PALMETTO –– On Tuesday, November 13th, Mr. Ervin Shannon was named the 2012 Agriculturist of the Year for his tremendous contributions to the enhancement of agriculture in Manatee County through years of education and outreach. Mr.Shannon was honored at the Kiwanis Club of Bradenton's luncheon as part of this year's Farm-City Week events. Shannon served as the FAMU Small Farms Program Assistant at the Manatee County Extension Service and was a pioneer in entering the field of agriculture, opening up communications with the minority small farmers, providing them with a "go to" resource.
In response to the industrial revolution and changing social class of the 19th century, the Morrill Act of 1862 established the land-grant system, naming the University of Florida as the publicly funded agricultural and technical educational institution for the state. Shortly after its founding, Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University (FAMU) became the beneficiary of educational provisions for African Americans, made possible through the passage of the Second Morrill Act of 1890.
Mr. Shannon offered effective educational programs from the Cooperative Extension Service through the local Small Farmers Program, held group meetings, used mass media, conducted field site visits, and gave hands-on demonstrations in areas of Integrated Pest Management and soil solarization. In the 1980s, he wrote a monthly newspaper column about agriculture and farming in Manatee County, and wrote a monthly garden column for the 4-H newsletter. He worked with home gardeners and was very active in the 4-H Youth Development program in Manatee County. Mr. Shannon is probably best known for his Bucket Brigade classes, in which he taught small-scale container gardening using 5-gallon buckets.
Mr. Shannon has always been involved in Farm-City Week Farm tours, Soil Stewardship Farm Tours, Soil Judging, the Natural Resources Conservation Service Envirothon competition, Ag Venture, Master Gardener volunteer training, Family and Consumer Sciences programs, projects with senior citizen centers, and the Boys and Girls Clubs, serving his community with energy, conviction and true dedication to his field.
In addition to his numerous duties and activities on the job, Mr. Shannon committed himself to the long-term development and improvement of Manatee County. He served as Ex-Officio member of the Manatee County Vegetable Crops Advisory Committee and on the Board of Directors for the Ann N. Reynard Day Care Center in Palmetto. He still serves as Associate Minister at St. John's First Baptist Institutional Church in Palmetto and is a member of the Farm-City Week Committee and the South Florida Small Farm Planning Committee.
After 35 amazing years, Ervin Shannon retired from the Manatee County Extension Office on June 30, 2012. As a small token of gratitude for all he has done for his community, June 8, 2012 was proclaimed to be "Ervin H. Shannon Day" in Manatee County.
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