Henry F. Swanson (1923)
Countdown for Agriculture in Orange County
Henry F. Swanson was born in 1923 in West Palm Beach, Florida. As a child he spent much of his time working with his local 4-H Club. The 4-H Clubs’ purpose was to introduce young people to nature study as a basis for a better agricultural education. Clubs usually concentrate on one or more projects such as gardening, woodworking, small animals, food and nutrition, livestock, or photography. Through his hard work with the club and at his local high school, Swanson was accepted to the University of Florida in 1941.
Not long after Swanson entered the University of Florida, Japan attacked Pearl Harbor. Swanson enlisted in the Navy, spending nearly three years in the service. After the war Swanson returned to the University of Florida, earning B.S. and M.S. degrees in horticulture.
Swanson’s long career in agriculture focused primary on water conservation. In various capacities he sent out surveyors to locate fresh water in Florida, drilling all over the state, sometimes going as far as 2,000 feet underground. The results of his work showed that while Florida did have a large amount of fresh water underground, the supply was not limitless. His work concluded that if regular citizens and especially the agriculture industry wanted to maintain a fresh water supply they would have to learn conservation methods. He found that there was not enough fresh water to waste.
During his career Orlando changed from an agricultural area to the tourist Mecca of Florida and Swanson documented this change in his 1975 book Countdown for Agriculture in Orange County, a study that also made predictions for the future. Swanson spent his later years contributing his time and energy to the Florida 4-H Clubs.