Woodward, Okla. —
A presentation on the Dust Bowl of the 1930s, offered by the Oklahoma Educational Television Authority (OETA), comes to Woodward Aug. 16.
A 40-minute excerpt of the Ken Burns film "The Dust Bowl" will be given at 7 p.m. on Aug. 16 at the Woodward Conference Center. The presentation is free and open to the public.The full-length 2-hour documentary will then debut on OETA Nov. 18 and 19, starting at 7 p.m. both nights.
Officials say Burns is a noted producer of documentaries which appear often on the Public Broadcasting System. His films are highlighted by use of archival footage and photographs and often focus on notable events in American history, according to Ashley Barcum, OETA's public information manager.
Other sponsors for the film include the Oklahoma Association of Conservation Districts (OACD), the Oklahoma Conservation Commission and the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS).
Following the preview there will be a panel discussion including the Dust Bowl survivors featured in the film, historians and conservation experts, Barcum said. Some of those who lived through the Dust Bowl are expected to attend.
"Among the communities reviewed, there were survivors from Goodwell, Boise City and Beaver," Barcum said.
And closer to Woodward, she said, "Charles Shaw from Vici and Wayne Mitchell of Mooreland lived through the events."
While the complete set of panelists had not been finalized as of late last week, Barcum said that the evening's emcee has been chosen.
"Clay Pope, executive director of the Oklahoma Association of Conservation Districts, will serve as the host for the evening, and then as moderator for the panel discussion," she said.
Pope said the OACD is proud to be involved with the presentation of the "Black Sunday" excerpt and take part in the panel discussion.
"This provides an opportunity to inform people about the Dust Bowl," he said. "And it gives us (OACD) a chance to let the people know we're involved in the care of their natural resources."
Pope said that it was caring for natural resources, through changes in planting practices and the advent of irrigation, that helped the region recover from the Dust Bowl.
"We've gone back to grass growing, rather than the widespread breaking of the soil," he said.
And the benefits of these resource management procedures have included preventing another Dust Bowl, he said, noting, "we haven't seen the dust storms return like they were happening in the 30s."
"With our approach to current conservation methods, we remember history," Pope said. "You know the saying. If we don't remember history, we're doomed to repeat it."
Mike Thralls, director of the Oklahoma Conservation Commission says "The Dust Bowl was a landmark event in the history of our state. It is important that all Oklahomans understand this piece of history. The release of the Ken Burns documentary on the Dust Bowl provides a tremendous opportunity for Oklahomans to learn that each of us by our actions can destroy the land or with proper conservation efforts we can make it both productive and sustainable for future generations."
Gary O'Neill said the Soil Conservation Service - now the NRCS - came into existence as Congress sought answers to deal with a nation covered in dust.
"Dust from Oklahoma farms was literally found in our nation's capital," he said. "How our rural Oklahoma people responded to the Dust Bowl by implementing conservation measures on private land defined who we were then and who we are yet today and Oklahoma NCRS is pleased to be a partnering sponsor in telling the story of this defining moment in Oklahoma's history."
To help ensure that future generations continue to remember the history of the Dust Bowl, Barcum noted that early next spring, OETA will finish the compilation of computer applications about the Dust Bowl era, which will be presented to Oklahoma teachers for use in the classroom.
OETA said seating is limited for the Aug. 16 presentation. To reseve seating you can call 405-841-9212.
To learn more about OETA and upcoming programming, go to www.oeta.tv or call Barcum, toll-free, at (800) 879-6382.
OETA may be viewed over the air on digital channel 12.1 from Cheyenne or on Channel 13 with SuddenLink cable.