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2024 Agriculture Awards

This year's annual Agriculture Awards will be at Jan. 12 at the C.A. Vines Arkansas 4-H  Center in Ferndale, Arkansas. Unable to attend? Register to join by Zoom

The annual Arkansas Agriculture Awards are bestowed annually in recognition of high levels of faculty and staff performance in the land grant missions of extension, research and teaching. 


Division of Agriculture, Bumpers College recognize faculty, staff achievements

See event photos

Read about patents that were recognized. 

FERNDALE, Ark. — The extension, research and teaching achievements of faculty and staff within the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture and the Dale Bumpers College of Agricultural, Food and Life Sciences were recognized Friday at the annual Agriculture Awards ceremony.

Award winners and their guests gathered at the C.A. Vines Arkansas 4-H Center, while others attended online, some unable to attend because of winter weather concerns.

"It’s so important to recognize the outstanding land grant work and achievements of our faculty and staff,” said Deacue Fields, vice president-agriculture for the University of Arkansas System and head of the Division of Agriculture. “This is a time when we can all take stock of the impact we’re having in Arkansas and beyond and reinvigorate our efforts as 2024 gets underway.”

See this year's ceremony:

The event paused for a moment of silence in honor of Hope Bragg and her family, who were killed in an explosion Dec. 30 in Michigan. Bragg was a STEM instructor for the Arkansas 4-H program, part of the Cooperative Extension Service. The C. A. Vines Arkansas 4-H Center often served as a classroom for her work.

Bragg is being commemorated by an endowed scholarship and the planting of four trees at the center, representing Bragg, her husband Don, and two children, Kenny and Elizabeth.

The awards

The awards were presented by administrators from both the Division of Agriculture and the Bumpers College — Fields, John Anderson, director of the Cooperative Extension Service; Jean-François Meullenet, director of the Arkansas Agricultural Experiment Station. Patent recognitions were given by Lisa Childs, who heads the division’s Technology Commercialization Office.  

The John W. White Awards were the first bestowed. The awards were established in honor of the first vice president of agriculture.

  • John W. White Outstanding Research Award — Lanier Nalley, interim head of the department of agricultural economics and agribusiness. Nalley was recognized for his -stakeholder-focused research. His article “Effect of warming temperatures on U.S. Wheat yields,” has been cited by other researchers more than 400 times, was downloaded by the public more than 18,000 times and was named one of the top 10 science stories of 2015. Nalley was part of a group that won the John W. White Outstanding Team award in 2014. In 2018, he won the Jack G. Justus Award for Teaching Excellence. In 2022, Nalley earned the John W. White Award for Outstanding Teaching
  • John W. White Outstanding Teaching Award — Eunjoo Cho, associate professor of apparel merchandising and product development for the School of Human Environmental Sciences. Last year, she earned the GSIE Outstanding Mentor Award, the 2021 Paper of Distinction Award from the International Textile and Apparel Association and was named a 2021 Teaching Academy Fellow.
  • John W. White Outstanding Extension State Faculty Award — Amanda Philyaw Perez, associate professor-horticulture. Philyaw Perez leads the Local, Regional and Safe Foods program team, which supports the growth of local and regional food systems and helps specialty crop growers understand and implement food safety regulations. Her program also includes value-added food systems innovation, helping to create Share Grounds, an education and technical assistance program for food entrepreneurs. Philyaw-Perez has secured more than $3 million in funding to support her efforts.
  • John W. White Outstanding Extension Educator Award — Terrie James, Hempstead County staff chair. James has secured more than a half million dollars in funding for local county extension programming. She has led efforts to nurture a local farmers market. James, collaborating with the Public Policy Center, was instrumental in education efforts for a local sales tax initiative.
  • John W. White Outstanding Team Award — Value-added food production team comprised of Renee Threlfall, research scientist, enology and viticulture; John Robert Swenson, Arkansas Food Innovation Center; Heather Friedrich, Center for Arkansas Farms and Food; Amanda Philyaw Perez, associate professor-horticulture; and Rusty Rumley, senior staff attorney for the National Agricultural Law Center. For the past decade, the Value-Added Food Production Team has helped strengthen the state’s food system. The core of the team’s work is the Arkansas Food Innovation Center, which was established in 2013 to help strengthen the state’s food system by providing farmers and food entrepreneurs with education, resources and opportunities to grow and process food products. The team also provides infrastructure, technical assistance, and support through the Share Grounds project and the forthcoming Arkansas Food Innovation Center at Market Center of the Ozarks.

Next were the outstanding support personnel awards. The Program Area category honors went to two individuals:

  • Lizzy Herrera, program manager for the Arkansas Sustainable Agricultural Research and Education Program. Among other activities, Herrera spearheaded the development of the extension’s fruit and vegetable YouTube channel which has more than 5,800 subscribers and 108 videos.
  • Stephanie Williamson, manager of the Nitrogen Soil Test for Rice lab and the research program conducted by Trent Roberts, interim head of the crop, soil and environmental sciences department. Williamson conducts cost analyses, billing and oversees greenhouse and lab studies.

The Division of Agriculture’s Outstanding Support Function awards went to:

  • Scott Mattke, departmental fiscal manager for agricultural economics and agribusiness. Over the last 17 years, Mattke has managed more than 180 cost centers and $20 million in grants.
  • Jill Williams, human resources manager for the Division of Agriculture. Williams’ position is essential to the hiring and recruitment of about 500 employees annually. She has also been instrumental in providing leadership in areas of policy development, Workday Learning, the vehicle safety program and unemployment claims.

The Outstanding Support Staff Awards were bestowed upon:

  • Phyllis Scurlock, an administrative specialist at the 4-H Center. During the summers, she also supports ten volunteer summer staff and handles the invoicing of 250-300 groups a year. She manages the half-million budget for the 4-H Center’s programs. She was also named the Cooperative Extension Service Employee of the Year.
  • Cheryl Nimmo, who is part of the Technology Commercialization Office. Nimmo manages the Division’s requirements to keep the federal government informed of patent filings and other documentation required by the Bayh-Dole Act. She also monitors the Division’s many fruit licenses and patents, tracking more than $5 million in invention revenue and patent attorney invoices each year.

The Bumpers College Awards were:

  • Outstanding Honors Thesis Mentor Award — Eunjoo Cho, associate professor of apparel merchandising and product development. Cho’s research primarily focuses on fashion marketing and brand management, particularly luxury fashion consumption, branding and sustainability, and social media marketing. She is dedicated to undergraduate and graduate education and has served or is serving as a major professor for nine master’s and six honors undergraduate student theses.
  • Outstanding International Education Award — Adnan Ali Khalaf Alrubaye, assistant professor and associate director of graduate program in cell and molecular biology. In 2022, he won an award for Outstanding Honors Faculty Mentor. He is an assistant professor of poultry science and the associate director of the Cell and Molecular Biology Graduate program. His desire to help students was born from growing up in a “third-world country” and being deprived of basic needs. “I survived three major wars and lived through times when securing a daily meal … was challenging.”
  • Bumpers College Alumni Society Outstanding Advising Award — Donia Timby, senior instructor in the School of Human Environmental Sciences. In 2017, she fulfilled her dream by joining the U of A, where she now plays a vital role in shaping the academic experience for students. Her commitment extends beyond the classroom as she actively participates in committees, teaches classes and advises undergraduate students.
  • Jack G. Justus Endowment for Teaching Excellence — Nathan Kemper, associate professor, agricultural economics and agribusiness. Kemper won the Outstanding Advising Award in 2020. His current research interests are in areas of local foods systems, economic development, food policy and behavioral economics. Kemper teaches courses in microeconomics, farm business management and marketing management. He also coordinates the agribusiness internship and capstone programs.
  • Bumpers College Dean’s Award of Excellence for Professional Staff Support — Becky Alverson, scholarships, development and external relations project specialist. Alverson works closely with faculty, staff, students and the Development Office to ensure fair and transparent selection processes, efficient disbursement of funds, and accurate tracking and reporting of more than $1,100,000 in scholarship funding.
  • Bumpers College Dean’s Award of Excellence for Departmental Professional Staff Support — Daniela Kidd, departmental administrative manager for crop, soil and environmental science. Kidd also won the Division of Agriculture Outstanding Non-Classified Support Personnel Award in 2022 and the Division of Agriculture Early Career Recognition of Professional Excellence Award in 2021. She joined the staff of the Department of Crop, Soil and Environmental Sciences in July 2017.Originally from Brazil, Kidd is the departmental manager of CSES, ensuring the department meets deadlines, complies with policies and operates efficiently.
  • Spitze Land Grant University Faculty Award for Excellence — Michael Popp, professor, agricultural economics and agribusiness. Popp’s research focus is on the evaluation of alternative farm enterprises involving innovative and sustainable production methods by analyzing risk-return tradeoffs. Recent efforts have involved evaluation of soybean production practices, effects of GM labeling, modeling of crop agriculture for the state with a view to estimate spatial land use changes with the introduction of switchgrass, energy sorghum, pine and industrial hemp.


Download the program for this year's awards:

Cover of 2024 Ag Awards program