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2023 Agriculture Awards

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. 

See this year's winners, honored during a hybrid event hosted at the Arkansas 4-H Center. 

Division of Ag, Bumpers College recognize extension, research, teaching excellence at ag awards

“We have great people out there doing great things and this is a chance to make sure we recognize them among their peers.” — Deacue Fields

By Mary Hightower
U of A System Division of Agriculture

Jan. 13, 2023

Fast facts

  • Dridi recognized for outstanding research
  • Estepp honored for outstanding teaching
  • Liang, Andrews honored as outstanding extension faculty, county educator

(558 words)

(Newsrooms: With sidebar on patents; Find art of winners, ceremony; SUBS bullet in 9th graf to CORRECT Watson's department to animal science)

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark.  — The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture and the Bumpers College of Agricultural, Food, and Life Sciences on Friday recognized excellence in the three land grant disciplines of extension, research and teaching at their annual Agriculture Awards ceremony.

The recognitions were presented by Deacue Fields, vice president-agriculture for the U of A System and head of the Division of Agriculture; Jean-Francois Meullenet, director of the Arkansas Agricultural Experiment Station and interim dean of the Bumpers College; and Bob Scott, director of the Cooperative Extension Service.

Team winners

The John W. White Outstanding Team Award - Winning Soil and Water Conservation Virtual Field Trip team. (U of A System Division of Agriculture photo by Mary Hightower)

“These recognitions are a way to showcase excellence in what we do,” Fields said. “We have great people out there doing great things and this is a chance to make sure we recognize them among their peers.”

Meullenet said “it’s a pleasure every year to recognize top performers within the Division of Agriculture, and this year, I get to recognize the best also within the Bumpers College.

“Our researchers continue to produce cutting-edge technology for Arkansas and the world, and our Bumpers faculty do an outstanding job preparing the next generation of ag industry professionals,” he said.

Scott said he believes “it is important for our organization to recognize individuals and teams for their outstanding efforts. I love to see the Cooperative Extension Service represented at the division level and to be a part of this awards ceremony.  

“I applaud those who take the time to nominate their colleagues for these awards and always encourage them to do so whether for internal or external honors. It is important for the overall health of our organization,” Scott said.

Each year, the Division of Agriculture recognizes its best with awards named in honor of John W. White, the organization’s first leader.

  • John W. White Outstanding Research Award — Sami Dridi, department of poultry science.
  • John W. White Outstanding Teaching Award — Christopher Estepp, department of agricultural education, communications and technology.
  • John W. White Outstanding Extension State Faculty Award — Yi Liang, department of biological and agricultural engineering.
  • John W. White Outstanding County Educator Award — Mike Andrews, Randolph County Extension Office
  • John W. White Outstanding Team Award — Soil and Water Conservation Virtual Field Trip team: Mike Daniels, professor and extension soil and water conservation scientist; Lee Riley, environmental science and crop management program associate; Rita Watson, virtual education program associate for the Division of Agriculture; Mike Hamilton, irrigation educator; Julie Robinson, associate professor of leadership for the Division of Agriculture, Bill Robertson, retired extension cotton agronomist; Kerry Rodtnick, extension videography specialist; Samantha Barker, interactive communication coordinator; and Diedre Young, program manager.

Support personnel within the Division of Agriculture was also recognized:

  • Division of Agriculture Non-Classified Support Personnel Award — Ryan Doherty, department of crop, soil and environmental sciences; and Daniela Kidd, department of crop, soil and environmental sciences.
  • Division of Agriculture Classified Support Personnel Award — Dianna Watson, department of animal science; Sandy Puckett, department of crop, soil and environmental sciences.

Bumpers College recognized three for their teaching, mentoring and advising excellence:

  • Outstanding Honors Thesis Mentor Award — Aubree Hawley, school of human environmental sciences
  • Bumpers College Alumni Society Outstanding Advising Award — Leigh Southward, school of human environmental sciences
  • Jack G. Justus Award for Teaching Excellence — Adnan Alubraye, department of poultry science.

Also recognized at the ceremony in Waldrip Hall at the Milo J. Shult Agricultural Research and Extension Center, were patents awarded to faculty during the previous year.

To learn about extension programs in Arkansas, contact your local Cooperative Extension Service agent or visit Follow us on Twitter and Instagram at @AR_Extension. To learn more about Division of Agriculture research, visit the Arkansas Agricultural Experiment Station website: Follow on Twitter at @ArkAgResearch. To learn more about the Division of Agriculture, visit Follow us on Twitter at @AgInArk.

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 and services 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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Media contact: Mary Hightower,