Our founder Lloyd Noble was a visionary. At 24 years old, Noble launched an energy exploration company without a single day's experience. The untamed sector was littered with dry holes and broken dreams, but Noble saw potential. He pioneered new methods for drilling, used the latest tools and machinery, and – in two decades – forged a reputation as one of Oklahoma's most renowned oilmen.
Then, Noble experienced a challenge that defined his generation. The boiling clouds on the horizon did not bring rain but despair. The great Dust Bowl struck the region, devastating agriculture and grinding its economic engine to a halt. Most feared that life in the Southern Great Plains was lost forever.
Noble looked beyond the immense challenge, envisioned a tomorrow with productive soil and healthy fields, and offered a lasting solution through the establishment of the Noble Research Institute.
However, one critical piece is often overshadowed by the grandeur of these bold visions – the work. Noble possessed great foresight, but he was also a man of action and grit. He understood – even relished – the daily diligence necessary to move ideas from conception to reality.
When he launched his businesses in the mid-1920s, Noble often escaped the rote daily life of the office to lend a little personal elbow grease to his creation. He'd ride the wagons with the mule drivers who hauled pipe between rigs. He learned from his employees, saying that everyone had something to teach. He often stayed at a drilling rig into the wee hours of the morning, sleeping in the doghouse (a shack on the floor of the drilling rig). He not only articulated a vision, he lived it.
Every day through small actions and persistent choices he created a future that first lived only within his mind. A year before his death in 1950, Noble said, "The only degree to which we can make real progress is the degree to which, when we have ideas, that we can get those ideas motived into action."
As we finalize of our 70th anniversary celebration, this issue of Legacy offers you a glimpse into the Noble Research Institute's future as we attempt to answer the simplest and most profound of questions: Where are we going? These pages are filled with projects still in their early stages, but each possesses the potential to profoundly impact the organization and the entirety of the agriculture sector.
Our cover story centers on the Noble Learning Center, which will offer visitors an opportunity to see how they can contribute to agriculture in their own backyard. Other stories detail a new research project that brings scientists from multiple disciplines together (for the first time) to study pecans as well as the use of unmanned aerial vehicles in production agriculture and how the Noble Research Institute provides a springboard for the next generation.
Each story is an example of how the men and women of this organization continue to fulfill Noble's grand vision for agriculture.
But the key, as we learned from our founder, is not just looking toward the horizon and finding the potential held within tomorrow. It is energizing those ideas with the hard work necessary to make them real.
We strive every day, in every action, to contribute to a mission much larger than ourselves because the success we experience tomorrow only comes from the diligence and sacrifice of today.
Bill Buckner, President and Chief Executive Officer