Legacy of Patrick Hough lives on through CASEE program

February 24, 2022 cbrown

Legacy of Patrick Hough lives on through CASEE program

Feb. 24, 2022

As a young man growing up near Tipperary, Patrick “Paddy” Hough was among millions who were deeply impacted by the potato famine that struck Ireland the year he was born. That experience stuck with Hough even after he arrived in Vancouver in the early 1880s for a teaching position. Following his death in 1925, Hough left behind a will stipulating that his estate worth $35,000 be set aside to establish an agricultural high school in Clark County. 

Western Salamander Egg mass

A CASEE student holds up a Western Salamander egg mass found during a survey at one of two ponds on campus.

That agricultural high school never fully materialized as Hough envisioned it, but his endowment fund grew to over $2 million dollars. Today, it provides approximately $100,000 in educational grants each year to help sustain programs at the CASEE Center, an 80-acre outdoor learning lab that is part of Battle Ground Public Schools’ robust Career and Technical Education (CTE) offerings.

“I think a program like CASEE is probably exactly what Paddy Hough had in mind for that vision of agriculture education,” said Cindy Arnold, Director of Career and Technical Education for the district. “He wanted kids to be able to learn the skills to go into the agricultural field.” Endowment funds also support agricultural classes at Prairie and Battle Ground high schools.

This year, the Community Foundation Patrick Hough Endowment Fund donated $103,807. That funding will support the CASEE site, as well as the Battle Ground and Prairie programs.

“That’s a significant amount for what it does,” said district Superintendent Denny Waters at the Feb. 14 board meeting where this year’s donation was approved.

Board President Mark Watrin, who was instrumental in helping to establish the CASEE program along with former agriculture teacher Tim Hicks, said it is gratifying to see people enjoying the ponds on the campus, as well as the botanical gardens, both of which were funded in part by the Hough Endowment Fund grants.

“There are a lot of features out there and the public seems to be taking advantage of them, which is great,” Watrin said.

Launched in 1993, the Center for Agriculture, Science and Environmental Education was established as a cooperative effort of the Career and Technical Education (CTE) and district’s science programs. Supported by a community advisory group, CASEE was designed to provide students with the skills and knowledge to enter a work world with an increasing reliance on science and technology.

The half-day STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) program allows students from Battle Ground and Prairie high schools to work closely with teachers in a variety of courses including Biology, Natural Resources, Environmental Science, Forestry, Wildlife, Chemistry, Agroecology, Microbiology, Agricultural and Industrial Biotechnology and four years of English.

At Battle Ground High School, agriculture instructor Deanna Veitenheimer and her students helped create “Paddy’s Garden” several years ago. The permanent fixture near the greenhouses is maintained by students, including interns who help over the summer. That work is also funded in part by Hough’s endowment. A literal blooming of the seeds planted by an Irish immigrant with one arm and a big heart nearly 100 years ago.

Arnold said the ability to carry on Hough’s vision of providing students with access to a comprehensive education in these areas is extremely gratifying.

“Because of what he’s done, and because of his vision, it all goes back into our kids, helping them and their future” she said. “We really want to honor his intention in how we use the funding.

You can learn more about Paddy Hough from this 2018 article in Vancouver Family Magazine.

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