Kerr Center

Jim Horne

Jim Horne

James E. (Jim) Horne, Ph.D.

Special Projects Director

While growing up on a farm in southwestern Oklahoma, Jim Horne experienced the satisfaction of helping with many successful harvests, and the devastation of knowing some were lost to hailstorms and droughts. Influenced by a close-knit community of farmers, FFA experiences, and a Vo-Ag instructor who was both teacher and mentor, he knew his life work would be in agriculture.

After completing high school at Roosevelt, Oklahoma in 1965, his continued studies took him to Cameron State Agricultural College, where he graduated in 1967. While at Cameron he received awards including ” Most Outstanding Freshman” and “Outstanding Graduating Agriculture Student.” He was also president of the student body and served on the livestock judging team. He then entered Oklahoma State University, where he earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Agricultural Education in 1969. Two years later, he obtained a Master of Science degree in Agricultural Economics. He also received a commission in the Army and obtained the rank of captain. In 1972, Horne began his career with the Kerr Foundation as a consulting agricultural economist.  Ten years later he was named Vice-President for Agriculture. During this time, he authored numerous publications designed both for scientific and farmer audiences.

Horne ultimately served for decades as President and Chief Executive Officer of the Kerr Center. He guided the organization in developing a program of sustainable agriculture research and demonstrations. This program is based on concepts that ensure a viable agriculture without degradation of natural resources. These concepts, demonstrations, and applied research are in use at the Kerr Center’s 4,000 acre stewardship ranch near Poteau, Oklahoma.

In addition to his responsibilities at the Kerr Center, Horne has served as chairman of the Southern Region Council for the U. S. Department of Agriculture’s Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) Program; as a member of the Scoping Task Force on Sustainable Agriculture for the President’s Council on Sustainable Development; and as chairman of the U.S.D.A.’s National Sustainable Agriculture Advisory Council. Also, he gave initial testimony regarding the establishment of the now SARE program to congressional sub-committees. He is active in many local, state, national, and international agricultural groups.

A book written by Horne, and co-authored by Maura McDermott, was released by Haworth Press, Inc., in 2001. The Next Green Revolution: Essential Steps to a Healthy, Sustainable Agriculture describes Horne’s experiences while growing up in a sharecropper family in Oklahoma, running his own ranch, and consulting with farmers as an agricultural economist. He shares what he learned as the Kerr Center experimented with new “sustainable” approaches to old problems on the Center’s ranch/farm, and his experiences working with the USDA’s Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program. It gives practical suggestions for increasing profits and reducing risks while regenerating the soil, protecting the environment, and being a good neighbor.

Horne is often requested for keynote talks to various organizations worldwide. He is a frequent speaker to farm groups and conferences dealing with the interface of a profitable agriculture, ecology, and social issues in agricultural communities. He serves on a number of boards for various organizations and has worked extensively on several task forces and committees.

Horne retired at the end of 2015 and assumed his current position the following year.

Leading the Way: Jim Horne and the Kerr Center

Under the leadership of Dr. James E. (Jim) Horne, President and CEO, the Kerr Center for Sustainable Agriculture has worked for over twenty years to develop sustainable food and farming systems in Oklahoma, the region, and the nation. Read more…

Read Dr. Horne's Reflections on 40 Years