Perspectives Online

Parker Endowment will support various Extension programs

The late Frank Parker of Wayne County did not grow up on a farm or ever live on a farm, but he wanted to be a farmer. With the help of some very dedicated agents, then with the Agricultural Extension Service, he developed a 350-acre farm where he raised cotton and tobacco, according to his daughter Mary Jo Parker, also of Wayne County.

To honor Frank Parker's memory and the Extension agents who helped him, Mary Jo Parker has completed efforts she began with her late mother, Grace Felt Parker, to establish the Frank Parker Distinguished Wayne County Directorship Endowment, the first of its kind in North Carolina.

"Extension helped my father to become a very fine farmer. Mother and I thought it would be a good thing to do to honor his memory in the farming community," Mary Jo Parker said.

The endowment will be established with a $500,000 gift annuity from Mary Jo Parker and her late mother, a life income agreement that was made between the two women and the North Carolina Agricultural Foundation.

    The endowment will provide support for:
  • Salary supplement for the Wayne County Extension director, who will be known as the Frank Parker Distinguished Wayne County Extension Director.
  • Program support for Cooperative Extension in Wayne County.
  • Sponsorship of Extension events and meetings, including the Wayne County Farm-City Week and recognition of Wayne County Extension volunteers.
  • Support for specific Extension programs in 4-H, agriculture and family and consumer sciences.
Parker said that Extension agents Bill Lamm, Joe Lancaster and Mark Goforth all played important roles in helping her father develop his farm. "He learned very much from them," she said.

She described her father as an early environmentalist, always showing concern for protecting the soil.

Parker hopes that the endowment will help future farmers achieve the success that Frank Parker saw. "I hope that by supporting Cooperative Extension, the agents can become involved with other young farmers," she said.

- Natalie Hampton