Individual Impact on Agriculture
The 4-H Pledge goes, “I pledge my head to clearer thinking, my heart to greater loyalty, my hands to larger service, and my health to better living for my club, my community, my country, and my world.” A number of individuals have done just that throughout history and have contributed much to the agricultural world.
In February, we celebrate National African American History Month. Thomas Monroe Campbell, an African American, was a Field Agent for the U.S. Department of Agriculture before being appointed Farm Demonstration Agent in Alabama in 1906. Over time, he advanced to State Agent in Alabama and then on to Field Agent for seven southern states. As a result of his work, there are now nearly 600 county and home demonstration agents in those seven southern states. Some credit him as the first Cooperative Extension Agent in the United States.
March holds the honor of having two month long celebrations devoted towards history. These are: National Women’s History Month and National Irish-American Heritage Month. Mary Agnes Meara Chase, a female botanist, was an illustrator for the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Bureau of Plant Industry. During her work at the Bureau, she made great contributions to the study of grasses. She collected over 4,500 specimens from Brazil, Mexico, Puerto Rico and the U.S. and donated her collections to the Smithsonian and the National Herbarium.
Harry Ferguson, an Irishman, invented one of the first tractors. His interest in tractors grew during World War I, when he was working in a mechanics workshop. Later on, he developed the Ferguson tractor that was built by Ford and marketed by Ferguson as agreed upon by the legendary "Handshake Agreement."
May is National Asian/Pacific Heritage Month. Virgil Duyungan, a Filipino Alaskan, was the president of the Filipino Cannery Worker’s and Farm Laborer’s Union (CWFLU) during the early 1930s. The main goals of the CWFLU were to rid the salmon canning industry of the exploitive labor contracting system to improve working and living conditions at the canneries. Though Duyungan's presidency was short-lived, the CWFLU was able to leave its mark on the Northwest labor movement.
September is National Hispanic Heritage Month. Cesar Chavez’s family (he is a second generation American of Hispanic descent) became migrant farm workers after they lost their farm during the Great Depression. This experience is what helped him develop the dream of creating an organization to protect and serve farm workers. He founded the National Farm Workers Association, which is now the United Farm Workers of America.
National American Indian Heritage month is in November. No one questions the impact that American Indians have had in agricultural fields ranging from introducing the “Three Sisters” to introducing colonist to edible plants. The Intertribal Agricultural Council (IAC) was founded in 1987 to pursue and promote the conservation, development and use of our agricultural resources for the betterment of Native American and Alaskan Tribes. The IAC has become recognized as the most respected voice within the Indian community and government circles on agricultural policies and programs in Indian country.
Year round, many individuals have greatly contributed to agriculture. Therefore, I suggest that as you shop, work, eat, or watch TV, think about those throughout history that have given of themselves and practiced the 4-H Pledge while making a difference in the agricultural world.
As always, if you have any questions or would like information on any agriculture, horticulture, or natural resource topic, then please contact your local Purdue Extension Office at 448-9041 in Clay Co. or 829-5020 in Owen Co. or reach me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. Purdue University is an equal opportunity/equal access/affirmative action institution.
Upcoming opportunities available to you through Purdue Extension include:
February 11 Farm Management Program 6:00-8:00 p.m. Clay County 4-H Exhibit Hall
February 12 Start of Master Gardeners ($115.00) 6:00-9:00 p.m. Owen County Extension Office
call 812-829-5020 to sign up
February 16 Bi-State Leader Clinic 8:30 a.m. Cloverdale, IN
call 812-448-9041 to register
February 19 Start of Annie’s Project ($75.00) 1:00-4:00 p.m. Owen County Extension Office
call 812-829-5020 to sign up