UGA's Culpepper to receive prestigious award

By: Clint Thompson, UGA CAES

World-renowned researcher Stanley Culpepper, University of Georgia Cooperative Extension weed scientist on the UGA Tifton Campus, will receive the 2016 regional Excellence in Extension Award from the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU).

Culpepper is this year’s Southern Region recipient – he’s one of five national recipients of the award – and will be recognized at the 129th APLU meeting in Austin, Texas, on Nov. 13.

“Cooperative Extension is proud to recognize those in our network who excel at innovative programming and engagement with diverse audiences to solve challenging problems. They have integrated credible science with powerful educational strategies to change lives and the communities where people live, work and play,” said Michelle Rodgers, director of University of Delaware Cooperative Extension and chair of the Extension Committee on Organization and Policy, Extension’s national governing body, in a press release. “The work of these valued professionals provides exemplary examples of Cooperative Extension’s relevance and impact.”

A self-professed “farm boy,” Culpepper’s teachings are different than most professors at land-grand universities. Instead of teaching students in a normal classroom, Culpepper travels the world every year educating farmers and industry personnel about weed management options for more than 50 different commodities. Since joining UGA in 1999, Culpepper has given more than 900 educational presentations across 24 different states and countries.

“Dr. Culpepper epitomizes what Extension is and should be all about. He cares about farmers and wants to make them more successful. He is a leading authority on chemical applications, regulatory issues and weed management. His recognition through this award is not surprising to me, nor should it be to any Georgia grower,” said Laura Perry Johnson, UGA Extension director. “I have collaborated with Stanley on multiple projects and understand the time, energy and devotion he puts into his work.”

Culpepper grew up on a bicentennial farm in North Carolina and saw how weeds impacted the crops his parents were producing. He said, as a child, he thought there must be a better way than trying to pull the weeds out by hand. Through his weed science programs in cotton, small grains and vegetable crops, Culpepper is finding those better ways.

Culpepper has researched options to control Palmer amaranth, a devastating weed that’s costing Georgia farmers more than $100 million to manage each year. He’s also worked to educate producers about the dangers of herbicide drift.

Sustainability of the family farm, which motivated Culpepper as a child, still motivates him as a UGA scientist.

“That’s what it’s all about for me. I grew up on a farm. I’ve lived it. Any way that I can help my fellow producers is why I do what I do,” Culpepper said. “If there’s anything I’ve said or any research I’ve produced that’s helped a farmer be more successful, then I’ve done my job.”

(Clint Thompson is a news editor with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences based in Tifton.)