Gift Will Benefit Dryland Research

LIND, Wash. — A former state legislator and his wife have established an endowment to support agricultural research in the low-rainfall area of eastern Washington.

The Otto and Doris Amen Dryland Research Endowment was announced Thursday (June 15) at the annual field day of Washington State University’s Lind Dryland Research Station. The Amens funded it with a personal gift of $200,000.

“Otto and Doris are very committed to the betterment of agriculture and they realize how crucial research is for growers in the low-rainfall region,” said Bill Schillinger, WSU research agronomist. “Their endowment is a shot in the arm for the future of agricultural research out here.”

Income from the endowment will be used to develop new wheat varieties, evaluate alternative crops, investigate sustainable cropping systems, and develop soil and water conservation practices for growers in the 6- to 12-inch rainfall zone of eastern Washington, which includes about 3 million acres of cropland in Adams, Benton, Douglas, Franklin, Grant, Lincoln and Walla Walla counties.

“We felt we wanted to put back a little of what we received from the work of others who have been working on the dryland research projects,” Doris said. “We felt we could do a little to help continue this work.”

Otto, a 1937 WSU pharmacy graduate, served eight terms in the House of Representatives between 1967-83, representing District 9. He was Republican speaker pro tem from 1979-81 and during his final two years in Olympia was speaker pro tem and chair of the Legislative Budget Committee. He also served on the agriculture, higher education, local government, natural resources, appropriations and rules committees.

Amen earned a degree in pharmacy and practiced in Dayton, Walla Walla and Spokane before returning to the family farm near Ritzville in the ’40s. He served as president of the Washington Association of Wheat Growers from 1957-58, and president of the Western Wheat Association from 1958-59.

Amen also served on the Washington Wheat Commission from 1960-66 and as commission chairman from 1962-63.

He served on the executive board of the WSU Alumni Association for about 10 years and in 1984 received the WSU Alumni Achievement Award.

Doris, graduated from Dayton High in 1936 and enrolled at WSU in the fall of that year. She met Otto during her freshman year.

The Amens have been married more than 61 years, residing at their present home near Ritzville for about 55 years. They have two sons and a grandson.

– 30 –