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Utah Agriculture in the Classroom

Utah Studies

Changes & Challenges (1910s): The Boom Continues

Grade Level(s)

6 - 8


Students will get a basic overview of agricultural expansion, Ute history and maltreatment, and the transition from self-sufficiency to specialization.

Estimated Time

45 minutes

Materials Needed

Essential Files (maps, charts, pictures, or documents)

Vocabulary Words

  • industry: businesses or manufacturing activities that provide a certain product or service

Background Agricultural Connections

Screen 4, Agriculture in the 1910s, Narrative

In 1910 half of Utahns lived in rural areas. A new land boom began, and 575,000 new acres of land were claimed each year for several years. In 1911 Strawberry Reservoir was completed. Its water was piped by tunnel through the mountains to central Utah. However, the project unfairly took valuable land and water resources away from the Ute Indians in the Uintah Basin. In 1914 Utah ranked fifth in the U.S. canning industry for the processing of vegetables, fruit and milk. Fresh produce was shipped to the west coast and the Midwest. Sugar was made from sugar beets and shipped nationwide. Overproduction of fruit led farmers to reduce 43,000 acres of orchard to 29,000 by 1916. Wool production increased, and mutton and other meat products were shipped all over the country and abroad. In the 1910s youth agricultural clubs, later named 4-H clubs, were established throughout Utah. Cars, trucks, and tractors also began to appear in small numbers in Utah and road construction became a state priority.

Changes & Challenges Unit

This lesson is one in a series of lessons designed to accompany the Utah Studies course taught throughout Utah. The unit explores the settlement of Utah, the self-sufficient nature of the state's people, and the future of Utah agriculture and agricultural land. The Changes & Challenges multimedia teaching tool accompanies the following lessons:

Interest Approach – Engagement

  1. View the Agriculture in the 1910s section of the Changes and Challenges multimedia program with your students.
  2. Open the picture link to see the photograph of the Strawberry Tunnel. This tunnel was built to carry water from Strawberry Reservoir in the Uintah Basin through the mountains to the farmers in Utah Valley. Discuss the question asked with the photo, "Why do you think the federal government has invested millions of dollars to bring water to dry western lands?"


  1. Explain to students that the Strawberry Valley Project was only one of many instances in which the Northern Ute Tribe in the Uintah Basin of Utah was treated unfairly regarding land and water rights.
  2. Ask students to read the Ute Indians article individually, or navigate to the article using the web link titled "Treatment of the Ute Tribe" in the Changes & Challenges multimedia presentation.
  3. Discuss the following questions:
    • Why were the Ute’s so unjustly treated?
    • What was done later to make up for the way they were treated?
    • What else could or should be done today to make up for earlier unfair treatment?
  4. Explain to students that the agricultural boom that happened from 1900 to World War I brought many new farmers from different backgrounds to Utah. This included a community of Jewish families in Clarion, Sanpete County and Mexican families in Garland, Box Elder County. The Mexican families came to work in the sugar industry while Jewish immigrants established their community and later a thriving cooperative called the Utah Poultry Association, which evolved into the Intermountain Farmers Association (IFA) known throughout the Intermountain West today.
  5. Ask students to read the articles The Clarion Colony and Mexican Families and the Sugar Industry in Garland (you may also navigate to this article using the web link titled "Mexican Immigrant Families"in the Changes & Challenges multimedia presentation).
  6. Discuss the following questions:
    • Why did these families move to Utah to farm? 
    • How successful were their communities?
  7. The development of irrigation in Utah made cultivation and colonization possible. Read about irrigation in Utah from the Utah History Encyclopedia (also included as a Web Link in the Changes & Challenges presentation) to learn what was thought the "most important public utility in Utah."
    • What is a "self-sufficient" farm?
    • What is "beneficial use" in early Utah water history?
    • Is "beneficial use" the same today?
  8. Explain to students that in 1906 the Utah State Agricultural College (now Utah State University) established the Extension Service to bring the College’s research to the people on the land. The 4-H Youth program was added shortly thereafter to bring the principles of agriculture to rural youth and make school relevant. Open the picture link titled "Teaching Farm Methods to Children" in the Changes & Challenges multimedia presentation, and discuss the associated questions:
    • What impact do you think teaching farm children new agricultural ideas through 4-H had on Utah agriculture?
    • How can school be made more relevant for young people in Utah today?
Concept Elaboration and Evaluation

After conducting these activities, review and summarize the following key concepts:

  • In the 1910s agriculture was booming in Utah, attracting farmers from many different backgrounds.
  • As land and water use became more intensive, it became clear that each use carries a specific set of benefits and consequences that affect people and the environment.
  • Farming was a central part of life for most people, so youth education was made relevant by connecting to agricultural practices.

Suggested Companion Resources


Debra Spielmaker

Organization Affiliation

Utah Agriculture in the Classroom

State Standards for Utah
Grade 7: Social Studies Standard 4
Students will understand the diverse ways people make a living in Utah.
Objective 2
  • Investigate the past and present role of agriculture in Utah. Meeting one or more of the following indicators:
    1. Identify the importance of farming and ranching to Utah's economy.
    2. Explain the impact the Great Depression on farmers and agriculture.
    3. investigate how agriculture has diversified and improved over time.
    4. Examine the cultural legacy of agriculture in Utah.
Grade 7: Social Studies Standard 1
Students will understand the interaction between Utah's geography and its inhabitants.
Objective 1
  • Investigate the relationship between physical geography and Utah's settlement, land use, and economy. Meeting one or more of the following indicators:
    1. Read and interpret a variety of maps.
    2. Identify the physical features and regions of Utah.
    3. Compare and contrast the relationship between physical features and regions to settlement, land use, and the economy.
Objective 3
  • Assess how natural resources sustain and enhance people's lives. Meeting one or more of the following indicators:
    1. Recognize the impact of water, minerals, wildlife, and forests on people.
    2. Distinguish between renewable and non-renewable resources.
    3. Analyze how natural resources improve the quality of life.
    4. Assess the importance of protecting and preserving natural resources.
Objective 4
  • Examine how people affect the geography of Utah. Meeting one or more of the following indicators:
    1. Identify Utah's counties and cities.
    2. Assess how people change the landscape.
    3. Examine how altered landscapes affect people.