Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture

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The Oklahoma Historical Society and the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture cosponsor the Oklahoma Centennial Farm and Ranch Program. Society board members, department representatives, and others met with Gov. Henry Bellmon in the fall of 1988 to discuss similar programs in Colorado, Missouri, and other states and to explore implementation of a program to honor Oklahoma's rural families. Then on January 25, 1989, the society's board of directors adopted the staff proposal and authorized the Oklahoma Centennial Farm and Ranch Program. Governor Bellmon officially announced the program and accepted the ceremonial first application from Oklahoma Panhandle rancher H. C. Hitch, Jr., at a March 1989 press conference.

The program was initiated as part of the Land Run of 1889 centennial observance, and therefore the designers produced an eligibility criteria that recognizes Oklahoma's unique settlement history and rich cultural diversity. For example, program eligibility is based on occupation (not just ownership) of the land for at least one hundred years, to encourage the participation of American Indian families.

Qualification for the Oklahoma Centennial Farm and Ranch Program requires that a family's farm or ranch must have been occupied by a family member for at least one hundred years, be a working farm or ranch of at least forty acres, have gross yearly sales of at least $1,000, and be operated by a family member, lived on by a family member, or leased out by a family member sixty-five years of age. From 1989 through 2001, 708 families received the Oklahoma Centennial Farm and Ranch Program award. Ninety of these families also qualified for the program's Historic Structures Award, which indicates that at least four buildings or structures more than fifty years old remain on the farm or ranch.


BIBLIOGRAPHY: "Minutes of the Oklahoma Historical Society Quarterly Board Meeting, January 25, 1989," The Chronicles of Oklahoma 67 (Summer 1989). "Oklahoma Centennial Farms and Ranches, 1989-2001 [typescript, 2001]," State Historic Preservation Office, Oklahoma Historical Society, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.

Melvena Thurman Heisch

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