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Arkansas Agriculture Hall of Fame Adds Six Names in 2020


Six individuals are being inducted into the Arkansas Agriculture Hall of Fame in 2020.

Three of the inductees are George Tidwell of Lonoke, a former Arkansas State Plant Board chairman; Thomas Vaughns of Marianna, a retired Cooperative Extension Agent; and Gene Woodall, a retired University of Arkansas faculty member.

There will also be three posthumous inductions into the hall of fame. These include Jane Ross of Arkadelphia, Gene Sullivan, and Leo Sutterfield of Mountain View.

“What a marvelous class of inductees who reflect the broad and dramatic impact of agriculture across the state of Arkansas,” Arkansas Agriculture Hall of Fame committee chairman Butch Calhoun said in a statement. “The six included in class XXXIII include many different areas of agriculture, including production, research, aviation, stewardship and community leadership.

The Arkansas Agriculture Hall of Fame is designed to honor individuals who have had a significant impact on Arkansas’ agricultural industry and economic development. Established in 1987, the physical hall of fame exhibit is housed in the Farm Bureau Center located in west Little Rock.

In 2019, five individuals were inducted into the hall of fame. These individuals included Dr. L.B. (Bernie) Daniels, Dr. Ed Fryar, Dr. Donna L. Graham, Dr. Terry Siebenmorgen, and David Walt.

The six new individuals will bring the total of hall of fame inductees to 175.

The Arkansas Agriculture Hall of Fame Class XXXIII induction ceremony will be held Friday, March 6, at 11:30 a.m., at the Embassy Suites ballroom in Little Rock.

Tickets to the event are $35, and tickets can be purchased here.

See below for biographies of each 2020 Arkansas Agriculture Hall of Fame inductee.

Jane Ross

Jane Ross, Arkadelphia
A native of Arkadelphia, Jane Ross founded the Ross Foundation in 1967 with her mother, Ester Clark Ross. The Ross Foundation administers a philanthropic grants program and manages a diverse land base of more than 60,000 acres of timberland, mostly in Clark and Hot Spring counties, held for conservation purposes. The Foundation’s philanthropic program benefits the people of Clark County through the revenue produced by these timberlands. After the death of her mother in 1967, she became active in the everyday operations of the Ross Foundation as a trustee and chairman of the board. Ross continued her active involvement with the Ross Foundation as trustee and chairman for 32 years, until her death on July 9, 1999. Click here for full biography.

Gene Sullivan

Gene Sullivan, Lonoke
Albert Eugene “Gene” Sullivan spent a career creating and implementing soil and water management, conservation and reclamation projects that impacted farmers and ranchers. He served as Deputy State Conservationist in California and State Conservationist in Nebraska, Mississippi and Arkansas. A native of Lonoke, Sullivan earned a degree in agricultural engineering from the University of Arkansas, and immediately went to work for the USDA Soil Conservation Service. Sullivan passed away on Sept. 4, 2017. His son, Mike, now works for USDA as Arkansas State Conservationist. Click here for full biography. 

Leo C. Sutterfield

Leo C. Sutterfield, Mountain View
Leo Sutterfield was a cattleman, a businessman and an advocate for his hometown of Mountain View and the rural areas of Arkansas. Sutterfield served nine years as chairman of the Arkansas Beef Council and was an Arkansas representative on the Cattlemen’s Beef Board, the national administrative body for the beef checkoff program. In 2005, Sutterfield was honored as Distinguished Citizen by the Mountain View Area Chamber of Commerce. The McCallister-Sutterfield Farm was designed as an Arkansas Century Farm during the program’s first year in 2012. When Sutterfield passed away on Sept. 17, 2017, his community and the state lost a dedicated advocate for rural Arkansas. Click here for full biography. 

George Tidwell

George Tidwell, Lonoke
As a boy while growing up on a cotton, corn and peanut farm in north-central Florida, George Tidwell watched Air Force pilots from a nearby flight training school and dreamed of becoming a pilot. That dream led him to an aviation career that ultimately brought him to Arkansas in 1960 to work in agricultural aviation. He started Tidwell Flying Services in 1964, which grew to became one of the country’s most advanced and progressive ag aviation enterprises. Tidwell has held all 4 offices of the Arkansas Agricultural Aviation Association and secretary of the National Agricultural Aviation Association (NAAA). He served 11 years on the Arkansas Aeronautics Board, serving as chairman twice. Click here for full biography. 

Thomas Vaughns

Thomas Vaughns, Marianna
Thomas Vaughns has seen a lot in his 99 years, as a member of the famed Tuskegee Airman during World War II and a veteran of the Korean War, as a 20-year county extension agent, as horticulture specialist at the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff for 14 years. His agriculture career began during the days of segregation, continued through the Civil Rights Era and continues through board service and his regular advice to others who seek his wisdom. Click here for full biography. 

William E. (Gene) Woodall

William E. (Gene) Woodall, Little Rock
Gene Woodall’s impact on cotton farmers in Arkansas can be measured more easily in millions of pounds of yield increase rather than dollars and cents, which is simply incalculable. As the creator and driving force behind the Cotton Research Verification Trials, Woodall delivered meaningful benefits to cotton farmers through efficient and profitable production methods. He helped revive cotton as a profitable crop for Arkansas farmers, who had seen cotton acreage drop by more than 75 percent between the 1950s and late 70s due to low productivity and profitability challenges. Click here for full biography.

READ MORE: After 16 Years of AFB Leadership, Veach Heads for the Homestead

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