Eugene Strain, White River, South Dakota, is a farmer, rancher, agri-businessman and community developer and promoter, whose contributions in agriculture, education and community service earned him the honor of Eminent Farmer for 1978.
Strain served as mayor of White River for 10 years and can point to a city water system and paved streets built during his tenure.
His leadership as a 15-year member of the local board of education helped the development of an accredited school system.
Strain has been called South Dakota’s leading authority on the use of leaf cutter bees for pollinating alfalfa in order to increase the seed yield.
Robert J. Walstrom, head of the Entomology Department at SDSU, says that Strain “…has shown tremendous interest and vigor in the pursuit of better pollinization of alfalfa seed. His utilization of alfalfa leaf cutter bees in his well-managed program has been an example for all other South Dakota growers.
He has also cooperated with SDSU researchers in development and experimentation with alfalfa varieties in test plots.
Strain grows alfalfa seed primarily on a 1,400-acre place southeast of White River. He operates this in addition to his seed business in town, while son Don rents and operates the remainder of his 7,000 acres in a ranch located just north of White River.
As a pioneer in irrigation, Strain was one of the first men to irrigate out of the Little White River. This effort brought an entirely new type of agriculture to the area.
Strain was also actively involved in organizing the Mellette County Soil Conservation District and the local Crop Improvement Association.
He is a past president of the South Dakota Seedmen’s Association and the South Dakota Thoroughbred Racing Breeders Association.
In addition to all his other activities, Strain has still found the time to promote and encourage rural youth programs, including land and range judging contests, 4-H activities, and others.
Strain and his wife, Grace, have raised three sons: David, a teacher and basketball coach at a Rapid City high school; Don, a rancher in Mellette County; and Michael (Mick), a graduate of the University of South Dakota School of Law who now practices in the Mellette and Todd County areas.