Ray Barnett, who in 1922 was Brookings County’s second agricultural extension agent, was born in Sutherland, Iowa in 1894. After attending Iowa State College, he began farming in Brookings County in 1917. He now owns and operates a 480 acre livestock and crop farm northeast of Brookings, South Dakota. It includes one of the first irrigation systems to be established in the county.
Mr. Barnett’s contributions to his community and to the state are many and varied. He has served as a State Senator for four years, on the county extension board for over 25 years, serving as chairman a number of those years. He was one of the first 4-H leaders in the county, and helped organize “pig clubs’ even before 4-H became established. An auctioneer since 1917, he has missed calling only two county 4-H sales in the last 45 years.
For ten years he headed up the ASC office, helped to organize the Brookings Rural Telephone Cooperative and has served on the local school board.
He is also a member of the Executive Board of St. Thomas Moore church, and is an active member of the Farm Bureau, the Kiwanis Club, County and Crop Improvement Association and the Farmers Union.
Alvar Aho, Brookings County Extension Agent, says that “Ray is mast sincere and honest in his dealing with others and is an ardent supporter for things which strengthen State College. His leadership in the county and the state has done much to promote the welfare of rural as well as urban areas.”
The Barnett’s have three children, all graduates of State College. Beth, now Mrs. Gene Eckerman, is a Mason City, Iowa, homemaker. Hugh operates the farm across the road from his father, while Larry is serving in the United States Air Force, stationed in Maryland. All three were active 4-H members, and won many awards on both county and state level. Each was also awarded a trip to the National Club Congress.