7/8/17 – A nationwide act aimed at promoting vocational agricultural training is celebrating its 100th year in existence. The Smith-Hughes Act was put in place in 1917 to set aside federal funds to educate those who entered or are preparing to enter a career in farming. Wisconsin Association of Agricultural Educators member David Laatsch says the passage of the act came at a time when America was changing from an agrarian society to an industry revolution. Laatsch, a former Beaver Dam High School ag teacher and FFA advisor, says that consequently education was not catching up to the way the world was operating. One of the driving reasons behind the act was a lack of skilled workers in the ag industry. He says it was also intended to get young farmers to continue their education. In the early 1900’s roughly three-percent of farm students went to high school and there was a lack of preparation of scientific and mechanical changes that were occurring on the farm. Laatsch says the Smith-Hughes Act increased that number significantly and was the answer to many of the cries for change from the agricultural community. Also, the former Beaver Dam ag teacher recently completed an update to a statewide agricultural book titled ‘A History of Vocational Agriculture in Wisconsin.’ The book is available to order and for free download through the Wisconsin Association of Agricultural Educators website at waae.com. You can also call 262-470-8369 to find out more information.