The Arkansas Agriculture Hall of Fame has announced plans to induct five individuals whose leadership and service have brought distinction to the state’s largest business sector.
The newest class includes retired University of Arkansas educator Dr. L.B. (Bernie) Daniels of Fayetteville; Ed Fryar of Rogers, the founder of Ozark Mountain Poultry; UA professor Dr. Donna Graham of Fayetteville; UA distinguished professor Dr. Terry Siebenmorgen of Fayetteville; and David Walt of Dumas, a retired soybean farmer.
The group will be honored with an induction luncheon, set for 11:30 a.m. on March 1 at Little Rock’s Embassy Suites Hotel.
“This class of inductees includes entrepreneurs, researchers, educators and agricultural leaders,” says Butch Calhoun of Des Arc, chairman of the Arkansas Agriculture Hall of Fame committee. “The broad reach of these five individuals has been felt in every corner of Arkansas, from the delta flatlands to the pastures of western Arkansas.
“I have said this before and it bears repeating; agriculture is one of the great success stories of our state. We are pleased to bring recognition to these individuals who have impacted our state’s largest industry in such a positive way.”
The new selections will bring to 169 the number of honorees in the Arkansas Agriculture Hall of Fame, encompassing 32 classes of inductees.
Dr. L.B. (Bernie) Daniels retired in 2001 from the University of Arkansas, having first joined as a faculty member in 1969. He bracketed his tenure as a faculty member with a decade of service as Associate Director of the Agricultural Experiment Station in Fayetteville. A native of Thornton (Calhoun County), Daniels began his collegiate experience at Southern State College (now Southern Arkansas University) in Magnolia, and earned his undergraduate and master’s degrees at the University of Arkansas. He earned a PhD at the University of Missouri. As a faculty member, he taught more than 5,000 students in classes ranging from Introduction to Animal Sciences to Neonatal Physiology and Bio-Energetics. He published more than 70 peer-reviewed research articles and helped advance the understanding of ruminant nutrition for both dairy and beef cattle. He was instrumental in fund-raising for several UA projects, including the Center of Excellence for Poultry Science, the UA Center for Advanced Spatial Technology, and the Pauline Whitaker Animal Science Center. He also aided in the development of the Food Safety Consortium between the UA, Iowa State University and Kansas State University. He was named Distinguished Alumni from SAU in 2014.
Dr. Ed Fryar started Ozark Mountain Poultry in 2000, after working 13 years as a professor of agricultural economics at the UA. He grew the business to more than 1,800 employees and processing more than 1.2 million chickens per week. OMP focused on antibiotic free and non-GMO chicken products, servicing the retail and foodservice channels with its Forester Farmers Market brand. In just over a decade, OMP experienced significant growth in both our customer base and our product offerings – with sales reaching more than $280 million. Fryar also worked to establish direct buying channels with Arkansas grain producers. The company was also known for its RFID tracking of poultry during production and an incentive-based pay system that results in higher output and higher yields. Arkansas-based George’s Inc., acquired the OMP business in 2018. Fryar has served on the Council of Economic Advisors for Arkansas governors since 1983. He is also a member of the Agribusiness Council for the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. Before starting OMP, Fryar was a tenured professor at the UA, focusing his research on grain and poultry marketing and price risk management. He also worked for the United States Department of Agriculture. He holds undergraduate and graduate degrees from the University of Arkansas and a PhD from the University of Minnesota.
Dr. Donna L. Graham has spent almost 50 years with the University of Arkansas System, starting in 1970 with the Cooperative Extension Service in Jefferson County. In 1985, she moved to the Fayetteville campus as a faculty member in the Dale Bumpers College of Agricultural, Food and Life Sciences and served 10 years as Associate Dean for Academic Programs. Graham has received numerous teaching and advising awards including the Spitze Land Grant Faculty Award for Excellence as well as recognition as a Distinguished Alumna from the UA Alumni Society. As a faculty member, Dr. Graham created curriculum to effectively train future extension agents and strengthen the college core. A recent effort led to the creation of Ag*Idea, a consortium of 12 universities to share agriculture courses online. She has secured approximately $1.5 million in funding to support educational programs. Graham’s career has been a progression of leadership beginning in the 1970s as the Southern Regional Director of the National Association of Extension 4-H Agents. More recent roles include serving on the National Entomological Board, the Academic Program Section of the Board of Agriculture Assembly, American Public and Land-Grant Universities, and as president of the American Association for Agricultural Education, where she is a Senior Fellow. A native of Damascus (Faulkner County), Graham earned undergraduate and graduate degrees at the University of Arkansas and a PhD from the University of Maryland.
Dr. Terry Siebenmorgen is an international leader in rice research, particularly in processing and drying of the cereal grain. He serves as Distinguished Professor and Director of the University of Arkansas Rice Processing Program, which he started in 1994. The ARPP is an industry-interactive, multidisciplinary effort focusing on rice processing operations and has sponsors from across the United States, South America, Europe and Japan. Siebenmorgen began his faculty career at the UA in 1984 as a food engineer, working in several areas of food processing. Since the late ‘80s, he has focused on rice processing in response to the strong need for research from the food industry. Among his many industry awards are being selected as Riceland Foods’ Friend of the Farmer in 2012 and receiving the Distinguished Service Award from the Rice Technical Working Group in 2016. He also received designation as a Fellow with the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers and received the ASABE Distinguished Food Engineer Award in 2007. He was twice selected for the Texas Instruments Outstanding Research Award and earned the Spitze Land Grant University Faculty Award for Excellence. A native of Scranton (Logan County), Siebenmorgen holds an undergraduate degree in agricultural engineering from the UA, a master’s degree from Purdue and a PhD in engineering from the University of Nebraska.
David Walt is owner of Camp David Farms in Dumas and a longtime leader in row-crop agriculture, raising soybeans, cotton and rice. He is known best as an aggressive and unyielding advocate for the soybean industry. Walt began farming in 1962, after returning home from the University of Arkansas, where he was a member of Kappa Sigma fraternity. He farmed for many years with his brother, Martin. Walt spent five years (1962-67) in the Arkansas Air National Guard and a year (1968) on active duty with the U.S. Air Force. While he retired from “full time” farm work in 2007, Walt remains active (especially at harvest time) on the family farm, where the fifth generation of the Walt family carries on. Walt was especially keen on agricultural research, and was an active participant in numerous land improvement, soil conservation and seed variety projects. Walt was appointed to serve on the Arkansas Soybean Promotion Board in 1987 by then-Gov. Bill Clinton, and served for 16 years on that committee, being reappointed by Govs. Jim Guy Tucker, Mike Huckabee and Mike Beebe. He is a past president of the Arkansas Soybean Association (and spend 33 years on its board), was fund-raising chair for the Tri-State Soybean Forum, and a longtime board member for the Desha County Farm Bureau. He served as a founding member of the Arkansas Foundation for Agriculture. He is also a Lifetime Board Member of Economics Arkansas, which promotes economic literacy throughout the state. Walt is a past member of the Dumas School Board, Merchants and Farmers Bank board of directors and was named Man of the Year by the Dumas Chamber of Commerce in 1983. The Walt family was named Desha County Farm Family of the Year and Southeast District Farm Family of the Year in 1993.
The mission of the Arkansas Agriculture Hall of Fame is to build public awareness of agriculture and to formally recognize and honor individuals whose efforts have led to the prosperity of local communities and the state.
Luncheon tickets are $35 each. Individual tickets and tables of 10 are available by calling (501) 228-1609 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.