The Legacy of Robert S. Kerr

Nearly 40 years ago, Oklahoma Senator Robert S. Kerr challenged Americans to take good care of the earth’s natural resources. He wrote:

It is in our power, under the watchful eyes of God, to determine the physical form of the world in which we live. We can make it a paradise… or by neglect, permit it to become a desert. The choice is ours.”

For over forty years the name Kerr has been associated with progressive ideas, including land stewardship and sustainable agriculture. Robert S. Kerr was Oklahoma’s first native-born governor, a wealthy oilman, and eventually a powerful U.S. senator. However he never forgot the lessons of land stewardship he learned as a boy growing up on a small farm.

Enchanted with the beauty of southeastern Oklahoma, Senator Kerr came to Le Flore County in the 1950s. He built what was to be his retirement home and established a ranch and prize herd of registered Angus.

Senator Kerr believed strongly in the promise of Oklahoma, and that it was possible to heal her land and conserve her natural resources. After he died suddenly in 1963, his wife and children established a private non-profit foundation in his name to engage in scientific, educational, and charitable activities.

To use, to understand, to love the soil, is a civilizing process.”
– Robert S. Kerr

Senator Robert S. Kerr
Senator Robert S. Kerr
Field Notes: Fall 2013
Read this Article: The vision and legacy of Sen. Robert S. Kerr (p.8)