Published on 10/01/01

2001 D.W. Brooks Award Winners Announced

Photo: Faith Peppers

The 2001 D.W. Brooks Award winners are (l-r) Mark Rieger, teaching; Rick Reed, county extension programming; Darrell Sparks, research and Robert Stewart, extension.

Four University of Georgia faculty members received the prestigious D.W. Brooks award for excellence in public service Oct. 1 in Athens, Ga.

The $5,000 annual awards recognize UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences faculty who excel in teaching, research, extension and county extension programs. An award for international agriculture is given in even-numbered years.

The 2001 winners are Mark Rieger, teaching; Darrell Sparks, research; Robert Stewart, extension; and Rick Reed, county programming.

The CAES sponsors the annual lecture and awards in memory of D.W. Brooks, founder and chairman emeritus of Gold Kist, Inc., and founder of Cotton States Mutual Insurance Companies. Brooks was an advisor on agriculture and trade issues to seven U.S. presidents.

Michael J. Phillips, executive director of food and agriculture for the Biotechnology Industry Organization, delivered the 2001 D.W. Brooks Lecture, "The Future of Agricultural Biotechnology." The lecture and awards presentations were in the Mahler Auditorium of the Georgia Center for Continuing Education.

Rieger, a horticulture professor, was cited for his innovative approach to teaching. He is highly rated by students and considered a leader in Web-based distance education.

In his 14 years as a member of the UGA horticulture faculty, Rieger has earned a local, national and international reputation in horticulture and in his specialty of environmental stress physiology of fruit crops. He has twice been named "Teacher of the Year."

Sparks, a horticulture professor, has researched physiology and management of pecans for 36 years. His research into cyclic production helped revitalize the pecan industry in Georgia and nationwide.

The American Society for Horticultural Sciences' 1998 Outstanding Researcher, Sparks contributed to the pecan industry through his nutrition research. Little was known about pecan nutrition until his pioneering efforts.

The findings greatly reduced defoliation of important cultivars, which led to enhanced nut production. Today, growers throughout Georgia and around the world fertilize pecans based on leaf analysis.

Stewart is committed to getting results through innovative programming. Soon after he took over the Tifton Bull Evaluation Center in 1983, Stewart began enhancing its national reputation by incorporating new technology to improve buyer decision-making.

He developed a computer program that was quickly adopted by farm managers across the country. Stewart also enhanced bull evaluation through documenting genetics for consigners and developing new measurements to add to selection criteria.

He received the 1996 distinguished service award from the National Association of County Agricultural Agents, the 1997 Gamma Sigma Delta Extension award of merit and the 2000 outstanding senior scientist award in extension at the Tifton campus.

His work has been highlighted in national magazines and by the National Cattlemen's Association. He also was selected to serve on the performance committee of the International Beef Improvement Federation.

Reed has been a member of the UGA Extension Service staff since July 1974. He plays a major role in providing leadership to the $198.5 million agriculture industry in Coffee County.

Reed is sought out by growers and researchers for his knowledge and input when they seek practical information on sustainable, ecologically based cropping systems. He is also recognized for helping to develop the Georgia sweet carrot industry and for his major role in developing a new product, Douglas Pride, made from municipal waste.

Faith Peppers is the director of public affairs with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.