Influence of Eagle Point couple in boundless

{gallery}/07_13_10/mel{/gallery} “Giving” was the first word used by Olive Lansburgh to describe Mel and Diane Morris. And give they do. Mel retired from the vocational agriculture department and as a co-leader of FFA in 2000 after 30 years at Eagle Point High School. “They have followed the ag students from the time Mel began teaching at Eagle Point,” said Lansburgh. “Over the years  students have become like an extended family to Mel and Diane and to the students, in many cases they are almost like a mom and dad.”


Retirement from School District 9 has been anything but retirement for Mel and for Diane. Mel was selected by the Jackson County Board of Commissioners some five or six years ago to serve on the Board of Directors for the Jackson County Fair. He is co-chair of the Rodeo Committee and Harvest Fair Committee. Diane is on the VIP Committee for the Rodeo Committee and is a member of the Harvest Fair Committee.


Mel does all the computer input for the open classes for the County Fair and for the Harvest Fair in the fall. He also supplies the data on the auction results for the Spring Fair as well as the County Fair. When you read data such as the number of animals sold, average price, and whether that was up or down from the year previous, it is data from Mel Morris, or perhaps from Diane who says she does the “flunky” work on the computer assisting with some of myriad of details.

Diane judges the 4H and FFA floral arrangements. She works with FFA kids during the spring at the district contests and has judged state floriculture several times. “It is fun working with the kids. They are very enthusiastic.”

Mel grew up in Wilsonville. He was in FFA during all four years at high school. Finances were very tight so the last two years at OSU,  Mel lived in the sheep barn. The first year he had a bunk bed and a hot plate. The cost was $15 a month. He and Diane met in the sheep barn at Oregon State University. Mel and Diane were married during Fair in 1971, came back from their honeymoon and went to the Fair. They haven’t missed a Fair since.

Those first years with the EPHS FFA program, the County Fair was held at the old fairgrounds, where the SouthGate Shopping Center is now located. The conditions were less than adequate for both animals and humans. “The Fair was a family thing, Fairs were originally developed to show technology,” said Mel. “Today we try to keep the traditional activities but if people want a nice facility it takes money so we have to have commercial exhibits, carnivals and things to appeal to all,” said Mel. “We hope when people see what 4H and FFA are doing, it will rub off on others.”

This year the fair staff is trying to make the livestock barns more consumer friendly. In the beef barn they are putting up information signs where spectators can get information regarding the animals. The swine barn will be more open, lighter, with wider allies which will make movement easier. Some exhibits will be moved near the barns.

“Mel has a passion about the Fair and about the fairgrounds,” said Diane.

Beyond his Fair passion, he has become a very popular personal chef. Just see the word tri-tips or mention the words Mel Morris and barbecue and you are guaranteed a crowd. He with the continued assistance of Diane, have become very popular with the BBQ crowd. His tri-tips are at the top of the list, but he also does pork loin, ribs and chicken, along with some delicious potatoes.  “I’m not into worrying about matching napkins and tablecloths, that is up to someone else.”  He has been doing the barbecues since the early 90s.

Mel and Diane Morris are truly friends of FFA and 4H. Look for this couple at the 2010 Jackson County Fair.
By Nancy Leonard
Of the Independent

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