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DASS Honors Diversity Champions

The Division of Applied Social Sciences Inclusion, Diversity and Equity (IDE) Awards Ceremony was held earlier this month. The event honored students, faculty and alumni, and was presented by the DASS IDE Awards Committee. See photos from the event on CAFNR’s Flickr. Receiving awards were:

Keondre Harrison, a senior in hospitality management. For Keondre’s capstone course he was required to preplan, plan, execute and conduct a post-event analysis. Keondre created a seminar surrounding diversity and inclusion in the workplace, featuring a panel of leaders within our community knowledgeable about the topic. To promote the events, Keondre reached out to DASS faculty, staff, and students, the local high schools, as well as local businesses with an invitation to attend the event. Nearly 48 people attended the event April 24, and it received rave reviews for its relevancy and timeliness.

Anadil Iftekhar, a PhD student in rural sociology. Anadil’s PhD research studies how migrant Muslim women in central Missouri assimilate to the U.S. through community gardening. Anadil’s desire to share the importance of finding community in a new country conveys her passion for increasing awareness for the challenges faced by migrants. During her time as a PhD student, she has been active in starting the CAFNR International Engagement Program to support international students. She serves a mentor in this program and has matched incoming international students with current students to guide them in choosing housing, arriving on campus, and scheduling flights. Additionally, she regularly schedules grocery store rides for new students without cars. Within the DASS Graduate Student Association, Anadil co-wrote a document for incoming students to address topics such as cell phone services and banking set up in the U.S. At the University level, Anadil has been active in the South Asian Student Association, serving as a representative to the campus-wide Graduate Programs Committee where she was an advocate for South Asian graduate students and their needs.

Corinne Valdivia, professor and director of the interdisciplinary international development minor. Dr. Valdivia’s research interests focus on transformational changes that shape people’s livelihood decisions and sustainable development. She has studied the livelihoods, entrepreneurship and integration of Latino newcomers in the Midwest; how Andean societies adapt to globalization and climate change shaping their rural landscapes; and innovative pathways for smallholder farming in Africa. She was a founding member of the Cambio de Colores Conference and is the current interim Co-Director of the MU Cambio Center, which leads research and outreach on Latinx and changing communities. Dr. Valdivia shares a deep purpose for doing research to impact policy and maximize welfare for the common good.

Andrea Woolverton, BS, Agribusiness (’02), PhD, Agribusiness (’07). Dr. Woolverton worked as an economist within USDA Economic Research Service and the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) of the United Nations. Currently, she resides in Nicaragua where she is the co-founder of Twin Engine Coffee. She and her husband recognized that nearly all of the world’s coffees are grown in the world’s poorest countries and sold to exporters who reap the profits that could stay in the producing countries. Twin Engine Coffee partners, grows, selects, roasts, and packs single-origin coffees at the source in the heart of Nicaragua and sells the product all over the world. 400% more of the coffee’s value remains in Nicaragua when it is sold abroad through Twin Engine Coffee. Through her work and entrepreneurship, she is addressing poverty and providing opportunities in Central America by positively impacting the lives of coffee farmers in Nicaragua.

CAFNR Leads Agricultural Business Council of Kansas City’s Annual Mizzou Showcase

The College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources (CAFNR) was able to highlight its programs and initiatives during the virtual Agricultural Business Council of Kansas City’s annual Mizzou Showcase in April.

The event is the Council’s opportunity to highlight the University of Missouri and CAFNR. Brett Begemann, member of the Executive Leadership Team and Chief Operating Officer for the Crop Science division of Bayer, served as the keynote speaker of the showcase. Begemann received a degree in agricultural economics from CAFNR. Begemann is a resident of the St. Louis metro area, and is actively involved in several local and global agribusiness organizations. He continues to own and operate farmland in Missouri.

CAFNR Vice Chancellor and Dean Christopher Daubert, and Rob Kallenbach, associate dean for Extension in CAFNR, also spoke. Daubert welcomed participants to the showcase and spoke about key initiatives at MU. Kallenbach discussed Agriculture and Environment Extension’s goal of doubling the value of agriculture in Missouri by 2030, while sustaining the state’s natural resources.

Greg Snellen Named Alumnus of the Year by CAFNR Alumni Association

Greg Snellen has been named the 2021 Alumnus of the Year by the CAFNR Alumni Association. He is an environmental supervisor with Missouri Department of Natural Resources’ Waste Management Program, serving as the program coordinator for rule development, legislative inquiries and stakeholder engagement. Snellen leads the School of Natural Resources (SNR) Alumni Association, and is part of the SNR Advisory Council. He recently won the Black and Gold Alumni Award from SNR. He received his BS in Fisheries and Wildlife Sciences from Mizzou in 2004.

Snellen has been an active part of the SNR Homecoming “Bloat” (float + boat), which has been a successful and anticipated part of the parade each fall, and the Trivia in the Wild fundraising event – now in its 10th year. He leads the social media presence for the alumni group to keep graduates connected to the university. He spearheaded the creation of an undergraduate scholarship for SNR students through funds raised at Trivia in the Wild. Through the Advisory Council, he helps to fundraise for SNR, place students in internships, provide mentorship and aid service needs of the school.

“Greg’s motto is that life at Mizzou does not end when you graduate, it continues to grow and thrive. The School of Natural Resources (SNR) Alumni Association has been a major fixture over the years in the lives of our graduates and that’s due to Greg’s leadership,” said Patrick Market, director and professor, School of Natural Resources. “It is vital to Greg that our alums know that wherever they go in the world, they always have a place at Mizzou and he tries to make it the best possible experience for them.”

“Greg has been an active member of our Natural Resources Alumni Organization for many years and has served as our President for the past several years,” said Laura Hertel, SNR’s senior coordinator of student services. “One of the main goals for our group is to mentor our undergraduate students and Greg is truly a champion in this area as well as many others. The first semester of his presidency, he made it a point to attend at least one meeting of each of our student organizations so he could meet the students and see how he could help. Since we have about 10 clubs, he was a very busy man.

“To describe Greg with several adjectives I would use all of the following: professional, positive, energetic, understanding, cooperative and appreciative. He truly deserves to be recognized for his many efforts as the Alumnus of the Year.”

Alumnus of the Year recognizes significant contributions or accomplishments by an individual whose efforts and support have added to the excellence of the University of Missouri.

Keith Spackler Receives Citation of Merit Award from the CAFNR Alumni Association

Keith Spackler has received the 2021 Citation of Merit from the CAFNR Alumni Association as part of its annual awards. Spackler is Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Ag Processing, Inc. (AGP), a leading agribusiness cooperative owned by 146 cooperatives representing more than 250,000 farmer-owners. AGP is a $4 billion company with more than 1,000 employees in the U.S. – the world’s largest cooperatively owned soybean processing company. He joined AGP in 1985 and has held progressive positions in business analysis, strategic planning and finance. Spackler was named CEO in the fall of 2012.

He serves on the executive committee of the National Council of Farmer Cooperatives, and as chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Graduate Institute of Cooperative Leadership (GICL) at the University of Missouri. Spackler received both his BS (’79) and MS (’85) in Agricultural Economics from Mizzou.

“Keith’s contribution to AGP is well documented and supported by the financial results the company has enjoyed during his tenure with the company,” said Ernie Verslues, President and CEO, MFA Incorporated. “The results are unmatched in company history. Bigger than contribution at AGP is Keith’s impact on the cooperative and agriculture community in the Midwest, United States and specific areas worldwide. His efforts don’t stop at the door step of AGP or at 5 p.m. on Friday.”

“During Keith’s tenure as CEO, AGP’s performance, financial strength, growth and value-added to the farm gate are truly remarkable,” said Joe Parcell, director of the Division of Applied Social Sciences, and Michael L. Cook, Partridge Chair of Cooperative Leadership and GICL’s executive director. “Keith is an especially strong supporter of cooperative education and CAFNR’s Graduate Institute of Cooperative Leadership, a research-informed education program for agricultural cooperatives. As chair, Keith initiated discussions about the need to invest in GICL’s future. He launched an initiative to raise funds in support of hiring new research and Extension faculty to expand GICL’s programs and impact. In less than one year, from conception to implementation, Keith has successfully raised approximately $1 million in pledges to CAFNR. Keith is directly responsible for the success of this capital campaign, which will have an immeasurable and lasting impact on CAFNR and its ability to deliver timely communications for cooperative leaders on relevant, recent research findings.

“Keith is an exceptionally talented and wise leader. He epitomizes the character, core values and work ethic that best represent CAFNR. Keith finds ways to help others without waiting to be acknowledged. He is a true Missourian and an emblematic Tiger.”

Citation of Merit is given each year by the CAFNR Alumni Association for professional attainment by an alumnus.

Michael F. Smith Named Honorary Member of the CAFNR Alumni Association

Michael F. Smith, Curators’ Distinguished Professor of Animal Sciences, has been named an Honorary Member of the CAFNR Alumni Association as part of their 2021 awards celebration. Smith joined Mizzou in 1980 and has had sustained excellence over his 40-year career in teaching undergraduate students, mentoring graduate students and in discovery research in reproductive biology.

He has published 158 papers in refereed journals, including in the leading journal Reproductive Physiology, and has received more than $2 million in funding as a principal investigator and $16 million as co-investigator. Smith designed and developed websites for his Physiology of Reproduction course so students could continue to learn outside the classroom and share with other institutions around the country. He developed the Miller Internship Program in reproductive management that provided 12 to 15 students per year an opportunity to gain training and real-world experience with setting up an estrous synchronization and artificial insemination program with beef producers across the country.

He has received the National Association of Colleges and Teachers of Agriculture Teaching Award of Merit and the American Society of Animal Science Distinguish Teaching Award, in addition to Mizzou’s Kemper Fellowship for Teaching Excellence, the Maxine Christopher Shutz Award and Lecture for Distinguished Teaching, and the Governor’s Teaching Award. Smith has been honored with CAFNR’s Mumford Outstanding Faculty Award, the highest honor given by the college. Smith served as interim unit leader for Division of Animal Sciences from 2000-06.

“Dr. Smith is truly one of the most exceptional undergraduate and graduate teachers in the Division of Animal Sciences and the College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources for the past 40 years,” said Rodney Geisert, professor, Division of Animal Sciences. “Dr. Smith is a committed educator who cares deeply about his students and their success in the future. He is concerned about their learning and his teaching focuses on helping students not only learn new concepts, but learn how to apply these concepts to solve real world problems.”

“Rarely has a faculty member spent their entire academic career totally and selflessly committed to one institution and its pathway to success,” said Bryon Wiegand, associate division director, Division of Animal Sciences. “Dr. Smith is real, personable, unassuming and never, never, never seeks the spotlight for himself. Whether teaching undergraduates, mentoring graduate students or leading the Division of Animal Sciences, Mike Smith has given of himself in a way that few faculty members have or will ever give of themselves and their talent.”

Honorary membership in the CAFNR Alumni Association is given to those who are not former students, but who, because of exemplary interest in the college, are so designated.

Al Kennett Honored With True Tiger Volunteer Award From CAFNR Alumni Association

Al Kennett, New London, Mo., has received the 2021 True Tiger Award, given each spring by the CAFNR Alumni Association. Kennett served for 43 years as an Extension livestock specialist in northeast Missouri. He received both his BS (’66) and MS (’68) in Animal Sciences, and during his time at Mizzou was on both the meats and livestock judging teams and served as president of the Block and Bridle Club.

Kennett helped organize the Northeast Missouri Beef Cattle Improvement Association, serving as secretary and as treasurer, the Northeast MO Swine Improvement Association, and developed a Swine Testing Station in Canton, Mo. He also helped develop and implement the Show-Me-Select Replacement Heifer program and served as regional coordinator for northeast Missouri.

Kennett has received the Meritorious Service Award from the National Association of County Agricultural Agents; was inducted into the Missouri 4-H Hall of Fame; and was named Livestock Person of the Year by Mizzou Block and Bridle Club; along with numerous other recognitions.

He led the effort to develop a Mizzou Alumni Association Hannibal/Quincy Chapter and served as its president for three years. He has also served on the Mizzou Alumni Association Board of Directors.

“Al along with Eldon Cole piloted the Show-Me-Select program in the northeast and southwest regions of Missouri, respectively,” said Dave Patterson, Chancellor’s Professor, Division of Animal Sciences. “Their combined leadership and commitment to the program and the producers they served positioned the program to its recent recognition as one of CAFNR’s seven Programs of Distinction.

“Al’s support of CAFNR and MU exemplify what being a ‘True Tiger’ really means. His service to Missouri agriculture is matched with his commitment to CAFNR, Extension, Tiger athletics and the University of Missouri as a whole. Al’s support of the Division of Animal Sciences can be measured in many ways, but is perhaps best demonstrated by the number of students from northeast Missouri that Al recruits and encourages to attend MU.”

“Al has been very active in community and youth activities. In particular, for 43 years he coached 4-H livestock judging teams, with nearly half of them placing first or second at the state contest and moving on to compete at the national level,” said Bill Lamberson, professor and director, Division of Animal Sciences. “He serves on the advisory committee for the Mizzou Livestock Judging program and has been a fundraiser extraordinaire!

“Through his volunteerism, Al Kennett has given much supporting Mizzou and especially CAFNR, and genuinely deserves recognition as a True Tiger.”

The True Tiger Volunteer Award recognizes an individual who has made significant contributions to the College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources through volunteer efforts and a sincere dedication to the university.

Stacey Follis Honored With Past President Award from CAFNR Alumni Association

Stacey Follis has been honored with the 2021 Past President Award from the CAFNR Alumni Association. Follis graduated from Mizzou’s College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources with a BS in General Agriculture and a minor in Animal Science in 1998, and an MS in Animal Science-Reproductive Physiology in 2000. She is in veterinary medicine research and development for Zoetis.

While at Mizzou, Follis was involved in Ag Ambassadors, Student Council, Independent Aggies and Block and Bridle. Follis has served on the St. Francois County Extension Council and is president of the Parkland Area Tigers chapter of the Mizzou Alumni Association.

“It is a pleasure to work with a team member who is always bringing new thoughts and ideas to the table, while still keeping in perspective the vision and mission of our CAFNR Alumni organization,” said Dustin Johansen, incoming president for the CAFNR Alumni Association. “Stacey led us through a challenging year as president and kept the board motivated and engaged to focus on the positive. Thank you Stacey for your great leadership of the CAFNR alumni organization.”

“Stacey has been a passionate, energetic and effective leader for the CAFNR Alumni Association,” said Loyd Wilson, fellow board member. “She has had a positive influence throughout her tenure on the board and as president has left the board in great shape for the future. I know she will continue to be an active member of the association for years to come. Great job Stacey!”

“Stacey LOVES Mizzou and you can tell from the minute you meet her!” said Emily Kueker, fellow board member. “She has served on the CAFNR Alumni Board with passion, love and enthusiasm for CAFNR and Mizzou. Stacey’s enthusiasm is contagious and no matter the event, she makes sure everyone has a fun time, all in the name of Mizzou!”

“Stacey is a True Tiger. She is rooting for the University at all times and provided exemplary leadership to the Mizzou CAFNR Alumni Board,” said Nancy Barcus, fellow board member. “I’ve appreciated her example for others to follow and find ways to move the Association forward.”

Carol Swaim Receives Haynes Distinguished Service Award from the CAFNR Alumni Association

Carol Swaim, administrative assistant, Agricultural Education and Leadership program, has been named the recipient of the 2021 Dana Brown Haynes Distinguished Service Award, given by the CAFNR Alumni Association each spring.

Swaim has been part of the Agricultural Education and Leadership team for 16 years, and at Mizzou for 27 years. She is a three-time recipient of the CAFNR Staff Advisory Council’s Above and Beyond award (2009, 2013 and 2018). In 2015 she received an Honorary State FFA Degree – the highest degree presented by the Missouri FFA Association to individuals for their dedication to furthering agricultural education and FFA.

“Carol is often the first face of the program when students, guardians, and stakeholders engage with the Agricultural Education and Leadership program. Her welcoming attitude and true care for people is evident,” said Jon Simonsen, associate professor and chair, Agricultural Education and Leadership program. “She has a way of engaging with students that makes them feel welcome in the Mizzou family and a way of helping parents/guardians feel comfortable in trusting this institution. One of the first stops when our past students visit campus is in Carol’s office to say ‘hello,’ have a piece of candy (or even bring candy to replace what they ate in previous years), and share what is happening in their lives. These meaningful and genuine relationships that Carol has built truly demonstrate the impact that she has made and will continue to make in the future.”

“We are a relatively small academic program, but we pride ourselves in our impact, outreach, and excellence in teaching and scholarship,” said John Tummons, director of undergraduate studies, Agricultural Education and Leadership. “I’m honestly not sure how Carol can keep track of the variety of tasks we ask her to do, but is the glue which holds our program together. A specific example would be Carol’s work during the stressful time of State FFA Convention. When we’re tabulating the results for thousands of students competing in Career Development Events, I know I can count on Carol to be one step ahead of the next issue and never slowing down until the final results are printed for the final session.”

The Dana Brown Haynes Distinguished Service Award recognizes an outstanding University of Missouri and CAFNR faculty or staff member, alumni or student who has demonstrated a long-term commitment of service to the College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources.

Bissonnette Receives Faces of the Future Award from American Phytopathological Society

Kaitlyn Bissonnette, assistant Extension professor, plant sciences, has been awarded the Schroth Faces of the Future award from the American Phytopathological Society for her work in applied nematology and Extension nematology. This award is given to forward-thinking scientists within 10 years of earning their PhD who are perceived to be future leaders in the field.

Bissonnette coordinates a regional applied nematology project exploring the impacts of soybean cyst nematode (SCN) seed treatments on SCN reproduction and soybean yield across more than 12 US states and one Canadian province. This includes research at four MU research stations. In addition to building a foundation for applied nematology trials that have bridged the gap between nematologists and plant pathologists across North America’s soybean growing states, she has played a pivotal role in the development and leadership of the national SCN Coalition. Her Extension and outreach efforts as part of the SCN Coalition have not only included hands-on work with Missouri soybean growers, but also has reached a global scale with an estimated media aggregate readership of 4.5 million, specifically in reference to SCN, since January of 2018.

Awardees are invited to present their work and speculate on the direction of their discipline at a symposium designed to acknowledge up-and-coming researchers who are shaping the future of their respective scientific discipline. The Schroth Faces of the Future Symposium takes place this year in early August at Plant Health 2021 Online.

Two Retired CAFNR Professors Receive 2021 Awards from Missouri Park and Recreation Association

Two retired CAFNR Parks, Recreation and Sport professors recently received awards from the Missouri Park and Recreation Association.

Jerry Hitzhusen (pictured left at a previous award ceremony), associate professor emeritus, was inducted into the Missouri Recreation and Parks Hall of Fame. His career, which started with Mizzou in 1974, focuses on therapeutic recreation. He is an international advocate for disabled athletes and is committed to recreation therapy for veterans and advocacy for minority aging populations. Hitzhusen secured more than $6 million in therapeutic recreation grants and programs over his time at Mizzou, and has received the PALESTRA Leadership Award in Therapeutic Recreation, an honor only bestowed every 10 years. He helped create Boots on the Green, working with veterans to play adaptive golf, and coordinated the Midwest Symposium on Therapeutic Recreation for many years.

David Vaught (pictured right at a previous award ceremony) has received the MPRA Retirement Service Award. Vaught retired in February 2020 after more than 20 years with Mizzou. During his time leading the Parks, Recreation and Sport program, enrollment more than doubled – he also oversaw study abroad trips, internship programs, a summer academy for high school students focused on trap shooting, and much more. He received the Golden Apple award for excellence in teaching and advising in 2010 from CAFNR.

This Missouri Park and Recreation Association is a nonprofit whose members work to provide opportunities for all the state’s citizens to enjoy quality leisure activities, and is dedicated to promoting public support for parks and recreation and public awareness of the contribution of recreation to a balanced life.