Jerry DeWitt, an Iowa State University professor whose 30-year commitment to sustainable agriculture ranges from the science of pest management to the art of photography to the administrative wisdom to encourage ISU to establish the nation’s first tenured organic agriculture faculty position, will receive the Spencer Award for Sustainable Agriculture during the 2005 Iowa Organic Conference in Ames on November 14, 2005.
DeWitt is the fourth recipient of the annual award and the first nonfarmer to be honored. The Spencer Award, administered by the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture, recognizes farmers, researchers, and educators who have made a significant contribution toward the stability of mainstream family farms in Iowa. The award is named for Norman A. and Margaretha Spencer who farmed near Sioux City for 40 years and includes $1,000 from the Spencer family.
An entomologist by training, DeWitt has been employed by ISU Extension for 33 years, about half that time as an administrator. In 1995 at the request of a group of organic farmers, he organized a meeting with ISU College of Agriculture administrators that led to the hiring of two ISU faculty dedicated to research in organic agriculture, the first at a land grant university.
DeWitt also has worked with ISU Extension’s Integrated Pest Management program and helped develop their Integrated Crop Management program that includes all aspects of cropping systems, not just pests. Three times during the past 10 years he has been interim national program leader for sustainable agriculture in the USDA, and also has worked on special outreach projects. He now coordinates ISU Extension’s sustainable agriculture activities. DeWitt was recently named interim director of the Leopold Center.
This article originally appeared on page 214 of the IC-494(25) -- November 14, 2005 issue.