History of FISC

Dean William A. Henry College of Agriculture and Short Course Director, 1891-1895
Dean William A. Henry
College of Agriculture and
Short Course Director, 1891-1895

On Sept. 1, 1880, W.A. Henry began his service as dean with the University of Wisconsin. University President John Bascom assigned Dean Henry the task of establishing the College of Agriculture as part of the university. Henry had little to work with except some acreage of farmland and the mandate to establish a training program that would be useful to young farmers.

Several farm organizations which were active at that time-the State Agricultural Society, the State Horticultural Society, the State Grange of the Patrons of Husbandry, and the State Dairymen’s Association – greatly influenced the development of the College of Agriculture. These organizations, rather than individual farmers, really determined the form and function of the College of Agriculture.

Young men were not clamoring for college training, nor were operating farmers asking for what later became Extension services. Quoting Henry: “I found, upon coming to the state university, that we had no agricultural department, unless you can call a farm an agricultural department. We had no buildings; we had no room even in the building, we had no museum, we had no appropriations, excepting the farm…as for the education of the farmer, since there was not a young man in the institution studying agriculture, I felt that I was wholly alone in my work”.

Henry listed his expenditure’s as $3,560.56 for the farm, $1,200 for his own salary, and $2,500 for mechanical arts – this latter not an agricultural item.

In 1885, the University of Wisconsin Regents accepted the report of a two-man committee of William T. Vilas, a “lawyer of high degree”, and H.D. Hitt, a farmer from Oakfield, who was a prominent Granger. Their recommendation was “that a shorter course for the winter months confined to the term of two years, would be more popular and appropriate”. This report was unanimously adopted, and the Farm Short Course (as it was then called) was mandated on Jan. 20, 1885.

The Short Course was the first strictly agricultural course to be given in the state, and was in session by January 1886. The course covered a period of 12 weeks and embraced 60 lectures, each on some phase of agriculture, agricultural chemistry and agricultural botany. Twenty-four lectures were held on veterinary science.

The faculty consisted of four instructors: Professor W.A. Henry (Agriculture), Professor H.B. Arrnsby (Chemistry), Professor A.B. Seymour (Botany), and Dr. T.Y. Atkinson, State Veterinarian (Veterinary Science).

Short Course students arrive on campus.
Short Course students arrive on campus.

The lectures and instruction were very practical, embracing such subjects as Climate and Agricultural Resources of Different Sections of the United States; Livestock; Land Drainage; Farm Crops; Farm Buildings; Roads and Road Making; Farm Accounts; Stock Feeding; Milk; Manures; Fertilizers; Tillage; Plant Diseases; Weeds; Grasses; Diseases of Animals and their Treatment.

The program was designed to make these courses useful to those whose means and time were limited, and who wanted the knowledge to successfully con­ duct a farm business. The courses were made up so all the work was completed in one winter’s term, but anyone so desiring, might devote his whole time to any one of four specialties offered.

Requirements were that students in the course should be at least 16 years old, and have a common school education. While no entrance examinations were required, those students who came poorly prepared could not expect to receive the full benefits of the course.

The expenses for the winter term of the Short Course were about $65 “for the economical student” including board, incidental fees and books. Most students had to locate and pay for rooming facilities.

The Short Course’s popularity was reflected in the enrollment of 20 young men for the first session. The largest number of students ever enrolled in any one year in the regular long course (degree) program prior to this time was nine students. These 20 students came from 13 Wisconsin counties, and one attended from Zumbrota, MN.

The Farmers Institutes were another agricultural education program that became quite popular and began in 1885-86. A legislative bill provided for such institutes as a means of taking scientific agricultural knowledge from the college out into the field. These meetings, with exhibits such as corn, grains and other crop materials, were often held in town halls, school gymnasiums or other large open areas. This, of course, was really the beginning of agricultural Extension training. This local contact with specialists from various phases of agriculture led farm operators to believe that the College of Agriculture might be a “pretty good” place to send their sons for short-term practical training.

Stephen M. Babcock (r) with Dean W. A. Henry (l) and UW President Thomas C. Chamberlin gather around the original milk tester, about 1918.
Stephen M. Babcock (r) with Dean W. A. Henry (l) and UW President Thomas C. Chamberlin gather around the original milk tester, about 1918.

In 1888 three new courses were added to “round out” the training program. The Agricultural Physics program was given by Professor F.H. King, and was designed to demonstrate the elementary principles of physics in energy and work, force and application of the lever, the wheel, the axle, the pulley, the inclined plane and the wedge, as used during this period of muscle power on the farm. King also dealt with soil and water movement, farm building construction, building ventilation and protection from lightning. King is sometimes referred to as “the father of the silo.”

A 120-hour course in practical mechanics, included work on the so-called university Madrino shops, and covered bench, woodworking, turning and blacksmithing. (Welding was not part of metalworking at that time.) In 1890, a new course was added in horticulture and entomology.

The year 1890 was often considered a banner year, because of Professor Stephen M. Babcock’s perfection of the official fat test for milk – known worldwide as the Babcock fat test.

This accomplishment by Babcock marked the beginning of the dairy department in the College of Agriculture. At this time, the old one-story milk house was replaced by a two-story frame building to be used as a dairy. This building was constructed by Babcock, the University carpenter, and a farm foreman named Adams.

Largely as a result of the Babcock test and its effects on dairy production and processing, Wisconsin became a leader in this field. In 1892 Hiram Smith Hall was built for $40,000 to house the dairy department.

The educational background of students attending the Short Course has varied widely over the years. Prior to 1900, a large proportion of the farm youth had only a country school education with just a few continuing in high schools. At the turn of the century, the trend to high school education increased,, and by the 1920s, high school graduation was quite common for students of all backgrounds.

Short Course enrollment rose from 20 the first year, 1885-86, to 102 students in 1895. During this period, there were more students every year in the Short Course program than there were in the degree program. Between 1895 and 1910 enrollment rose from 102 to 475 students.

In 1891, there were 70 students in the so-called New Dairy Course, and many others were reportedly turned away. Silo construction got off to a strong start that year, too. Silos were made of wooden staves, tile, and eventually concrete or monolithic construction. Contractors building concrete silos had make their own forms, until later years when commercially built forms became available.

R.A. Moore FISC Director, 1893-1906
Ransom A. Moore
Short Course Director 1895-1906

In 1894, experiments were being conducted on a Tuberculin test for cattle. While this practice took considerable promoting, it did result in control and eventual elimination of this common problem. William F. Renk, who attended Short Course in 1898, wrote in a letter that the Short Course program inspired him to return to his Sun Prairie farm and do the first TB testing of cattle, build the first silo in the area, and buy his first purebred sheep. One of Renk’s most prized possessions was a gold medal for his proficiency in livestock judging.

Professor R.A. Moore was the second Short Course director, serving from about 1895 until 1906. He was an enthusiastic instructor and director and enrollment increased from about 100 to about 300 during his directorship. He added new courses and new instructors.

Moore had a way of using facilities and materials and of arousing interest in his students. His great interest was crop improvement, and seed grain improvement was high on his list. This interest resulted in the organization of the Wisconsin Experiment Association in February 1901.

The statement has been made that “it is doubtful if the Wisconsin Expe1iment Association could have been organized without the aid of Short Course students and graduates”.

Moore had his Short Course students bringing from their home farm or locality 10 years of corn. Of course, they usually brought what they thought was best. The students studied, compared and judged these samples and discussed what could be done in selection to improve corn. This was long before the advent of hybrid corn production. On the site of the present Stock Pavilion in 1899, Moore started breeding work in grains adapted to Wisconsin conditions. Moore started his work with a campaign to control oat smut. He estimated the annual loss due to oat smut in Wisconsin at about $5 million. He traveled on his bicycle visiting farmers and druggists, teaching farmers the need and method for treatment and encouraging druggists to stock the necessary materials for treatment. He demonstrated the need by using the “barrel hoop” method.

Under Moore’s directorship a literary society was organized, giving students an opportunity to speak in public. Parliamentary practice was taught, so that students would know how to handle meetings under Roberts Rules of Order. Instruction was also offered on organizational procedures for farm club and even for conducting school board meetings. It was believed that many of the young men would eventually become members of school boards, and school meetings were important to the educational welfare of the community.

Daniel H. Otis Short Course Director, 1907-1918
Daniel H. Otis
Short Course Director 1907-1918

In 1900, the Short Course was made co-educational, but it wasn’t until 75 years later that women started to enroll in appreciable numbers.

More than 2,500 students attended classes taught by Moore. In addition, he had boys and girls in rural schools interested in corn improvement through so­-called corn clubs. He worked on this program with the superintendent of schools in his home county. The corn clubs may have planted the seed of the idea for what later became the 4-H movement.

Through the encouragement of Moore in 1906, the Richland County superintendent started the first boys dub dealing with grain improvement. These dubs were formed to spread the pedigree grains far and near, and many growers of pedigree grains got the original seed from the contest plots of their sons and daughters. In 1907, 13 counties had active pro­ grams. By 1912, the work had spread so rapidly that there were 52 contests, and the fair associations appropriated $28,000 in prize money. The agronomy department furnished the seeds to 26,000 boys and girls in these contests.

By 1913, the work was carried on in cooperation with the U. S. Department of Agriculture.

Banks became interested in these grain improvement contests for youth. The Bank of Mineral Point, through an officer, J. W. Hutchinson, was reputedly the first cooperate with the agronomy department. In promoting these contests, the New Richmond and Bloomington Banks were often mentioned. Four years later, Moore was asked to address the meeting of the State Bankers Association in Milwaukee. In 1911, the Wisconsin Experiment Association was organized at the State Fair.

Quoting from a thesis written by Alan P. Uhl in 1920, he wrote: “The following is conclusive proof of the wisdom of this work and the farsightedness of the originator (Moore) of the plan, in order to come in contact with people who were to be the farmers of tomorrow. The movement has branched out and is working in cooperation with every agency that I affiliated with the development of the boy and the girl. The work started by the Agronomy Department has grown until now the Bankers Associations, Livestock Breeders Associations, the newspaper editors, the University Extension Department, the YMCA secretaries, the State Department of Education, and many philanthropic persons and agencies, as well as the Agricultural Colleges are promoting the boy’s and girl’s dub work in the state.”

In the field of Animal Husbandry, Professor George C. Humphrey was noted among the first teachers of livestock breeding and judging work in about 1903. Short Course students of that era remember that Humphrey and his wife, who had a home on campus near the Stock Pavilion, would open their home to students. Humphrey became known as sort of a “father away from home” for Short Course students. At this time, there were few automobiles, and transportation home by train was not practical every weekend.

Dean Harry L. Russell College of Agriculture
Dean Harry L. Russell
College of Agriculture

Harry L. Russell was dean of the College of Agriculture from 1907 to 1930. Dean Russell had been on staff as a bacteriologist and had considerable contact with Short Course students. He was reputed to have been thoroughly sold on the Short Course program. It was during the 1910-11 program that the Short Course had its largest enrollment of 475 students. At that same time the degree program enrollment surpassed that of the Short Course. World War I then had an unfavorable effect on college attendance trend.

In 1907, Professor D.H. Otis succeeded Moore as director of the Short Course. Otis was a graduate of Kansas Agricultural College with a bachelor’s degree in 1892 and a master’s degree in 1897. He was a professor in animal nutrition and assistant to the dean of the College of Agriculture. In 1909, he was made professor of Farm Management. He left the college during World War I to serve in France, and when he returned he worked for the Wisconsin Bankers Association.

James B. Borden Short Course Director, 1918-1919
James B. Borden
Short Course Director 1918-1919

The 1912-13 Short Course included 33 courses, plus some special laboratory work, and the faculty list included 44 names. A pictorial record was kept in those days consisting of composite photos, which included the photo and name of every graduate, the instructors and the dean.

In 1917, the format of the Short Course schedule was changed from 12 to 15 weeks, and the three 5-week sessions were established. Otis was director until 1917, followed by J.P. Borden from 1918-19.

The three 5-week terms worked out well for the students with the first session starting about mid­November (five weeks before the Christmas vacation period) . The second term ran from Christmas break to the second week in February, and the third from mid-February to mid-March. This structure proved quite satisfactory in terms of the most pressing times on the farm.

World War I was a period of many changes and adjustments with increasing demands for labor on farms and in industry. This affected college enrollment at all levels. Short Course attendance dropped to less than 50 percent of former years. following the war, however, attendance was up again to over 400 students.

Earl J. Cooper Short Course Director, 1920 - 1922
Earl J. Cooper
Short Course Director 1920 – 22

The shortage of farm labor encouraged increased mechanization on the farm. More farms had gasoline-powered equipment; electrical service to rural areas was expanded to accommodate motor driven equipment. Roads were improved and farm people became more mobile. Large herd units were developing, and better farm methods were emerging.

Physical education, including swimming and basketball, became part of the Short Course students’ physical activities for the first time. Dr. Walter Meanwell, who has been called “the father of basketball;’ was in charge of UW basketball at the time and gave some guidance to the Short Course basketball program. Gymnastics and wrestling also became me available.

Chris L. Christensen became dean of the College of Agriculture in 1930, a post he held until 1943. The period preceding Christensen’s deanship was one of sagging Short Course enrollment. Following a short-lived increase between 1920 and 1922 during E.J. Cooper’s directorship, the slump in Short Course attendance was in some measure affected by the Depression. Increasing degree program enrollment taxed the available housing facilities on and near campus, making short-term housing difficult to find.

Short Course graduating class of 1924
Short Course graduating class of 1924

Christensen added some new dimensions to the Short Course program because of his particular interest in this phase of agricultural college instruction. He teamed up with Assistant Dean V.E. Kivlin, whom he appointed as director of the Short Course in 1929.

It was during the Kivlin-Christensen era that the course offerings were strengthened. Tractor power was making inroads on horse-drawn equipment and power. More farms had electrical power available for lighting, pumping water, grinding feed and cooling milk. Commercial fertilizers were being tried with success, and hybrid corn was becoming a reality. Milking machines were being tried, and dairy herd improvement techniques and testing programs were becoming tools for breeding programs. These new practices became a part of “Training for Farming,” a phrase that for many years graced the cover of the Short Course catalogs.

During the 1931-32 Short Course session, the University of Wisconsin Regents first made available twenty $75-scholarships for Short Course students. Short Course students now were housed on campus in so-called “dormitories,” which consisted of remodeled wooden barracks from World War I. While not deluxe, these accommodations were in keeping with Christensen’s idea gained from his study of the Danish Folk School. He had made a trip to Denmark and was very impressed with what he called the Danish program. To further make use of the idea, the old sheep judging pavilion was converted into dormitory housing.

Vincent E. Kivlin Short Course Director, 1929-1943
Vincent E. Kivlin
Short Course Director 1929-1943

The dormitory at mealtime was a favorite gathering place three times daily. These housing and dining arrangements made student recruiting easier, because for many this was their first time away from home.
The cost listings in the 1929-30 Short Course catalog were:

  • Room – average price $3 per person per week; 15 weeks-$45
  • Board – average of $6.50 per week;
  • 15 weeks – $97.50
  • Tuition-(Memorial Union, Infirmary, Laboratory, Gym); 15 weeks­ $24.50

The total cost (room, board and tuition) for a 15-week session was $166 – the tuition cost alone in 1984 for a five-week session. Total costs in 1984-85 are estimated to be $1,800.

During the Christensen-Kivlin era, George Briggs (better known as “Soybean Briggs”) was appointed as an associate director of the Short Course. His particular responsibility was the summer picnic programs.

Because of his broad acquaintance with farm people statewide, Briggs was an ideal faculty member to meet with these groups. The Short Course Sun­ day picnics were particularly popular in Polk, St. Croix and Barron counties and were the forerunners of today’s area alumni gatherings.

FISC Director Vincent E. Kivlin lecturing in Agriculture Hall auditorium.
FISC Director Vincent E. Kivlin lecturing in Agriculture Hall auditorium.

Early in this era (1933-34), Christensen and Kivlin began a series of evening forums for all students, which covered subjects not normally included in daytime instruction.

Christensen talked on the relation of agriculture to world markets, Major Morphy of the music department discussed music appreciation, and Dr. E. L. Sevringhaus visited about healthful living. Moore had stories of an early trapper, Professor John Kolb discussed the responsibilities of a gentleman (social niceties), and Christensen and Kivlin talked about the new Short Course program and the Danish influence. The history of Wisconsin agriculture was discussed by Charles L. Hill, who was then a Commissioner of Agriculture, and a graduate of the first session of the Short Course in 1885-86.

The Danish Folk School idea stressed by Kivlin and Christensen probably exposed many Short Course students to music; agricultural chemistry was taught by Conrad Elvehjem (who later became president of the University of Wisconsin); farm law was taught by a local attorney, Miles Riley; J.L. Bewick, Short Course director from 1922-1928, and Wakelin McNeel discussed 4-H Club work; and Kolb discussed rural society.

During the 1935-36 session, the Farm Short Course became the official title to what had been called simply the “Short Course.”

Students look on as a cow is tied lying on the ground. Conrad Erickson is in the center of the circle, second from right.
Students look on as a cow is tied lying on the ground. Conrad Erickson is in the center of the circle, second from right.

Kleinheinz Hall, which had been a sheep barn, was converted to a dormitory for Farm Short Course students in 1935-36. This facility, in addition to the old barracks, provided housing for 250 men.

In the late 1930s, new names appeared on the Short Course faculty: Aldo Leopold-game management specialist, H.D. Bruhn – Agricultural Engineering, H.L. Ahlgren – Agronomy, H.L. Shands­ – Agronomy, John Barton-rural citizenship, Paul Phillips-agricultural chemistry, Stan Witzel­ – Agricultural Engineering and structures, Glen Vergeront – farm and dairy records, Evert Wallenfeldt – dairy products quality, and L.E. Casida – genetics and animal breeding.

During the Kivlin­ Christensen period, John Steuart Curry was appointed artist-in-residence at the University of Wisconsin, and he had contact with the Farm Short Course students during evening forums.

Other forum speakers included: Wheeler McMillen, editor of the Farm Journal, Robert LaFollette, US Senator, Michael Cleary, president of the New York Life Insurance Company, and Robert E. Wood, president of Sears Roebuck Company. Wheeler McMillen, editor of the Farm Journal, Robert LaFollette, U. S. Senator, Midrnel Cleary, president of the New York Life In­surance Company, and Robert E. Wood, president of Sears Roebuck Company.

Dean Kivlin was director when Life Magazine came to the campus, and did a thorough job of photographing Short Course students, not only on campus, but, in some cases, at their homes. The Jan. 22, 1940, issue of Life Magazine spread the Wisconsin Short Course story far and wide. On several occasions, the Milwaukee Journal featured articles about the Short Course.

Following the Christensen-Kivlin era, E.B. Fred became dean of the College of Agriculture, and Kivlin was appointed assistant dean, or dean of instruction.

Short Course Director John R. Barton
John R. Barton
Short Course Director 1943-1945

John R. Barton was appointed director of the Farm Short Course for the 1943-45 period. This was the World War II period, and enrollment declined to about 90 students. The summer picnics which had been initiated by “Soybean Briggs” became a casualty of the war.

In 1946 J. Frank Wilkinson was appointed director of the Short Course, a position that terminated in 1968 and was the longest tenure for any Short Course director. During this post-war period, veterans were returning, and their military training somewhat flavored the course offerings and credits allowable. In the first session, Short Course enrollment increased to 260 students – an improvement over the war years.

The years that followed were periods of high participation in both the Short Course classroom and extracurricular activities. For the first time, there was a little newspaper named The Short Courser. The first issue, a mimeographed edition with a masthead developed under the guidance of Professor Byron Jorns of the agricultural journalism department, came out on Jan. 24, 1947. The paper’s name resulted from a student contest to name this news carrier. The first editor was Russell Robinson, who moved on to a position with the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Russell was one of a considerable number who, after graduation from Short Course, enrolled in the degree program and subsequently earned one or more degrees.

For many years, the pictorial record of the Short Course consisted of a composite picture of the “head shots” of each student and faculty. These composite photos were about 20 by 24 inches, and were framed and glass covered, and hung in the students’ or faculty members’ homes. There are probably many of these composite pictures still found in Wisconsin farm homes.

In 1947, a committee of students and the director decided to produce a small yearbook with photos and information about the various Short Course members, officers, faculty and other groups, as well as the year’s activities. The cost of this annual publication, called the Little Badger, was covered by sales to Short Course students.

The cover of the first issue of the Little Badger featured the Forage Crop Class flowing out of the front door of Agriculture Hall with their instructor, Henry Ahlgren. Again, the class officers and director called on Jorns, and he designed a cover which was used on the Little Badgers for the next 21years.

Ira L. Baldwin served as dean of the College of Agriculture from 1945 to 1948. Baldwin showed great interest in both the students and in the programs developed, making himself available often for meetings and participation in assembly programs. By 1948, enrollment was up to 325 students. The forums were continued and held in the Agriculture Hall Auditorium three afternoons a week. The forums followed the last class at 4:35 p.m. Monday was used for programming, organizing various activities, and committee or special group meetings. Tuesday assemblies brought in special interest speakers from agriculture or closely related businesses and organizations.

One very popular speaker at these assemblies was William F. Renk of Sun Prairie, who graduated from the Short Course in 1898. Renk always spoke highly of the Short Course, as noted earlier, and was profoundly affected by the training he received. His sons Walter and Wilbur earned bachelor’s degrees in the degree program in the College of Agriculture and also took advanced training in business management. For many years, the Renks have operated a family corporation and have been active supporters of higher education.

Other forum speakers included newspaper editors, college educators, artists, secretaries of agriculture, and college specialists.

Construction of Jorns and Humphrey halls.
Construction of Jorns and Humphrey halls.

During the 1948-49 year, the old Short Course Hall (the discarded barracks behind the Stock Pavilion) was closed and razed. This created a housing problem for Short Course students. Although students were living in Kleinheinz Hall, located where the dairy herds are now, housing was still short for about 85 male students. This dilemma was solved by housing the dorm overflow and housefellows in vacant barracks at Truax Field.

The Short Course housing facilities had been a matter of concern for many years for the College administration as well as for Short Course alumni. As a result of the efforts of the administration and alumni, the Wisconsin Legislature, recognizing the need for housing, provided funds to build two dormitories and furnish them. The planning committee for the new Short Course dormitories consisted of Dean Ira L. Baldwin, Professor Larry Graber (agronomy), Dean V.E. Kivlin, Professor Stanley Witzel (ag engineering buildings specialist), John Barton (former Short Course director), and Dean Zuill of the School of Home Economics.

On Oct. 18, 1948, the Short Course students and faculty gathered in the lakeshore area for the official ground breaking for two new Short Course Dormitories. Each unit was built to accommodate 120 residents in 40 rooms.

These units were later officially named Humphrey Hall and Jorns Hall. Professor Humphrey, a specialist in dairy cattle, was a faculty member who took special interest in the needs and welfare of students on campus. Byron Jorns, of agricultural journalism, is remembered by both students and faculty for his contributions in the art and journalistic field.

Dean R.K. Fraker took over as dean of the College in 1949, the year students moved into Humphrey Hall. In January 1950, Jorns Hall was ready for occupancy.

During the 1950-51 session, the first blood bank was set up for the Short Course at the dorms. This was a new experience for most of the students, and a little selling job had to be done. Sixty-three donors showed up for the first blood drive, but the idea was easier to sell in subsequent years.

FISC Glee Club
FISC Glee Club

In the 1950s, Short Course was fortunate to have the services of Edward Hugdahl, of the UW­ Extension music department. The student body had a band, an octet and a glee club, and used the entire Short Course student body on the Memorial Union stage for a 35-minute program. The 1961 Little Badger was dedicated to Hugdahl in appreciation of many years of musical and stage direction of the Short Course students. During the 1961-62 Short Course year, Hugdahl produced a stage show as the kick-off for the annual Farm and Home Week on campus. This event became a Short Course attraction for several years.

With a leader to direct the musical talent among the students, there were many occasions where such services were requested and granted. The Short Course quartets entertained on many occasions and competed in the Ag Campus Quartet Contest, winning first place on several occasions.

The 1958-59 Short Course stage show included Wisconsin’s Alice in Dairyland, who did the commentary for the performance. This gave the students contact with the State Department of Agriculture and added a nice touch to the show. All the stage props were made by Short Course students.

Participation in the annual Little International Show was encouraged as a worthwhile ag campus activity. Short Course students drew animals for fitting and showing, and competed along with the degree students.

Short Course students also participated in election of the Little International queen. The spirit of competition ran high at times. Queen candidates were invited to a Short Course assembly session, introduced and asked to speak, escorted to and entertained at the Short Course dining hall with music groups and the entire Short Course student body.

Short Course Tug-of-war team.
Short Course Tug-of-war team.

The Little International Tug-of-War usually pitted the degree course against the Short Course. Short Course men tried out for pulling, and usually a housefellow selected a team and coached them before the event.

In 1956, interested alumni started the Short Course Alumni Association in Wisconsin to develop ideas and activities which would strengthen Short Course enrollment, build on the current scholarship program and sharpen performance of Short Course students. The Short Course alumni proposed the development of their program through county alumni groups.

Officers and directors of the Wisconsin Short Course Alumni in 1960 were: Myron Clark, Oshkosh, president; John Malcheski, Pulaski, vice­president; Charles Raguse, Madison, secretary; Lyle Miller, Neenah, treasurer; and Bertrand Quale, David Conrad, Peter Senn, Robert Wepner, Clifford Griffith, Howard Huschka (1959-60 class representative), Vernon Bell and Edward Boeing.

This board of directors, under the leadership of Myron Clark (Short Course 1938), set up and successfully accomplished a “Campus Highlights Program” for prospective students. Clark and his board contacted businesses, organizations and individuals who were interested in Short Course, and raised enough money to underwrite the costs. The prospective students from throughout the state were brought to campus for the Little International. They were taken on campus tours by Short Course students and invited to a meal at the Short Course dining room at Breese Terrace as guests of the alumni group.

Following their meal, there was a short program after the deans and other important personalities greeted and spoke briefly with the prospective students. The Short Course student president and some of the music groups also appeared on the pro­ gram. Later the group was taken to the Little International afternoon show, again as guests of the Campus Highlights Committee. Clark, who was the guiding force of this endeavor, was to have been awarded a plaque for Outstanding Service to Agriculture by the Short Course Alumni. Unfortunately, Clark passed away, and the award was presented posthumously, with Mrs. Clark accepting the award for her late husband.

FISC 75th Anniversary Stage Show
FISC 75th Anniversary Stage Show

The Short Course 75th anniversary celebration during the 1960-61session started with the entire student body on the Union Theater Stage for the opening of the annual Farm and Horne Week program and the annual Short Course Reunion. Almost 500 present and former students attended the reunion in Great Hali. Joan Engh, who was the reigning Alice in Dairyland, was the narrator for the stage production, directed by Professor Hugdahl.

Sponsored by the Carl Duisberg Society of Cologne, West Germany, seven German agricultural students came to Wisconsin on April 4, 1962.

The Short Course director had arranged for seven host families, all former Short Course students, to take these trainees into their homes and have them work on their farms until November, when they would enroll in the 1962-63 Short Course. Following the close of Short Course in March, many of the trainees went West to gain additional farm experience and earn money to return home.

In 1963-64, there were nine new trainees from West Germany, who were also placed on farms, and then in the fall and winter attended the Farm Short Course.

There were 10 trainees in the third year, and 10 more in 1965-66. More West German students came in 1966-67, as well as a number of trainees from Finland. The 1967-68 session included five men and two women from West Germany and eight men from Finland. This program was made possible by the cooperation of the host families, all of whom were former Short Course students. Some families participated as hosts in this program each year.

The Short Course Alumni Reunion the following year was attended by nearly 600 alumni and friends. Wisconsin Gov. Warren Knowles, who participated in the program. The alumni board awarded Donald McDowell, Secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, the Service to Agriculture Award. Although McDowell and his wife were in Florida at the time, the presentation was made by telephone. The award was made at the Great Hall gathering, over the line to the McDowell’s in their Florida hotel room. Mr. McDowell responded over the line to the alumni gathering, where his son Tom, a Short Course graduate, was present to accept the plaque on his father’s behalf.

Service to Agriculture Awards have also been presented to Keith Hawks and Peter Senn. Hawks, an official of the Wisconsin Public Service Corporation, in Green Bay, is a Short Course graduate and housefellow who later earned his bachelor’s degree. He has been active in the alumni activities, served on the alumni board, and established a high-level scholarship program sponsored by his company. He was the recipient of the Service to Agriculture Award in 1972.

The 1973 Service to Agriculture Award recipient was Peter Senn of Campbellsport. Senn, a Short Course graduate in 1950, served for several years on the alumni board. He and Mrs. Senn had the distinction of cooperating for eight years as host family to trainees from Germany and Finland. The Senn farm became a gathering place for the trainees on many occasions. The Senns travelled to Germany and the surrounding countries in 1983 and visited all of the students who had lived with them during their training. Mr. Senn served on several state boards and committees, and became the executive director of the State Soil Conservation Committee. Mrs. Senn served as chai1wornan of the Wisconsin State Fair Board. When President Gerald Ford toured Wisconsin, he visited the Senn Farm to visit and had breakfast with the family.

Short Course Promenade 1953
Short Course Promenade 1953

The Short Course Prom, one of the last events before graduation, was held each year during Wilkinson’s 22 years as director. This was a semi-formal occasion with a dance band. Students invited their girlfriends, faculty and wives were invited and parents often joined the occasion. For many students, this was their first prom. A prom king was elected by the students, and he chose his own queen.

Short Course scholarships were very important to many students, making it either entirely possible or easier for them to attend Short Course. Quoting from the 1968 Little Badger, the last year of Wilkinson’s directorship, “At this session (1967-68) of the Short Course, 134 students enjoyed the benefit of financial assistance in the form of scholarships. The total of all scholarship funds amounted to $20,511. Donors included the University of Wisconsin Regents, County Bankers Associations, individual banks, Production Credit Associations, Wisconsin Public Service Corporation, farm organizations, service clubs, trust funds, cooperatives and private businesses. A recently announced new scholarship program will add for the 1968-69 session, 10 scholarships of $500 each, plus a $1,000 Excellence in Teaching Award for a Short Course instructor.”

Short Course history spanning 1968 to 1983 records a time of significant change along with a basic continuity of major course offerings in production agriculture. There was a name change from Farm Short Course to Farm and Industry Short Course, reflecting a move toward greater course offerings in areas of agri-business and more specifically, in courses in processing and marketing of agricultural products. These changes reflected recommendations made in a report of an extensive faculty task force study of the future needs of agriculture in Wisconsin and how the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences (CALS) should organize its resources to meet those perceived needs. The recommendations from the study were published in a 1967 report, “The College of Agricultural and Life Sciences in a Changing World.”

A portion of the report concerns the faculty view of how the Short Course curriculum should be revised and the general curriculum upgraded to better serve the agricultural needs of the state in the years ahead. A few quotations from that report indicate the principal thrust of the changes recommended:

The Farm Short Course should be renamed, Farm and Agricultural Industry Short Courses.
The present Farm Short Course has served a very significant need f or Wisconsin’s agricultural production, but there is also an increasing need for persons trained for jobs in agricultural business and industries. An expanded program should be built upon the present strong base established by the Farm Short Course, and the pro­ gram should be given a name and structure that will reflect more adequately the scope of programs required to meet the needs of agriculture.

Short Course students should have a choice of three basic career options: Production and Management, Service Industries, and Processing and Marketing.
Students should have a choice of specialized programs or options as follows:

  1. Production and Management
    1. Livestock farming (with emphasis as required upon dairy, meat animals or poultry).
    2. Crop farming (with specialization in agronomic, vegetable and fruit crops, and with floriculture, turf and ornamentals).
  2. Service Industries
    1. Farm equipment service and sales
    2. Feed, seed, grain, f ertilizers, and farm chemicals
    3. Livestock services, DH IA testers, fieldmen, and technicians
  3. Processing and Marketing of Agricultural Products
    1. Raw material procurement and quality evaluation
    2. Food processing operations
    3. Food sales, marketing, and distribution

Certain courses should be required of all students enrolled in the Short Course-communications, agricultural computations, agricultural business and agricultural chemistry. A core of other courses would be common and required within each of the options. Specialty curricula within the options would be developed in consultation with the departments and industry representatives.

All courses should be organized so a student can complete the program within one Short Course session. All options in the program should begin on the same date and be completed in 20 weeks composed of four 5-week terms with course load not to exceed four courses per term.

Maurice E. White FISC Director 1968 - 1983
Maurice E. White
FISC Director 1968-1983

Shortly following publication the report, there was a change in the administration of the Short Course. Frank Wilkinson, retired on June 30, 1968 and Maurice E. White was appointed assistant dean and director of Short Course on July 1, 1968. It thus fell to the new director to proceed with implementing recommendations in the faculty report.

Since the recommended development of a curriculum option in Processing and Marketing of Agricultural Products would demand the largest number of new courses in the Short Course curriculum, Glenn Pound, CALS dean, appointed an ad hoc 15-member faculty committee, including several department chairmen and representing six departments, to consider developing this option. The committee presented its report to the dean in June 1969.

The committee favored developing an option in Processing and Marketing of Agricultural Products, and suggested adding eight new courses to the curriculum to make the new option feasible. The Dean concurred, and allocated some additional instructional funds to departments that were most heavily involved.

Concurrently, White appointed a group of smaller ad hoc faculty committees to consider the other options suggested in the task force report. These committees considered implementing options in Dairy Herd Improvement Association (DHIA) Fieldman; Farm Machinery Sales and Service; Dairy Farm Management; Beef and Swine Farm Management; Grounds Management; Seed, Feed, Fertilizer and Pesticide Sales and Service; and Soil Conservation Technician.

A poultry class in the 1970s
A poultry class in the 1970s

After studying the potential employment opportunities in these areas, examining the ability of the vocational-technical system to meet such educational needs, and considering the instructional resources of the departments concerned, three of the seven were recommended for implementation-DHIA Fieldman, Dairy Farm Management, and Beef and Swine Farm Management. These three options, plus the option in Processing and Marketing of Agricultural Products, were added to the curriculum and made available to Short Course students by the fall of 1m. All of these options, except DHIA Fieldman, required six 5-week Short Course terms to complete. The DHIA Fieldman option could be completed in three 5-week terms. Suggested course calendars were worked out and offered to students that would allow them to complete all requirements for the various options in the stated time. Appropriate graduation certificates were prepared and presented to those students completing the specialty options.

Two important curriculum recommendations for required courses came from the task force report. First, there were strong and widely held feelings that all Short Course students should be required to take a course in communications. Faculty members observed that many students, upon completing their high school requirements, still lacked basic skills in writing. Grammar and spelling were often found to be less than adequate. The department of agricultural journalism was the logical choice to offer such a course. Communications courses were already offered by the department but these courses were not required. After lengthy deliberation, the agricultural journalism faculty concluded that they could not offer a course for the entire Short Course enrollment without substantial additional teaching personnel. In addition, there would be the question of funding such personnel for the entire year when they would be teaching for only 15 weeks. Thus, the required communications course recommendation was not implemented.

Second, the task force perceived the need for yet another required course for all students-basic mathematics. Many courses in the curriculum required basic skills in using figures and working out computations. Task force members believed many students lacked these needed skills. A faculty member in the department of agricultural engineering agreed to teach such a basic mathematics course. But, the offer was to teach a required course only for those students falling below a certain level of proficiency in an examination of all incoming students. The offer was accepted by the Standing Faculty Committee for Short Course and the course, Farm Computations I, proved very successful. Only about 15 of those students taking the exam were required to take the course. But usually there were about twice as many enrolled. The same faculty member offered an advanced course, Farm Computations II, and this course was also well attended and received.

The four new options were never particularly popular with students even though the options were publicized widely in the Short Course catalog and described by the Short Course director during high school agriculture classes and career days. Perhaps one reason for the lack of interest was that the majority of students attended Short Course for only one 15-week session. Most of the specialty options required two 15-week sessions. Another possible explanation was that students seem to value free choice of courses rather than following a prescribed set of courses, even though there was considerable choice of electives along with the required courses for a specialty.

The end result was that the specialty option in Processing and Marketing of Agricultural Products was dropped after only a few years. The specialty option in DHIA Fieldman was also dropped after only a few years for two reasons. First, several of the courses developed for the “processing” option were also required for the DHIA Fieldman option. In addition, there were changes in training plans between the university and the dairy industry making it appear advantageous to drop the DHIA Fieldman option from the Short Course curriculum.

Still another perceived need for the Short Course curriculum was additional instruction in management-more precisely, business management. Such a course was added to the curriculum in 1970. Recommendations were sought from the UW­ Madison School of Business for someone who was qualified to teach a course in business principles without regard to any particular commodities. The course continued to be offered through the 1982-83 session and proved popular with students, with the instructors generally receiving high evaluations.

With all of the noted increases in course offerings, mostly those related to agri-business rather than production agriculture, the Standing Faculty Committee for Short Course considered the task force’s suggestion to change the name of the long-standing Farm Short Course. The new name, Farm and Industry Short Course, was chosen to reflect the expanded course options. Even though options and some of the courses through the years have been dropped, the name has been retained.

An early casualty in the Short Course curriculum offerings in the 1968-83 period was the Music for Men course which for many years had been taught by faculty in the UW-Extension music department. Along with the instruction, these faculty members had offered their time and expertise in organizing a band and chorus among Short Course students.

These were very successful. But in 1968, the Short Course director was informed that because of budgetary restrictions and some changes in policy, the faculty in Extension music could no longer offer their services for these musical opportunities in the Short Course without a regular budget for same. A decision was made initially by the CALS dean to provide funds for a formal course in music, as well as for a choral director and accompanist. But the faculty in Extension who had been so successful with these offerings previously, informed the director that their services were no longer available. For several years attempts were made to keep the pro­ grams going by employing ad hoc instructors and directors from outside the university. But interest in the programs fell off precipitously, and by 1974, both the formal course and the effort to organize a chorus were dropped.

During the 1968-83 period, very significant additional funding was added to the Short was given to the college and invested by the UW Foundation, the income and a portion of principal from which was to be used for scholarships for Short Course students. For Short Course, this has meant an addition of more than $5,000 in scholarships each year.

A second major addition to the Short Course scholarship funds occurred when the board of direc­tors of the Wisconsin Rural Rehabilitation Corporation granted 20 scholarships for Short Course students. Each scholarship covered the tuition and fees for a 15-week session. At the time, this amounted to $262.50 per student. Later the sum was frozen at this amount, but the corporation continued to provide 20 scholarships per year. In 1979, the board appropriated $5,250 for Short Course scholar­ ships. A similar amount has been appropriated each year since.

Still another major addition to Short Course scholarships became available from a bequest in 1980. A sum of $25,000 from the estate of the late Nellie Butt of Viroqua was given to the college, the income from which was to be used for Short Course scholarships. As with the Atwood monies, this bequest was turned over to the UW Foundation for in­ vestment and handling. It has resulted in a more than $2,000 yearly in Short Course scholarships. Thus between 1968 and 1983, Short Course scholar­ ship monies increased from about $20,500 each year to about $25,000. Approximately 78 Wisconsin students received scholarship monies in 1983, ranging from $50 to $400.

But it wasn’t only the students who benefited from increased funds during this 15-yearperiod. In 1977, Delma Woodburn of Madison gave the college $5,000, the interest from which was to be used for an annual Excellence in Teaching Award to be presented to a faculty member teaching in the Short Course program. Again, this gift was invested by the UW Foundation, and has resulted in an annual award of $300 or more being made to a faculty member each year since 1978. Mrs. Woodburn made this gift in honor of her late father, John S. Donald, who owned several farms in Dane County.

Jorns and Humphrey Residence Halls
Jorns and Humphrey Residence Halls

During this period, the Short Course dormitories continued to serve students well, but, as with all residence halls on campus, the Short Course dormitories were expected to generate sufficient income to maintain the facilities. This was a challenge for those administering Jorns and Humphrey Halls because near capacity occupancy was guaranteed for only the 15 weeks of the annual Short Course session, rather than the two full semesters per year of other campus residence halls. As a result, there was a period in the late 1960s and early 1970s when the revolving fund generated by the Short Course dormitories was at a very low ebb. There was even some consideration among university administrators as to whether CALS should continue to administer the dormitories. But, through encouragement from Dean Pound, the Short Course director and his staff were able to initiate a concerted effort to publicize the facilities for transient use during the months when the Short Course students were not on cam­ pus. As a result, the threat of losing the Short Course dormitories was short lived, and income generated during the 15-year period was sufficient to maintain the dormitories. Only funding for major repairs, such as new roofs, had to come from other sources.

Enrollment in the Short Course held relatively steady during the period from 1968 to 1983. In 1968-69, Short Course enrollment was 192 students; In 1982-83, it was 202 students. Enrollment reached a high of 243 in 1981, with the lowest enrollment in 1972 at 164 students. Average enrollment during this 15-year period was 204 students.

As noted in the faculty task force study and again in faculty committee work on various possible options in the curriculum for Short Course students, a recurring question concerned possible duplication of efforts between the Short Course and offerings in the State Vocational-Technical System. If one looked only at course titles, without consideration of faculty and facilities available at the university including dormitories for a resident campus experience, one might logically come to that conclusion. Short Course alumnus Peter Senn, a Fond du Lac County farmer and also a member of the State Board of Vocational-Technical and Adult Education, believed strongly in the need for both programs. He and the Short Course director agreed on this point, and worked to devise a cooperative arrangement between the two systems. In addition, the CAI.S dean and Robert Sorenson, the state director of the Vocational-Technical System, were also interested in cooperation and minimizing duplication. Both supported a cooperative arrangement between the two.

After many meetings during 1975, an agreement was finally reached in December that instituted a cooperative arrangement between the Moraine Park Vocational-Technical District at Fond du Lac, and CALS at the UW-Madison. The principal portions of the agreement were as follows:

  1. A student enrolling in the Farm Management and Operation program at Moraine Park would have the option to attend one or more 5-week terms in the Short Course at Madison. If he or she did so, Moraine Park District would pay the tuition and fees for the student.
  2. Students choosing this option would be enrolled in both programs and upon completing all requirements for graduation would receive graduation certificates from both institutions.
  3. For students choosing this option, Moraine Park District would pay CALS $90 for each student enrolling at Madison for each five-week term.
  4. The director of Short Course at Madison would serve on the Advisory Committee for the Farm Management and Operation program, and that the person in charge of that program at Moraine Park would serve on the Standing Faculty Committee for Farm and Industry Short Course at the UW­ Madison.

The mechanics of the cooperative arrangement worked very well. There never were large numbers of students involved, but those who participated found the arrangement very satisfactory. The largest participation in 1981, was 10 students. Some years there was just one. But the funds coming to the college under the arrangement were placed in an Instructional Improvement Fund and proved to be very helpful for faculty faced with stringent budgets for instructional needs.

There were two changes of note in the make­up of the Short Course student body during this period. In 1968, there were arrangements underway with two foreign countries to bring students from those countries to Wisconsin for work-study experiences. The Ministry of Communications and Public Works in Finland, and the Carl Duisberg Society in West Germany were the supporting groups for the two programs.

In 1968-69, there were six students in the program from Finland, and six students from Germany. The usual procedure was for the students to have a 12-month work-study experience-arriving in Wisconsin in March or April, working on a farm until mid-November, then attending the 15-week Short Course until mid-March. Many were granted a six­ month extension for another farm or agri-business work experience following their Short Course studies.

By the mid-1970s, interest in the two programs was waning. It was difficult for the sponsoring groups to find candidates for the work-study experiences, and some of the participants were really over­ educated for the Short Course study program. These same individuals did not readily accept the hard physical labor necessary on Wisconsin farms. So, by 1975 the two programs were discontinued. But during the period that the Finnish and German students were participating, other countries were also represented in the Short Course, and such foreign representation continued through this reporting period. During the 1968-69 session, there were 15 foreign students in the Short Course from four foreign countries. In the 1982-83 session, there were 11 foreign students from eight countries­ Columbia, Portugal, England, Taiwan, Nicaragua, Venezuela, Brazil and China. And there was always a small number for other states.

The second significant change in the Short Course student body began in the early 1970s. In the 1968-69 Short Course session, there were only three women enrolled. By 1975, female enrollment reached nine. This change resulted in a concurrent change in the housing situation for Short Course women. Prior to 1975, the occasional few women who enrolled were housed in residence facilities on campus-not with the other Short Course students. But by 1975, the number of women enrolled justified reserving one floor of a Short Course dormitory for women. This practice has continued. In the 1982-83 session, there were 15 women enrolled.

Thus, significant changes did occur from 1968 to 1983, yet as in its inception, the major thrust of the Short Course program-preparing young people for successful careers in production agriculture­ continued without interruption. In spite of serious budgetary problems within the entire UW System, CALS has been able to maintain quality instruction for students in all programs, including the Farm and Industry Short Course.

Richard Daluge FISC Director 1983-2008
Richard Daluge
FISC Director 1983-2008

On July 1, 1983, Richard Daluge was appointed Short Course director by Dean Leo Walsh. Daluge had worked for the previous 11 years in the College’s Academic Affairs office, and consequently had worked with many Short Course students and alumni from the White and Wilkinson years. That same month, Walsh appointed a faculty task force to review and recommend changes in the Short Course program. Chaired by Professor Jerold Apps, the committee met throughout the following year.

The 1983-84 Short Course year saw several changes in the program. An orientation program for all Short Course students and their parents was held about two weeks before the start of classes, when students registered for classes, took mathematics placement exams and had photo ID card pictures taken. The program proved very popular and over 95 percent of all students attended. Another new change for 1983-84 was the initiation of a required convocation class for first-year students which meets during the first term, three afternoons per week. In many respects, the convocation is similar to the forums held in the Wilkinson years; the agenda includes tours of Steenbock library, presentations by various deans, and other appropriate topics.

Another change in agricultural campus activities occurred in 1983-84, when the Saddle and Sirloin Club split the livestock showmanship events off from the Little International and created the Badger Livestock Show, held the week following Little “I.” Short Course students continued their long tradition of involvement with the rope pull at Little “I,” the Little Badger, and showing livestock. In addition, students gave the invocation and benediction at the Short Course graduation, which was moved to the Memorial Union Theater from the Stock Pavilion in the late 1970s. Short Course students also participated in several recruiting trips to high schools with the director.

Arlin Brannstrom teaching in the computer lab
Arlin Brannstrom teaching in the computer lab

The 1984-85 session was the start of the computer education era in the Short Course. Two courses in Microcomputers for Farmers were taught for the first time. Each student had his or her own microcomputer to use in the class and learned applications and operation of microcomputers.

Unfortunately, costs continued to rise for Short Course. Wisconsin resident tuition for the 15 weeks was $532.50 in 1984-85, and room costs were $495. The good news was that scholarship monies ranging from $100 to $600 per scholarship continue to be available to deserving students totaling $27,122.

In 1985, the Short Course dorms would have been in operation 35 years, and many improvements had been undertaken since the previous year, including new locking mailboxes, expanded law1dry facility, new door locks, carpeting for some hallways, and new lounge furniture, as well as all new beds and mattresses. The new state 19-year old drinking age law made for several new policy changes in the entire Madison campus dorm system.

FISC History 1985 – 2010
The Short Course Centennial celebration held January 12, 1985 was the single largest gathering of Short Course alumni ever on the UW campus. Nearly 800 alumni and faculty attended the event. Speakers included alumnus Gene Schiller, chair of the Centennial scholarship fund drive, Dean Leo Walsh, Maurice Williamson of the Purdue Ag Alumni Association. Claron Burnett, Professor of Agricultural Journalism, showed a slide presentation on Short Course history.

Students in Reproduction of Farm Animals
Students in Sheep Production

The Centennial celebration generated over $60,000 for a Short Course Centennial endowed scholarship fund at the UW Foundation and a historical photo display was held in the Union Art Gallery with the efforts of intern Valerie (Johnson) Breunig. Past Short Course directors J. Frank Wilkinson and Maury White were present at this event which proved to be a great kick off for the next 100 years of the Short Course.

Shortly after the Centennial celebration, the 1984 Apps Task Force on the Short Course presented its report to Dean Leo Walsh and the FISC faculty committee. The report recommended many changes, which were initiated in the 1985-86 Short Course program year. The most significant change involved switching from a schedule of three five-week terms to one that offered two six­-week terms plus a three-week term. This simplified how credits were allotted: one credit for a three-week course, two credits for a six-week course, and three credits for six week courses with labs. Faculty had to expand their courses six weeks or shrink them to three weeks. Some courses were split over two terms. The program also added a one-week Interim session in early January that offered courses to the general public as well as current degree and short course students. Topics included use of GPS technology, Computers in Farm Management, Ration formulation, Pasture management, Advanced Reproduction Mgt, and many others. This credit system and length of terms for courses is still being used in the 2009-2010 year.

Short Course enrollment began to decline during the 1984-85 year, with about 170 students enrolled, down from 241 students in 1980. Enrollment reached a low point of 95 in the early 1990’s. This was attributed to the decrease in Wisconsin farm numbers as well as the decrease in high school graduates. Enrollments began to increase in 1995. The average enrollment in the 2000s decade was around 130 students per year.

FISC students in the Dairy Barns

The student body make-up has also changed since 1985, with the most obvious change being an increase in women students. From 1985 to 1990, about 5-10 women were enrolled each year. Since 2000, women have comprised about 20 percent of the student body. Several large groups of international students attended Short Course, sponsored through the FFA program from Eastern Europe. In 1991-92, 24 students from the Ukraine, Russia and Georgia attended for a six-week term. A similar number from this region attended each of the following two years. These students were welcome additions during this time of low enrollments. Foreign students from many other countries have attended since 1985. Several have come from Germany nearly every year, while others have at­ tended from Africa, South America, Europe, Central America, and Asian countries. Having them in the mix provides a great cultural experience for all Short Course students. Students also come from 15 other U.S. states from 1985-2010, the largest contingent from Illinois.

The curriculum continues to evolve. One major change was the creation of the Grass Based Dairy and Livestock Specialty and the School for Beginning Dairy and Livestock Farmers in 1995-96.This program is a joint effort between the Short Course and the university’s Center for Integrated Agricultural Systems. Funded by a USDA grant and with Richard Cates as the first di­rector, the School brought ten students each of the first few years into Short Course to study grass­ based dairying and livestock production. Special scholarships were offered, and most students participated in internships as part of the program (two students interned for a year in New Zealand). Cates has also employed distance-education technology, including video and audio feeds and the internet, to offer the Grazing Seminar course through distance education to students throughout Wisconsin and in other states. In 2010 more students took the course via distance education than on campus.

Theodore Halbach FISC Director 2008 - 2012
Theodore Halbach
FISC Director 2008 – 2012

Another significant addition to the curriculum came in 2006-07, when a new green industry specialty area offered horticulture and landscaping courses. In the first year, Madison Area Technical College taught two classes in the evening, while others were taught on campus by UW-Madison staff. In 2009-10, all classes in the pro­gram, now called the Landscape Industry specialty, were taught on the Madison campus.

The Short Course continues to offer specialty programs in dairy, crops and soils, meat animals, service and supply, and farm mechanics.

Extra-curricular activities remain an important part of the Short Course program. Program director Rick Daluge initiated an annual ski trip for Short Course students each year to northern Wisconsin. Bowling, showmanship contests, Little Badger yearbook, student clubs, and visits to the campus natatorium were all part of student life throughout the 1990’s and up to 2010. One notable addition in 1989-90 was the introduction of a Short Course dairy cattle judging team. The team was coached for 16 years by James Armbruster of Dairy Science. In its first year, the Short Course team finished second at the National Post-Secondary Dairy Cattle Judging Contest held in Madison during World Dairy Expo, earned first place at the North American International Livestock Exhibition’s post secondary contest in Louisville, and won the Southwest Intercollegiate contest in Fort Worth. Team members included Jon Powers, Brian Rohloff, Jeff DeWall, and Dennis Gunst.

In 2008, the Short Course team now coached by Chad Wethal placed second at the national post-secondary contest. This earned team members Paula Courtney, Steven Davis, Luke Lensmire and Mandy Peirick the opportunity to compete internationally a t the 2009 Royal Highland Show in Edinburgh, Scotland.

tractorclassIn 2009 the Short Course took up another inter­ collegiate competition when it sent students to the Midwest Regional Dairy Challenge in Rochester, Minn. In this contest, students analyze a commercial farm and present management recommendations to a panel of five industry professionals. Dairy instructor David Rhoda coached the FISC team, which included Korey Statton, Luke Bischke, Daniel Habermann and Charles Hookstead.

In 1995, CALS dean Roger Wyse and associate dean Richard Barrows requested a new review of the FISC program. This included surveys of alumni, faculty and staff, high school ag teachers and current students. The study found that 87 per­ cent of high school teachers endorsed the program as ‘the place’ to study production agriculture, and that 82 percent of alumni were involved in agriculture 10-15 years after graduation, and that 20 per­ cent of alumni had completed a bachelor’s degree.

The reviewers recommended that the program continue to focus on production agriculture, but suggested several changes. One was that both the Short Course and degree programs eliminate some classes to reduce duplication. There was also a change in admission standards. Since its inception the program had maintained an open admission policy; no applicant was turned away. As standards for the university’s degree program became more rigorous, Short Course took a step in the same direction. Beginning in fall 1996, applicants in the upper 80 percent of their high school class were ad­mitted automatically, while those in the bottom 20 percent were admitted on probation if they furnished acceptable letters of recommendation and personal statements. Probationary students must earned a first-term GPA of at least 2.00 to stay in the program – something that about half have been able to accomplish.

Another change was the addition of an honors program. Students earned honors credits by doing extra work assigned by their instructors and received an honors certificate if 10 of their 20 required credits were honors credits. Short Course also expanded its interim session from one week to two.

The Short Course dorms had several major improvements in the 1990’s. With about half of the students now bringing computers to Short Course, all rooms were wired for cable TV, phones and internet. By late 2008 the room phones were removed, unneeded in the era of cell phones, and the hard-wired internet service was upgraded to wireless. Windows were replaced and high-efficiency lighting was installed, and the Jorns basement conference room got an upgrade. In 2000, all rooms were furnished with stackable wooden furniture and most were converted to double rooms.

The Short Course dorms are used for more than just Short Course students. During fall and spring semesters halls can be used for undergraduate student housing. In summer, the dorms house students from the six-week Midwest Poultry Consortium and other summer programs as well as visiting faculty and graduate students.

The increasing costs of higher education continue to be a concern for students pursuing post-high school education. Short Course tuition is tied to undergraduate tuition, which has increased. In 1984, Short Course tuition for in-state residents was $532.50;in 2009-10 it is $3,467.50, nearly a 600 percent increase in 25 years. Dorm costs are up as well, from $500 in 1984 to share a triple room, to $900 in 2010 for a bed in a double room.

Fortunately, Short Course scholarships have also increased, from $26,000 in 1984 to over $130,000 awarded in 2008-09, thanks to donations from many generous individuals, businesses and industry groups. But the rise in tuition continued to strip the increase in scholarships. In 2007-08, director Daluge persuaded the state to change the provisions of the Huber Loan Fund to allow much larger loans and to let half of the fund’s annual earnings be used for scholarships. This boosted scholarship support by about $50,000 annually.

Richard Cates FISC Director 2012-2014
Richard Cates
FISC Director 2012-2014

Recruiting has also changed over the years. In 1985, the director and students presented a Short Course slideshow at high schools. Since 1990, the program has used three videos on DVDs for promotion. The videos were a bit expensive to produce, but the DVD was easy to mass copy and distribute to prospective students, teachers, and parents. Short Course Preview days, held 4-5 times per year, became an excellent way to show the program in action to prospective students and their parents. School visits, and displays at farm shows and events remain mainstays of recruitment.

In 2004 the program underwent another review, this time a t the request of Dean Elton Aberle. The reviewers, led by professor David Kammel, evaluated the sustainability of the current model for teaching Short Course, from the perspective of faculty and departments. The biggest concern was that many courses formerly taught by faculty were now taught by non-tenured academic staff and out­ side ad hoc faculty. The review team suggested changes to the green industry curriculum, It also suggested that more short course classes and degree classes be combined and offered to students from both programs.

In October 2007, Richard Daluge retired as Short Course director. He returned on an interim basis to direct the program in 2007-08 w1til a new director could be hired. As a result, Daluge served in the position for 25 years, longer than any other director in the program’s history. Karen Knipschild, who had worked for the program as a graduate assistant, was hired as assistant director.

In November 2008, Dean Molly Jahn and Associate Dean Robert Ray appointed Ted Halbach to serve as Director of the Short Course on a 65 percent basis, while continuing as coach of the dairy judging team and instructor of two dairy science courses in the degree program.

Jessie Potterton FISC Director 2014-present
Jessie Potterton
FISC Director 2014-2017

As it entered the second decade of the new millennium, the Farm and Industry Short Course was celebrating its history at the same time it was making plans for its future. The celebration of the 125th anniversary of the Farm and Industry Short Course on Jan. 30, 2010 was one of the largest gatherings the program’s alumni ever. At the same time, a new faculty task force, chaired by plant pathology professor Murray Clayton, was convened to study the program’s business model and academic schedule, during a 8-month period, to continue its proud tradition of service to Wisconsin agriculture into its second century.

In 2012, FISC Director Ted Halbach returned full-time to the Dairy Science Department to resume his teaching and recruiting responsibilities. Dick Cates, Director of the Wisconsin School for Beginning Dairy and Livestock Farmers in the Center for Integrated Agricultural Systems, was appointed Director of the Farm & Industry Short Course. During 2012, CALS leadership changed and Dr. Kate VandenBosch became the 13th Dean of the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences. In 2014, the FISC program underwent another program review, discussing student enrollment numbers, recruitment, and curriculum to ensure FISC was staying abreast of industry changes.

After the departure of Dick Cates, CALS hired Jessie Potterton as Director of the Farm & Industry Short Course. Along with the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, Dr. Sarah Pfatteicher, director Potterton led FISC through a re-organization and accreditation. This process incorporated the FISC program into campus-wide systems, like student data records, tuition and housing billing, and transcripting. This change also made it easier for students to transfer their credits taken in FISC to the UW, as well as other institutions, to pursue undergraduate degrees. The accreditation and integration was finalized in 2016 and the 2016-2017 academic year was the first under this new model.

Director Potterton departed her position in 2017 and Assistant Director, Cindy Fendrick, stepped in as Interim Director of FISC during the 2017-2018 academic year. In early 2018, hiring for the Director position started again and CALS appointed Jennifer Blazek as Director of the Farm & Industry Short Course in June 2018. Blazek had worked for seven years with the University of Wisconsin-Extension as a county agriculture educator, first with Polk County and then with Dane County as the Dairy and Livestock Educator with a CALS Specialization.

Jennifer Blazek FISC Director 2018-2023

Director Blazek’s experience in Extension led her to implement changes to FISC courses and certificates to better reflect changes in the agriculture industry. Feedback from current students and recent graduates of the program played a large role in these changes, ensuring the program remained marketable and attractive to rural and farm students who have many choices for their higher education. During her tenure, FISC started offering a Turfgrass Management Certificate, building up the “Industry” of FISC. The Agriculture Experience Tour, started in 2017 from a 5-year donation by an anonymous donor, was a immensely successful co-curricular program. The entire FISC student body, staff, and a handful of faculty traveled to a different region of Wisconsin each year for a weekend, normally the first week of the academic year in November. Students experienced the wide diversity of agriculture in the state, visiting a bison farm, sod farm, trout farm, goat dairy, and more!

In March 2020, the FISC Program was able to finish out the academic year, but unable to have a graduation ceremony due to the closure of campus closing as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. As the pandemic continued and campus access remained limited, it was decided that FISC would have a virtual academic year in 2020-2021. Four courses were transitioned to an online format and offered to students. Twenty-two students participated in the first-ever online-only FISC academic year. The Introduction to Soil Sciences class and some of the business management courses were what was offered during that year. Interestingly, the need to go virtual did allow for an entire group of students to participate in FISC who would not have been able to attend the in-person program.

The CALS Short Course residence halls, Jorns Hall and Humphrey Hall, facing millions of dollars of repairs and renovations were turned over to University Housing ownership and management in April 2020. They were used throughout the rest of the spring and summer semesters as quarantine housing for students during the pandemic. After the pandemic, they were used as undergraduate housing and have been integrated into University Housing’s facility plan for renovation in the future.

With the reopening of UW-Madison’s campus in the second half of 2021, FISC returned to in-person, much to the excitement of students and instructors. In negotiation with University Housing and UW-Extension Conference Centers, the FISC program’s new home would be Lowell Hall. Until 2021, Lowell Hall was a hotel for short-term programming and under the control of UW-Extension Conference Centers. Due to record-breaking incoming freshmen numbers for Fall 2021, Lowell Hall became a residence hall for undergrads for at least the next two years. The FISC Program office moved to Lowell Hall in the summer of 2021 and continued to be located there until April 2023, when the FISC Program office returned to Agriculture Hall.

In the 2021-2022 academic year, FISC students were housed on two floors of Lowell Hall and had the option for two housing plans. The Weekday option included housing Monday through Friday only and two weekends, one each term. This was a great option for students who commuted or needed to return to their home farm on the weekends. The Continuous plan was the traditional 7-day housing model and continued to be the more popular option for students. As part of FISC being housed at Lowell Hall, students had an included meal plan which included breakfast every day and 4 dinners a week. Lunch was on their own and most students chose to eat at the perennial favorite, Babcock Dairy Store, or State Street, which is only a block away from Lowell. Director Blazek created the FISC Speaking Series, an opportunity for students dining together as a community for dinner to hear from alumni, organizations, and other speakers about topics of interest and relevancy.

Community-building and establishing a strong support network for students was heavily emphasized and supported during director Blazek’s tenure. Blazek utilized her strong Extension connections to source speakers and instructors for courses and co-curricular activities, ensuring students knew who their resources were for continued education after their graduation from FISC. The FISC student population started shifting towards a higher percentage of female students and an increasing number of students not from a farm. This led to opportunities for additional programming, such as a Women in Agriculture panel and emphasizing career options through the FISC Career Fair.

Facing decreasing enrollment – a 10 year trend – due to increased competition and demographic shifts in the farm community, CALS made the difficult decision in March 2022 to end the 16-week, for-credit residential program. This was not the end of FISC; however, as the program would continue on by offering shorter short courses in more flexible formats on a wide variety of topics determined by need and interest. The reformatting of FISC would ensure the program could remain viable and relevant into the future. As as result of this change, the FISC Program moved administratively from the CALS Academic Affairs office to CALS Extension and Outreach.

Throughout 2022, Director Blazek and Doug Reinemann, CALS Associate Dean for Extension and Outreach, met with stakeholders and industry partners to discuss the future of FISC and develop ideas for short courses needed by the industry. This was an opportunity for the college to hear about the educational needs of Wisconsin’s agricultural industry.

A year after CALS announced the Farm & Industry Short Course moving into the non-credit education space, in March 2023, it was announced that UW-River Falls would be taking over the for-credit, residential FISC program. The on-campus educational experience known and loved by all FISC alumni was coming back! And UW-River Falls would be it’s new home. The format and timing would remain the same and the focus, for the first year as the program gets underway, will be dairy. This allows FISC to expand, reaching beginning farmers through the traditional 16-week program at UW-River Falls and those currently farming and agricultural professionals through the continuing education offered by UW-Madison. The inaugural FISC at UW-River Falls was November 2023, continuing a long tradition of a well-known and well-respected agricultural program.

While the Farm & Industry Short Course program has gone through numerous changes in its over 137 year existence, whether in-person or online, serving beginning farmers, those who own and manage a farm, or industry professionals, FISC has always and continues to meet an important educational need for Wisconsin’s agriculture industry and beyond.