(Purdue Agricultural Communication Photo/Tom Campbell)
An agricultural chemicals and transportation specialist who developed an improved recertification program for pesticide applicators and has helped thousands of farmers comply with regulations and operate more profitably is the 2012 recipient of the Frederick L. Hovde Award of Excellence in Educational Service to the Rural People of Indiana
Fred Whitford, coordinator of Purdue Pesticide Programs, received the award Dec. 7 at the Indiana Farm Bureau convention in Indianapolis. The award honors Purdue staff with a record of outstanding achievement and service to rural communities.
"Fred's work is a great example of putting science into practice to help improve the lives and livelihoods of our stakeholders," said Jay Akridge, Purdue's Glenn W. Sample Dean of Agriculture. "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 is sponsored by Indiana Farm Bureau and carries with it a monetary prize. It is named for Purdue's seventh president, who served from 1946 to 1971.
In Whitford's 21-year Purdue career, he has broadened the scope and reach of Purdue Pesticide Programs. 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. Whitford's talks often are punctuated with humor and visual aids.
"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."
Michael T. Platt, executive director of the Indiana Pork Producers Association, agreed. "The quality of the training programs which Fred develops, either for his own presentations or for use by others in Extension, is unparalleled in the industry and explains why his trainings are so popular."
Whitford serves on the boards of the National Agronomic Environmental Health and Safety School and the American Association of Pesticide Safety Educators. 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 Association Educator of the Year and received the Midwest Regional Turf Foundation Award of Achievement and Indiana Arborist Association Distinguished Service Award.