OSU College of Ag Sciences honors La Grande man

October 14, 2005

CORVALLIS - Donald W. Sands, of La Grande, the man who started Union County’s popular crops and conservation tours, is one of 32 men and women designated as 2005 Diamond Pioneers by the Oregon State University College of Agricultural Sciences.

Sands, along with his brother Ron and partner Lee Graham, purchased Laird Chemical in 1967 and moved the firm to Island City. Don Sands worked with growers to optimize their use of fertilizers and pesticides and introduced the concept of commercial ground application, now a standard practice. He took small groups of farmers on tours to view research plots and to share what his company was learning, this was the start of the tours.

From the beginning, people from the non-agricultural sector were encouraged to participate. Don Sands continues as a member of the tour planning committee even though he retired from the business in 1993.

In 1981, he was elected president of the Union County Chamber of Commerce, a post he held for two years. He has worked hard to make the chamber’s annual Farmer Merchant Banquet a celebration of outstanding contributors to the agricultural community.

Sands has served as chair of the county Extension advisory council since 1997. He has served on the council for more than 15 years and was active in the campaign to establish the county 4-H and Extension Service District.

He has also been active in economic development programs in the area and recently joined the advisory board for the Northeast Oregon Heritage Fund in the Oregon Community Foundation.

The staff from the Union County office of the OSU Extension Service nominated Sands to the Diamond Pioneer registry.

Sands and the other new Diamond Pioneers will be recognized at a luncheon Thursday, Oct. 20, hosted by Dean Thayne Dutson. The Diamond Pioneer Agricultural Achievement Registry, honoring the work of those 75 and older, began 22 years ago when the college observed its 75th anniversary. Guest speaker at the luncheon will be Tammy Bray, dean of the OSU College of Health and Human Sciences.

Others to be honored include Helen Hays and Edwin Rohner, Albany; Dan Warnock, Baker City; John Rosebrook, Beavercreek; Virgil Montecucco, Canby; Dalton Straus, Central Point; Emmett Pryor, Condon; Earl Bates, David Chilcote, JoAnn Hathaway, Richard Morita, and Clarence Venell, Corvallis; Ken Wulff, Enterprise; Duane Hatch, Eugene; Martha Jane Spratling, Haines; W. Arden Sheets and Connie Sheets, Hillsboro; Mack Birkmaier, Joseph; Glen Christensen, McMinnville; Porter Lombard, Medford; Murray Fretz, Mosier; Mathias Kolding, Pendleton; William Domes, Rickreall; Kenneth Bare and LaBrie Ritchie, Roseburg; Bill Dolan, St. Paul; Genevieve Lindsay and R. Grant Lindsay, Shedd; Paul Dickman, Silverton; William Sandine, Temecula, CA; and Charles Stanger, Jr., Boise, ID.

Author: Len Calvert
Source: Loretta Austin