Friday, August 19, 2011

Dust Storms

Timothy Egan's book, "The Worst  Hard Time" was published 2-3 years ago and tells of the Dust Bowl days during the 1930's in the Southern High Plains. I read the book when it first came out and today saw a film of it down at our Senior Center. If there is a "Hero" in the story, it would be Hugh Hammond Bennett, the founder of the USDA Soil Conservation Service. The book traces the Homestead and Kincaid Acts by the US Congress to encourage settlement of the region in the early part of the 20th century, the high wheat prices associated with WW I, and the "Bust" of 1929. Then came the Drought of the 1930's and changes in weather patterns that resulted in mammoth dust storms. It was during one of these storms with top soil from Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas being blown to the East Coast and beyond, that H.H.Bennett was able to persuade the Congress to appropriate funds to establish a cadre of trained "Soil Conservationist". They would work with farmers to alleviate the erosion problem by encouraging them to follow innovative farming practices. There was some discussion following the film this afternoon and several of the participants were aware that this field had been  my working career. I acknowledged that I began working for the Agency in 1948 and that our youngest son, who began with the Agency before I retired, is still employed in the Washington D.C. Headquarters Office.  So, A member of our family has been with the Agency that Bennett founded for 67  of the 76 years that it has been in existence. I am pleased that son Jon followed in my footsteps and believe we provided commendable service to the Country in protecting our Natural Resources. 

1 comment:

  1. And I am extremely proud and lucky to follow in the footsteps of my father in this effort. The agency has changed greatly in the more than 75 years since founded by "Big Hugh," but the agency's employees still have a burning passion, at their very core, to protect our nation's resources. Times have changed and, for most employees, they feel a long ways from Dr. Bennett and his days. But I am proud that, as I pass the point of more than 35 years of service to SCS/NRCS, I am a member of the Conservation Delivery Streamlining Initiative (CDSI), in the Office of the Chief. It is the goal of CDSI to streamline the efforts of the nine steps of planning, better integrate soils and other resources, leverage new technologies like GIS, GPS, mobile computing, the Internet and the web, etc. and liberate our field staff to spend less time in the office doing administrative duties and spend more time, out in the field with the farmers and ranchers of this country, helping them conserve the land.

    Test question:
    Where is Hugh Hammond Bennett buried and why?