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 to the agricultural world. Those individuals have put in time, effort and energy to help make large advances in agriculture and should be thanked, not within a given month, but year round.
February has been declared National African American History Month and probably the most well known African American who had an impact on agriculture is George Washington Carver.
However, Carver was not the only African American to make an impact in the world of food chemistry.
Lloyd Augustus Hall is credited with more than 100 United States and foreign patents in food chemistry.
Hall received a patent for curing meats that is still used today that involved the combination of sodium chloride, sodium nitrate and nitrite. He also discovered that some spices carry bacteria and molds that can speed up the spoiling process.
March holds the honor of having two month-long celebrations devoted toward history.
These are National Women's History Month and National Irish American Heritage Month.
Temple Grandin is one notable female figure that is still in the headlines today for her impact on agriculture. Dr. Grandin is known for her livestock handling facilities that are found throughout the United States, Canada, Europe, Mexico, Australia, New Zealand and other countries. Additionally, Dr. Grandin has helped develop an objective scoring system for assessing handling of cattle and pigs at meat processing plants.
This system is used to help improve animal welfare at these facilities.
One example of an Irish American farmer who had a profound impact on agriculture is Cyrus McCormick.
At the age of 15, Cyrus invented a lightweight cradle for carting harvested grain. He went on from there to try to complete his father's goal of developing a horse-drawn reaping machine.
Cyrus completed this goal before the 1831 harvest was over and is credited with the world's first mechanical reaper. His reaper helped change the face of agriculture allowing farmers to harvest grain at a faster rate.
Year round, many individuals who have greatly contributed to agriculture are overlooked.
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.
Then if you have a chance, thank your local farmer, neighbor, or friend for making a difference in your life in some way or another.
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 County or 812-829-5020 in Owen County, 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:
* Feb. 8 -- Start of the Purdue Master Gardener Course in Owen County, 6 p.m., Owen County Extension Office,
* Feb. 15 -- Winter Cropping Systems Breakfast and PARP, 8-11:30 a.m., Chambers Restaurant. Call 812-829-2605 to register. Cost is $10 for PARP credit, and
* Feb. 18 -- Estate and Family Business Transfer Planning, 8:30 a.m.-3:15 p.m., Clay County 4-H Exhibit Hall. Cost varies. Call 448-9041 to register by Feb. 11.