The Arkansas Agriculture Hall of Fame will induct six individuals whose leadership and service have brought distinction to the state’s largest business sector.
The newest class includes weed scientist Dr. Ford Baldwin of Austin (Lonoke County), attorney Bill Bridgforth of Pine Bluff, retired agriculture educator Dr. Lew Brinkley of Jonesboro, renowned fruit breeder Dr. John Clark of Fayetteville, timber executive Peggy Clark of Arkadelphia and the late Adam McClung of Vilonia, who served eight years as executive vice president of the Arkansas Cattlemen’s Association.
The group will be honored with an induction luncheon set for 11:30 a.m. March 2 at Little Rock’s Embassy Suites Hotel.
“This is a wonderful class of inductees for the Arkansas Agriculture Hall of Fame,” said Butch Calhoun of Des Arc, chairman of the Arkansas Agriculture Hall of Fame committee and former Arkansas Secretary of Agriculture. “The broad reach of these six individuals has been felt in every corner of Arkansas, from the Delta to the hills 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 164 the number of honorees in the Arkansas Agriculture Hall of Fame, encompassing 31 classes of inductees.
Baldwin is retired from the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture and now operates a consulting business, Practical Weed Consultants, while also writing regularly for the Delta Farm Press. His 43 years of assistance to farmers (27 with the Cooperative Extension Service and 16 as a consultant) have resulted in improved weed control and environmental stewardship. While herbicide-resistant weeds continue to challenge famers, Baldwin is one of the country’s top experts on combating this problem. A native of Fayetteville, Baldwin has earned recognition from countless industry groups, including being named Progressive Farmer’s Man of the Year in Arkansas Agriculture in 1995, inducted into the Crop Professionals Hall of Fame in 1999 and earning the Friend of the Farmer Award from Riceland Foods in 2006. Baldwin earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Arkansas, and a Ph.D from Oklahoma State University.
Bridgforth is senior partner in the law firm of Ramsay, Bridgforth, Robinson and Raley, where he represents the legal needs of farmers and ranchers in Arkansas and throughout the United States. He is a frequent speaker across the country on agricultural and regulatory matters. His focus has been on educating and assisting farmers, ranchers, accountants and lawyers, particularly on issues involving federal farm programs. Bridgforth has worked with agriculture committees of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives in an effort to ensure the nation’s farm programs are beneficial to production agriculture. Bridgforth received the C.E. Ransick Award for extraordinary service from the Arkansas Bar Foundation in 2005, was inducted into the Arkansas Outdoor Hall of Fame by the Arkansas Game and Fish Foundation in 2012 and was the 1993 recipient of the Harvey W. McGeorge Award for Distinguished Service to Agriculture in Arkansas, presented by the Pine Bluff Rotary Club. A native of Forrest City, Bridgforth earned an undergraduate degree at the University of Arkansas in 1962, followed by a law degree in 1964.
Brinkley has taught three generations of students at Arkansas State University, spending his 46-year career there as a professor of agricultural economics, department administrator, student advisor and mentor. Brinkley taught at least 10 different courses during his tenure (1969-2016), and almost 1,300 A-State agribusiness majors earned degrees during his tenure.
When he retired from full-time service in 2005, the ASU College of Agriculture alumni established the L.E. Brinkley Endowment for Student Development to provide ongoing support of student activities. Brinkley is an honorary life member of the Memphis Agricultural Club, was named the outstanding Agribusiness Person by the Jonesboro Regional Chamber of Commerce in 2005, earned an honorary State Farmer Degree from Arkansas FFA in 1986 and was named an Honorary Member in recognition of distinguished service by the National Block and Bridle Club in 1979. A native of west Tennessee, Brinkley earned an undergraduate degree at Lambuth University in 1964, followed by his master’s (1966) and Ph.D (1969) in agricultural economics from the University of Tennessee.
Clark is one of the country’s preeminent experts in the field of fruit crop genetics and breeding, particularly blackberries, grapes, nectarines and peaches. As distinguished professor in the department of horticulture at the University of Arkansas, he has been recognized with many awards, including the National Association of Plant Breeders Impact Award, and served as president of the American Society for Horticultural Science. He has released 62 fruit cultivars, with more than 21 million plants sold. Clark’s development of the thornless, large-fruited blackberries was just the first of many innovations in the blackberry industry. His most meaningful success might well be the development of new genetics and production practices that will enable the availability of fresh blackberry fruit year-round. A native of Jackson, Miss., Clark earned undergraduate (1978) and master’s (1980) degrees is horticulture from Mississippi State University. He earned a Ph.D in plant science from the University of Arkansas in 1983. Upon earning his Ph.D, he was named resident director of the Fruit Research Station in Clarksville.
Clark is owner and manager of Clark Timberlands and has been synonymous with sustainable forestry for almost 40 years. In what would become a series of “firsts” in her career, Peggy Clark assumed the role of manager of the family timber, cattle and real estate investment business in 1987 after the untimely death of her father, Charles Clark. She has grown the timber business to encompass timberland in eight south-central Arkansas counties and includes other real estate investments, a livestock auction, and a working farm and cattle ranch. She was the first woman appointed to the Arkansas Forestry Commission, the first female president of the Arkansas Forestry Association, the first woman to serve as president of the national Forestry Landowners Association and the first female elected to First Commercial Corporation’s board of directors. She also serves as a trustee of the Ross Foundation, is on the board of the Mid-America Museum, Garvan Woodland Gardens, the Arkansas Community Foundation and the Ouachita Area Council of the Boy Scouts of America. A graduate of the University of Arkansas (1971), she worked as a supervisor at Texas Children’s and St. Luke’s Hospital in Houston, in real estate sales, then as a hospital examiner with the Arkansas Department of Health before joining her father at Clark Timberlands.
McClung served as executive vice president of the Arkansas Cattlemen’s Association from 2009-17, generating membership growth over that span and creating the Young Cattlemen’s Leadership Class, designed to develop leadership skills for tomorrow’s agricultural leaders.
McClung died suddenly Aug. 6, 2017, at the age of 37. His relentless efforts to bring positive change to the beef industry, and all of agriculture, spurred the White House and the U.S. Department of Agriculture to recognize him in 2014 as one of 15 “Champions of Change” from across the country. A native of Conway, McClung attended Eastern Oklahoma State College and Oklahoma State University on livestock judging scholarships, earning a bachelor’s degree in animal science from OSU. He was director of membership at the Arkansas Cattlemen’s Association from 2006-08, then moved on to the Oklahoma Beef Council as director of industry relations. He returned to Arkansas in 2009 to lead the membership and legislative efforts of the Arkansas Cattlemen’s Association.
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 [email protected].
From Arkansas Farm Bureau.