Professor speaks about agriculture, Dust Bowl

Liz Dowell, Copy Editor

Students and members of the community learned about the tools made for harvesting during the Dust Bowl during “The Illinois Plows and Breaking the Plains: Technology, Ecology and Agricultural Production during the 1930s.”

This lecture was about how the wheat agriculture during the time of the Dust Bowl was at its peak.

Debra Reid, a history professor, said farmers of that era were driven to sustain themselves and their families.

“Farmer’s decisions are driven by profit or by the means to feed and house versus sustaining themselves,” Reid said. “Agricultural economic philosophy is a capitalist or more of a social welfare idea that operates for the benefits of a family or community.”

Reid said one way to interpret the Dust Bowl is to wonder if the farmers of that time really did think about sustainability.

“Did farmers operate in a way that sustained the environment or not? Reid said. The Dust Bowl, in many people’s opinion is the perfect example of how famers did not think about sustainability.”

Jalen Washington, a senior in pre-business management, said prior to the panel, he did not know much about the Dust Bowl.

“Well for one I didn’t know nothing about none of this so it’s very touching to hear about it, emotionally in a way, defiantly hearing about all the families that had to go through that and the fact that they couldn’t really control it at that point,” Washington said. “They were unaware of what they were doing.”

Washington said that he was glad to find out that the panel was mostly about what caused the Dust Bowl.

“I liked that she kinda turned the direction away from the families that went through it and just talked about the machinery and how that played a major role in what happened,” Washington said.

Symiya Amos, a sophomore majoring in sociology, said when she first heard of the panel she thought it would be presented differently.

“I thought it was going to be different,” Amos said. “I came in thinking it was like the presentation. I went to the movie, the first event, and I thought it was something like that.”

Amos said she knew about the Dust Bowl before she attended the panel but did not know the details of it.

“I knew that, I didn’t know in details but I knew that it was an event in the 30s that dust was affecting people and agriculture,” Amos said.

Camille Harper, a sophomore undecided major, said that she was interested in attending the panel and liked the fact that a very diverse age group attended it.

“I felt that it was interesting. I liked that it brought out an interesting crowd,” Harper said. “I didn’t think that it would be all different ages.”

Harper said she knew a little bit about the Dust Bowl from class.

“I knew about it because of class and I knew that it was affecting people and people were dying from it,” Harper said. “Before today I have never attended an event about it.”

Harper said she was surprised to find out about how many people were affected by the Dust Bowl and how many people died from it.

“Students should come out, more people should come out and learn about it because I feel like it’s a part of our history and it’s something you should know,” Harper said.

 

Liz Dowell can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]