Hugh Hammond Bennett
Hugh Hammond Bennett, a native of Anson County, received many awards and honors for his lifetime dedication to protecting and conserving soil and water resources for future generations. In Bennett's time, he observed the effects of the Dust Bowl on farmland and believed the farming practices of the day, combined with geographic features of the land, were contributing to the severe soil erosion being seen across the plains.
Bennett's tireless efforts led to the creation of the federal government's Soil Erosion Service in 1933. Bennett served as director of that agency until he retired in 1951. SES was reorganized under the U.S. Department of Agriculture and renamed the Soil Conservation Service in 1935. Today, the organization is known as the Natural Resources Conservation Service.
In 1937, with encouragement from Bennett, President Franklin Roosevelt sent legislation to the nation's governors urging them to establish soil conservation districts. On Aug. 4, 1937, the Brown Creek Soil Conservation District in North Carolina became the first district in the country. Districts were initially created around bodies of water, streams, creeks or watersheds. This district included Anson County, Hammond's birthplace.
Bennett's ongoing work also resulted in funding for USDA to establish numerous soil erosion experiment stations, where staff could demonstrate techniques to farmers, but also continue to experiment and learn about different techniques to control soil erosion.Highlights
- Born in Anson County April 15, 1881.
- Often referred to as the "Father of Soil Conservation."
- Was graduated from the University of North Carolina in 1903 with a degree in soil chemistry.
- First job was as a soil surveyor with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, where he conducted soil studies
- Co-writer of "Soil Erosion: A National Menace" in 1928.
- Charter inductee in USDA Hall of Heroes in 2000; other charter inductees were George Washington Carver, former U.S. Senator Bob Dole and Smokey Bear.
- Inducted in the N.C. Agricultural Hall of Fame in 1967.
- Bennett's papers are housed in the Southern Historical Collection of Wilson Library at UNC-Chapel Hill.