30 Year Anniversary l 20 Year Anniversary

Celebration Brings Together past, present and future of agricultural research, human health and safety

More than 200 people gathered at Marshfield Clinic April 27, 2006 to celebrate the 25th Anniversary of the National Farm Medicine Center (NFMC), a NFMC 25th Anniversary program of Marshfield Clinic Research Foundation officially established in 1981.

Physicians and support staff, scientists, donors, members of the agricultural community and government leadership enjoyed the evening of celebration and reflection. The event paid tribute to 25 years of NFMC’s leading role in addressing human health and safety associated with agricultural work life and environments.

Welcoming special guests and attendees was Steve Kirkhorn, M.D., MPH, Medical Director, NFMC, since 2003. Dr. Kirkhorn thanked members of the audience for their “vision and dedication helping to establish and grow the National Farm Medicine center over the past 25 years.” Special recognition was paid to Fritz Wenzel, former Marshfield Clinic Executive Director, and to Dean Emanuel, M.D., NFMC Director Emeritus, whose research in farmer’s lung disease laid the groundwork for the Farm Center.

Before welcoming Dr. Emanuel to the podium, Dr. Kirkhorn presented Joe Mazza, M.D., with the first printed copy of “Promoting Agriculture Health and Safety: A History of the National Farm Medicine Center.” Written by Dr. Mazza, the book provides an overview of NFMC, including historic events leading up to its creation. Dr. Mazza interviewed 18 people and searched boxes of files to compile historic events and document milestone markers of the NFMC. Dr. Emanuel, to whom the book was dedicated and addressed the audience. “I want to acknowledge the tribute that Joe and the Farm Center paid to me in dedicating this book on 25 years in my honor,” said Dr. Emanuel. “It is a significant honor for me and my family.”

Keynote speaker Orion Samuelson, a National Radio Hall of Fame broadcaster, congratulated the NFMC via a broadcast taped at the studio of his weekly television show, “This Week in Agribusiness.”

“Can it be 25 years since we had the dedication and groundbreaking ceremony?” Samuelson asked. He noted, as he looked back on 25 years, one word applies more than any other to describe what is happening in agriculture and the delivery of health care in rural America. “That word is change,” he said. “Instead of dealing one on one, you have spread your wings to work with other organizations that have the same concerns as yours,” Samuelson said. “To all of you involved, thank you for what you’ve done. Thank you for expending the time and the dollars, because it takes both, the technology and research, to build an organization that is now recognized nationally as the headquarters for dealing with farm medical problems.”

Following Samuelson’s congratulatory comments, NFMC Director Barbara Lee, Ph.D., highlighted milestones and accomplishments. She recognized past NFMC Medical Directors, Edward Horvath, M.D.; Dr. Emanuel; the late Dean Stueland, M.D.; and current NFMC Medical Director Dr. Kirkhorn.

She also acknowledged those who served as NFMC directors prior to her, including Robert Intress, Ph.D.; Paul Gunderson, Ph.D.; and Steve Olenchock, Ph.D. Dr. Lee also thanked all past and present staff, and Marshfield Clinic physicians who serve as principal and co-investigators on agricultural health and safety studies, and as spokespeople for the NFMC.

As a slice of history, Dr. Lee shared a letter written to Marshfield Clinic by Dr. Horvath in 1981, urging officials to endorse the opening of the Farm Center.

Dr. Lee also acknowledged supporters in the Marshfield community, many of whom take part in the annual Auction of Champions fund-raiser, and she thanked “our friends in Washington, D.C., who support our work and carry the banner for farmers across the nation with policy initiatives.”

Congratulating NFMC via videotape were Seventh District Congressman Dave Obey and United States Senator Herb Kohl.

Also addressing the audience was Dr. Intress, who served as NFMC administrative director 1986-1991. Humberto Vidaillet, M.D., Director, Marshfield Clinic Research Foundation, provided closing remarks.

NFMC goals for the future include a focus on rural environmental health issues, expansion of competency in infectious disease research and rural and agricultural health and safety, as well as becoming a key resource for professional training in agromedicine and agriculture-related research.

Above information taken from the "PULSE", Thursday, May 11, 2006