LITTLE ROCK -- The Arkansas Agriculture Hall of Fame will induct five men whose leadership and service have brought distinction to Arkansas agriculture, the state's largest industry.
Mark Bryles of Blytheville (Mississippi County) is among the five new members. Bryles led a significant increase of cotton acreage while an extension agent in Mississippi County.
Other inductees are Philip Alford Jr. of Lewisville (Lafayette County), a founding member of the Arkansas Cattlemen's Association; Devoe Bollinger of Horatio (Sevier County), who led the effort to eradicate brucellosis from cattle herds in the state; Jack Jones of Pottsville (Pope County), who helped create the LeadAR program in Arkansas; and Leonard Sitzer of Weiner (Poinsett County), who developed one of the most successful rice farming operations in northeast Arkansas.
Mississippi County leads the state of Arkansas in cotton production and Mark Bryles is credited for being instrumental in the revival of cotton as the county's main crop. As an agent for the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture Cooperative Extension Service, he initiated on-farm demonstrations during the 1980s and promoted supplemental irrigation to stabilize crop yields at a higher level. Cotton acreage increased from 34,500 acres in 1983 to more than 200,000 acres in 1997. Yields nearly tripled during the period.
Bryles also helped establish rice as a major crop in the county and was the first recipient of Rice Farming magazine's County Agent of the Year award. His career with Extension spanned 35 years with the last 22 in Mississippi County. Following retirement from the Division of Agriculture in 1990 he became a consultant for Adams Land Company. Bryles has been an active member of Mississippi County Farm Bureau for many years and is a past president of the organization. An outspoken advocate for agriculture, he continues to lead the county Farm Bureau's promotional effort as Federation Manager. He was also instrumental in the writing and publication of, "The History of Mississippi County Farm Bureau: 1934 -- 1994," a historical perspective of the first county Farm Bureau in Arkansas.
Bryles has received numerous awards and recognition for his efforts. These include being a three-time recipient of the Cooperative Extension Service's Superior Achievement Award; State and National Association of County Agricultural Agents Distinguished Service Award; and University of Arkansas Dale Bumpers College of Agriculture Outstanding Alumnus Award.
He has served on a number of industry and civic organizations including president of the Arkansas County Agents Association, three years as secretary of the National Association of County Agricultural Agents, member of the Arkansas Cotton Growers and 4-H Foundation board of directors, and as current president of the Osceola Rotary Club.
The Agriculture Hall of Fame is sponsored by the Arkansas State Chamber of Commerce and Arkansas Farm Bureau. The program honors those who have made significant contributions to Arkansas agriculture, as well as community and economic development.