Associate Professor of History and Director of Graduate Studies, University of Colorado
What are you working on?
I came to agricultural history from environmental history, and from an interest in the environmental history of the U.S. South in particular. Agriculture has been obviously central to that story. I am currently finishing a book on the history of soil erosion and conservation in the plantation South, a book that focuses on the unlikely story of Providence Canyon State Park. Known as Georgia's "Little Grand Canyon" and celebrated by some as a scenic wonder, Providence Canyon is network of massive erosion gullies allegedly caused by cotton farming. My book not only examines the history of this strange place and how various people have made sense of it over time, but it also uses the place to interpret the South's larger history of anthropogenic erosion. Until recently, I edited the "Environmental History and the American South" for the University of Georgia Press, a series that has published a number of important agricultural histories, and in which my forthcoming book will appear (that series is now edited by AHS Executive Secretary, Jim Giesen), and I have just taken over as the Series Editor of Weyerhaeuser Environmental Books, where I hope to continue to work with authors interested in the intersections of agricultural and environmental history.
What does membership in the AHS provide you?
I became a member of the Agricultural History Society after attending the 2012 Annual Meeting in Manhattan, Kansas. I was already involved in a number of other societies and was reticent to take on another membership, but I had also heard from friends and colleagues that the Society was thriving, and that a new generation of faculty and graduate students had infused the field with a remarkable energy. The Manhattan meeting more than lived up to that billing - it was intimate, welcoming to wide range of scholars, and filled with stimulating presentations and discussions that were relevant to my environmental interests. Before I knew it, I had not only joined the AHS, but I also became a member of the Editorial Board of Agricultural History. It's a wonderful community.