Ag Hall of Fame to induct new members
A former Extension agronomist known as "Mr. Soybean," and the first woman district director for the Cooperative Extension Service are among the six to be inducted into the Arkansas Agricultural Hall of Fame in March 8.
The group will be honored at the 25th annual induction luncheon, 11:30 a.m., at Little Rock's Embassy Suites Hotel. Luncheon tickets are $35 each and are available by calling 501-228-1470 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Alexander, of Little Rock, dedicated her life to developing Home Economics and Demonstration clubs for women and 4-H girls. In 1980, she was promoted to director of the northwest district and as such, was the first woman to serve the CES in this capacity. She began her Extension career in 1942 in White County. She also worked in Stone, Cleburne and Ashley counties before moving to Little Rock in 1967 to serve as an Extension home management specialist.
Ashlock, of Conway, almost didn't make it back to Arkansas after completing graduate studies at Oklahoma State University and going to work for Texas A&M's Extension Service at Corpus Christi Research and Extension Center.
"I accepted a job at the University of Arkansas at Monticello. I got halfway across Texas and started feeling guilty," he said. "The kids were very happy in school and we had just recently moved to Texas."
He called Ruben Johnson, a former acting director of Extension who retired as state leader-Agriculture. "I called and said I couldn't do it," Ashlock said. "As soon as I said that I had a sinking feeling I'd just said good-bye to Arkansas forever."
However, four years later, another Arkansas extension opportunity arose.
"Ruben looked past that earlier event," Ashlock said. "I appreciated the second chance."
Since then, Ashlock has been known as "Mr. Soybean" in Arkansas. His field research (in cooperation with many very capable agricultural research scientists, Extension specialists, county Extension agents and soybean farmers) led to the development of many innovations, including the wide spread adoption of early planting of earlier maturing indeterminate Maturity Group IV varieties which had developed into the Mid-South Early Season Soybean Production System. In his current role, he coordinates between the Arkansas Soybean Promotion Board, Mid-South Soybean Board and the U of A System Division of Agriculture as an Assistant to the Vice President for Agriculture-Special Programs.
In addition to 24 years as an Extension agronomist in Arkansas and Texas, Ashlock also had six years as a county extension agent in Arkansas. Prior to returning to the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture in 2010, Ashlock served almost nine years as the soybean agronomist for Cullum Seeds, LLC, located in Jonesboro.
Also being inducted are:
--Jack R. England, Sr.of Rison, who made significant contributions to the poultry industry worldwide and in Arkansas. Perhaps his greatest achievement was building a multi-million dollar business on the brokerage of hatching eggs at a time when there was no other model for this type of venture in the United States. This enterprise led to the shipment of hatching eggs to numerous international markets.
--Matthew Post Sr., of Altus, a pioneer in the grape and wine industry in Arkansas for more than 60 years and chairman of the board of Post Winery. Among his notable accomplishments are the establishment of the Altus Viticultural Area in 1984, and development of a grape packing facility in 1985 that opened the door for numerous other grape growers to ship their fruit to northeastern U.S. and Canadian markets.
--Leland Tollett of Springdale, retired chairman and CEO for Tyson Foods, Inc. Under Tollett's leadership, the company built or integrated 23 major production facilities and in 1989 acquired Holly Farms with its 16 processing plants that solidified Tyson's position as the world's largest poultry producer.
--Donald W. "Buddy" Wray of Springdale. During a career with Tyson Foods, Inc. that has spanned more than 50 years, Wray has served as president and now executive vice president - special assistant to the president and CEO. During this time he helped build a company that now contracts with nearly 2,000 farmers and employs more than 23,000 people in Arkansas.
The Agriculture Hall of Fame is sponsored by the Arkansas State Chamber of Commerce and Arkansas Farm Bureau. It honors those who have made significant contributions to Arkansas agriculture, as well as community and economic development. For more information about the Hall of Fame induction ceremony, visit http://bit.ly/Yxs8sm.