Noble Battles Against the Dust Bowl

  • Nature, Animals & Parks
  • 1945

Lloyd Noble was an Oklahoman who taught in rural schools before buying an oil-drilling rig with a loan from his mother. In 1926 he struck gold—or its liquid equivalent—and became a very wealthy man. As he prospered, however, his agricultural neighbors suffered. The Dust Bowl was laying waste to his state, and driving many of its small farmers California-ward. A firm believer in the importance of land ownership in a free society, Noble resolved to help farmers prosper in Oklahoma. He was convinced that shortsighted tillage contributed to the widespread soil erosion and barren fields of his home state, so in 1945 he established a foundation whose central mission was to help its farmers and ranchers “practice land stewardship and resource conservation.” To this day, the foundation encourages sustainable agricultural practices by bringing current research to more than 1,700 local agriculturalists. A sample project of its 360 employees (roughly a quarter with Ph.D.s) and $1 billion of total charitable spending: developing improved perennial forage grass for livestock.