Did you know we have a mobile site?

Skip Ribbon Commands Skip to main content
My Access Login
Advanced Search
Natural Resources and Ag Leaders Honored At Luncheon
Bookmark and Share

Michigan State University (MSU) College of Agriculture and Natural Resources (CANR) honored leaders in agriculture and natural resources for leadership at the community, state and national levels today during the annual Agriculture and Natural Resources (ANR) Week luncheon.


Source: Michigan State University College of Agriculture and Natural Resources

Contact: Eileen Gianiodis at gianiod1@msu.edu or 517-884-7087

Natural Resources and Agriculture Leaders Honored During ANR Week Luncheon


Michigan State University (MSU) College of Agriculture and Natural Resources (CANR) honored leaders in agriculture and natural resources for leadership at the community, state and national levels today during the annual Agriculture and Natural Resources (ANR) Week luncheon at the Kellogg Hotel & Conference Center.

Lou Anna Simon, MSU president, and Fred Poston, dean of the CANR, presented awards to alumni, industry leaders, faculty and staff members during the luncheon, which was held as part of the 98th annual ANR Week.

The following awards were presented during the luncheon:

  • Outstanding Agriculture Educator Award - Doug Pennington
  • Distinguished Faculty Award - Elliot Ryser
  • Honorary Alumnus Award - Chuck E. Ross
  • Outstanding Young Alumnus Award - Tony McCaul
  • Alumni Service Award - Bret Carlson
  • Alumni Service Award - Robert G. Van Arkel
  • Outstanding Alumnus Award - Dr. G. Jay Gogue
  • Distinguished Partner in Study Abroad - Professor Theobald C E Moshe and Sokoine University of Agriculture, Morogoro, Tanzania
  • Distinguished Service Award - Patricia L. Birkholz
  • Distinguished Service Award - Wayne H. Wood

Outstanding Agriculture Educator Award - Doug Pennington

As an undergraduate at MSU, Doug Pennington served as a Laingsburg FFA advisor temporarily for six months in 1990. Later, in his role as a teacher, he built a community FFA program from the ground up.

He taught at Port Hope High School for two years beginning in 1992. In 1994, he started a teaching assignment in Olivet where he continues to teach.

With the support of administration, the community, parents and alumni, the Olivet FFA program went from having no students showing at the county fair to more than 30 students participating, many of them using the facilities at the high school to raise their animals.

Through his passion for agricultural education, Pennington has been able to foster excellence in his students, shown through the many FFA awards they have received.

Pennington played an active part in the Michigan Association of Agriscience Educators (MAAE), serving as Region 1 board member for three years, chair of the Michigan Agriscience Strategic Planning Funding Committee for four years as well as serving on the legislative committee and performing many other duties.

Pennington has served as a regional representative on the FFA Board of Directors and chair of agricultural sales contest. He served on many FFA committees. He received the Honorary Michigan FFA Degree in 2002, Region 1 FFA Honorary Degree in 2006 and Honorary American FFA Degree in 2008. Other honors include the Young MAAE Member of the Year award in 1997, Eaton County Farm Bureau Outstanding Agriscience Educator in 2001 and Calhoun County Farm Bureau Outstanding Agriscience Educator in 2007.

Distinguished Faculty Award - Elliot Ryser

Committed to professional service, Elliot Ryser, professor in the Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition, works extensively with stakeholders in the fruit, vegetable and dairy industries, primarily on safety-related issues. Ryser has been sought for his extensive knowledge and expertise in state, national and international legal matters relating to safety of a variety of food products.

Ryser is the world’s foremost authority on the detection, physiology and control of the bacterial foodborne pathogen, Listeria monocytogenes. He was the first scientist to discover the potential for this pathogen to grow in many types of fermented cheese and wrote a comprehensive book on listeriosis and food safety, now in its third edition. Additionally, he has extensively modeled transit and survival of salmonella and E. coli in the food-processing environment.

Ryser also commits his time to public service and presents his work to a variety of different groups. He has served as a scientific editor for the Journal of Food Protection and for the Journal of Food Science.

During his 14-year tenure at MSU, he has secured more than $13.5 million in extramural funding and has contributed to the successful development of the foodborne pathogen program at the MSU National Food Safety and Toxicology Center.

In 2011, Ryser received the Maurice Weber Laboratorian Award at the International Association for Food Protection annual meeting, in recognition of service for outstanding contributions in the laboratory and a commitment to the development of innovative and practical analytical approaches in support of food safety. During the same year, he was awarded $1.8 million in U.S. Department of Agriculture grant funds to conduct research regarding the safety of fresh-cut fruit and vegetable products during processing, packaging and retail display.

Honorary Alumnus Award - Chuck E. Ross

Chuck E. Ross and his family created a significant Michigan industry that distributes automotive replacement parts for several auto manufacturers. As CEO of Ternes Packaging, Ross has redefined what it means to give back. A member of the MSU School of Packaging Advisory Board, Ross has contributed his knowledge, leadership and financial support to help MSU remain the leader in packaging education. One of the largest donors in history to the MSU School of Packaging, Ternes Packaging provided the funding needed for the Ternes Outreach Center and created a Spartan Cornerstone Challenge Scholarship with priority for packaging students.

Ross recognized the need for distance and virtual classroom learning. The Ternes Outreach Center allows the school to connect with other teaching institutions and industry members worldwide for face-to-face meetings and workshops in real time.

In addition, he has led the initiative toward a competency-based curriculum development, which has led to a comprehensive overview of the curriculum.

Under Ross’ leadership, Ternes Packaging was able to expand and grow from a small, generic packager of automotive components to a provider of value-added services across the automotive supply chain. His efforts helped lead and stabilize the industry during financial difficulties. Ternes’ warehouse and operations space has since doubled and new customer and programs account for more than 50 percent of the company’s revenue.

Outstanding Young Alumnus Award - Tony McCaul

Passionate about educating youth about careers in agriculture, Tony McCaul has taken his MSU education and put it to good use. As an environmental and agricultural science instructor at the Careerline Tech Center in the Ottawa Area Intermediate School District, he works with high school juniors and seniors from 17 area schools to expose them to jobs in the agriculture industry.

Since his graduation from MSU in 2009, McCaul has contributed immensely to the community and to agricultural education. He incorporates FFA into the classroom, encouraging student involvement. He started an agriculture academy for Hamilton and Saugatuck-area students, and he’s laying plans for an agriculture education facility for secondary and post-secondary education that works with his current efforts at Careerline.

McCaul serves as vice president of the board of Critter Barn, a local nonprofit teaching farm in Zeeland. He recently applied for a $6,500 grant from the National FFA Organization, which was given to Critter Barn and the Eight Day Farm to develop a garden, promote healthy living and provide the community with food.

He also participates in the World Association of Agriculture Councils, the county Farm Bureau, Young Farmer and FFA. He works closely with Zeeland Farm Services to coordinate internships for students in the area.

He has received numerous awards including the Teachers Turn the Key award from the Michigan Association of Agricultural Educators and the National Association of Agricultural Educators. Recipients have taught less than five years and have had a successful program. He was also a recent finalist for the 2012 Michigan Farm Bureau Young Farmer Excellence in Agriculture Award.

McCaul continues to work with the CANR concerning curriculum and the development of the agriculture academy.

Alumni Service Award - Bret Carlson

From recruitment to guest lecturing, from website design to speaking at conferences, Bret Carlson’s continued service to the MSU School of Packaging has made him a valuable resource and asset to the school and the university.

Carlson graduated from the MSU School of Packaging in 1986 and currently works as an engineering services director at ORBIS Corporation. A professional speaker at MSU Packaging Conferences since 1994, he is an active member of the MSU School of Packaging Industry Advisory Committee and the MSU Packaging Alumni Association (PAA) board. His roles as president, vice president and numerous committee chairs helped shape the current board and its mission. He has held multiple office positions in the Institute of Packaging Professionals since 1984, when he first joined the organization.

Carlson’s dedication to service and his career have led him to be a guest lecturer in several packaging courses at MSU as well as an extra helping hand at PAA events, such as mock interviews, career fairs, resume critiques, fundraisers and other events. He drove the redesign of the PAA website, and he continues to monitor the site. Taking the reins of the PAA membership committee, he developed a strategy to reach new members. He also played an active role in recruiting board members to keep the tradition of strong leadership going.

At Carlson’s persistence, Menasha Corporation created an endowed scholarship fund for packaging students at MSU in 1999. In 2008, Carlson set a personal best for soliciting donations from companies in the industry for a total of $12,000 for the PAA and MSU School of Packaging, his employer being one of the generous donors since 2000.

Alumni Service Award - Robert G. Van Arkel

Since graduating from MSU, Robert G. Van Arkel has been an outstanding representative of the university throughout the agricultural industries of Michigan. Recognized as an expert in the development, introduction and marketing of new products, his unique leadership skills include team organization, problem solving and crisis management proven by his interactions with corporate management and growers in Michigan and the northeastern United States.

He holds a bachelor’s degree in horticulture/pest management and master’s degree in entomology/nematology, both from MSU. He currently is a territory sales manager for Syngenta.

Van Arkel has served the CANR as a member of its Alumni Board, recently serving as chair. He also serves the college through his participation in AutumnFest and the Annual Golfing for Scholarships.

Van Arkel has been chair of the Michigan Agri-Business Association, president of the Southwest Michigan Professional Fieldman’s Association, board member of the Michigan Agrichemical and Fertilizer Association, secretary-treasurer of the Michigan Pesticide Association and vice president of the National Agri-Marketing Association.

Outstanding Alumnus Award - Dr. G. Jay Gogue

Dr. G. Jay Gogue began his career in 1973 as a research scientist for the National Parks Service. From there, he was promoted to the National Capital Parks in Washington, D.C., then moved on to regional chief scientist for the U.S. Parks Service Southeastern Region.

Others recognized Gogue’s abilities and he soon headed back to higher education as a faculty member. He became associate director of the Office of University Research at Clemson University and quickly became vice president for research there. In 1995, he became provost of Utah State University and in 2000, president of New Mexico State University. In 2003, he became chancellor of the Houston University System and president of the University of Houston.

In 2007, Gogue achieved a lifelong goal when he became president of his undergraduate alma mater, Auburn University. In 2011, the Auburn University Board of Trustees commended him for another year of outstanding leadership.

He received numerous honors and recognitions on the local and state level as well as many at the national and international level. Some of those of national and international significance include the Meritorious Service Award from the U.S. Department of the Interior and the Student Government Award from Utah State University. Laurance Rockefeller cited him for significant contributions to the passage of the Coastal Barrier Resources Act. He was elected to the Alabama Hall of Honor, selected chair of the Southeastern Conference Presidents/Chancellors’ Board of Directors and appointed to the U.S. Homeland Security Academy Advisory Council. He was a member of the board of the Natural Resources Ecology Section, National Association of State Universities and Land Grant Colleges. He was selected to serve on the Policy Committee, Oak Ridge Associated Universities. He acted as a consultant to the U.S. National Parks Service and as director of the South Carolina Universities Research and Educational Foundation.

Distinguished Partner in Study Abroad - Professor Theobald C E Moshe and Sokoine University of Agriculture, Morogoro, Tanzania

Dr. Theobald C. E. Mosha and Sokoine University of Agriculture, Morogoro, Tanzania, are the recipients of the 2013 CANR Distinguished Partner in Study Abroad Programs Award.

Mosha was an essential partner in the initial development of the Food, Nutrition and Health Study Abroad Program in Tanzania in 2006. He has continued to provide essential leadership to this highly successful program.

Mosha was born and raised in Tanzania. After obtaining his bachelor’s degree from the Sokoine University of Agriculture, he earned his master’s degree from Tuskegee University in the U.S. He then came to MSU to obtain his doctorate in human nutrition with Dr. Maurice Bennink. His research focused on a plan to assist severely undernourished children in Tanzania. While at MSU, Mosha volunteered to teach in several undergraduate courses. Discussion of his research generated considerable interest among the students. Mosha completed his doctoral program in 2004 and returned to Sokoine University to continue his position as a faculty member.

In 2006, the MSU Study Abroad Office established the Food, Nutrition and Health Study Abroad Program in Tanzania with Dr. Mosha and Sokoine University of Agriculture.

Mosha developed a three-week program of study, recruited 12 undergraduate students to participate, and left for Tanzania all in a period of three months. Highly successful even in its first year, the program has continued each summer since 2006.

In the program, Mosha arranges for the study abroad group to meet with Tanzanian government officials in leadership roles in national agencies. He also arranges for lectures from Sokoine University and other university faculty about the history of Tanzania as well as political, economic, healthcare and nutrition issues facing the country. Mosha accompanies the students on visits to rural villages, food markets and mother-child clinics.

Mosha has an adjunct faculty appointment in the Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition. In addition to his central role in the success of the Food, Nutrition and Health Study Abroad Program in Tanzania, he is actively engaged in ongoing nutrition research in Tanzania with Dr Bennink. Dr. Bennick and Dr. Dale Romsos co-lead the Tanzania study abroad program.

Professor Mosha and Sokoine University of Agriculture provide a superb environment for students to obtain a unique international experience as well as opportunities for collaborative research in the Food, Nutrition and Health Study Abroad Program in Tanzania.

Distinguished Service Award - Patricia L. Birkholz

Director of the Michigan Office of the Great Lakes, Patricia L. Birkholz served as a member of the Michigan State Senate from 2002 to 2010. In the Senate, she represented the 24th District comprising Allegan, Barry and Eaton counties. Prior to her terms in the Senate, she represented the 88th District in the Michigan House of Representatives from 1996 to 2002. She was the Allegan County Treasurer from 1992 to 1996. She began her career in politics as a trustee for Saugatuck Township.

Birkholz earned a bachelor’s degree in speech pathology and completed graduate work in speech pathology and public administration at Western Michigan University.

She has worked throughout her career to protect the Great Lakes and all of Michigan’s water resources. She championed the adoption of the historic Great Lakes Water Compact and spearheaded passage of the nation’s first scientifically based water withdrawal legislation. She also formulated the recently approved Parks Passport program to ensure state parks remain safe and available for future generations.

In recognition of her efforts to protect the environment, the Natural Resources Commission named a portion of the Saugatuck Dunes State Park in her honor.

Her work with MSU Extension is exemplary. Birkholz helped United Growth for Kent County, a committee of rural and urban stakeholders, give their testimony in her Senate Committee on the proposed coordinated land-use planning act. United Growth was a project of MSU Extension before it became an independent organization. Birkholz spent time helping the group craft their ideas and build their capacity and credibility.

Because she is so passionate about promoting the importance of Great Lakes protection and land use issues, Birkholz has gone outside of her district to give talks on these issues. She’s also traveled to other states, visiting Lancaster, Pennsylvania, to learn more about farmland preservation and urban planning tools to protect working farmland.

Distinguished Service Award - Wayne H. Wood

Wayne H. Wood is president of the state's largest general farm organization, Michigan Farm Bureau (MFB) and the other family of companies that include Farm Bureau Insurance of Michigan. He has served as the MFB president since December 2000 after serving 12 years as the organization's vice president.

Wood farms with his wife, Diane, brother, Randy, and son, Mark. The 1,600-acre family farm milks 300 cows and grows corn and alfalfa.

First elected to the MFB Board of Directors in 1984 as a director-at-large, he later represented Farm Bureau members in Michigan's Thumb region as a District Six director. He served as the Sanilac County Farm Bureau president for five years before joining the state board.

He also spent four years presiding over the Michigan Farmland and Community Alliance (MFCA), an MFB-affiliate organization dedicated to farmland preservation.

In 1993, Wood and his father, Harold, and brother, Randy, were honored by MSU Animal Science as the Dairy Farmers of the Year. In 2008, Wood was honored as a Michigan Dairy Memorial Scholarship Foundation Honoree.

Nationally, he was appointed to the USDA Rural Environmental Conservation Program Advisory Board. He has been involved in some respect either as chair or as a member with numerous other boards, committees and organizations including the American Farm Bureau Federation Board of Directors, the Michigan 4-H Foundation Board, the Michigan Agricultural Preservation Fund Board, the Michigan Food Policy Council, the Michigan Land Use Leadership Council, the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality Environmental Advisory Council, the Michigan Livestock Expo Board of Directors and the Michigan Milk Producers Association. He has led trade missions of farmer leaders to China, Australia, Brazil, Europe and Mexico. He has been a longtime supporter of the Michigan FFA program.

Wood has been an aggressive advocate with the Michigan Legislature and Congress to lobby for resources and special research projects, and to communicate the importance of a properly funded land-grant university to the growth of Michigan agriculture. His leadership was instrumental in the successful introduction and implementation of many model state programs, including the Animal Initiative, Project GREEEN (Generating Research and Extension to meet Economic and Environmental Needs), the Animal Diagnostic Laboratory and the Michigan Agriculture Environmental Assurance Program.

The ANR Week luncheon is hosted annually by the CANR, MSU AgBioResearch, MSU Extension and the CANR Alumni Association, with support from Consumers Energy, DTE Energy and the Michigan Electric Cooperative Association.

Additional sponsors include the Corn Marketing Program of Michigan, GreenStone Farm Credit Services, the Michigan Farm Bureau Family of Companies, the Michigan Milk Producers Association, the Michigan State University Federal Credit Union, the MSU School of Packaging Alumni Association, Techmark, Inc., The Andersons, Inc. and United Dairy Industry of Michigan.