In 1917, the New York State Education Department began a program that allowed students between the ages of 16 and 18 in good academic standing to sign up and become Farm Cadets. Many teens jumped at the chance to become a Farm Cadet, and to leave their homes in the cities and towns and to assist with the war effort by replacing the laborers who had enlisted in the military and gone to fight overseas. From April-September, students worked on farms throughout the state and, in order to receive academic credit for their contribution, wrote an account of their time spent as a Farm Cadet.
In this essay, Francis Paretta talks about his experience tending to tomato plants, picking fruit, hoeing and weeding.
New York State Archives. New York (State). Education Dept. Division of Archives & History. Administrative records & manuals relating to military training enrollments & the Farm Cadets, 1917-1921. NYS Military Training Commission. Series A3112-77, Box 2, Folder 82.