Division of Agriculture honors outstanding faculty, staff at annual awards ceremony
Division of Agriculture, Bumpers College recognize excellence
Feb. 25, 2022
By Mary Hightower
U of A System Division of Agriculture
- Ceremony bestows highest honors for Division of Agriculture, Bumpers College
- Patents from faculty inventions also recognized
FERNDALE, Ark. — Faculty and staff who exemplified the best work within the land grant mission of extension, research and teaching in Arkansas were honored Friday during the annual Agriculture Awards presented jointly by the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture and the Dale Bumpers College of Agricultural, Food and Life Sciences.
This year, the event was hosted at the C.A. Vines Arkansas 4-H Center in Ferndale. Among the honors bestowed are the John W. White awards, which are named for the U of A System’s first vice president for agriculture when the Division of Agriculture was made a statewide unit of the U of A System in 1959.
“This is our opportunity to recognize the best of our work in the land grant triad of outreach, research and teaching while also recognizing the people who provide support for our faculty and staff,” said Chuck Culver, interim vice president and head of the Division of Agriculture. “This is also an opportunity to show both employees and the public the many facets of our work.”
The land grant system was established in the 19th century to bring new technologies to America’s rural areas.
“I look forward to this event each year because these awards remind us not only of the mission we serve, but also of the excellent work done by our faculty and staff,” said Jean-François
Meullenet, director of the Arkansas Agricultural Experiment Station, the division’s research component. “These are people who are working to better our lives every day.”
Bob Scott, director of the Cooperative Extension Service, said “the division awards are a great opportunity for both sides of our house, extension and research, plus the Bumpers College, to come together to recognize and honor our colleagues' achievements.”
“Being recognized at the Division of Agriculture Awards ceremony is a great honor,” said Deacue Fields, dean of the Bumpers College. “Congratulations to all the winners of teaching, research, extension and support awards, and especially to those we acknowledged for their efforts with our students in Bumpers College – Nilda Burgos, Kathi Jogan, Bryan Kutz, Lanier Nalley and Mary Savin. Their work on campus and the work of everyone across the state is outstanding and greatly appreciated.”
Here are this year’s winners. Read more about them in our program.
- John W. White Award for Outstanding Research — Ioannis Tzanetakis – Department of Entomology and Plant Pathology. The impacts of Tzanetakis’ research have ranged from the discovery of multiple virus species that are new to science, to understanding how pathogen complexes are spread in plants. His research has developed tools for virus detection that help growers and scientists.
- John W. White Award for Outstanding Teaching — Lanier Nalley – Department of Agricultural Economics and Agribusiness. Nalley earned the Jack G. Justus Award for Teaching Excellence in 2018, the 2017 Outstanding Teaching of a Course Award by the Southern Agricultural Economics Association.
- John W. White Award for Outstanding Extension Faculty — Jarrod Hardke, extension rice agronomist. Hardke’s work involves the facilitation and development of recommendations for Arkansas rice production, focusing on variety and hybrid yield performance, cultural management practices and fertility management.
- John W. White Award for Outstanding County Extension Educator — John Gavin, Bradley County extension staff chair. Better known as “Mr. Tomato,” Gavin is the guru for vegetable and tomato production and has been the go-to source for many years for not only diagnosing tomato issues but also taking time to walk through the steps needed for a diagnosis. Gavin has been inducted into the Bradley County Tomato Hall of Fame.
- John W. White Award for Outstanding Team — Rice Breeding Team composed of:
- Jarrod Hardke, extension rice agronomist
- Karen Moldenhauer, rice breeder
- Trent Roberts, endowed chair in soil fertility research
- Xueyan Sha, rice breeder
- Debra Ahrent-Wisdom, program associate
- Christian De Guzman, rice breeder
- Yeshi Wamishe, extension plant pathologist
The team has released 12 rice varieties to Arkansas rice growers in the past 10 years. During that time, about 25 percent of Arkansas’ annual rice acreage has been planted with cultivars developed by this team.
- Division of Agriculture Award for Non-Classified Support Personnel
- Troy Dillon — Program associate, Lonoke Agriculture Center. Dillon has assisted with more than 2,500 field trials for industry research, federal research, and state commodity board research.
- Don Hubbell — Retired director of the Livestock and Forestry Research Station. Under Hubbell’s leadership, the station hosted a demonstration for the lauded 300 Days of Grazing program, and the station also saw a renewed emphasis on forestry research and demonstrations. In 2019, the station’s forest management plan was awarded the Tree Farm of the Year award for public lands.
- Division of Agriculture Award for Classified Support Personnel
- Eloise Cole — Fiscal support analyst for three departments: the communications department of the Arkansas Agricultural Experiment Station, the department of agricultural education, communications and technology and the Agricultural Statistics Laboratory. Cole uses her immense knowledge of policy and procedure to ensure the three departments’ work runs smoothly and has always gone above and beyond to help faculty and staff.
- Christa Littlefield — Administrative speciaiist, Franklin County Extension Office. Littlefield marked 30 years of extension work in January. During that time, she has been a valued source of support and knowledge for not only her own county, but also for staff chairs and administrative assistants throughout her district.
Bumpers College Awards
- Outstanding Honors Faculty Mentor Award
- Kathi Jogan, instructor, department of animal science. Jogan goes far beyond her teaching duties. She is co-chair of the animal science Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee, a member of the assessment, scholarship and curriculum committees, and co-adviser of the college’s International Student Organization.
- Adnan Ali Khalaf Alrubaye, assistant professor and associate director of graduate program in cell and molecular biology, department of poultry science. Alrubaye has earned many awards for his work with students, including the University of Arkansas Imhoff Award for outstanding teaching and student mentorship, the Fulbright College Master Teacher Award, the Collis Geren Award for excellence in graduate and international education, and the Hoyt H. Purvis Award for Service in International Education.
- Outstanding International Educator Award
- Nilda Burgos, professor of weed physiology and molecular biology. Burgos has been transforming the lives of students for more than a decade. Her goal is to provide students with international experience and education so they can better confront local and global challenges, broaden their educational experience, and become graduates who are highly competitive in the job market, productive citizens and better leaders.
- Bumpers College Alumni Society Outstanding Advising Award for Excellence
- Bryan Kutz, instructor, department of animal science. Kutz keeps his plate full, advising 46 undergraduate students. He has been on committees for four master’s degrees and two honors undergraduate students and is the faculty adviser/coach for the intercollegiate livestock judging team, which competes in 12 contests annually.
- Jack G. Justus Award for Teaching Excellence
- Kathi Jogan, instructor, department of animal science. Among other things, Jogan juggles a varied teaching load with seven undergraduate courses, three study-abroad courses cross-listed with biology, one course with an embedded trip (Comparative Studies in Panamanian and U.S. Agriculture), a service-learning course (Equine Assisted Activities and Therapies) and six courses with graduate sections.
- Spitze Land Grant University Faculty Award for Excellence
- Mary Savin, professor of microbial ecology, teaches courses in soil science, applied ecology, microbial ecology, environmental science, and a capstone, communication and self-development colloquium. She has 80 career peer-reviewed publications. Her undergraduate students have published four and graduate students have published 17 peer-reviewed manuscripts. Savin has mentored 11 honors students to degree completion and six non-honors students in projects and has served on multiple honors advisory committees.
The ceremony also recognized 16 patents for inventions by Division of Agriculture personnel, including fruit and rice varieties and methods of enhancing immune responses in livestock.
To learn more about Division of Agriculture research, visit the Arkansas Agricultural Experiment Station website: https://aaes.uark.edu. Follow on Twitter at @ArkAgResearch. To learn more about the Division of Agriculture, visit https://uada.edu/. Follow us on Twitter at @AgInArk. To learn about extension programs in Arkansas, contact your local Cooperative Extension Service agent or visit www.uaex.uada.edu. Follow us on Twitter and Instagram at @AR_Extension.
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 offers all its Extension and Research programs to all eligible persons without regard to race, color, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, national origin, religion, age, disability, marital or veteran status, genetic information, or any other legally protected status, and is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer.
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Mary Hightower, firstname.lastname@example.org