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Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Agricultural heritage

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

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. Charles Henry Turner, an African American, has contributed greatly to our knowledge about animal behavior.

Charles' research is what led to the determination that honey bees can see colors and discriminate among them. For honeybee owners, this is important information to know when trying to produce a specific type of honey.

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.

Rachel Carson is one of the world's foremost leaders in conservation. Her work revolutionized America's interest in the environment. Her book, "Silent Spring," brought to light some of the negative side affects associated with pesticides when used improperly. It brought about a complete review of pesticide policy by the federal government resulting in a band of DDT.

Mary O'Hara is a famous female, Irish-American author who wrote several books enlightening individuals about the love farm families have for their ground and livestock. Her classic books include, "My Friend Flicka,' "Thunderhead," and "Green Grass Wyoming."

She used her knowledge and experiences from her pioneer cattle and horse ranch when writing these books in an effort to share her love and passion for agriculture.

May is National Asian/Pacific Heritage Month. The horticultural world would not be the same if it wasn't for the "citrus wizard," Lue Gim Gong. Lue emigrated from China when he was 12-years-old and went on to work in the orange groves in Florida when he was older.

As the years went, he created the "Lue Gim Gong orange," a variety that matures in August or September, ensuring the fruit would not freeze.

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. This most symbolic impact that American Indians have had is through the "Three Sisters."

For centuries, Native American tribes have planted corn, beans, and squash (the three sisters) together. This form of companion planting often results in high yield, high quality produce, and have little impact on the environment.

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 who 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 County or 812-829-5020 in Owen County, or reach me directly at smith535@purdue.edu.

Purdue University is an equal opportunity/equal access/affirmative action institution.

Upcoming opportunities available to you through Purdue Extension include:

* Feb. 5 -- Owen 4-H Week,

* Feb. 13 -- Start of the Master Gardener Series, Clay County Extension Office. Cost $115. Call 448-9041,

* Feb. 13 -- Keys to Forage Profitability, 6:30 p.m., Dubois, Ind. Call 812-678-4427 to register, and

* Feb. 16 -- Clay County SWCD annual dinner.