The Garden Club of Virginia presented the 2005 Elizabeth Cabell Dugdale Award for Conservation to Mr. William H. Harrison of Leesburg, Virginia at its 47th Annual Conservation Forum which was held at the Florence Elston Inn and Conference Center at Sweet Briar College on Thursday, November 10th. The prestigious GCV Award for Meritorious Achievement in Conservation was first made in 1974, and in 1989 was named for Mrs. Arthur A. Dugdale of the Ashland Garden Club, an outstanding member of the GCV who originated the Conservation Forum. It is presented to an organization, industry or an individual who is not a GCV member for outstanding work in conservation.


Mr. Harrison moved with his young family to Loudoun County from his home farm in Fairfax in the spring of 1963. As the Loudoun Agriculture Agent, he spent his entire career working in agriculture advising farmers, homeowners and 4-H members on the latest proven technology provided by Virginia’s Land Grant College, Virginia Tech and the US. Department of Agriculture. He helped lead a group of over 400 dedicated volunteers in developing the Loudoun Heritage Farm Museum which officially opened September 27, 2003. The Museum is located five miles north of Dulles International Airport in the Claude Moore Park at Sterling, VA


The airport, which opened in 1962, quickly changed the face of agriculture in Northern Virginia forever.  Loudoun, which had long been considered one of the top agriculture counties on the east coast for many generations, changed dramatically. Loudoun, once known for being number one in the state for dairy, corn and orchard grass seed production soon became the fastest growing county in the United States. This scenario precipitated the need to preserve the heritage of the agriculture community which had been so strong for ten generations.  Bill and his core of supporters saw this need.  In the fall of 1998, the heritage Farm Museum was incorporated and officially formed a public/ private partnership with the County of Loudoun through the Parks and Recreation and Community Services.


The Museum tells the story of The Country People: Loudoun Farm Heritage from 1720 to 2020 (Nine past generations and one just beginning). Not all the stories are happy tales as Loudoun’s past included slavery, war, epidemics, and depression. “The Country People” is about change and how previous generations dealt with social, economic and biological forces.  The museum collection includes over 500 farm implements, farm machinery. Blacksmith and orchard tools.  The archives contains over 5000 items. The museum offers programs for pre-schoolers through adults.  The educational programs are based on Virginia Standards of Learning. 


Mr. Harrison's leadership in the founding of the highly successful Loudoun Heritage Farm Museum has led to the bonding of many disparate supporting groups into a functioning unit. Because of his dedication, a successful museum fund raising drive was completed, comprehensive membership brochures and newsletters were generated, volunteers and professional staff were gathered, and a dream came true for the citizens of not only Loudoun County, but for the Commonwealth of Virginia as well. His has been a life of service and dedication to the conservation and beautification of our beloved state as witnessed in countless other projects which he has so well completed, such as "Keep Loudoun Beautiful" and the planting of countless trees which enhance and support the landscape.


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