Allen Knight was raised on a “pioneer farm” in Muskoka, Ontario. He attributes his interest and success in teaching agricultural courses in Angola and Zaire, Africa, on the knowledge and upbringing he received by his parents on the farm.
His uncle, Albert Knight, who graduated from Ontario Agricultural College in 1909, was a role model, and gave Mr. Knight the impetus to go into agriculture. Allen went on from OAC to receive his Ph.D. from Michigan State University in soil science.
Allen was accepted by the United Church of Canada as an agricultural missionary in 1946 and he went to Angola. He was a teacher and a principal of the Curry Institute there until 1964. He developed an extension division which enabled the Institute to reach a great number of farmers. From 1964 until his retirement, he was director of the Community Development Center in Zaire. He felt that soil conservation was of a prime importance in Africa, and he worked with village farmers in seed collection, soil erosion, livestock improvement, sanitation, and nutrition.
In his retirement, Allen remains active. He is head of Seeds for Africa Fund and serves as a contributor and editor of the program Developing Countries Farm Radio Network. He and his wife, Eleanor, have three children, one of whom is working in agriculture in Africa.