LITTLE ROCK — The Arkansas Agriculture Hall
of Fame will induct five men whose leadership and service have brought
distinction to Arkansas agriculture, the state’s largest industry.
The group will be honored at the 22nd annual induction
luncheon, 11:30 a.m., March 12 in the Ambassador Ballroom of Little
Rock’s Embassy Suites Hotel. Tickets to the luncheon are $35 each and
are available by calling (501) 228-1470.
The newest class includes Philip Alford Jr. of Lewisville (Lafayette County), a founding member of the Arkansas Cattlemen’s Association; Devoe Bollinger of Horatio (Sevier County), who led the effort to eradicate brucellosis from cattle herds in the state; Mark Bryles
of Blytheville (Mississippi County), who led a significant increase of
cotton acreage while an extension agent in Mississippi County; Jack Jones of Pottsville (Pope County), who helped create the LeadAR program in Arkansas; and Leonard Sitzer of Weiner (Poinsett County), who developed one of the most successful rice farming operations in northeast Arkansas.
Alford has been instrumental in bringing changes to
agriculture in southwest Arkansas. He introduced stocker cattle
grazing operations and, by organizing drainage districts, helped
convert thousands of acres of non-productive bottomland into productive
crop and pasture land. He was one of the founders of the Arkansas
Cattlemen’s Association in 1958 and has been a mentor to many wanting
to establish their own stocker operations.
Bollinger’s career has been devoted to improving the image
of the cattle rancher. He served three terms on the Arkansas Livestock
and Poultry Commission, two of those as chairman. In that role, he led
the effort to hire an epidemiologist and begin a program of calfhood
vaccinations to protect livestock from brucellosis. Because of his
efforts, the state is now brucellosis free. He has spent his life
supporting and mentoring Arkansas youth and was among the first to
commit to help the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture
rebuild its animal science program.
Bryles helped lead the revival of cotton as the
primary crop in Mississippi County. His career as an agent with the UofA
Division of Agriculture Cooperative Extension Service spanned 35
years, 22 of those in Mississippi County. By helping growers adopt new
technologies, cotton acreage increased from 34,500 acres in 1983 to
200,000 in 1997 with yields nearly tripling during the period. He has
received numerous awards for his leadership, innovation and service. A
former president and active leader with Mississippi County Farm Bureau,
Bryles has spent his life as an outspoken advocate for agriculture,
recruiting and training volunteer farm leaders in the county.
Jones is a second-generation farmer and rancher
from Pope County and has given much of his adult life serving the
state’s largest industry. He spent 24 years on the Arkansas Farm Bureau
board of directors, 17 of those as vice president. He helped establish
the Ag in the Classroom program and served on the committee which
formed LeadAR, the Cooperative Extension Service’s professional
development program. He has given many years to his community, serving
30 years on the county fair board and 12 years on the Pottsville School
Board, in addition to being a member of the Petit Jean College Board
Sitzer’s life is a testament to hard work, dedication and
leadership. With only a 10th-grade education, he returned from duty in
World War II to build one of the most successful rice farming
operations in Poinsett County. An avid outdoorsman and wildlife
conservationist, he has hosted duck hunts for numerous dignitaries,
including former president Jimmy Carter. He spent 33 years on the
Riceland Foods board of directors and 21 years as director and
associate director of the Poinsett Production Credit Association. He is a
Diamond Life Sponsor of Ducks Unlimited and was named the 1998
Arkansas Wildlife Federation Conservationist of the Year.
The Agriculture Hall of Fame is sponsored by the Arkansas
State Chamber of Commerce and Arkansas Farm Bureau. The program honors
those who have made significant contributions to Arkansas agriculture,
as well as community and economic development.
Follow the links below for detailed biographies and photos of each inductee: