Agriculture plays a vital role in Riverside County both economically and culturally. The citizens of our County enjoy the many benefits that come from a healthy agricultural industry, including major economic contributions to the local and regional economy, employment opportunities, the availability of a diverse and nutritious food supply, and the valuable open space that results from the maintenance of productive agricultural lands. In order to preserve the riches that come to our County through a flourishing agricultural industry, the County works closely with this industry through the office of the Agricultural Commissioner.
For twenty eight years, Robert M. Howie served as the Riverside County Agricultural Commissioner. During his tenure, Riverside County became one of the top agricultural producing counties in California and saw substantial production increases in citrus, dairy products, vegetables, grapes, eggs, and nursery stock. In 1983, to honor Mr. Howie's many years of service and contributions to Riverside County agriculture, the Board of Supervisors dedicated the plaza area outside of the County Administrative Center (CAC) as the Robert M. Howie Citrus Plaza. The plaza consisted of several orange trees and a modest monument briefly describing his contributions to the County.
Due to the construction of the CAC annex, the Plaza was relocated to the northwest corner of the CAC complex. Nine Washington Navel orange trees were planted in the new Plaza to commemorate the importance of this crop to Riverside County. Based on input from county staff and many interested supporters and stake holders within the agricultural community, a new monument for the Robert M. Howie Plaza was designed to recognize both the agricultural community and the accomplishments of Mr. Howie. The monument is intended to be harmonious with the Plaza, complimenting the existing architecture and monuments in the CAC complex and consists of a granite column and attached bench. The front of the column is adorned with a bronze, bas relief sculpture of Mr. Howie, immediately recognizable to all who knew him. Just below Mr. Howie is a synopsis of his many accomplishments as Agricultural Commissioner. A brief history of agriculture in Riverside County is presented on the rear of the column.
On December 12, 2006, the Riverside County Board of Supervisors dedicated the new Robert M. Howie Plaza at the County Administrative Center. Hosted by Agricultural Commissioner John Snyder, the event was attended by all five members of the Board of Supervisors, numerous Department Heads, current and past Agricultural Commissioners from across the state, Mr. Howie’s children, and several dozen close friends and business associates. The event concluded with a humorous, poignant and inspiring address by then 93-year-old Bob Howie himself.
No public funds were used in the design, construction or installation of this monument. The project was generously funded entirely by private donations, the largest of which was $1,000 and the smallest, $4. Among the hundreds of contributors were agriculturalists from throughout Riverside County, friends and associates who have been touched by Mr. Howie’s graciousness and devotion and many citizens who simply wished to celebrate the important role of agriculture in Riverside County.
Dedication Ceremony Program
Dedication Ceremony - December 12, 2006
Portrait of Robert Howie