Clarence Eckles

BY: E.M. Harmon

Clarence EcklesNEVER quit a. job till you have won. And be reasonably sure you can master any situation you tackle." It is a good many years since these words or their substance came across the desk of G. H. Eckles to a raw country boy who was just, completing his college course.

The question was whether to accept, a, menial job offering small pay but valuable experience or to take a position which offered a much greater salary but gave less assurance of depend-ability. In his quiet, sincere way and with his ever-reassuring friendship the "Chief," as he is fondly known by hundreds of former students, was giving advice that, is having a lifelong influence upon the individual whose future was in the balance'. But we do not mention this as an isolated case. It, is one of hundreds. Some have followed his advice. Others have not. But in practically every case the ones who have heeded the quiet, unassuming suggestions of this modest man have found that lie pointed the way to success and satisfaction.

And herein lies one of the important reasons why that world calls him great and why his former students as a unit pay such tributes to the "Chief." It can be saidwithout fear of challenge that no other individual has started so many men toward the top rungs of the ladder in the dairy industry. To complete the proof of his greatness as a "maker of men" we need only to call attention to the universal tributes paid him individually and collectively by his great group of former students. 

The influence of C. H. Eckles on the dairy industry today is immeasurable. Among all the state colleges of agriculture in the United States the dairy departments of 14 of them are headed by Eckles' trained men. In 11 others Eckles' trained men hold positions of major responsibility. In the Dairy Bureau of the United States Department, of Agriculture a large percentage of the men in positions of responsibility are Eckles trained. Two of the national dairy cattle, breed association secretaries fondly call him "Chief."

Two editors of prominent, farm papers, one publisher, and a number of other successful men in other phases of farm and dairy publication work owe their start, in the dairy world to him. A large number of county agents in all sections of the United States, are proud to give him credit for their early dairy training. And the number of his former students who are outstandingly successful breeders, dairy farm managers, creamery and milk plant operators and managers of co-operative dairy organizations is rapidly growing. 

It was in 1916 at the National Dairy Show at Springfield, Massachusetts, that a little group of Eckles' trained men started a movement that is probably without parallel in the dairy industry. The Eckles Club has grown to a place above that of almost any other organization in the minds of most of its members. It includes only those men who have taken advanced degrees under Doctor Eckles or those who, after completing undergraduate work have achieved satisfactory recognition in the dairy industry. This group now includes nearly 200 men in most of that states and many foreign countries.

But the path to this position has not been easy. Born on a Marshall County, Iowa, farm on April 14, 1875 he experienced many of the hardships which were all too common in the early days on the plains. His father, Charles, came from England and, after serving as a. captain in the federal army, settled what is still the home, farm. At the age of 89 he is still living but the farm is now being operated by another son, Herbert, who is also a graduate of Iowa State College. In 1922 the senior Eckles was one of the first Iowa farmers to be given honorary recognition by his state college at, Ames. His mother Elvira who died three years ago at the age of S3 came from a prominent old New England family.

At the age of 16 young Eckles entered Iowa State College. A portion of his expenses were paid by work around the dairy barn for the munificent sum of 10 cents an hour. Four years later in 1895 he was graduated and received the appointment as assistant in 'dairying. By the end of another two years he had earned the degree of Master of Science. During the years from 1896 to 1901 a leave of absence from the Iowa State College made possible a period of study as a graduate student at the University of Wisconsin. On another leave he served one winter as instructor at the Massachusetts Agricultural College. 

In 1898 he married Alice Smith of Ida Grove, Iowa. There is no question but that her sympathetic encouragement has had much to do with his success. They have three children all of whom are now married. Charles is marketing specialist in dairy and poultry in the Bureau of Agricultural Economics at Washington. Doris and her husband are living in Minnesota, while the youngest, Ruth, and her family are in Connecticut.

In 1901 he, went from Iowa State College to the University of Missouri to organize the dairy department there. It was a job that would have baffled many men. Started to work in an old shed which was later used as a slaughter house and with a hand churn and farm separator for equipment it was his job to solve the dairy problems of a state which within a quarter of a century would boast of a $100,000.000 yearly dairy revenue. Many men much more than 26 years old would have been stumped.

His first few years were devoted to getting acquainted with the job he had undertaken. He built a herd and systematized the record systems which became so valuable to him in his later work. He was studying. The first year he attended farmers' meetings in 8O counties of the state. To use the common expression, "he had his feet. on that ground," and if there is any one trait that is more characteristic of Eckles than any other it is that one. He first finds out what the problem is beyond any reasonable doubt and then strikes straight for the solution.

Then followed a year abroad. First he studied at the University of Gottingen, Germany, under Fleischman and later at Berne in Switzerland under vein Frudenreich, another noted bacteriologist. As a result of this work he published three scientific papers of an outstanding nature. Furthermore, he came back with a. new vision for the organization and conduct of a research program.

Since then his rise in the dairy industry has been nothing short of phenomenal. He secured what was then a very adequate building and equipment for research work and gradually began to surround himself with a small but capable group of workers. 

Then was started a research career which brought him a constantly increasing recognition. His outstanding work had to do with studies of growth and nutritional problems with dairy cattle. To enumerate the work done by him and his associates is to a great extent to narrate the progress of experimental work along dairy cattle lines. In other words Eckles has been an important contributor to most of the important dairy research since that time. Not long ago the head of the dairy husbandry department of one of our important state colleges, and a man who has never been associated with Eckles in any way, made the statement to me that. almost every problem he or his associates would undertake would lead straight to some work that Eckles has done. 
Anything like a complete list of problems which Eckles has solved and given to that world would be impossible in an article of this nature. They include a very complete study of the difference in feed requirements between high and low-producing animals, influence of age upon milk and fat composition, influence of the plane of nutrition of the cow upon the composition of 'milk and fat, nutrients required to develop the foetus, silo capacities, moisture content of silage, silage molds, and a host of others. As much as fifteen years ago Eckles was carrying on very extensive studies on raising calves on milk substitutes. This problem is attracting much attention in whole-milk sections today and is a vital economic problem to the dairyman. It can safely be said that most, of the information on this problem that has been brought, to light, during the past few years was proven first, by Eckles 10 to 12 years ago. It is his studies and contributions to the knowledge of growth and nutrition in its many different phases that. Eckles is outstanding. All together he is the author or co-author of 88 different, bulletins and scientific papers dealing with as many different scientific problems that he has studied. This is in addition to a vast number of papers of lesser importance and popular articles.

By 1908 Eckles was receiving invitations to talk before dairy organizations in other states. A record still on file at, the University of Missouri shows that by the time another ten years had rolled around he was in almost constant demand. This. List shows he spoke at state meetings in 22 states. 

In 1909 he declined an offer to become chief of the dairy division in the United States Department of Agriculture. He has had a number of other offers to head the dairy departments of some of the leading agricultural colleges in the United States. Numerous chances to capitalize on his work in a commercial way have come to him but he has always seen fit to follow his own advice to others: that is, to master the problem he has set out for himself. Neither will he tell you of these opportunities in private conversation. Modest, almost: to the point of timidity, it is the research problems before the industry or "his boys" out in the industry that he most likes to talk about.
In 1911 he published the book, "Dairy Cattle and Milk Production." which is probably used as a textbook in dairy schools in more than half of the more enlightened countries of the world. Five years later in co-operation with Dr. Warren he published the book, "Dairy Farming," designed for secondary schools. 

It was in 1918 that the University of Minnesota induced him to accept the place of chief of the dairy department there, and the next year he made the change. Here again his soundness showed itself. Minnesota had heard great things of Eckles and they expected him to accomplish much of the work he has since completed. Just as he approached the problem at Missouri his first years were spent in studying the situation in that state.

The result is that, he has given Minnesota a definite research program. He has brought, the levels of graduate work there to such a plane that there are now a large number of men coming to this institution for doctor's degrees from all parts of the country and abroad. That Minnesota, appreciates Eckles is" probably best shown by the wholehearted support, in securing the splendid new dairy building on the campus known as Haecker Hall. The dairy industry of the state as a whole backed this important move to give to him the facilities and equipment needed to solve its dairy problems. And Minnesota has been repaid. The phosphorous deficiency problem which was almost ruining the livestock industry in considerable areas of the state has been studied and mastered. Altogether, 63,000 dairymen in the state have asked for his circular, "Feeding the Dairy Cow." His work has had an immeasurable effect, upon feeding methods, not, only in Minnesota and Missouri but, throughout the nation. 

In fairness to Eckles, we must mention also that his research work has led him into many lines other than feeding. He has contributed much to that study of bacteriological and breeding problems. It is the work of his department that has enabled the creameries of that section to master their butter mold problems and to save hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Honors have come in great numbers. In 1915 his name was in "Who's Who in America,'' one of the first to gain such distinction thru work in the dairy field. In 1916 he was awarded the degree of doctor of science by Iowa State College. He was one of the organizers of the American Dairy Science Association and has served two 2-year terms, as president of that organization. He sponsored its organization in its present successful form. He is a Fellow in the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He is a member of Alpha Zeta, a, scholastic fraternity, and is national president, of Gamma Sigma Delta, another scholastic fraternity. He is a member of Sigma Xi and the Society of Experimental Biology and Medicine, and was recently elected an alumni member of Phi Kappa, Phi, another scholastic organization.

Other similar honors might, be mentioned, and they continue to come to him year after year. Still just in the prime of life, there is no question that the list of important research problems which lie has solved for that industry will be greatly enlarged upon. Also it, is reasonable to suppose, that the long list of leaders which he has given to dairying will increase rapidly. But. thru it lie will always be that same quiet, almost, timid, yet studious and thoroughly beloved "Master Mind of Dairying."

E. M. Harmon was for four years a student of Dr. C. H. Eckles at the University of Missouri and is a graduate of that institution: Later on he spent eight years in charge of dairy extension work- in that state. During that time lie served for seven, years as secretary of the State Dairy Association and for two years as chairman of the National Association of Dairy Extension Workers. He is now associate editor of Successful Farming. His close contacts with Dr. Eckles make possible this interesting story.

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