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UBC Theses and Dissertations

A study of provincial agricultural extension services in Canada : 1952-1961 Keesing, Paul Brunton

Abstract

This thesis is the study of the activities of the Agricultural Agents of Canada. As a background to this study the history of the Agricultural Extension Services was investigated and a brief historical record presented. Following the history is a study of the methods used to contact farmers by Agricultural Agents during the ten year period 1952 to 1961. The historical record begins with the "Agricultural Instruction Act" of 1913 which led to agricultural instruction being carried out by each province. When the assistance given under this Act terminated, agricultural instruction was left the responsibility of the provincial governments, and typically, each evolved a separate section to house the Agricultural Extension Service within its Department of Agriculture. Within this section the Agricultural Agents find a great degree of individual freedom but also the responsibility of carrying out many duties, some of which relate little to extension work, and consequently, detract from their effectiveness as Agents. The activities of the Agricultural Agents during the ten years 1952 to 1961 were studied, chiefly from information given in the annual reports of the provincial departments of agriculture, and, in particular, numerical data were sought and accumulated. The numerical data were copied onto key sort punch cards and from thence built into tables for each activity, most of which fell into the three classifications Individual Methods, Group Methods, and Mass Media Methods. With the aim of detecting any changes in the methods used over the ten year period, the first five years were compared with the second five years for each method and the change expressed by the difference as a percentage of the first five years. From these changes general trends and exceptions are perceptible. The interest of farmers in extension was studied and as judged by their requests to Agents per farmer, interest increased by 19.5 per cent. However, at the same time, attendance at group events decreased. The numbers of services for farmers performed by Agents were presented in consideration of the opportunities they provide to contact farmers. The data for the number of times each method of contact was used by Agents in each province were not always complete and this imposed some limitation on the usefulness of the data. However, the number of Agents, and hence the number of times an activity was used per Agent, was available in most cases, and the calculated changes of activities per Agent are apparently indicative of the actual situation. The results of the study show that there was a slight increase of less than one per cent of individual contacts, a decrease of 15.5 per cent of meetings, and 36.7 of other group events, but a great increase in the use of mass media. On a per Agent basis, the average Agent made 5 per cent less individual contacts, organized 13.7 fewer group events, but used mass media more extensively. When the number of contacts per farmer is considered, the increases were greater because of a decrease in number of farms. Individual contacts per farm increased by 10 per cent, meetings decreased by only 7.3 per cent, and the use of mass media per farm showed a greater percentage increase than the percentage increase of mass media events.

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