Date of this Version
LINCOLN, NEBRASKA: THE UNIVERSITY PUBLISHING CO., 1903
Nebraska is an agricultural state. The products of her soil are the basis of her industries and her prosperity. The children of our great state of Nebraska should be familiar with our crops, our grains and grasses, our flowers and fruits, our trees and shrubs and weeds, our domestic animals and birds and insects. Our children should have a practical knowledge of the management of a farm, of the composition of the soil, and of the adaptability of the farm and its soil for the cultivation of certain plants and the counter effect of such plant growth upon the soil. The children of Nebraska should love nature, they should be taught nature's ways and means, taught to observe her phenomena closely and in such a manner that they will learn to love her. Nearly all industries of mankind have their origin in the soil, and children should be led to see the relation between farm labor and its products and the marts of trade and commerce.
Much of the work of the school, including instruction in geography, arithmetic, science, and literature might be correlated profitably with instruction in agriculture and nature study. A school garden with the actual work intelligently directed might prove an inspiration to honest toil and better living. As the effect of teaching vocal music daily in the schoolroom is felt in the church, the Sabbath. school, in society, and in all public. gatherings, so the teaching of agriculture and nature study will affect and improve every farm and garden and lawn and fiower-box in the neighborhood. The attractions of farm life may be thus enhanced and the exodus to the city diminished.
Instruction in agriculture, properly presented, will increase interest in school life and in farm life. The care of stock, the protection of insectivorous birds, the preservation of game, the engineering of the farm, the great physical universe, will appeal directly to the boys, and the domestic science, including preservation of fruit and dairying and rural economy, will interest the girls. The farm is the groundwork, the backbone, the sinew, of our health, our wealth, our happiness. It must remain so. Keep close to nature for physical, intellectual, and spiritual strength and growth.
The school laws of Nebraska require teachers "to pass a satisfactory examination in the elements of agriculture, including a fair knowledge of the structure and habits of the common plants, insects, birds, and quadrupeds," for second-grade county certificates and all grades above the second. This book has been prepared and published in answer to the direct demand resultant from the law quoted above. We believe that the art of thinking, of reasoning, and of higher and better living can have no higher source and no more pronounced results in any line of school instruction than where children are taught to look "through nature up to nature's God."