DeKALB – The DeKalb Area Agricultural Heritage Association opened its doors for a holiday open house at its gallery on Friday night.
“Our goal is to highlight the agricultural innovation and the innovators,” said Larry Mix, president of the association.
The exhibit “Transforming Corn/Transforming Agriculture” explores the ways that northern Illinois individuals and companies have impacted agriculture, including the invention of barbed wire, Cyrus McCormack’s improvements of the grain reaper, John Deere’s invention of the steel plow, and DeKalb Ag Genetics’ revolutionary use of a “gene gun” to shoot new genetic material into corn plant cells.
A gene gun was one of the objects on display.
The materials in the collection were rescued by a group of former DeKalb Genetics Corporation employees who wanted to find a home for 300 boxes of records, memorabilia, and artwork that the new parent company, Monsanto, planned to destroy in 2002. In partnership with the Regional History Center at Northern Illinois University, the materials were stored, catalogued, and preserved.
DAAHA was formed in 2010 to collect, preserve and share the history of agriculture and its innovators in northern Illinois, according to its mission statement.
Rosalie Williams, who attended the open house, said she worked for DeKalb Genetics for 30 years.
“It was a great place to work,” she said. “It was like family.”
DAAHA’s gallery space, at 111 S. Second St., Suite 204 in DeKalb, has been open since 2010. The display is open from 2 to 4 p.m. on Wednesdays and Sundays through May. For more information visit www.daaha.org or call 815-756-8737.