Thursday, April 17, 2014

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Agriculture's biggest ally

Clawson's earn top honor from livestock group

Karin, left, and Jim Clawson were named the Polk County Livestock Association 2014 Livestock Family of the Year, honoring Jim’s support of Polk County agriculture.

Photo by Jolene Guzman

Karin, left, and Jim Clawson were named the Polk County Livestock Association 2014 Livestock Family of the Year, honoring Jim’s support of Polk County agriculture.

February 04, 2014

DALLAS — You can't say that Dallas resident Jim Clawson is truly retired, though "retirement" is the technical name for this stage in his life.

With involvement in the Polk County Livestock Association (PCLA), OSU Extension Service, Polk Soil and Water Conservation District, and a number of other local and statewide committees and associations, he is hardly the image of the golf-playing, armchair-occupying retiree.

After a 30-plus year career with the University of California Extension Service, it didn't take him long to put his expertise back to work.

Jim and his wife, Karin, moved to Polk County in 1997 and found something familiar here.

"We just liked the area. It was more like the old days where we grew up in California, in the smaller communities," Clawson said.

He also noticed a need he thought he could fill and almost immediately began working with the Polk Soil and Water Conservation District. In 1998, he was appointed to the PCLA board. He is also a longtime champion of Polk County Extension, namely serving on the committee that led the successful campaign to approve a taxing district for the agency in 2010.

He said in each case, his objective was to help keep those critical organizations going in the face of diminishing resources. Clawson said he is especially interested in strengthening programs that encourage and educate the next generation of farmers, including the PCLA livestock auction during the Polk County Fair and 4-H programs.

"We just don't get the attention that we used to get, but that is the way it is going to be, so we have to find ways to make it work better," he said.

For his tireless effort on behalf of Polk County's farm community, Clawson and his wife were recently named the Polk County Livestock Association's Livestock Family of the Year.

Clawson served six years as a director and officer in the association, helping modernize the organization and plan educational events.

"He has overseen the updating of the bylaws, and worked together with other agencies to co-sponsor field days and educational workshops that have provided our members with opportunities to gain skill and knowledge," said Ron Smith, the 2013 winner who presented the award to the Clawsons at PCLA's annual meeting in January.

"It was a big surprise," Karin said.

"Oh, very honored," Jim added.

Clawson, 82, said he is going to try to slow down. Karin smiles when he says that, acknowledging a wish for him to act more retired.

He will be focusing his efforts on a new program, "Ag First," an organization that aims to highlight the importance of agriculture to Polk County. He said one of the key goals will be to establish better partnerships between local agriculture associations to help promote farming for future generations.

"There's two things (to accomplish): getting people working together again and letting the people of Polk County know how important this is to our economy," Clawson said.

PCLA installs officers

RICKREALL — The Polk County Livestock Association held its annual meeting Jan. 18 at the Polk County Fairgrounds and Event Center.

John Walton, a longtime volunteer with the organization, was installed as president and Barbara Smith as treasurer, along with directors Jon Hendersen and Sven Olsson. Hendersen will serve a one-year term, the others for two years.

Scott Bennett will continue to serve as vice president and Pat Letsch as secretary, along with Michele Bennett and Ron Smith as directors.

The annual business meeting included updating the association's bylaws to be more in line with guidelines for nonprofit corporations. Lynn Letsch, market committee chairwoman, reported on the Livestock Market Program rules for this year's county fair. Paul Johnson described how the County Dog Board is handling the county's Livestock At Large Ordinance since its passage two years ago. Norbert Hartmann and Kay Teisl reported on activities of the association as an affiliate of the Oregon Cattlemen's Association.