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American Heritage Center

Connecting Wyoming to the World: A History of the University of Wyoming

UW Greenhouse

Like all other United States land grant institutions, the University of Wyoming was entrusted with the creation and implementation of programs that helped establish and refine agricultural practices on the campus and throughout the city and state. This early photo, taken from within the university’s first greenhouse, shows the abundant flowers, plants, and saplings cultivated there to be replanted around the sparsely covered eastern part of Laramie. The landscaped areas around Old Main, where the Greenhouse’s early flowers were placed, still exhibit the numerous perennials and large trees that make the University beautiful.

As a land grant institution, the University of Wyoming was also obliged to maintain military programs that helped establish and refine defense tactics for the nation. This photo shows one of the University’s earliest artillery cadet classes, which included both men and women. Due to the progressive mentality of the state of Wyoming, coupled with a small student population, young women at the university were afforded many opportunities, like cadet training, not available to women during that time period at most other American colleges and universities.

UW cadetsContinuing the tradition of a land grant institution’s participation in military preparedness, the University of Wyoming’s tenth President, Aven Nelson, allowed the school to house 250 men enrolled in the Students’ Army Training Corps beginning in 1918. This program, along with the earlier artillery cadet corps, helped establish a tradition of student military service. Opportunities included the Army Special Training Program, that operated as a flight school during the Second World War, and the Air Force Reserve Officers Training Corps, that can still be seen engaging in maneuvers throughout the school year around campus.

Aven NelsonAven Nelson was one of the founding fathers and remains an important figure in the history of the University of Wyoming. Brought to campus to teach English by President Hoyt in 1887, Nelson quickly found himself teaching courses in botany and biology, which were standard at a land grant institution like UW. Nelson became an eminent scholars in the field of Rocky Mountain Fauna. He also acted as the University’s first librarian and tenth President. After nearly seventy years of service to the university, Nelson passed away at the age of 93.

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