UACES Facebook Horticulture faculty earn multiple honors at Southern Region Horticultural Science meeting
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Horticulture faculty earn multiple honors at Southern Region Horticultural Science meeting

Feb. 9, 2018

By Mary Hightower
U of A System Division of Agriculture

Fast facts:

Wayne Mackay.
  • Mackay honored with leadership and administration award
  • McWhirt honored as young professional
  • Robbins honored for two extension publications

(501 words)

(Newsrooms: with art - Wayne Mackay,; Amanda McWhirt -; Elena Garcia - )

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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Horticulture faculty within the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture have earned multiple honors from their peers at the Southern Regional American Society for Horticultural Science.

“I want to extend my congratulations to our horticulture colleagues for being recognized for their work by the Southern Region of the American Society for Horticultural Science,” said Jean-François Meullenet, interim director of the Arkansas Agricultural Experiment Station. “We have a great team and I am happy to see them recognized by their peers for the outstanding work they do in the state of Arkansas on behalf of the Division of Agriculture.”

Wayne Mackay, head of the horticulture department in the Division of Agriculture and for the Bumpers College of Agricultural, Food and Life Sciences, was presented with the Paul Smeal Leadership and Administration Award. Mackay joined the department in October 2014 from the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, where he was chair of the Environmental Horticulture Department and previously director of the Mid-Florida Research and Extension Center.

“It is a great honor to be nominated by the faculty I work with and be the recipient of the award,” Mackay said. “Dr. Smeal was my undergraduate adviser at Virginia Tech. He continued to guide and encourage me well after my undergraduate degree was obtained, so the award has a very personal meaning in addition to the honor of receiving it.”

Amanda McWhirt.

Amanda McWhirt, an assistant professor and extension horticulture specialist for the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture, earned the John E. Hutchinson Extension Award for Young Professionals. McWhirt joined the Arkansas Extension Service in April 2016 after earning her PhD From North Carolina State University. Among other things, she’s conducting research on blackberry production in addition to her extension work.

Jim Robbins, extension horticulture specialist-ornamentals, won Extension Communications Blue Ribbon Awards with two publications: “Features to Consider When Purchasing a Small Unmanned Aircraft System (sUAS),” which was co-authored with Joe Mari Maja of Clemson University, (See:   and “Homeowners Guide to Pruning Ornamental Trees,” (See: ).

“We knew our Arkansas Extension faculty were among the best in the country and awards such as these confirm what we’ve known for a long time,” Rick Cartwright, associate vice president-extension for the Division of Agriculture. “Kudos to Wayne, Amanda and Jim for demonstrating yet again that we are very much focused on our mission extending technology to the public.”

Elena Garcia, professor of horticulture for the Division of Agriculture, also earned an Extension Communications Blue Ribbon Award as co-author of North Carolina State University’s Southeast Regional Caneberry Production Guide,” (See:, along with Gina Hernandez of NC State and David Lockwood of the University of Tennessee.

The awards were presented during the society’s annual conference held Feb. 2-4.

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Elena Garcia 

For more information about horticulture and fruit production, contact your county extension office or visit

About the Division of Agriculture

The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture’s mission is to strengthen agriculture, communities, and families by connecting trusted research to the adoption of best practices. Through the Agricultural Experiment Station and the Cooperative Extension Service, the Division of Agriculture conducts research and extension work within the nation’s historic land grant education system. 

The Division of Agriculture is one of 20 entities within the University of Arkansas System. It has offices in all 75 counties in Arkansas and faculty on five system campuses.  

The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture is an equal opportunity/equal access/affirmative action institution. If you require a reasonable accommodation to participate or need materials in another format, please contact the Fruit Research Station as soon as possible. Dial 711 for Arkansas Relay. 

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Media Contact: Mary Hightower
Dir. of Communication Services
U of A System Division of Agriculture
Cooperative Extension Service
(501) 671-2126