Berry College Agricultural Program
When Martha Berry established her Boys' Industrial School in 1902 on eighty-three acres of land given to her by her father,
Although no formal courses were taught in agriculture the first few years, students at the Boys' Industrial School received instruction in proper farm methods in their work under skilled supervisors.
Beginning in 1908 Berry offered annual summer institutes for farmers of the area in cooperation with the Georgia State College of Agriculture. These institutes featured lectures, discussions, and demonstrations of improved methods of agriculture and extended the school's efforts to improve conditions in the rural sections. Farmers learned of the importance of good drainage for their farmlands and of crops that had received little attention in the area.
Within a decade of the school's founding, an up-to-date dairy barn with silo had been erected, as had a cannery with a modern steam plant, and the school domain included about 2,000 acres. By 1924 the school owned 6,000 acres with 1,000 acres under cultivation, 500 acres in pastures, and most of the remainder in woodlands. A tract of about 375 acres was broken into model farms of 40 to 50 acres each, on which graduates and former students of the school were settled. Operators of the model farms were paid a small cash salary and given one-third of their crops, and the farms were equipped by the school. The school also provided two-thirds of all seeds and fertilizers. The goal was to develop real object lessons in practical farming and demonstrations of what Berry graduates could do.
Winning prizes at the county fair on its stock and other farm products was a regular occurrence for Berry over the years, but the goal was to help the fair along, not to compete with neighboring farmers.
Over the years Berry's agriculture majors have gained ready acceptance into various agriculture careers or notable graduate and veterinary medicine schools. Approximately 90 percent of applicants receive admission to such veterinary schools as Auburn University, Cornell University, and the Universities of Florida, Georgia, and Tennessee.
By the end of the
The schools grew into a junior college in the 1920s and a senior college in the early 1930s. The college began to offer a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture degree with majors in general agriculture, agronomy, animal husbandry, dairy husbandry, horticulture, poultry husbandry, and vocational agriculture. All bachelor's-degree agriculture majors were discontinued by 1968, but a two-year program had been developed and grew into an Associate of Science degree with majors in animal, dairy, and ornamental horticulture technology.
Although these associate degree programs were discontinued in the late 1980s, a major in animal science initiated in the mid-1970s under the Bachelor of Science degree became one of the most popular majors among students.
In the late 1980s and early 1990s two Berry professors led the development of a still-popular curriculum series to teach elementary and middle school students in Georgia about agriculture, the source of their food and fiber. The curriculum series continues in use.
The college domain contains about 28,000 acres, including approximately 23,000 acres in pine saw timber. Other agricultural operations include an equine center, a small dairy for teaching and research, beef and sheep herds, pastures, and the growing of hay for the animals. Agriculture continues to be an important emphasis as Berry enters its second century.
Tracy Byers, Martha Berry: The Sunday Lady of Possum Trot (New York: Putnam's Sons, 1932).
Ouida Dickey and Doyle Mathis, Berry College: A History (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 2005).
Harnett T. Kane and Inez Henry, Miracle in the Mountains (Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, 1956).
Doyle Mathis and Ouida Dickey, Martha Berry: Sketches of Her Schools and College (Atlanta: Wings, 2001).
Doyle Mathis, Berry College
Ouida W. Dickey, Berry College
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