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awakened and serious interest on the part of the rural people themselves; second, there must be encouragement by both the nation and the states in the way of better laws and financial aid ; third, there must be leadership-men and women who are willing to devote their lives to this great work.
Just how is this work of bettering country life to be worked out? In my opinion it must be done largely by the following agencies now in existence:
First. The church, and allied organizations, such as Y. M. C. A., Boy Scouts, etc. Second. The schools, libraries and county superintendents. Third. The Grange, farmers' clubs, and other organizations of the kind which have for their main object the betterment of farm life educationally and socially.
THE GRANGE AND THE FIRMERS' CLUB.
The president has asked me to put particular emphasis on the Grange and farmers' clubs as factors in the improvement of the social life of the farm. It is my opinion that one of the most important steps in this great forward movement, especially in the corn belt, is the organization of granges and farmers' clubs in every community. There is need of a tremendous awakening to the importance of organization as a means of agricultural advancement. The effect of these organizations on the community is most remarkable. Men and women in such communities grow up with strong attachments not only for the business of farming and home making, but for the people of the community in which they live. They remain on the farm instead of moving into town or out of the state. But these organizations do more than this. They furnish exactly the social and educational advantages so much needed by the rural communities. They enable young men and women to discover themselves and their powers of usefulness to humanity.
Michigan has nearly nine hundred such organizations, most of them granges, with a membership of 70,000. In each of the forty agricultural counties there is an average of twenty-five live, active organizations. New York granges have a total membership of 90,000. Quebec has nearly six hundred clubs with more than 55,000 members.
In strong contrast to this, the corn belt, peculiarly and above all else agricultural, has but a few dozen such organizations scattered throughout the entire
President Roosevelt, in his address at the Michigan Agricultural College, said:
Farmers must learn the vital need of cooperation with one another. It is only through such combination that American farmers can develop to the full their economic and social power. Combination of this kind has in Denmark, for instance, resulted in bringing the people back to the land, and has enabled the Danish peasant to compete, in extraordinary fashion, not only at home but in foreign countries, with all rivals.
Few people in the West realize what a tremendous influence the grange and agricultural clubs of the eastern and middle states have ex
ercised on national legislation directly affecting the agricultural and social conditions of farmers. As an illustration, attention is called to the following laws which either had their origin in the granges and clubs or were enacted largely through their initiative: The Department of Agriculture; the position of Secretary of Agriculture in the cabinet was created; the state experiment stations established; free rural mail delivery provided for; the Grout Pure Food Bill, the Sherman anti-trust regulations, the Interstate Commerce Act, the Denatured Alcohol Bill and the Postal Savings Bank Bills all now enacted into laws.
These organizations through their lecturers, legislative and promotional committees are exerting a tremendous influence in moulding public opinion and crystallizing it into definite form for new laws.
These associations are now urging the election of United States senators by popular vote, national aid for establishing agricultural high schools and the introduction of agricultural and domestic science into the rural schools; the establishment of the parcels post, postal telegraph and telephone service; and national and state aid for highway improvement.
While these influences have been great beyond calculation, yet by far the greatest effect has been in the betterment of the social and intellectual conditions in the home and in the community.
Mr. G. A. Gigault, the Minister of Agriculture, Province of Quebec, in a letter to the writer makes the following statement :
The Province has today 591 farmers' clubs. Among the members of these associations are to be found the persons the most devoted to and interested in the development of our agricultural resources. Most of the agricultural improvements of such locality are due to the initiative of the officers and members of the clubs. In every new locality where farmers' clubs have been organized, a butter or cheese factory has been erected and other improvements have been made. This organization causes progressive ideas to pervade everywhere, as well as contributing towards the betterment of agricultural methods.
The movement will undoubtedly assume widely different forms in different communities, ranging from local institutes, men's clubs, women's study clubs and reading circles on the one hand, to agricultural clubs and granges on the other. It is to be hoped that this latter form of organization (granges and clubs) will predominate, for it is only when the entire home is represented that we find the highest standards and the greatest progress in the community.
THE PLAN OF RURAL CLUBS.
The plan of operation with which I am most familiar is as follows: The membership is made up of twelve to fifteen families. The meetings are generally held every two weeks in the homes of the various members of the organization or in halls built for this purpose. During the winter months the meetings are held during the day, the program beginning about 10 A. VI. At 12:30 tables of planks or boards are prepared on which the lunch is spread. Every family brings a basket of provisions. The family in whose home the meeting is held is not allowed under any circumstances to prepare a dinner, excepting to pos
sibly furnish some coffee, popcorn, etc., as this would be a serious burden. When the picnic lunch is over, some of the little tots are boosted up on a box or chair, or on the table, to speak a piece or sing a song; thus every member of the family has a part in the meeting.
These organizations are nerve centers of progress. They develop, they educate, they push their members out of the old into the new and better ways. They set their members, young and old alike, to studying their business. This means interest in the daily work, a love for the farm life and the home life. This means a useful and happy life. It means intelligence. It means freedom from drudgery, for drudgery is "labor without thought."
This meeting together, talking together, working together, and acting together for mutual protection and improvement brings us nearer to the great law of "loving our neighbors as ourselves.” To know that others are depending upon us, have faith in us, love us, and hope for us, is a tower of strength, of courage and of happiness.
It is not my purpose to criticise our school system. However, our rural schools can and must be improved and redirected. They do not meet rural needs. They do not interest the boy and girl in the things of the farm and home. Frequently the teachers are town girls without farm experience or sympathy. The farm children must either go without high school training or get it in the town or city. Our present system educates away from the business of agriculture instead of towards it.
THE PRACTICAL SIDE OF THINGS.
The following axioms will aid us in a clearer understanding of the failures of the present system and the remedies:
1. Education is that which trains or fits for the duties of life. To illustrate, let me ask what are to be the duties of our girls? Ninetynine per cent of them must make homes, cook, sew, scrub and nurse. How much are our rural schools doing to equip our girls for this greatest of all duties, home making ?
2. The whole boy should be trained, not simply his head.
3. We should teach in terms of the child's life and surroundingsthings that concern him and his home. He will then be interested and will like his work, will put the best he has into his work. But instead of teaching in terms of the boy's lifework, our schools teach in terms of brick pavement, bank notes, yards of cloth, foreign exchange, partial payments, etc., etc.
4. Boys and girls should be taught to think in terms of action, of accomplishment. There is a more or less well founded prejudice that our high school and college graduates are impractical and theoretical. They have not been dealing with the real problems of life. At any rate, few of these graduates return to the farm. The agricultural colleges
are helping some through their short course schools, farmers' institutes, literature sent out, etc., but it is a mere drop in the bucket. What we really need is a system of schools suited to rural conditions. We must pay better prices for teachers. This will be done gladly when the school sends back each night to the home boys and girls better fitted for their work and interested in it. Teachers must be especially trained for the rural schools. They must live in the community and be a part of it, helping Saturdays and Sundays to guide, direct and stimulate. Not only this, but the farm boys and girls must get their high school work under agriculture and not city conditions and surroundings. In other words, we must have rural high schools within the reach of every boy and girl on the farm. These schools should become the social and educational center of the rural community.
It is true that the rural church has exercised great influence upon the people of the country socially and morally, helping to create and maintain good standards of life, but it has not kept pace with progress in other lines. It does not measure up to its great opportunity. There must be put into it not only more vitality and life, but there must be a new and broader attitude towards life. The rural church must be as broad as the rural community in which it exists, interesting itself in every question which concerns the life of the people.
THE MINISTER'S DUTY.
The minister, like the teacher, must teach in terms of the life work of the people. The minister should be interested in agriculture, not only interested in agriculture, but should really know something about it as well as other questions which concern the community. The minister of the future will be required to take a course in agriculture along with his theological work. He must, like the teacher, be specially trained for his rural work. The field and opportunity of the rural minister is as broad as humanity itself. The minister should help the teacher in her work. He should help organize granges and farmers' clubs and be an active member. He should help with their short courses and farmers' institutes. He should help with the county Y. M. C. A. work and the Boy Scouts' work.
Think of the service a minister can render a rural community, by organizing and directing the amusements and sports of the neighborhood. If he could not direct them in person he could help the boys select a capable, wholesome leader. He could develop or work out in time a plan by which, during a part of the year at least, the boys would be given one-half day every two weeks for baseball and other sports.
As it now is the country boys have no intelligent leadership. While the pastor is preaching a sermon to a small audience in the church the boys have joined the little clique and are taking their first lessons in card playing, smoking, etc.
The pastor must be a leader or he will accomplish but little. One
of the things he should do is to clean up around the church, mow the weeds, repair the fence, set out shade trees and put some pictures on the walls of the church. The pastor should live in the community and become a part of it in every way.
What we need is a rural society that belongs distinctly to the country. Its schools, its churches, its clubs and its amusements must be so directed and organized as to meet the real needs of the people who live in the country.
Many illustrations can be given of the splendid work now being done in various localities and sections of the United States. I wish I might tell you of the work which some of our ministers and their country churches are doing. Men like Rev. M. B. McNutt of Plainfield, III., Rev. Clair S. Adams of Bement, ill., Rev. C. S. Lyles of Logan, Iowa, and many others.
It is remarkable what some of our county superintendents like Miss Jessie Field of Page County, Iowa, have done and are doing through the schools for better agriculture, better homes and better citizenship. There are the rural high schools such as the one at Albert Lea, Minn. How I wish I could tell you of the county Y. M. C. A. work which Mr. Fred Hansen of Iowa is doing with the boys; how he has organized them into clubs and is directing not only their religious work, but also their amusements and sports, and even has them studying corn, stock and other agricultural subjects.
The Country Life Commission has done a great work, but the movement has only begun. We must have more state “Country Life Commissions." There must be national and state aid so that the commissions can bring to the people the knowledge of what has been accomplished in the various localities throughout the country.
President WALLACE–Be patient a moment, and please come to order. We have two splendid speeches to be delivered this morning and I am very sorry to announce that Mr. Barrett of the Farmers' Union, who intended to be here, cannot be here on account of sickness in his family. We will hear a gentleman for five minutes who is about to leave for Europe and must speak now or not at all.
Recording Secretary GIPE—I would like to announce that Mr. R. A. Long will speak as the representative of the wholesale lumber dealers and yellow pine manufacturers.
Mr. LONG—I understand that Mr. Wallace said that I expected to leave for Europe. I am not going to Europe and have no thought of going to Europe. Permit me to suggest this: it is rather an imposition upon you and embarrassing to me to be called on so short a notice to speak in the midst of men who have carefully prepared papers, and yet I want to suggest to you some thoughts that occurred to me, that were put into my mind by the last speaker. We are having many im