UArk honors successes with Arkansas Agriculture Awards

• By Mary Hightower •

jeremy ross
Dr. Jeremy Ross, Extension soybean agronomist, received the Outstanding Extension State Faculty Award  — photo courtesy University of Arkansas

The traditional celebratory gathering may have been replaced by an online ceremony, but the change didn’t diminish the Extension, research and teaching successes honored Friday during the Arkansas Agriculture Awards.

The annual awards are recognition of the highest levels of performance within both the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture in its research and Extension functions and the academic and teaching roles in the Dale Bumpers College of Agricultural, Food and Life Sciences. The winners are selected by their peers.

“After the rugged year we’ve all endured, starting this new year on a high note by recognizing a few of our highly productive faculty and staff is a much-needed boost for all of us,” said Mark Cochran, vice president-agriculture for the University of Arkansas System and head of the Division of Agriculture. “Even though we are having to do without our in-person gathering, there is one silver lining: being online will enable us to open this celebration to all of our employees.”

Jean-Francois Meullenet, director of the Arkansas Agricultural Experiment Station, emphasized the importance of taking stock of the achievements of the previous year.

“After an especially difficult 2020, we’re glad to take a moment to celebrate our successes and recognize the exceptional work of our faculty and staff,” he said. “This annual awards ceremony gives us a chance to highlight just a few of our remarkable Experiment Station employees and their efforts to advance food and agriculture research.”

Bob Scott, director of the Cooperative Extension Service, said, “I love getting the opportunity to honor two of my Extension co-workers at the division level. Soybean agronomist Dr. Jeremy Ross and Mr. Les Walz of Cleveland County are very deserving of our recognition this year.”

For Deacue Fields, dean of the Bumpers College, the awards mean gratitude.

“Saying ‘Thank You’ is something we can never do too much for individuals who go above the call of duty,” he said. “It’s a privilege and honor to be able to recognize this group of educators for their service to our students. The efforts of these individuals, and many, many others on campus, are why we continuously hear our students talk about the family atmosphere we have in Bumpers College. Congratulations and thank you for your outstanding contributions in areas of teaching, advising and mentoring, support services and everything else you do in working with our students and preparing them for their careers.”

This year’s winners are:

• Outstanding Research Award — Karen Moldenhauer, professor and rice breeder.

• Outstanding Teaching Award — Kathi Jogan, instructor and head of the equine program for the Dale Bumpers College of Agricultural, Food and Life Sciences.

• Outstanding Extension State Faculty Award — Jeremy Ross, Extension soybean agronomist.

• Outstanding County Extension Educator Award — Cleveland County Extension Staff Chair Les Walz.

• Outstanding Team Award — Big Creek Research and Extension Team: Lawrence Berry, field technician; James Burke, data manager; Timothy Glover, field technician; Jennifer Purtle, program assistant, Arkansas Water Resources Center; Andrew Sharpley, distinguished professor; Pearl Webb, program associate; Brina Smith, Arkansas Water Resources Center; Karl VanDevender, professor/Extension engineer; Adam Willis, Newton County extension staff chair.

• Division of Agriculture Non-Classified Support Personnel Award — Mary Poling, information technology-extension; Tsung Cheng Tsai, Department of Animal Science.

• Division of Agriculture Classified Support Personnel Award — David Reynolds, Department of Poultry Science.

• Bumpers College Excellence in Service Award for Non-Classified Support Personnel — Jody Davis, dean’s office.

• Bumpers College Excellence in Service Award for Classified Support Personnel —Rhonda Harton, department of Agricultural Education, Communications and Technology.

• Jack G. Justus Award for Teaching Excellence — Jacquelyn Wiersma-Mosley, associate professor of human development and family sciences.

• Bumpers College Alumni Society Outstanding Advising Award — Lauren Thomas, clinical assistant professor and veterinarian.

• Jason Norsworthy, professor and weed scientist, earned the Spitze Land Grant University Faculty Award for Excellence for significant contributions to the teaching, research and Extension arms of the land-grant mission.

As an adviser, he’s graduated 31 master’s degree and six PhD students from the Department of Crop, Soil and Environmental Sciences, secured more than $16 million in research funding and has been author or co-author of hundreds of articles, including more than 80 extension publications.

Also recognized were faculty and staff who were issued patents during 2020:

• Compositions and Methods of Enhancing Immune Responses to Enteric Pathogens — Lisa Bielke, Olivia B. Faulkner, Billy Hargis, Sherryll Layton and Neil R. Pumford, Department of Poultry Science.

• Trailer, Labeling System, Control System and Program for Field Implementation of Computerized Hole Selection for Layflat Irrigation Pipe — Christopher Henry, Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering.

• Yeast Vaccine Vector Including Immunostimulatory and Antigenic Polypeptides and Methods of Using the Same — Lisa Bielke, Leona N. Calhoun, Olivia B. Faulkner and Billy Hargis, Department of Poultry Science.

• Diamond Rice Variety— Karen Moldenhauer, Rice Research and Extension Center.

• Titan Rice Cultivar — Karen Moldenhauer, Rice Research and Extension Center, and Xueyan Sha, Department of Crop, Soil and Environmental Sciences.

• Stalk Cutter Device — Chester Greub and Trenton Roberts, Department of Crop, Soil and Environmental Sciences.

• Nectarine Tree Named “Effie” — John Clark and Margaret Worthington, Department of Horticulture.

• Grape Plant Named “Compassion” — John Clark, Department of Horticulture.

• Blackberry Plant Named “APF-205T” — John Clark, Department of Horticulture.

Mary Hightower is University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture communications director. She may be reached at

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