Hugh Hammond Bennett (April 15, 1881 – July 7, 1960) was a pioneer in the field of soil conservation in the United States of America. He founded and headed the Soil Conservation Service, a federal agency now referred to as the Natural Resources Conservation Service.
Bennett was born near Wadesboro in Anson County, North Carolina
and graduated from the University of North Carolina
in 1903. Immediately upon graduation, he became a soil surveyor
, and conducted soil studies both in the United States and in other countries that eventually convinced him that soil erosion
was a serious problem facing the planet.
By the 1920s, Bennett was actively writing about soil erosion for popular magazines and scientific journals, with works appearing in publications like Country Gentleman
and Scientific Monthly
. He co-wrote a United States Department of Agriculture
publication in 1928 titled Soil Erosion: A National Menace
, which was regarded as his most influential work and garnered the attention of Representative James P. Buchanan
. Buchanan, who was a member of the United States House Committee on Appropriations
, helped obtain funding in 1929 for soil erosion studies in the United States. Bennett was also instrumental in the formation of the Soil Conservation Society of America
When the Soil Erosion Service was established as part of the United States Department of the Interior
, he became the director in September 1933. He continued to speak out on soil conservation issues, especially through the Dust Bowl
years, and eventually influenced the passage of the soil conservation act of April 27, 1935, which created the Soil Conservation Service at the USDA. He remained at the head of that organization until he retired in 1951.
Bennett received many awards and honors for his work during his lifetime, including:
In addition, Bennett was named a charter inductee into the USDA Hall of Heroes in 2000.