Share Your Ideas
By: Ron Neher, Natural Resources Conservation Service, Retired
In 1954 I enrolled in the first grade at a one-room school in Northern California. The school didn’t have kindergarten so first grade was the start of my academic career. There were about 25 students in the eight-grade school with only one teacher, Mrs. White. By the time I graduated from grammar school there were only five students with the same teacher. Physical Education and recess consisted of hide-and-seek or 4-square. The pump in the well which supplied water to the school building constantly was out of order and we regularly would go, the students that is, to a hand dug well, lower a bucket, and get drinking water for the day. The school didn’t get a telephone until I was in the sixth grade. Videos were in the form of a 16 mm, Bell and Howell motion picture projector, and the library was the bookmobile from town which was more irregular than regular in its schedule. Kids today have no clue. The Cherokee School building, built in the nineteenth century with a rock foundation, still stands today with a family owning the property and living in the old school building.
I remember one day around the year 1959 or 1960, Mrs. White made a profound statement which I have never forgot. We were discussing some subject and she stated, “There is nothing left to invent.” I guess she thought the world’s ingenuity had been exhausted and we had settled into a state of finality.
Nothing left to invent. Being at a young age and figuring my teacher was well versed in several subjects, I couldn’t help but agree as well as imagine at how smart she really was. We were done with technology and innovative designs which, up to that date, had brought our county out of the pioneer era and into the industrial age. Wow! Now we can relax.
Obviously, her statement could have gone down as one of the most ignorant comments ever uttered by man. Nothing left to invent. At that time, manned space exploration had just begun, the jet age was rather new, color televisions were out and scattered throughout the wealthy, industry in the world was booming, and the word plastic was becoming more and more popular. Plus, who can begin to list all the categories of inventions created since then which we currently enjoy and benefit from, - medicine, metallurgy, communication technology, aeronautics, computers and electronics, - the list in all practicality is endless.
Locally, the field of agriculture alone has enjoyed untold advancement involving mechanized equipment; agronomic production; genetics; chemical advancement involving herbicides, pesticides, and fertilizers; irrigation technology such as center pivot sprinklers with improved nozzling; improvements in materials, specific alloys, of which equipment is made from; - and the list goes on and on with continued advancement and improvements.
And behind these early inventors were people like you, - some with little or limited education, - like perhaps you. They dared to share their idea. People like John Deere, Eli Whitney, Cyrus McCormick, Luther Burbank, and many others. And with those ideas which they shared, - how much our lives and daily work have been improved and made easier.
Ideas might not always fall under the word “invention,” but they are still an idea which perhaps no one else has had. It is something that might and possibly help someone else do their job more efficiently or enjoy their job or life in general better. Helping others is a noble profession. Sometimes it doesn’t pay money, - but it still helps people.