My grandparents, Don and Lorena Bowers, were honored with the Diamond Pioneer Award on October 15, 2014 at Oregon State University. They were two of nearly a dozen to receive it this year. They will now be a permanent part of the Diamond Pioneer Agricultural Achievement Award.
“The Diamond Pioneer Registry was established in March 1983 when the College Of Agricultural Sciences observed its 75th anniversary. With the Registry, the College recognizes the significant contributions of many of our friends and colleagues who have served agriculture and related areas throughout a portion of their careers.” – Oregon State Website
Every year I read through the names in this registry to see who was inducted. The people who are honored are cool! These farmers, ranchers, foresters, educators and other natural resource enthusiasts have maintained and advanced our industry. They have paved the way for the future generations.
I am proud to say I have a cool family. My Great-grandma Charity Bowers was honored with the Diamond Pioneer as well. Being engaged and involved in Oregon Agriculture is a genetic trait in my family.
I was excited to submit my grandparents for the award. The deadline was in the middle of harvest but thanks to my dad, uncles and long-time industry folks I was able to compile information fairly easily. The people who have spoiled me with donuts, camping trips, pies and awesomeness are also rockstars in their profession.
Don Bowers is a 3rd generation farmer in Linn County, Oregon. He and has wife Lorena started farming 1958 with his dad Roy. Roy A. Bowers & Sons was formed in 1963. In the early years, Lorena drove seed truck for the farm during harvest and then took over the bookkeeping for the growing operation in the early 1970s. She was among one of the first members of Oregon Women for Agriculture. Throughout the years they employed hundred of teenagers from the local community. Many who still tell stories of appreciation for their job on the farm till this day. They retired from farming in 1998 but still actively contribute to their community through the Harrisburg Museum and their local church. Don and Lorena raised three boys, Nick, Eric and Tobin, who all contribute to the grass seed industry today.
List of Organizations, capacities served & accomplishments:
- Board member of the Oregon Ryegrass Growers Association in late 1960s
- Member of the National Farmer’s Organization
- 1975-1981, Oregon Ryegrass Commissioner, served as chairman 1977-79.
- Oregon Meadowfoam Growers:
In 1983 Don Bowers was among a small group of Willamette Valley farmers would saw the potential utility of a new crop being touted for its unique seed oil. This new crop was called Meadowfoam. Don could see the value of a rotation crop for the Willamette Valley’s grass seed fields and the seed industry and was willing to put in the time and effort to aid in its development. This was a risky venture on a new and unproven crop. Don was instrumental in the formation of what would come to be known as the OMG Cooperative and was a founding Board Member of the Cooperative and its marketing subsidiary, Natural Plant Products, LLC
- 1983 the Oregon Meadowfoam Grower Association came into existence and Don Bowers was an original founding member.
- Between 1983 and 1997 there were 7 crops of meadowfoam produced and Don participated in each crop.
- Between 1983 and 1997 Don Bowers was the single largest producer of Meadowfoam.
- During this time Don worked extensively with OSU researchers, OSU Extension personnel, and leaders in the seed industry to aid in the development of this new crop.
- Participated in multiple agronomic research projects to study and explore improved production methods
- Was deeply involved in the cleaning, storage, and processing of meadowfoam
- In 1997 Don was a founding Board Member of OMG Cooperative and was instrumental in the subsequent creation of Natural Plant Products, LLC to process and market Meadowfoam seed oil
- 2007 Don Bowers retired as a Board Member
- In the late 1980s to early 1990s he became part owner in a seed company
- Previous member of Oregon State Seed Cleaning Advisory Board 2001
- Oregon Seed Council Seedsman of the Year
This is why I felt my grandparents deserved to be Diamond Pioneers. They worked together to build a business and a family. Today that family still carries on their legacy and passion for agriculture.