'Koninklijke Landbouwkundige Vereniging' becomes 'KLV Wageningen Alumni Network'
The original meaning of the abbreviation 'KLV' no longer fully describes KLV's activities and from 2009 the full name is no longer being used. The name of the association has become simply KLV, with 'Wageningen Alumni Network' added to the logo for the sake of clarity.
(Think of IBM or PWC: These companies also turned the abbreviation of their name into their full name).
A fragmentary account of the history of KLV.
How dit it start?
On 8 September 1886, Wageningen celebrated the tenth anniversary of the Rijkslandbouwschool, the National Agricultural College. A dinner was put on, at five in the afternoon, attended by over a hundred dignitaries, lecturers and former students. The president of the entertainments committee announced in his speech that an alumni association was to be formed, as this would surely help the school flourish. The proposal was well received and the association was founded a few days later. The aim was "to create bonds between alumni and between the university and the alumni".
Other features were:
* that the members would provide information to eachother on request;
* to encourage targeted experimentation and the resolution of questions regarding crop cultivation, animal husbandry, dairy production and other aspect of agriculture;
* an invitation to the lecturers to use their knowledge for the good of the association;
* helping the members to find suitable employment and further study.
A century and a quarter later, the former Rijkslandbouwschool then had only 137 students, 10 of whom were from the East Indies, has become Wageningen University, with over 5,000 students from more than 100 countries. That initial association of former students has grown into the KLV, a successful organisation with over 8,000 (November 2010) members in which networking is a central theme.
Much has changed in 125 years, but the core of the objectives that were set out at the time, remains the same.
The good gentlemen back then had seen clearly that there was a promising role to be filled!
An interesting tale of KLV's rich history
The first edition of the "Orgaan der Vereeniging van Oud Leerlingen der Rijkslandbouwschool", the Journal of the Association of Former Students of the National Agriculture School (the forerunner of KLV), appeared in 1888. From 1902 onwards, it was issued monthly under the name Cultura.
And what a difference, compared with the Wageningen World of today! But if you have a look at the content, you will see a lot of similarities too.
The focus of Wageningen was international back then, as well. The January 1902 edition of Cultura covered peach growing, cattle farming in Denmark and Switzerland, and innovations in agricultural mechanisation in Germany.
A great deal of attention was also paid in those times, of course, to agriculture in the colony of the Dutch East Indies (modern Indonesia).
In addition to scientific articles, the editors of the time asked expressly for contributions about practical applications - in short: innovation. But what kind of innovations were there in 1902?
Mechanisation was appearing in agriculture, but the power was still largely provided by horses. It is in a horse's nature to be wary and they get alarmed easily by objects and movements behind them. So that these draft animals could do their work undisturbed, they mostly wore large blinkers so that they could only see forwards. This could cause eye problems, making them go cross-eyed. The June 1902 issue of Cultura sang the praises of a new type of blinker that allowed vision to the sides but not backwards. That was practical innovation, anno 1902.
Optimisation of energy resources is still an important issue for Wageningen today. In Wageningen World, we are now writing about innovations such as the production of biodiesel from algae or organic waste.
Browsing through the issues of the Landbouwkundig Tijdschrift (Agricultural Journal) for 1943 to 1946, alongside the dry-as-dust technical details about aspects such as the uptake of nutrients by tulips and the influence of artificial lighting on chickens' laying behaviour, you can read about the devastating effects of the war on life in Wageningen and what happened to the Landbouwhogeschool (Agricultural College) and the various institutes and professors.
In September 1944, Wageningen was entirely evacuated and the houses and laboratories were plundered by the occupying troops and the forced labourers who were housed in the Plant Diseases Service building. People struggled back to their feet again after the war, helped in particular by the donations made under the Marshall Plan. Several generations of Wageningen alumni will remember the Marshall Plan microscopes in the Plant Anatomy practical lab.
The January 1946 issue of LT has a remarkable article entitled "Agricultural aspects of the annexation question". It turns out to be a report (with a summary in English) by a committee that had to produce recommendations about the possibility of annexing a piece of Germany as a form of reparation payment. The committee looked at all sorts of technical aspects such as the availability of labour and agricultural machinery, the desired scale of the businesses, etc. It was estimated that 1 to 1.5 million hectares (!) of German territory could be worked by emigrants, with the most desirable business format being centrally controlled cooperative ventures of several hundred hectares.
In addition to the actual annexation, another area two or three times the size could be declared to fall under a Dutch mandate for 15 to 20 years, acting as a buffer zone.
The committee did state expressly, by the way, that it had examined "the annexation question" entirely from the agricultural point of view and had "therefore not considered the political and moral implications". O tempora, o mores...
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