The Honored Alumni Award was established in 2001 through the generosity of Wayne and Joyce Keim to recognize and honor outstanding graduates from the Department of Soil and Crop Sciences at Colorado State University. Recipients are selected based on the significant and diverse contributions that they have made to the field of Agronomy. The 2017 recipients are Dr. Ronald Follett and Dr. Phil Miklas.
Dr. Ronald Follett
Dr. Follett’s many career experiences began with his BS (1961) and MS (1963) degrees from Colorado State University where he also met ROTC requirements and was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant in the US Army. He went on to receive a PhD degree in Soil Science from Purdue University (1966), and next served two years (1966-1968) as a US Army Officer (Artillery) during which time he received the Army Commendation Medal and later achieved the rank of Major.
Dr. Follett joined the Agricultural Research Service of USDA in 1968 as a Research Soil Scientist doing soil fertility and irrigation/drainage experiments in Mandan, North Dakota. Dr. Follett next served for 10yr as a National Program Leader with the ARS headquarters in Beltsville, Maryland where he oversaw research programs in Soil Fertility, Plant Nutrition, Strip-mine Reclamation, and Environmental Quality prior to his returning to full-time research in Fort Collins in 1986.
Dr. Follett has received many prestigious awards among many other very impressive accomplishments. He has over 150 journal articles published and many other publications.
In his retirement, he continues to enjoy interacting with former colleagues and spending time working around his land and family’s original homestead in North Park, Colorado.
Dr. Phil Miklas
Dr. Miklas grew up in Washington D.C., Germany, and Rock Island, IL from childhood through high school. He attended Mesa College in Grand Junction, CO, receiving a BS in Range Science in 1982. During the summer of 1982, he worked as an intern at the CSU Fruita Ag Research Center for John Keenan. Phil returned to school and earned an MS degree in crop science working with Charlie Townsend and Sheldon Ladd on Cicer milkvetch in the Fall, 1982. He also worked for the Foundation Seed Program with Ron Schmidt while at CSU.
After graduation, he returned to Fruita, CO as a Research Associate working with Calvin Pearson and Harold Golus from 1985 to 1987. He then moved to North Dakota State University and earned a Ph.D. in Plant Breeding and Genetics with Dr. Ken Grafton in 1990. Following his PhD, he completed a Post Doc at Michigan State University where he developed molecular markers for marker-assisted selection in dry beans. In 1992, he began working for the USDA-ARS as a Research Geneticist in dry bean germplasm enhancement at the Tropical Agricultural Research Station in Mayaguez, Puerto Rico. In 1996, he transferred to Prosser, WA as a USDA-ARS Research Geneticist working on dry bean breeding and genetics.
Phil enjoyed the camaraderie among faculty and students at CSU, the mentorship received from Charlie Townsend and Sheldon Ladd and many others (Brick, Keim, Quick) had a positive long-lasting effect on his career and life.
Mr. Kent Davis – 2016 Recipient
In 1979 I began my agronomic consulting career to aid farmers in making more efficient and effective decisions by utilizing frequent scouting; knowledge of crops, soils, water, climate and pest problems for each farm and field; identifying major issues each week; and making recommendations towards mitigation of the problems. I now advise to 50 farmer producers in northern Colorado as well as manage 5 other consultant agronomists working in Colorado, Wyoming and Nebraska. In addition, I train new employees and mentor coworkers. “Treat people as they would like to be treated” is the main lesson. It’s often said, “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.” Maybe, but I think, “it’s who you know, what they know, and how can you work together.”
Our Crop Quest mission statement includes, “practice integrity and innovation to ensure our services are economically and environmentally sound”; that goes directly to my core beliefs and values. I’ve always felt we should use our natural resources and time conservatively, but beneficially. I will continue to help coming generations to understand what came before and give good tools to take them into future and realize success is a journey, not a destination. My wife, Carrie, retired 35+ year teacher and I spread time between church activities, aging parents, our grown children, Kirsten (’14 CSU Biological and Chemical Engineering, I-State grad student), Frederick (’15 U of Denver JD and army veteran) and our grandchildren, Ethan and Juliet. Now and then fishing, hunting, skiing, sightseeing and watching sunsets. Playing piano, trumpet and guitar gives me pleasure. Oh, and watching CSU football while listening to “The Best Band in the Land” the CSU Marching Band!!!
Mr. James Gray – 2016 Recipient
Jim Gray serves as the ExecutiveDirector for the Industry TaskForce II on 2,4-D Research Data. Jim has more than three and a half decades of experience dealing with production ag, regulatory and stewardship issues.
Jim has worked extensively in corporate settings at the Fortune 100 level companies, as well as a number of years in trade and industry related positions. He is a recognized industry leader and a trusted resource for counseling corporations, grower boards, and State legislatures across the country as well as State Departments of Agriculture.
Jim is a veteran of Asgrow, DuPont, Bayer CropScience, Aventis Crop Science and Rhône-Poulenc. He is a founding board member of the Kansas City AgriBusiness Council, is a life member of Alpha Gamma Rho – The National Agricultural Fraternity, as well as serving in a variety of other industry and volunteer positions like the Kansas City CSU RAM Network. Jim earned a BS in Agronomy, Soil Science from Colorado State University.
Mr. Jim Sharkoff – 2016 Recipient
James L. (Jim) Sharkoff served as the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service State Agronomist for Colorado from 1997 through 2015, providing training and assistance to conservation planners to address resource concerns like soil erosion, nutrient and pesticide transport, soil organic matter depletion, compaction and salinity.
Jim started with the USDA Soil Conservation Service in 1991 as a soil scientist at Montrose. In 1993, he accepted an agronomist position with the San Luis Valley Water Quality Demonstration Project at Monte Vista working with irrigation water management and nutrient budgeting to credit groundwater nitrate applied to crops with irrigation water.
Jim started at CSU in 1971 in the Journalism Department and then re-enrolled as a part-time Agronomy student in 1983, completing a B.S. in 1988. He then accepted an Experiment Station Research Assistantship with the Bean Project completing an M.S. in Agronomy in 1990.
Jim has worked for farmers and ranchers in Colorado for nearly 40 years through private industry and federal service.
He started with U. S. Steel Agrichemicals in Timnath in 1976, moved to PureGro in Loveland in 1980, and to the custom seeding and reclamation business with Native Seeders in Windsor in 1985. He has been an ASA Member since 1986, a Certified Crop Adviser since 1995, and served as Chairman of the Colorado Certified Crop Adviser Board from 1998 through 2004.
The 2015 recipients are Dr. Gary W. Hergert and Dr. Doug Ming.
Dr. Gary W. Hergert (Professor Emeritus) was a Professor of Agronomy-Horticulture (50% research, 50% extension) at the University of Nebraska Panhandle Research and Extension Center (PHREC) in Scottsbluff, NE. He joined the University of Nebraska in1975 as a soil specialist at the West Central Research and Extension Center in North Platte, NE where he also served as Associate Director (1995-1997) and District Director (beginning 1997) before returning to the academic ranks in 2004. He served as Interim Director at PHREC for a year during 2013 and 2014.
A native of Colorado raised near Windsor, Dr. Hergert received his B.S. from Colorado State University in 1967 and his M.S. in 1970. From 1969 to 1971 he was employed by CSU as an extension agronomist in charge of the CSU Soil Testing Laboratory. He received his Ph.D. from Cornell University in Ithaca, NY in 1975.
Hergert is a member and Fellow of both the American Society of Agronomy and the Soil Science Society of America. His research and extension efforts focused on soil and fertilizer management to improve crop production efficiency in western NE (corn, dry beans, winter wheat, brassicas, sugar beets, grasses). He has also lead major grant-funded projects on limited irrigation no-till cropping systems plus a remote sensing project that measured evapotranspiration using Landsat imagery.
Dr. Doug Ming is the Chief Scientist for the Astromaterials Research and Exploration Science Division at NASA Johnson Space Center (JSC) in Houston, Texas. His research interests include Mars geochemistry and mineralogy, soil mineralogy and chemistry, bioregenerative life support systems, and Moon/Mars resource utilization. His current research focuses on characterization of the mineralogy and geochemistry of Mars and the aqueous processes that have occurred on the Red Planet. Doug has extensive experience in the development of instruments and conducting mission operations. He has participated on the science teams (Co-Investigators or Participating Scientist) for the Mars Polar Lander (MPL), Mars Exploration Rovers (MER) Spirit and Opportunity, Mars Phoenix Scout, and Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) Curiosity missions. He was the Operations Lead for the MSL CheMin instrument where he developed the experimental operations plan including training documentation for payload uplink and downlink leads. He led tactical science operations on Phoenix in the role of Science Lead. Doug currently leads tactical science operations for MSL as a Science Operations Working Group Chair.
Doug received a B.S. and M.S. in Agronomy and Soil Science from Colorado State University in 1979 and 1981, respectively. He received his Ph.D. in Soil Science from Texas A&M University in 1985.
The 2014 recipients are Dr. Paul Fixen, Dr. Kim Garland-Campbell and Caroline Yonker.
Dr. Paul Fixen is Senior Vice President of the International Plant Nutrition Institute where his primary responsibilities are coordination of the Institute’s programs in the Americas and Australia. He also serves as director of the Institute’s global research efforts. His career has emphasized the science of nutrient stewardship and how soil fertility and fertilizer use fit into the overall scheme of crop production systems and the environment. Dr. Fixen grew up in south western Minnesota on a crop and livestock farm and served in faculty positions at the University of Wisconsin and South Dakota State University prior to joining the Institute. He is a Fellow in the American Society of Agronomy, the Soil Science Society of America, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the Fluid Fertilizer Foundation. Paul recently became incoming President-elect of the American
Society of Agronomy (ASA).
Dr. Kimberly Garland-Campbell is originally from Naperville, IL. She recieved her B.S. in Agronomy from Colorado State University 1979 with a concentration in Foreign Service. She served in the U.S. Peace Corps in Antigua WI as a sugarcane and forage cropping systems agronomist from 1980-1982. Her future husband, Thomas Campbell also served as a drafting and carpentry instructor. She attended the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia, receiving a M.A.in Religion in 1985, the same year that she and Tom were married. She received an M.S. in 1989 and then a Ph.D. in 1992 from the Department of Crop Science at North Carolina State University, working first with Dr. Thomas E. Carter on soybean breeding and then with Dr. Earl A. Wernsman on tobacco breeding. Her first professional position was as Assistant Professor of Wheat Genetics and Breeding in the Dept. of Horticulture and Crop Science at The Ohio State University – OARDC in Wooster OH. Since 1999 she has been a research geneticist and wheat breeder with the USDA-ARS Wheat Genetics, Quality, Physiology and Disease Research Unit in Pullman WA. She is also adjunct faculty in the Department of Crop and Soil Sciences and the Molecular Plant Sciences program at Washington State University. Her research is in the area of wheat quantitative resistance to soil borne and leaf diseases, wheat end use quality with an emphasis on club wheat, and wheat response to cold and drought stress. She has released twelve wheat cultivars including four club wheat cultivars. She has been major advisor to eight Ph.D. students and served on the committees of several more. She is is a fellow of the American Society of Agronomy and the Crop Science Society of America. She and her husband Tom have four children and live in Moscow Idaho.
Born and raised in urban Colorado, Caroline Yonker “stumbled into the field” of soil science after developing an interest in ecology and conservation in the early 1970s. She graduated from Colorado State University with a BS in Soil Resources and Conservation in 1978 and MS in Soil Genesis and Classification in 1981.
Caroline continued at CSU as a research associate, hired as the pedologist for an NSF-funded interdisciplinary research project, Long Term Ecological Research (LTER). Her personal interests on the project focused on buried soils and their influence on the pattern of organic carbon distribution in the shortgrass steppe. Other LTER contributions included assisting graduate students and project scientists with soil sample location and collection, interpretation of soils data and manuscript preparation.
Some of her most memorable responsibilities during her 30-year tenure with the Soil and Crop Sciences Department include teaching field laboratories for Forest and Range Soils and Pedology courses, coordinating the annual FFA Land Judging event, participating in NRCS soil surveys, and reviewing manuscripts for various journals.
Caroline and her husband live in Fort Collins. They have a married son in Tel Aviv, Israel, and a son in Olympia, Washington.