Scholar Profile: 1966 Scholar Stanley Schur, WA Scholar from Zimbabwe
Updated: Jul 16
R. STANLEY SCHUR is a 1966 Zimbabwean Nuffield Scholar, originally from Makovani Estates, Fort Rixon. This is a village and farming centre in Matabeleland, located some 48 miles from Bulawayo.
Stanley married Molly in Zimbabwe and had four children. They farmed large numbers of beef cattle. He established an irrigation scheme on his property from a government dam and also grew maize. He won many farm competitions and held field days on his property.
He moved to Western Australia with his family in 1980 for one year and gained permanent residency. He then returned to farm in Zimbabwe and in 1989 won the “Cattleman of the Year” Award.
He witnessed the brutal push for independence for Zimbabwe, and moved to Western Australia permanently in 2003 after he lost his farm.
This is an extract from Rhodesian Farmer, published 9 September 1966 after his scholarship study to the USA.
Stanley Schur has recently returned from a stay in the United States as a Nuffield Scholar. He travelled widely, visiting Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Iowa, Nebraska, Colorado, Arizona, and New Mexico to study beef production.
He also attended a two-and-a-half months' Irrigation Course at Utah University, alongside farmers from 11 countries, and gained practical knowledge of irrigation work in Idaho, Washington and California.
He said that his visit was “of immeasurable benefit not only from technical aspects but through a broadening of his outlook on the whole approach to farming. It was like going into the future, what our farming will be like twenty years hence.”
He has written two thick books of reports of the experience he has gained of American stock and irrigation methods which it is hoped may be made available for wider distribution. In his words:
"The very form of the Nuffield Scholarship seems to be unique and offers lucky recipients the opportunity to broaden the mind to horizons undreamed of, until one has actually experienced this fabulous experience”.
Forewarned is forearmed
The American people as a whole are possibly the most brilliant organisers in the world, and in this fact lies the greatest inherent danger to the achievements of the objectives of the scholarship. A great deal of preplanning, skill in diplomacy and most of all one's own car in the United States are the necessary tools for getting the programme you require: a programme that will give you the knowledge coupled with the social contact with the rural Americans who are, without doubt. the warmest, friendliest and most hospitable people I have encountered. Without these tools you will be tied up in a paper package made out of a tightly printed day-by-day schedule and sent on a well-worn but frustrating path.
I accumulated as much agricultural information about the USA as I could in advance. I was able to read papers written by my fellow-countrymen, who had been to the USA in the previous ten years to study my particular branches of farming, so that when a programme was presented to me on my arrival in Washington DC by the Foreign Training Division of the United States Department of Agriculture, I was in a position to see this programme was entirely unsuitable to my needs, and by using tact and diplomacy was able to have it changed without offending anybody.
What I asked for, and received, was a contact with a Foreign Training division specialist at a University in each of the States I wished to visit with no programme to be arranged in that State until I arrived there.
A word of warning
In practice this arrangement worked like a charm. On meeting my contact on a specified date, he would arrange appointments for me to see the research people in my fields of interest at the University. These people would give me as much of their time as they could spare, but remember it would be impossible for them to brief you on their lifetime work no matter how much time they devoted to you, so use these precious moments of contact to obtain an outline of their work, references of research papers and publications they have written, and ask them to offer suggestions as to what should be seen in the state in their field of interest.
A wealth of knowledge is to be found in the feeders day reports and reviews published by many branches of universities, and I found it necessary to spend one and sometimes two full days each week reading this information and keeping my report up-to-date.
"A word of warning to future scholars – just bundling the masses of printed material you receive into a suitcase with the hope of reading it all and writing your report when you arrive home will result in the failure of your mission".
Usually I was able to see everybody I wanted to see and who was able to see me, in a day at a university. I was then in a position to return to my contact man who made appointments at university branch and Federal Government research stations scattered in each state, on dates that suited the stations and myself.
Making Contacts and Farm Stays
I found my visits to outside field stations of much greater value than the visit to the major universities themselves. The research staff on these stations, unhampered by teaching commitments, seemed to work so much more effectively in the rural atmosphere in which they lived and showed the same interest and warmness to the visitor as did the farmers around them.
About half my program time was devoted to a look at current and present research and the remainder of my time was constructively and so enjoyably spent with the US farmer. Here, one's own resources must be employed to make and maintain contact. In many cases the research people would recommend to me certain farmers in a state worth visiting for any particular reason.
A visit to the county agent, located in the courthouse of each county, or the local soil conservationist soon produced the contacts I required with the farmers in the county doing a fine job. Most beneficial of all was the farmer-to-farmer recommendations and introductions that I received.
In almost every case, when visiting an American farmer you will feel most welcome if you adopt the open friendly manner that typifies the Americans and show you have some knowledge of your subject and your country. Remember this is not a one-way exchange, you will be pumped with every sort of question about your farm and country, and when you are asked to stay with a family, as I often was, the least you can do is show them some slides (they all have projectors) and send them a letter of thanks after you leave. I took with me small inexpensive African curios from my country and these were appreciated by the recipients like a million-dollar gift.
It is probably advisable to give the county agents or area conservationists a day's notice of your impending visit and to make appointments with farmers before visiting them.
Nevertheless, some of my most enjoyable and constructive farm visits resulted from a stop at an interesting looking farm, farm machine or livestock, seen on the roadside when driving along secondary roads.
Transport and Accommodation
This brings me to the all-important subject of a car, an absolute necessity for a scholarship. I was able to buy mine for half the dealer price from a private individual.
My car in the USA was an air-conditioned automatic 1960 model Chevrolet with 52,000 miles on the clock and cost me £180. Licence and liability insurance, which is difficult to get, cost me about another £45. Repair costs, including new tyres required during the 20,000 miles I travelled in the car cost an additional £53. With insufficient time to advertise the car when I departed from the USA, I was forced to sell the car to a dealer for £50, but still consider the car provided me with extremely cheap and reliable transportation. I also took out an insurance policy to cover medical expenses I might have needed in the US and this cost an additional £10.
I found living in the US cheaper than expected. Very comfy motel rooms cost me an average of 6 dollars per night. The cost of three meals a day averaged 4 dollars. Petrol and oil averaged 3 dollars a day and overheads amounted to 2 dollars a day.
You will find the magnificent National Parks in the United States like Yellowstone, Carlsbad Caverns, Yosemite, the Grand, Zion and Bryce Canyons refreshing diversions in your program, so don't miss them if you are within striking distance.
Stanley Schur also has a 2009 presentation video on YouTube, focusing on his time in Rhodesia: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ak4vpf9zXVA