February 24, 2016

Contact: Andrew Jerome, 202-314-3106
[email protected]

WASHINGTON (February 24, 2016) – Fifty years ago, Green Thumb was the first nonprofit organization to run a jobs program for disadvantaged rural Americans in response to the War on Poverty. In celebration of the 50th anniversary and the unwavering support of Lady Bird Johnson for the organization since its inception, the National Farmers Union (NFU) and Experience Works (formerly Green Thumb) posthumously recognized the former first lady as an Honorary Green Thumb Champion in an official proclamation.

“As the farming community continues to age and the agriculture economy is strained by low commodity prices and high input costs, it is important to recognize programs and individuals that create opportunities for rural America. The foresight of Lady Bird Johnson to develop a program that would put to work the ‘green thumbs’ of retired farmers to the benefit of a more beautiful America for all was truly visionary. NFU is proud to honor her Green Thumb legacy,” said NFU President Roger Johnson.

The former First Lady, together with her husband, President Lyndon B. Johnson, and former NFU President Jim Patton, founded the program as an initiative of the Economic Opportunity Act of 1964. The program was so effective that it served as the model for development of the U.S. Department of Labor Senior Community Service Employment Program.

“The National Farmers Union was a long-time sponsor of Green Thumb, helping to deliver vital services and programs throughout rural America,” explained Johnson. As Green Thumb evolved into Experience Works, it grew into a leading national model for training, community service and employment opportunities for thousands of low-income, older Americans.

“The impact was and still is far-reaching,” says Sally A. Boofer, Experience Works President and CEO. “It’s the perfect combination – helping financially strapped community organizations provide and expand services, while giving people the chance to give back to their community and earn a much-needed income as a springboard to employment and independence.”

“Today, we follow the path paved by NFU leadership and Lady Bird Johnson. By continuing our support of Experience Works, we can enable thousands of senior citizens to serve their communities, maintain their independence and age with dignity,” Johnson concluded.

An engraved plaque of the proclamation was recently delivered to the Lyndon Baines Johnson Library and Museum in Austin, Texas.

National Farmers Union has been working since 1902 to protect and enhance the economic well-being and quality of life for family farmers, ranchers and rural communities through advocating grassroots-driven policy positions adopted by its membership.


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