AUBURN, Alabama—Dr. Ron Smith, an Alabama Cooperative Extension System entomologist, was recognized at the 2018 Beltwide Cotton Conference for his outstanding contributions to the cotton industry through integrated pest management (IPM).
Awarded since 2012, the Recognition Award for Excellence in Cotton Integrated Pest Management recognizes an individual in research, extension or industry. Previous winners have included three individuals holding “industry” positions, two Extension professionals and one researcher. Smith was nominated by his entomology counterpart at Clemson University, Dr. Jeremy Green.
Award a Surprise to Smith
“This is such a meaningful award to receive because it is determined by the country’s leading cotton IPM experts,” he said. “I did not expect recognition for my work, but it is very humbling.”
Dr. Gary Lemme, director of the Alabama Cooperative Extension System, said Smith’s work is invaluable and essential to the success of Alabama’s farmers.
“Ron Smith has helped transform how cotton producers in Alabama and the nation battle pests,” Lemme said. “His work has been crucial in helping cotton farmers remain profitable. Alabama Extension is proud to see him recognized nationally by his peers.”
45 Years with Alabama Extension
In 2017, Smith celebrated 45 years of service to the cotton producers of Alabama. He said he has always enjoyed serving farmers through Alabama Extension because he is able to see his work make a difference.
“One of the greatest rewards of my time as a cotton entomologist is the knowledge that I’ve been able to help people be successful,” he said.
While technology presented itself as a challenge to many during his tenure, he has adapted alongside the changes and worked to serve farmers by all means available.
“I worked to adapt to new pests and new technology as time has gone by,” Smith said. “It is impossible to be effective in this business if your loyalty to producers and research is only part time. You have to either be all-in or all-out.”
He is one of few entomologists still practicing who began his career recommending DDT. Smith’s career came full circle when he was fully immersed in the shift to three-gene cotton alongside producers.
Quality Cotton Team
Smith is highly complimentary of his Alabama Extension entomology colleagues. Dr. Tim Reed is another Alabama Extension entomologist. Dr. Alana Jacobson, an assistant professor in the Auburn University Department of Entomology and Plant Pathology, is also part of the team serving Alabama’s farmers.
Two of the three hail from north Alabama. Both Smith and Reed attended Lawrence County High School in Moulton, Alabama. Reed—based in north Alabama—focuses on both cotton and soybean pests and management. Smith—located in central Alabama—specializes in cotton insect pests and management. Jacobson is an insect ecologist/row crop entomologist, with a special interest in thrips.