Bill Brown
​Bill Brown
Our Superstars! 
Three deans, two AgResearch scientists and one research associate, one Extension county director, one Extension specialist, and three CASNR graduate students have all received nationally and regionally important awards. That’s a lot of honors!

UT AgResearch Dean Brown Recognized for Leadership Excellence 
Robert Burns Also Recognized & Multistate Insect Investigation Awarded 
Bill Brown, dean of UT AgResearch, was honored for the leadership he has provided to the Tennessee Agricultural Experiment Station and the Southern Region Experiment Station Section (ESS) during the annual meeting of the Association of Public Land-grant Universities. 

Brown was presented the ESS Excellence in Leadership Award for the Southern Region during a ceremony Sunday in Austin, Texas. The award is presented annually to five individuals who have served their regional associations and the national land-grant system with exemplary distinction. More about Brown’s honor...

APLU's National Award for Excellence also recognized the S-1060 Multistate Research Project, "Fly management in animal agriculture systems and impacts on animal health and food safety." UTIA Entomology and Plant Pathology assistant professor Becky Trout Fryxell and research technician Dave Paulsen collaborate with S-1060 project members, who are researchers from twenty-one land-grant universities and several Hispanic-serving universities, Canadian institutions, and five USDA-ARS labs to help make this project a success. Learn more about the project here​

Additionally, Robert Burns, associate dean of UT Extension, was recognized during the APLU conference as a Food Systems Leadership Institute Fellow for 2014 to 2016. The Institute provides leadership development to upper-level leaders in higher education, government, and industry to prepare individuals and institutions to lead the twenty-first century food system.  
Crop Science Society Celebrates Two UTIA Turf Specialists 
Among the awards presented by the Crop Science Society of America (CSSA) at its November 6-9 annual meeting in Phoenix, Arizona, were two significant honors for UTIA members. The Society’s annual awards recognize outstanding contributions to agronomy through education, national and international service, and research. 

For his career achievements in areas of turfgrass science and Extension, John Stier, associate dean of the UT College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources, was inducted as a Fellow of the Society. Fellow is the highest recognition bestowed by the organization. Members of the Society nominate worthy colleagues based on their professional achievements and meritorious service. Only up to 0.3 percent of the Society’s active and emeritus members may be elected Fellow. 

Stier’s research revolves around various environmental issues and management of turfgrass, such as nutrient and pesticide fate, invasive grasses, and carbon sequestration, as well as shade and cold stress, herbicides, and weed management. The Society previously honored him with its Martin and Ruth Massengale Lectureship, established to support a distinguished scientist who has made significant contributions to new and innovative research in crop physiology and metabolism, turfgrass science, or forage and grazing lands.

Stier’s career contributions in the turfgrass industry have received other significant awards. These include the Robert G. and Hazel T. Spitze Land Grant Faculty Award presented for excellence in teaching, research, and science by the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences and School of Human Ecology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison; the Pound Extension Award presented by the UW-College of Agricultural and Life Sciences; and the Excellence in Research Award from Seed Research of Oregon. He has also been recognized by the US Environmental Protection Agency for the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s integrated pest management program. In addition to participation in many state and regional turfgrass conferences in the United States, Stier has lectured in Argentina and Germany on turf issues. 

The Society presented its Young Crop Scientist Award to Jim Brosnan, associate professor in the UT Department of Plant Sciences and director of the new UT Weed Diagnostics Center. This award is designed to recognize young crop scientists who have made an outstanding contribution in any area of crop science by the age of forty. 

In his research, Brosnan focuses on strategies for controlling unique and problematic weeds of turfgrass systems, particularly phenotypes with resistance to herbicides. He has published more than eighty-eight peer-reviewed research articles and been recognized by both the Northeastern and Southern Weed Science Societies for his work. 

Brosnan’s Extension programs aim to provide education and diagnostic support to Tennessee’s $5.8 billion turfgrass industry. He also provides committee and editorial service to numerous organizations, including the CSSA, the Weed Science Society of America, International Turfgrass Society, and both the Golf Course Superintendents and Sports Turf Managers Associations. 

In addition, Jesse Benelli of the UT turf program won best graduate student research presentation for discussion of research on the influence of spray rate volume and surfactant technology on large patch (Rhizoctonia solani) control. Graduate students Kyley Dickson and Eric Reasor received Stiegler Travel Awards, which are given to help future scholars participate in the conference.  

National Family Forests Education Award Goes to Extension’s David Mercker 
A multi-partner program coordinated by UT Extension forestry specialist David Mercker has been awarded the 2016 Family Forests Education Award by two national forest-focused organizations. The honor was bestowed by the National Woodland Owners Association and the National Association of University Forest Resources Program. The award recognizes an outstanding university-based Extension or outreach program. 

The award honors Mercker’s coordination of the Tennessee Healthy Hardwoods program. The program has delivered high-quality, hand-on experiential field days where landowners benefit from field observation in Tennessee state and UT forests. The field days were initiated to provide field-based forestry and natural resource education to members of Tennessee’s County Forestry Associations, which Mercker helped start and sustains. These associations work to educate family forest landowners and professional natural resource managers about sustainable forest and wildlife management. 

Twenty faculty and professional foresters have presented sessions at thirty-six field days since the program’s inception in 2006. These have reached nearly 2,300 landowners who, collectively, manage an estimated 345,000 acres of forests in the state. Indicators of the success of these events are that 100 percent of participants said they understood the importance of seeking professional advice prior to making forest management decisions and, among the audience the field days reached, 24 percent said they had never attended an Extension education event before, confirming that the program is delivering services to citizens who have not previously been reached by Extension. 

Another result of the program is how it has bonded the forestry community in Tennessee. Recognition of the program is high, with professionals and forest families eager to take part. The program’s logo is often seen on hats, gloves, Biltmore sticks, and herbicide bottles. 

The Tennessee Healthy Hardwoods has been funded primarily by the state Department of Agriculture Forestry Division and the US Forest Service. Ten grants have been secured, totaling $396,771. In kind support has been provided by the network of UT Extension county offices and the Tennessee Forestry Association. 

This year there were a record number of nominations for the Family Forest Education Award, making Mercker’s honor all the more noteworthy. 

Based in Jackson at the West Tennessee AgResearch and Education Center, Mercker has been a member of UTIA for seventeen years and also has thirteen years of experience as a private forestry consultant. As a UT Extension specialist, he works to educate and assist the nearly 450,000 private forest landowners in Tennessee about responsible forest management. Mercker’s other program areas include the Teachers Conservation Workshop, the Master Loggers, Forest*A*Syst, crop tree release, hardwood lumber and stumpage pricing, 4-H, and bottomland hardwood restoration. 

Soil Conservation District Honors UT Blount County Extension Director  
John Wilson, a twenty-eight-year veteran of University of Tennessee Extension, has received the John P. Davis Memorial Vanguard Award from the Blount County Soil Conservation District. Wilson has served as director of the UT-TSU Extension office in Blount County since 2007. 

The award, which was presented at the district’s sixtieth annual banquet, recognizes Wilson’s contributions in agricultural and environmental excellence to the county. Among the impacts cited were: 
• Training 140 Tennessee Master Gardeners 
• Teaching workshops in sustainable gardening 
• Conducting Advanced Master Beef Producer and other livestock- and forage-related workshops 
• Giving support and assistance to sister organizations, such as the Blount County Livestock Association, Maryville Farmers Market, Blount County Beekeepers Association, Blount County Farm Bureau, and the Blue Ribbon Country Fair hosted by the Great Smoky Mountain Heritage Center 
• Other Extension staff members, with Wilson’s direction, deliver programs in youth development, human nutrition, food safety and preservation, financial management, and parenting, all of which have improved the daily lives of Blount County citizens.  

“I’ve found the folks of Blount County to be a warm and welcoming people,” Wilson says. “This community feels like home to me. 

“It has been my privilege and pleasure to work with the farm families and other residents of Blount County toward improving their quality of life. From the mountains to the valleys here, Extension educational programs afford an opportunity to provide meaningful solutions to everyday challenges faced by our families.” 

The Blount County Soil Conservation District serves landowners by providing assistance with the installation of conservation practices to prevent soil erosion, improve Tennessee's water quality, and promote the stewardship of the county’s natural resources. 

(The Daily Times of Maryville was a source for some information in this article.)