Norman Borlaug

Norman Borlaug in field with notebook

Because of his achievements to prevent hunger, famine and misery around the world, it is said that Dr. Norman Borlaug has "saved more lives than any other person who has ever lived."

Dr. Borlaug was raised southwest of Cresco, IA. He learned his work ethic on a small mixed crop and livestock family farm and received early education in a one-room schoolhouse and later graduated from Cresco High School in 1932.

His skills as a wrestling athlete helped enable him to attend the University of Minnesota, where he studied to be a forester, wrestled, and worked various odd jobs. After graduating in 1937 with a BS in Forestry, he went to work for the United States Forest Service, initially in Idaho and later in Massachusetts and Connecticut. He returned to graduate school at the University of Minnesota, and studied plant pathology, receiving his Ph.D. in 1942. Years later, the University of Minnesota would house its plant pathology and agronomy programs in Borlaug Hall.

After graduation, Dr. Borlaug worked as a Microbiologist for E.I. Dupont de Nemours, until being released from his wartime service.

In 1944, Dr. Borlaug participated in the Rockefeller Foundation's pioneering technical assistance program in Mexico, where he was a research scientist in charge of wheat improvement. For the next sixteen years, he worked to solve a series of wheat production problems that were limiting wheat cultivation in Mexico and helped to train a whole generation of young Mexican scientists.

The work in Mexico not only had a profound impact on Dr. Borlaug's life and philosophy of agriculture research and development, but also on agricultural production, first in Mexico and later throughout many parts of the world.

It was on the research stations and farmers' fields of Mexico that Dr. Borlaug developed successive generations of wheat varieties with broad and stable disease resistance, broad adaptation to growing conditions, and with exceedingly high yield potential. These new wheat varieties and improved crop management practices transformed agricultural production in Mexico during the 1940's and 1950's and later in Asia and Latin America, sparking what today is known as the "Green Revolution."

Norman Borlaug is one of the world's most important humanitarians, and one of only seven people in the world to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize (1970), the Presidential Medal of Freedom (1977) and the Congressional Gold Medal (2007). We also celebrate our State of Iowa holiday,  Dr. Norman Borlaug Day on October 16th every year. Cresco is proud to honor Dr. Norman Borlaug during "Inspire" Education Day, Opening Ceremony & Harvest Fest and to educate, inspire and celebrate his accomplishments and the agricultural community of Northeast Iowa and Southeast Minnesota.