Alvin Cleveland

Alvin Cleveland Park

Alvin Cleveland Park, better known as Cleveland Park, was dedicated in an area just north of El Rancho Drive on the Pierce College Farm in January of 1969. It was named after the man who was instrumental in the development and leadership the Animal Husbandry and Agriculture departments at the college for 20 years.

Born Aug. 4, 1900 in Iowa, by 1930 Cleveland had moved to California by way of Montana. He became a president of the California Agricultural Teachers Association in 1935 and 1936.

Alvin Cleveland from His Desk

He taught at what was then the Clarence W. Pierce School of Agriculture from the college's opening in 1947 until 1966. He started as the first beef instructor, teaching beef production, judging, fitting and showing, feeds and feeding, livestock problems and other basic animal husbandry courses.
Cleveland became department chair of Animal Husbandry and then of the entire Agriculture Department, which had beef, sheep, swine, poultry and dairy units. As the first chair, he was influential in expanding course offerings to include soil management, farm bookkeeping and accounting, tractor operation, plant identification, meat production, dairy products, range management and other horticulture and animal science subjects.

He and his family were fixtures on campus. They attended every rodeo, sheep shearing, BBQ, livestock show and judging event. He was faculty advisor for the popular Stockmen's Club, which carried on the western tradition of the school as one of the most vital organizations on campus.

He was also active in livestock shows with Devonshire Downs, a racetrack that stood on land now occupied by Cal State Northridge University. A resident of Sherman Oaks, he was a prominent figure in the San Fernando Valley.

A Young Alvin Cleveland Dancing with a Girl

The park was conceptualized after Cleveland retired under Agriculture Chair Lindsay Boggess. The department chose the location and naming of the one-acre park, which was to be the site of the Pierce College Model Farm for visits by school children.

Pierce horticulture students landscaped the park in 1969 under the supervision of Jim Long, assistant professor of Landscape Architecture. Materials for the project were donated by members of the Van Nuys Kiwanis Club, where Cleveland was a long-time member. The sum of $165,000 was allocated to create a model teaching farm at the park. A Peter Rabbit garden was planned as well. Both were to serve young children visiting the campus to teach them where their food and fiber came from.

Farm with Garden

The small model farm with a garden included a show ring where livestock were brought in for demonstration purposes. In the summers 20,000 children, mainly from the inner city, were brought in to experience the farm, according to Dr. Lee Shapiro of the department.

Agriculture education at the college, once the only subject offered, continued to wane in the 1970s as demand for a wider curriculum took its place. The model farm is gone, and today Cleveland Park is one-third of an acre.

Alvin Cleveland Park Plaque

Alvin Cleveland died March 20, 1977, and is buried at Forest Lawn in the Hollywood Hills.

In 1988, a collection of western folk art by sculptor John Ehn was saved from destruction by Pierce College and the Los Angeles Board of Trustees when an expansion of the Burbank Airport demolished its original site, the Old Trapper's Lodge. The folk art was installed in the park for preservation and can be viewed today.

Cleveland Park is located on the farm on the west side of campus. It is just north of El Rancho Drive and northwest of the old Agriculture Building 4100, behind the red hen house.

Alvin Cleveland Park plaque, dedicated January 1969, resides on a tall rock near the park entrance.