted during these years that indicated the far ranging interest and involvement of the Association. There had been some complaints about weaknesses in the school teaching staff. A committee met with concerned students and concluded that "some teachers need to be informed that they do not have a life tenure at the University." The committee report was sent to the President. 

Also, there were complaints that there was need for improvement in campus agricultural facilities on the campus. The Association was informed that "Indiana taxpayers money was being used more and more toward creating a national institution rather than a service institution to the taxpayers of Indiana." 

In 1938, two significant formal actions were taken. The incorporation of the Purdue Agricultural Alumni Association as a nonprofit corporation was completed. The objectives of this organization are to promote and assist in the development of Agriculture in Indiana, to foster cooperation among graduates, ex-students and short-course students of the College of Agriculture for their mutual benefit and to cooperate with the Purdue College of Agriculture, Agricultural Experiment Station and Extension Department in the dissemination of Agricultural information. 

Also, the Improved Seed Committee, which had been supervisor of the continuing cooperative work with the Botany Department in hybrid corn development, announced the incorporation of a non-profit subsidiary organization under the name of "The Agricultural Alumni Seed Improvement Association, Inc." The purpose of this organization was to assist "in the development of Agriculture in Indiana through the selection, breeding, production and distribution of improved strains and varieties of agricultural crops." In accomplishing this they were to be of special assistance to the Agricultural Experiment Station in disseminating and multiplying research discoveries to the seedsmen and farmers of Indiana. 

Ag Alumni was to loan such funds, as they had to help the new subsidiary get started. Though the next few years presented many beginning problems, Ag Alumni Seed played an important future role in the Indiana seed industry and in the financing of the Ag Alumni parent organization.