CASEE program strives to keep legacy of Patrick Hough alive


Patrick “Paddy” Hough was an Irish immigrant who moved to British Columbia and later Vancouver after he survived the potato famine in his country. 

Hough, who lived from 1846 to 1925, was an agricultural teacher in Vancouver.

Hough’s will stipulated that his estate, which was worth $35,000, needed to be used to establish an agricultural high school in the county. While a high school was never constructed, Hough’s dream was realized in the form of the Center for Agriculture, Science and Environmental Education, otherwise known as CASEE.

“(Hough) was the principal of Vancouver’s only high school at the time in the late 1800s and he was really a pioneer in establishing schools in Southwest Washington,” said Battle Ground School Board President Mark Watrin. “He extended that past his actual living time by creating endowments that went beyond his lifetime.”

Watrin said Hough sold his furniture and other belongings before he died to arrange an endowment in the hopes of building a school for “the education of all,” which included women, ethnic minorities, and religious minorities, something that was uncommon at the time. 

“That money was almost forgotten for almost 60 years, and the amount of interest and everything that built up by the time it was eventually distributed became a very significant amount,” Watrin said.

Over time, Hough’s endowment grew to over $2 million. 

This year, the Patrick Hough Endowment Fund donated $103,807 to support CASEE’s 80-acre outdoor learning lab, as well as the Battle Ground and Prairie programs.  

Watrin noted Hough is is an important historical figure because he was a “passionate educator.”

“I love the idea of somebody not only having a passion about what they did, but then to do what seemed like a simple thing such as selling his belongings, he put it toward this dream of something better than what was already available in his lifetime,” Watrin said. “To me, it’s just fascinating that he had this foresight that ‘if I just make this small contribution in the long run, it’s going to be a much bigger contribution.’”

Aside from being charitable, Watrin said Hough was a “true believer in technology.” For example, CASEE uses biotechnology to further agricultural science, which is something Hough mentioned in his writings.

Hough wanted the agricultural school he envisioned to be named after his hometown of Slevoir, Ireland, but Watrin said that didn’t happen because the program had already been established under a different name. 

“We had this vague history of how Patrick Hough was involved, but we didn’t get the specific texts of his endowment until later,” Watrin said. “We made sure that we named the arboretum that was created at CASEE for public use the Slevoir Arboretum to make sure we honored his original request that part of the school be named after his original hometown.”

Cindy Arnold, the director of Career and Technical Education for Battle Ground Public Schools, said Hough wanted students to learn skills so they could go into the agricultural field. 

“He had a heart for agriculture and students, so I think in his later years, he was just being very cautious with his money and just put it away,” said Arnold. “We are a strong agricultural district, and we’ve been able to benefit from that (endowment) money for quite a few years, and it has done amazing things for our program and our students. I think the fact that he had that heart for agriculture and for students and left his money for that, I want to make sure I honor his wishes the best I can as a director.”

She explained the money received from the endowment fund is split between CASEE and the agriculture programs at Battle Ground and Prairie high schools. 

“At BGHS, Deanna Veitenheimer, the horticulture teacher, has what she calls ‘Paddy’s Garden’ just outside of the greenhouses in honor of Paddy Hough and the money that’s been given to the school,” Arnold said.


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