Interview with William C. Johnstone, August 8, 1972
Project: University of Kentucky Oral History Project
Interview SummaryWilliam "Bill" Johnstone spent a large portion of his career working for the University of Kentucky Extension Service. He graduated from UK in 1916, where he majored in horticulture. Johnstone remembers that his first job upon graduation was working in Stifton, Kentucky (now Fort Knox) as the manager of an orchard, but within a short time he was offered the opportunity to go to Brazil and perform something similar to extension work. He left the United States in 1916 and spent about seven years teaching Brazilians how to work with mules, plow, and plant corn. Johnstone also married while he was in Brazil. He came back to the United States in 1923, and Thompson Bryant of UK's Extension Service offered him a job as a county agent. He worked for two days as Assistant County Agent in LaRue County before becoming County Agent in Taylor County in February of 1923.
Within a year, Johnstone was offered a position as a county agent in McCracken County. He remembers that his experience in fruit production helped him in this position since Paducah was a large fruit production area. He talks about developments in fruit, dairy, and pure-bred bulls in McCracken County. Johnstone states that his first associations with soil conservation occurred while he was in this position, and he discusses his involvement in the formation of the George Washington reforestation project. Through the work of this group, approximately four thousand trees were planted on four acres of land outside of Paducah.
Johnstone recalls the 1937 flood in Paducah. Shortly afterward, Johnstone began working in Lexington researching cover crops and their use to stop erosion. Johnstone talks about his involvement in the introduction of hybrid corn in Kentucky and the discovery and development of Kentucky 31 Fescue. He states that the farmers of Kentucky must be given the greatest credit for the widespread use of fescue, since they are the ones who tested and recommended this grass seed.
Johnstone discusses other programs with which he was involved in an attempt to improve agriculture and soil erosion throughout the state of Kentucky. He describes the formation of the Corn Derby, which was a contest to increase the corn yields. Johnstone also remembers the Green Pastures program which offered prizes to the best pasture plans. Johnstone talks about the Federal Reserve Bank's interest in helping agriculture and Farmer-Banker Field Days. He discusses his involvement with the 4-H Club, and recalls that in many cases it was a way of reaching out not only to the children, but also to the adults. Johnstone talks about constructive terracing in McCracken County in the early 1930s and crop rotation. He also mentions the formation of the Rural Electric Cooperative Corporation (RECC), and how it helped the farmers of Kentucky.
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Interview UsageInterviews may be reproduced with permission from Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, Special Collections, University of Kentucky Libraries.
Interviews may be reproduced with permission from Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, Special Collections, University of Kentucky Libraries.
All rights to the interviews, including but not restricted to legal title, copyrights and literary property rights, have been transferred to the University of Kentucky Libraries.
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Johnstone, William C. Interview by J. Allan Smith. 08 Aug. 1972. Lexington, KY: Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries.
Johnstone, W.C. (1972, August 08). Interview by J. A. Smith. University of Kentucky Oral History Project. Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries, Lexington.
Johnstone, William C., interview by J. Allan Smith. August 08, 1972, University of Kentucky Oral History Project, Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries.
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