Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Conn. Experiment Sttion Associates

The Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station is the oldest station of its kind in our Country and I have had an interest in it since I was about 8 years of age. My father took me along when he had questions the scientists at that station might answer. At one I was introduced to a Donald Jones who gave my father some corn to plant. This was the Jones who led the way for hybridizing plants resulting in important results such as growing twice the amount of corn per acre than with the usual seed available. He gave my father seeds that resulted in corn stalks the size of field corn and huge ears of sweet corn. In my practice of veterinary medicine I asked scientists for help in some difficult cases. For example with a case of sudden death in a coon hound I asked if they could test parts of the dead animal for poisoning. The results came back in a few hours, cadmium poison. The scientist at the station asked if the dog might have been fed out of a hub cap. I phoned the owner of the dog and asked him and got the reply, "I feed all my dogs our of hub caps." I had never heard of cadmium poisoning and did not know cadmium was found in them. That one case is a good example of the unsung hero's who work lives of quiet discovery with little recognition unless their field has a special effect on people such as ticks and Lyme Disease. Scientists are wrapped up in their work with no time to lecture to the public and if they did take the time the public would not be able to understand most of the research. They get their kicks out of publishing findings never reported before as published in scientific journals for other investigators to appreciate. The scientists at the station are asked to make a special effort to educate the public and do so effectively. I had been President in an outreach volunteer group for Yale's Peabody Museum. We supported many activities with food for special functions and with lectures for the public that were good for the Town and Gown effort of the University. Peabody Associates was so successful I wondered why the Ag Station did not have such a support group.The Director of the Ag Station at that time was Dr. John Anderson and one day I asked for an appointment with him and brought up that subject. He was enthusiastic and asked if I would put my thinking on paper and present it to the Board of Control, the director of the station. It was a simple job to copy the constitution and bylaws of Yale's Peabody Associates and present it as a plan. I made no secret where I found the plan. The Station's mailing list was contacted and by return mail we had over 200 members. So many people in Public Health and in agriculture had been helped in so many ways that I think they thought they owed the Station and so formed the nucleus of The Experiment Station Associates. I am prouder of that accomplishment than of any other in my life. I have a plaque stating that I am the Founder of that group. A few years passed and the financial situation of the state of Connecticut resulted in our Governor suggesting the Station no longer be funded. With the members of The Associates spread over the State to write letters to the media and legislators as well as the Governor, he had to back down. The Station thrives today.

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