Beginning in 1908, two Agricultural Stages in public speaking were given under the
auspices of the Agricultural Association, with small prizes awarded by the college.
In 1910, trustee Almon R. Eastman established the Eastman Stage, with a permanent
endowment beginning in 1918. The Eastman Stage was held continually except in 1943
and 1944. The Farm Life Challenge Contest began in 1928 and was later renamed the
Rice Debate Stage in honor of Professor James E. Rice. The Home Economics Stage in
Public Speaking began in 1940. Later known as the Elsie Van Buren Rice Public
Speaking Stage, it was sponsored by the Home Economics Club.