By JOHN O'CONNELL
FIRTH, Idaho -- Wallace Reid's family has farmed in eastern Idaho's Blackfoot River Valley since his grandparents homesteaded the property in 1870, when the state was a territory.
His son, Casey, has taken over the farm and ranch, and his grandson, Conner, has expressed interest in continuing the family legacy.
For making a mark on local agriculture, Reid, 84, and four others will be inducted as the 41st class in the Eastern Idaho Agricultural Hall of Fame during a March 22 recognition dinner at O'Callahan's in the Idaho Falls Shilo Inn Convention Center. The event begins with a reception at 6 p.m. Tickets are available for $25 through the Greater Idaho Falls Chamber of Commerce.
Other new inductees include:
* Neal Hughes, of St. Anthony, a supervisor with the Yellowstone Soil Conservation District for more than 30 years who had to rebuild his farm and ranch after the 1976 breaking of the Teton Dam.
* Jerry Schluter, a longtime farmer and FFA advisor at Ririe High School.
* Don Eliason, a Holbrooke farmer and rancher and president of the Curlew Horse and Cattle Association.
* Merle Jeppesen, a Rexburg farmer who was chairman on the Eastern Oregon-Idaho Potato Committee and allowed Ricks College to test new farming methods on his property.
The hall of fame is a nonprofit organization covering 13 eastern Idaho counties. Recipients are chosen by a board of directors consisting of 31 members from agriculture and related fields, who make nominations based on contributions to local agriculture and community service.
Kathy Weaver, director of the organization, grew up on a Roberts, Idaho, farm and worked for the Idaho State Soil Conservation Commission. She's been moved that obituaries of past winners almost always mention the distinction. In nominating Reid, Weaver described him as practicing "impeccable soil and water stewardship."
"He looks at (soil) as kind of a legacy to be passed on to his family," Weaver said.
Reid has been a member of the Eastern Idaho Grazing Association for more than 60 years, including 15 years as director. Weaver said he used the post to promote rotational grazing -- dividing private, state and federal grazing land with fences.
Reid also brought some of the first Black Angus cattle to the valley in the mid-1960s, believing they would be easier to calve after seeing them in Montana, and was among the first to sprinkler irrigate potato acres in the valley with a single handline he bought in 1955. For nearly three decades, he also cut seed for the region's potato growers, a process that spanned from May 1 through June 10 when he started.
"Every spud is planted in April now," Reid said. "An excellent crop was 300 sacks when I started to plant spuds. Now they talk about 600 sacks."
Reid has been dismayed by agriculture's trend toward specialization. His wife, Marlene, recalled how having diverse production including wheat and cattle saved their farm in 1985, when an early frost destroyed their potato crop.
Marlene worked as a teacher's aide in Firth and still enjoys teaching groups of school children about the history of the valley and the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes.