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Purdue pesticide director earns rural service award

Associate Editor

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — Helping thousands of farmers comply with state and federal regulations and operate more profitably year-after-year, Fred Whitford, coordinator of the Purdue Pesticide Program received the Frederick L. Hovde Award of Excellence in Educational Service to the Rural People of Indiana on Dec. 7 during the opening session of the Indiana Farm Bureau State Convention. 
“Time after time, Fred Whitford goes above and beyond the call of duty and continues to strive to make the best better in our rural communities. I can assure you no one is more deserving of this award than Fred,” said Jay Akridge, Purdue’s Glenn W. Sample Dean of Agriculture. “Fred’s work is a great example of putting science into practice to help improve the lives and livelihoods of our stakeholders. He is a nationally-recognized authority on agricultural transportation and pesticide regulatory issues, and a dynamic communicator who knows how to reach an audience.”

The award, sponsored by Indiana Farm Bureau and named for Purdue’s seventh president, who served from 1946-1971, honors a Purdue staff member with a record of outstanding achievement and service to rural communites.

“In Extension, we work for you, I represent part of Purdue and one of the strongest Extension programs in the the nation,” said Whitford. “I accept this award most humbly and thank you for continuing to listen to my advice. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate this.”

In Whitford’s 21-year Purdue career, he has broadened the scope and reach of Purdue Pesticide Programs, according to Akridge. Working with the Office of the Indiana State Chemist, Whitford expanded the state’s certification program for pesticide applicators to include continued education along with licensing examinations. 
The result was the Private Applicator Recertification Program, which now also provides educational opportunities for those farmers who apply manure and fertilizer.

Whitford has written or co-authored more than 200 Extension and regulatory publications and research papers on a range of topics, including transporting agricultural products, petroleum and chemical storage tanks, flood planning and mitigation, and farm retail customer service. He also has penned two volumes on the history of Purdue Agriculture and Extension.

In addition to his writings, Whitford is a sought-after speaker. He has addressed more than 4,000 audiences at agricultural conferences, workshops, field days and other events. 

“Fred is a prolific writer and one of the most engaging speakers you’ll ever hear,” said Peter Goldsbrough, head of Purdue’s Department of Botany and Plant Pathology, where Purdue Pesticide Programs is housed. “He’s very adept at identifying the needs of the farming community. He identifies those needs by talking to all the people he meets on a regular basis. He then seeks out experts on those issues to help him write, edit and review the materials he puts together.”

Whitford has collaborated on publications with government and law enforcement agencies, pesticide manufacturers, agribusiness leaders, law firms and fellow university specialists.

“Two of his most recent publications, Keep the Trailer Connected to the Truck: Understanding the ‘Hitch’ System and The Tractor Hitch Pin: A Critical Component in Keeping Control of Implements were both eye openers,” said Harry L. Pearson, former president of Indiana Farm Bureau. “I always thought a ball hitch and a hitch pin were just that, without realizing the liability that accompanied both if improperly sized or used. His presentations on both were excellent.”

Whitford serves on the board of the National Agronomic Environmental Health and Safety School and the American Assoc. of Pesticide Safety Educators Association. He also is on the editorial board of the Journal of Pesticide Safety Education.

Among his many awards, Whitford has been named the Mid-America CropLife Assoc. Educator of the Year and received the Midwest Regional Turf Foundation Award of Achievement and Indiana Arborist Assoc. Distinguished Service Award.