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Marvin Umphrey “Red” Mounts

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Marvin Umphrey "Red" Mounts

Marvin Umphrey “Red” Mounts (1898-1969) was born in Tonkawa, Oklahoma, in the family’s sod farm house. In 1925 he graduated from agricultural college at the University of Florida and was hired as Palm Beach County’s first assistant agricultural extension agent, to educate farmers in modern farming methods and the latest scientific research.

In his early years on the job, it took Mounts a full day to travel from his office in the county courthouse to the Glades, using barges and the Conners Toll Road, now State Road 80/98. Mounts became the chief extension agent in 1929; by the time he retired in 1965, the county’s agricultural industry had grown from $2 million to $120 million annually.

Mounts encouraged farmers to grow and eat fruits and vegetables that would improve their own health; introduced a grass for cattle grazing that held up on wet soil; tested soils; investigated the best fertilizers and pesticides; and taught farmers about marketing. He formed the first chartered 4-H Club in Florida and helped to establish the Audubon Society of the Everglades. Mounts was president of several organizations, including the Florida State Horticultural Society and the Florida County Agricultural Agents Association.

Mounts received the distinguished service award of the National County Agents Association in 1947. When the county agency moved to Military Trail in 1954, the new building was named for Mounts, as was the adjacent Mounts Botanical Garden. He was named a Great Floridian 2000 by the Florida Department of State and the Florida League of Cities. His son, Judge Marvin U. Mounts, Jr., said of his father’s love for farming, “It has something to do with the very essence of life.”

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