Texas A&M University soil and crop department honors Scotts, its own

COLLEGE STATION – ScottsMiracle-Gro was recognized with the 2011 Special Service Recognition Award during the Texas A&M University soil and crop science department’s annual awards banquet.

“ScottsMiracle-Gro is a company focused on making an enduring positive difference through their products, how they operate, and their relationships with stakeholders and their community,” said Kathy Ferguson, awards committee member, in announcing the award presentation.

Demonstrating their commitment to the many issues facing the turf and landscape industries, ScottsMiracle-Gro entered into a long-term agreement to develop new lawn and garden research facilities as part of the turfgrass site relocation to F&B Road, committing a total of $750,000 over five years, Ferguson said.

Additionally, in a separate research agreement with Texas AgriLife Research and Texas AgriLife Extension Service, Scotts will provide at least $750,000 more over five years for sponsored research and Extension programs, she said.

Scotts has also provided internship opportunities during 2011, supporting one intern through graduate school because she made such a tremendous impression during her internship, Ferguson said. They also conducted an internal competition to select a promising associate to send to College Station for graduate training in the soil and crop sciences department.

During 2011 and 2012, Scotts has provided more than $365,000 to support research in soil and crop sciences, entomology and horticulture, she said. Add to this the instrumentation for the Urban Ecology Center purchased by Scotts at a cost of $250,000. The center will have 24 plots and a total runoff length of more than 300 feet.

“Our relationship with ScottsMiracle-Gro has expanded to include assistance with Extension outreach efforts, and organization, promotion and underwriting of the Turf and Landscape Field Day held this past October. The ScottsMiracle-Gro Company has had a significant and positive impact on the teaching, research and Extension missions within our department,” Ferguson said.

Other awards and the information presented on recipients from their nominations during the department’s banquet include:

Administrative Support Award (two recipients) – Kathy Wingate, administrative services officer for the Texas AgriLife Research and Extension Center at Amarillo and Vernon, and Scott Vajdak, soil and crop sciences information technology consultant. Wingate has been with the department for 17 years and wears many hats, including human resource officer for both centers, project accounting, financial analyses, project purchasing, payroll, leave, hiring, evaluations, terminations and safety training. When Vajdak came to the department, he brought with him a wealth of knowledge in repairing and servicing computers. This is an ever-changing medium and he stays up to date on the latest products, trends and concerns in the computer industry.

Research Award – Dr. Terry Gentry, assistant professor of soil and aquatic microbiology. Gentry and his students are on the leading edge of efforts to develop bacterial-source tracking methodologies and their applications to solve water-contamination problems in Texas. He has developed or assisted in developing successful proposals in a variety of areas attracting funding from local, state, federal and corporate source bringing in a total of $6.6 million of which $2.1 million went to his research program.

Research Support Award – Mark Arnold, research associate at Lubbock. Arnold served as coordinator for the increasing genetic diversity objective of the Lubbock Cotton Improvement Program and prepared reports for screening efforts in drought tolerance, salt tolerance, Lygus bug resistance and phenotypic characterization of the germplasm collection and documenting information on more than 1,000 accessions since 2004. In 2009, he used preliminary results from the thrips screening project to prepare a grant proposal resulting in a four-year, $635,000 grant award from NIFA-Organic Research and Extension Initiative.

Technical Staff Field Support – Edward Macik, farm service manager at the TAMU Research Farm in Burleson County. Macik oversees the daily field operations of more than 1,500 acres while supervising two other farm personnel and two to three student workers. He also maintains and repairs equipment, roads and irrigation systems.

Technical Staff Lab Support Award – Heidi Mjelde, laboratory demonstration supervisor for the soil and crop science department. Since 2006, Mjelde has managed the Soil and Aquatic Microbiology Lab, handling all the day-to-day aspects of the lab including lab organization, personnel management and purchasing.

Graduate Research Award – Edinalvo Camargo, a graduate student. Camargo, under the guidance of Dr. Scott Senseman, has helped garner $150,000 in grant funds to do the work necessary for his doctorate. Some of his accomplishments include: first place poster at the 2009 Texas Plant Protection Association meeting and the 2010 Southern Weed Science Society meeting, Gerald O. Mott Meritorious Graduate Student Award from Crop Science Society of America, 2010 Outstanding Graduate Student Award at the Texas Plant Protection meeting and first place oral presentation at the 2011 Southern Weed Science Society meeting.

Teaching Award – Mark Hall, undergraduate student adviser/turfgrass. Hall has taught about 2,500 students in SCSC 302 since 1989, plus more than 170 students in SCSC 460 and 461 which are writing intensive courses. In addition, he advises all undergraduate students in this department, which number about 140 at this time. He views each student as a unique individual, tailoring their degree plans to balance the student’s skill level and future career requirements.

Graduate Teaching Award – Katie Rothlisberger, a doctorate student in the soil and crop sciences department under Drs. Frank Hons and Jamie Foster. Rothlisberger is responsible for teaching laboratory sections for SCSC 405 – Soil Microbiology and SCSC 301 – Soil Science.

Undergraduate Student Support Award – Landon Crotwell, a senior student working with Dr. Frank Hons. After working and internship this summer with Monsanto, Crotwell will begin working towards his master’s degree.

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