Going Public with Agriculture (A 1900s Alum Story)


If you learned about agriculture in high school, you have Martin Luther Fisher to thank. Fisher was a pioneer for agricultural education.

Photo of Dean Martin L. Fisher

Dean Martin L. Fisher

His passion for education began in Wells County, near Bluffton, Indiana. After high school, he began teaching in the area’s rural schools. Then, he decided to further his own education at Purdue.

Fisher, one of the early School of Agriculture graduates, earned his bachelor’s degree in 1903 then joined the school’s teaching and research staff. Passionate about soil science, he was named a professor of agronomy. He later became assistant dean of the School of Agriculture where he earned a reputation as a great teacher. In 1926, he was named Purdue’s dean of men.

However, it was in state public schools where Fisher truly helped change education.

While teaching at Purdue, Fisher pioneered the establishment of agricultural education in Indiana public schools. As part of that effort, he offered summer programs teaching agricultural science to high school teachers and jointly authored Agriculture for the Common School, a text widely used throughout the nation.

While the textbook is no longer used, you’ll still find agriculture classes in middle and high schools.

 — by Hannah Tucker (Purdue ’18)

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