Carroll County’s longstanding distinguished University of Maryland Cooperative Extension agent Bob Jones passed away on Dec. 27.
Many of us will be thinking about Jones when the upcoming Carroll County Agriculture Center annual meeting takes place later in March. It was at the 2005 annual meeting that Jones was given the Pioneer Award for his past contributions to the Agriculture Center and the business of agriculture in Carroll County.
Jones was born into a farming family on March 21, 1929. His parents, Thomas and Jane Jones, owned a dairy operation in Street, Maryland. After graduating from Highland High School, Jones went to the University of Maryland where he earned both his B.S. and M.S. degrees.
Carroll County and the art and science of agriculture are always changing, and change can be challenging. Fortunately, over the years, we have had a whole new generation of folks, like Jones, Walt Bay, David Greene, Tom Ford, Bryan Butler, Mike Bell, Steve Allgeier, Rita Zimmerman, Cheryl Hill, and Carolyn Travers – to name a few – who have helped us interpret all the constant change.
Jones started his lifelong career in agriculture in 1950, only to be interrupted once by a stint in the Air Force during the Korean War, from 1951-53. He first served as a county extension agent in Prince George’s and Dorchester counties before he came to Carroll in 1957. He retired in 1984, but maintained his love for the Ag Center. Upon retiring, he helped with fundraising efforts for the then-new Danele Shipley Memorial Arena.
To better understand his contributions in Carroll County, it is important to know the history of the Ag Center.
The Carroll County Agriculture Center was incorporated on March 20, 1954. In April that year, 13½ acres was conveyed to the Ag Center for $100 per acre. On May 17, Lester Stem reported that the Building Committee recommended two pole-type cattle sheds and an 80-by-30-foot ′ main hall be built. That was Burns Hall.
Landon Burns called a group of interested citizens to meet with him at the county agent’s office. He explained the organization of the Ag Center and its need for funds. He then took $100 out of his pocket, placed it on the table, and asked everyone in attendance to match it.
He got 100% response from leaders such as Earl Beard, Joseph Coshun, Edward Derr, Margaret Englar, David Hoff, Walter Hook, Joseph Horn, G. Bucher John, J. Henry Koller, R. H. Richardson, Wilbur Shreeve, Herbert Snyder, Randall Spoerlein, A. W. Steiner, Lester Stem, Henry Turner, Carroll Wilhide, and Grove Zimmerman.
It is in this context that Jones arrived a few years later in 1957. During his tenure as an extension agent, his accomplishments were many. In his early years in Carroll County, he worked primarily with farmers, and 4-H. According to his obituary, one of the rewarding experiences during those years was helping coach the 1960 Maryland Dairy Judging Team, which went on to win the international contest in Cambridge, England.
Over the years, in addition to the Ag Center, Jones was actively involved with such diverse groups as the Maryland Farm Bureau, the Economic Development Commission, the Planning Commission and the Maryland Dairy Herd Improvement Association.
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Jones initiated the formation of the Agribusiness Club in 1967, which still meets monthly at Baugher’s Orchard and Farm in Westminster. He also helped in the establishment of both the Farm Museum and the Farmers’ Market, and provided leadership in the preservation of agricultural land.
Jones was actively involved in the planning of Camp Hashawha, an overnight camp and part of the Y in Central Maryland, which is where I first met him. Hashawha opened in 1977.
He was a past president of the Maryland Association of County Agricultural Agents and received the association’s Distinguished Service Award. In 1977, he was elected president of the National Association of County Agricultural Agents. He was also elected into the NACAA Hall of Fame in 2009.
Jones was instrumental in helping organize the First Presbyterian Church of Westminster in 1960. He was the first Sunday School superintendent and one of the first elders. Also in 1960, Jones joined the Kiwanis Club of Westminster, and in 1965 he was elected president. In 2002, he was named a Hixon Fellow by the Kiwanis International Foundation. In 1966, he was elected to the Westminster Bank and Trust Board of Directors. In 1997, Jones organized and chaired the first Carroll County Christian Men’s Prayer Breakfast.
His final project started in 2005, when he was asked to chair the Hoff Log Barn Project Steering Committee, to raise $430,00 to restore and move the barn to the Carroll County Farm Museum. The barn is now one of the main attractions at the museum along with a pair of oxen.
Today, the Agriculture Center and the Shipley Arena are a hub of activity with everything from bull riding, dog shows, a home show, flea markets, cheerleading, therapeutic horseback riding, tractor pulls and, of course, the annual 4-H & FFA Fair.
Kevin Dayhoff writes from Westminster. His Time Flies column appears every Sunday. Email him at email@example.com.