DAAHA to dedicate state historical marker

DEKALB – DeKalb Area Agricultural Heritage Association (DAAHA) announced plans to dedicate on Sept. 11 a State of Illinois historical marker recognizing yet another example of local agricultural innovation that has had national and international ramifications. The marker will be placed at the former headquarters of DeKalb Ag, now the Northern Illinois University Health, Wellness & Literacy Center located at 3100 Sycamore Road in DeKalb. The dedication ceremony will begin at 1:15 p.m. in Room 2305 on the second floor of the building’s conference center. The public is invited to attend. The marker recognizes the transformative impact on global agriculture of DeKalb AgResearch, aka, DEKALB Genetics Corporation. The company’s early and sustained success in the development and commercialization of hybrid seed corn, and later in the development and commercialization of other crop seeds and animals, helped to transform agriculture and with it, the livelihoods of countless people.

The company’s roots trace back to the formation of the DeKalb County Soil Improvement Association in 1912 when a group of area farmers, bankers and newspapermen joined together to address concerns about depleted soils. Acquisition of good quality seed soon became a major focus and by 1925, research was underway by DeKalb Agricultural Association to develop locally-adapted hybrid corn. Following a highly successful launch of its first commercial hybrid in 1936, demand exploded for DeKalb hybrid seed corn, and by 1940 DeKalb led all national competitors in hybrid seed corn sales.

“Given the very significant economic impact of DeKalb Ag and its innovative employees, it is fitting that this marker recognizes their collective contributions as a major milestone in agricultural innovation. A project like this requires the support, hard work and sustained efforts of a number of individuals and entities. It is gratifying to see these efforts coming together in a way that will create a lasting tribute to the impact of DeKalb Ag,” said DAAHA board president, Norm Larson.  “We are particularly appreciative of support for this project from various individuals and organizations who generously donated funds for this marker, as well as the Illinois State Historical Society, Northern Illinois University and members of the DAAHA marker committee, whose cooperative efforts made this marker possible.”

DeKalb Area Agricultural Heritage Association (www.DAAHA.org) was formed as a local non-profit in 2010. It exists to help foster an awareness of and appreciation for the great heritage of agricultural innovation that has helped make this area of Illinois a “Silicon Valley” of game-changing agricultural technology. DAAHA seeks to build on this heritage by inspiring the next generation of ag innovators. This marker represents the ninth in a series that DAAHA is developing under the auspices of the Illinois State Historical Society’s historical marker program to recognize these great achievements.