Winter Courses in Agriculture: 1887–1994


Banner from Winter Short Courses in Agriculture, 1930s

1930s banner from the Winter Short Courses in Agriculture

It began January 9, 1887, when 14 students enrolled in a “veterinary science” short course offered by the Purdue School of Agriculture, Horticulture, and Veterinary Science. It ended March 4, 1994, when 27 students completed the last Eight-Weeks Winter Courses in Agriculture.

Over those 108 years the “winter courses” program not only had major impact on the success of Indiana agriculture, but also stimulated the growth of Purdue Agriculture missions of teaching, research and extension.

During the first 20 years, winter courses graduates carried new agricultural research findings home to use on the farm and to share with friends and neighbors. The 1887-88 Purdue University Register was first to include the “Organization of the Purdue Experiment Station, under a Law of Congress.” However, Purdue Agriculture did not have a Department of Agricultural Extension until 1911.

Throughout the years, winter courses graduates, mostly operating farms, maintained ongoing and integral working relationships with many Purdue Agriculture faculty and staff.

Until 1966, there were more Winter Courses in Agriculture graduates from the School of Agriculture than bachelor’s degree recipients from the school. Records show a total of 11,202 participants in the winter courses program. Since some persons attended more than one time, somewhat fewer unique individuals participated.

Students who successfully completed a winter course curriculum earned a “Certificate” of graduation recorded by the University Registrar along with their courses completed and grades. As Purdue alumni, winter courses graduates provided much leadership to the Purdue Agricultural Alumni county chapters, especially from the 1920s to the 1980s. Winter courses graduates also recruited countless students to School of Agriculture undergraduate programs.

While there were winter courses participants from other states and countries, most returned to live and work in Indiana communities. They commonly held leadership roles in farm and community organizations, and as elected governmental representatives.

The 100thanniversary celebration of the Purdue Winter Courses in Agriculture program in 1987 was dedicated to “Pioneers in Progress” — certainly an apt title for more than 10,000 Purdue graduates who applied their eight-week education on Indiana farms and businesses.


Winter Courses in Agriculture Participants, School of Agriculture, Purdue University, 1887-1994

PROGRAM                                             OFFERED            PARTICIPANTS

Agriculture & Horticulture                  1911-1913                     331

Animal Agriculture                               1963-1994                  1,171

Animal Husbandry                               1911-1958                   1,627

Animal Science                                      1959-1962                   203

Creamery                                                1915-1918                      40

Dairy                                                        1920-1922                     36

Dairy Husbandry                                    1911-1918                    42

Dairy Manufactures                               1919-1955                   601

Dairy Production                                    1923-1962                   779

Domestic Science & Agriculture          1911-1913                      61

General Agriculture                               1914-1994                4,448

Home Economics                                   1914-1926                    175

Pest Management                                  1979-1986                     29

Plant Agriculture                                    1975-1994                   278

Turf Management                                   1990-1992                    23

Program Records Unavailable              1887-1910               1,358


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