The Purdue University Agricultural Alumni Association has honored 10 individuals with its highest award for their professional accomplishments, leadership in organizations associated with agriculture and community service.
The 2013 Certificate of Distinction awards were presented Saturday (Feb. 2) during the association’s annual Ag Alumni Fish Fry in the Marsh Blue Ribbon Pavilion on the Indiana State Fairgrounds in Indianapolis.
“The Certificate of Distinction honors those who go above and beyond the call of duty in their work and volunteer leadership,” said Donya Lester, the association’s executive director. “This year we are pleased to honor 10 exceptionally talented people who have contributed to the agricultural profession and their communities in a broad range of endeavors and volunteer service. They have made their mark on the agriculture industry – both nationally and internationally – and they have contributed unselfishly to a broad range of professional and community organizations.”
This year’s honorees are:
* The late Fayte Brewer. Until his retirement in November, Brewer was chief executive of the Agricultural Alumni Seed Improvement Association Inc., a position he held since 2003. A Vietnam War veteran, Brewer worked for Pioneer Hi-Bred International Inc. in Austria, Bulgaria, Italy, Portugal, South Africa and Spain and taught farm management, agricultural economics and agricultural marketing as an associate professor at Berea College in Kentucky.
* John N. Butts of St. John, Ind. After receiving his doctorate in food science from Purdue in 1974, Butts worked for Land O’Frost as director of research. He is now the vice president for research at the company, based in Lansing, Ill. In 2008 Butts was awarded the Meat Processing Award from the American Meat Science Association.
* R. Leon Crowe of Greensburg, Ind. Crowe taught high school agriculture and business for 40 years, spanning a career that started at Clarksburg High School and concluded with his retirement from North Decatur High School in 2005. For 31 years Crowe served as state fruit sales coordinator for Indiana FFA, helping students raise more than $1 million to support FFA programs. He received a bachelor’s degree in 1965 and a master’s degree in 1974 from Purdue.
* Wayne Emigh of Knox, Ind. Emigh was one of the original 4-H Council members in Starke County in 1958. He is still active in the organization, having volunteered as a 4-H leader for 64 years. After military service, Emigh graduated from Purdue’s Winter Course in 1948. He returned to the family farm, which he helped convert from horsepower to electric power. He still holds electric project workshops for 4-H youth.
* Jim Hicks of Brea, Calif. Hicks sold agricultural chemicals for California Spray Chemical Co. (later renamed Chevron Chemical Co.) from 1961-1975, when he co-founded Western Ag Supply in Anaheim, Calif. Seven years later he founded Jim Hicks and Co. of Brea, where he continues to serve as chief executive. His company distributes commercial fertilizers in the western United States and Mexico. Forty undergraduate students this academic year in Purdue’s College of Agriculture are supported by Hicks’ scholarship contributions. He received his bachelor’s degree from Purdue in 1961.
* Levi Huffman of Lafayette, Ind. Huffman, his wife, two children and their spouses operate the 3,000-acre Huffman & Hawbaker Farms, producing corn, soybeans, wheat, tomatoes, peppers, gourds and swine in a farrow-to-finish operation. Huffman hosted an Indiana Farm Management Tour stop in 2000 and has spoken to numerous farm management classes at Purdue. He serves on the boards for both the Indiana Soybean Alliance and Indiana Pork Producers. He is a member of Purdue’s Farm Policy Study Group and the Advisory Council for Purdue’s Center for Food and Agricultural Business.
* Lynn P. Martin of Fort Wayne, Ind. Following a distinguished military career, Martin founded the Fort Wayne Pet Hospital in 1969. Martin contributes more than 1,000 hours a year to various community organizations. He has taught high school students about veterinary medicine and has served as a 4-H leader for more than 40 years. Martin remains active in Boy Scouts – three sons and a grandson have earned the rank of Eagle Scout. He has taught merit badge classes on the topics of agribusiness, animal science, bird study, dog care, farm mechanics, forestry, mammal study, plant science, pets, soil and water, and veterinary medicine, mentoring 12 young men who became Eagle Scouts. Martin received his bachelor’s degree in 1960 and doctorate of veterinary medicine in 1964 from Purdue.
* Thomas H. McKinney of Kempton, Ind. McKinney is president and general manager of McKinney & McKinney, a family farming operation, and is a seed dealer with Pioneer Hi-Bred International Inc. He is vice president of the Indiana 4-H Foundation and a past president of Purdue Council for Agriculture Research, Extension and Teaching, and he served on Indiana Farm Bureau’s commodities committee. McKinney volunteers his time to the library, hospital and Extension board in Tipton County, Kemp United Methodist Church, Tipton County Purdue Alumni Association and the Tipton Community School Corporation, among other groups. He received a bachelor’s degree from Purdue in 1980.
* Dick Reel of LaPorte, Ind. Reel retired in 2003 after a distinguished career as an Extension educator in both 4-H youth and leadership and community development programs. Reel is a volunteer facilitator with the Leadership LaPorte County program and is the lead volunteer of the program’s high school leadership training program. For 19 years Reel has volunteered his time at Pioneer Village at the Indiana State Fair. He also has developed Pioneerland at the LaPorte County Fairgrounds, raising more than $250,000 for construction of the buildings.
* Becky Skillman of Indianapolis. Skillman was elected lieutenant governor in 2005 and served in that role until this January. She managed five state agencies that administered nearly $1 billion in programs. That included the Indiana State Department of Agriculture, which she helped to create. Skillman began her public service career in 1977 when she was elected Lawrence County recorder. She was elected to the Indiana Senate in 1992 and served in that office until 2004. Skillman was key to forging partnerships between the State Department of Agriculture and agricultural agencies and offices to ensure that Indiana producers were represented effectively. Skillman began the Hoosier Agribusiness and Science Academy, which prepares urban middle school and high school students to pursue college degrees in agriculture.
Source: Purdue Ag Communications
(Pictured in thePurdue Agricultural Communication photo by Tom Campbell are, from left, Tom McKinney, Levi Huffman, Dick Reel, Wayne Emigh, Jim Hicks, Becky Skillman, Leon Crowe, Lynn Martin and John Butts. Fayte Brewer received the award posthumously.)