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 Arkansas Horticulture News 

Volume 19, Number 1, 2016

New Faculty Hires  

Greetings from the Department of Horticulture. We have had a productive and busy year. In addition to business as usual, we had three faculty positions to fill. The search committees set out to find the best of the best and we think they did just that.The Associate Professor/Horticulture IPM Extension Specialist position was filled with Dr. Jackie Lee (pictured top left). Dr. Lee comes to us from Oklahoma State University where for the past three years she served as the university's fruit and pecan extension entomologist and pesticide safety coordinator. Before that she spent 5 years working for Dow AgroSciences in multiple research and development roles. Dr. Lee is a graduate of the University of Arkansas and is excited about "advancing agriculture" in her home state. She and her husband brew beer....."good beer" and she can't wait to get her canoe back on the rivers in Arkansas. Welcome home Jackie, we are happy to have you.

The Assistant Professor/Horticulture Production Extension Specialist position was filled by Dr. Amanda McWhirt (pictured middle). Dr. McWhirt comes to us from North Carolina State University where she recently received her Ph.D. She grew up in Missouri and has lived and worked throughout the southern United States. She loves to travel and makes time each year to go somewhere. Dr. McWhirt is ready to "work with the diverse range of fruit and vegetable growers across the state." 

The Assistant Professor of Fruit Breeding and Genetics position was filled with Dr. Margaret Worthington (pictured top right). Dr. Worthington was born and raised in Raleigh, North Carolina. She completed her undergraduate work at Duke University, followed by a Fulbright Fellowship in India for a year. She came back to work on her Master's degree at the University of California-Davis where she worked on common bean genetics. She returned home to work on her Ph.D. in small grains at North Carolina State University. The past three years have found her working at the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) in Cali, Colombia where she has worked as a forage breeder. Dr. Worthington is looking forward to the lifestyle improvement (peaches, grapes and blackberries) over her previous crops (beans, wheat and forage.) In 2006 she hiked the Appalachian Trail from Georgia to Maine so it's safe to say she'll probably enjoy all the hiking that Arkansas has to offer too. We are thrilled to bring her and her dog, Molasses, to Arkansas. Dr. Worthington will join us in mid-August.

Horticulture Students Bring Home 10 Awards at SR-ASHS


Photo by Lacey Howard 
Horticulture students who competed at Southern Region ASHS include (front, from left) Mallory Martin, Olivia Caillouet, Kenneth Buck and Morgan Gramlich; and (back) Joseph Chidiac, Blake Hawkins, Preston Smith and Jack McCoy. 
Eight of our students earned 10 competition awards at the American Society for Horticultural Science - Southern Region meeting in San Antonio, Texas. Together they brought home four first, five second, and one third -place award. In the individual competition Kenneth Buck placed first in the undergraduate research poster contest, which included a report on his Southern SARE Young Scholar Enhancement science apprenticeship research project. Olivia Caillouet won first place in the undergraduate research oral presentation competition, which included a report on her honors thesis. Jack McCoy was second in the undergraduate research oral presentation category. In the graduate student paper category, master's student Joseph Chidiac placed second. The Horticulture Club judging team finished second in the team fruit and vegetable commodity judging contest and third in the fruit and nut crops team. Preston Smith placed second individually in both fruit and vegetable commodity judging and fruit and nut crops judging. The team also included Kenneth Buck, Blake Hawkins and Mallory Martin. 

Distinguished Alumnus Named

Slade Strickland, the director of parks, recreation and landscape development for the city of Addison, Texas, was named the 2015-16 Distinguished Alumnus in Horticulture. Strickland graduated in 1981 with a bachelor's degree in agriculture with an emphasis in landscape design and urban horticulture. He has developed and administered Addison's award-winning park system and landscape development master plan for more than 30 years. He and his team have earned multiple Texas Recreation and Parks Society awards for design. "Slade Strickland is a leader in public horticulture in Texas, overseeing an impressive parks and recreation program," said horticulture department head Wayne Mackay. "His record of accomplishment and awards are a testament to his vision for the future, enthusiasm and dedication to excellence. We are happy to be able to recognize him as a Distinguished Alumnus."


Outstanding Horticulture Students 

Every year we are challenged to pick an outstanding senior, M.S. and Ph.D. student and every year it's hard to choose because we have dedicated and motivated students. This year was so hard that we had to choose two students for our Vaille-Watts/Outstanding Senior award. Tyler Carr (pictured left) and Jack McCoy(pictured middle left) were both leaders among our horticulture students and were awarded the Vaille-Watts/Outstanding Senior award. Tyler is actively involved with the Turf Club which participated at the Turf Bowl in San Diego this past January. He also has served as our Bumpers College Ambassador, representing our department at recruiting events. Tyler completed an internship at Fenway Park last summer and will be working at the Great American Ballpark with the Cincinnati Reds this summer. Jack McCoy (left middle) served as the Hort Club president for two years and led their successful plant sales. He also actively worked to get the club more involved in public school and community gardening efforts. Jack also completed an international study abroad in Chile where he studied grape cultivation practices. In addition Jack completed two undergraduate research projects. Jack was an ideal student and we wish him well in his graduate studies at New Mexico State University.

This year our outstanding M.S. student was awarded to Luke Freeman (pictured middle right). Luke has worked as the Communication and Media specialist for the for the National Sustainable Strawberry Initiative with Dr. Curt Rom since 2013. He also worked on sustainable and organic production, farmers' markets and farm to school initiatives in Dr. Rom's program. During this appointment Luke successfully started and completed (almost) his M.S. studying organic and sustainable production in high tunnels. Luke has taken on unforeseen leadership roles in Dr. Rom's program and hasn't skipped a beat. Luke has joined the National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT) as a Sustainable Agriculture Specialist. We wish him the best.

Last, but certainly not least our outstanding Ph.D. student was awarded to Daniel Sandor (pictured right). Dan is officially a Ph.D. after passing his preliminary exams last month. He is in the third year of his program investigating techniques for reducing water use in turfgrass systems. He has presented his research findings at multiple scientific meetings, industry conferences, and field days. Dan has also led the instruction of the Turf Bowl judging team for the last two years. All of our outstanding students were recognized at the Bumpers College Awards Ceremony and again, at our departmental awards recognition as well. Congratulations again guys!

Other Awards and Merits

The office of Nationally Competitive Awards honored state and national award winner, finalists and their mentors at the State and National Awards Reception. The Horticulture Department was well represented at the reception which was held at the Janelle Y. Hembree Alumni House. 

  • Dr. John Clark - 2016 Faculty Gold Medal
  • Jack McCoy - ASHS Outstanding National Horticulture Student (Mentor: John Clark)
  • Olivia Caillouet - Arkansas Academy of Sciences Undergraduate Research Oral Presentation Competition - 2nd Place (Mentor: Curt Rom)
  • Tyler Carr - Gary Vanden Berg Internship Grant (Mentor: Mike Richardson)
  • Loren Anthony - Mosmiller Intern Scholarship of American Floral Endowment (Mentor: John Clark, Curt Rom, Shannon Mason)
  • Tyler Carr - SAFE 4-Year Scholarship (Mentor: Mike Richardson)
  • Olivia Caillouet - Southern Region ASHS Meeting - 1st Place Undergraduate Research Oral Competition (Mentor: Curt Rom, Jason McAfee)
  • Jack McCoy - Southern Region ASHS Meeting - 2nd Place Undergraduate Research Oral Competition (Mentor: John Clark)
  • Kenneth Buck - Southern Region ASHS Meeting - 1st Place Undergraduate Research Poster Presentation Competition (Mentor: Curt Rom, Jason McAfee)
  • Kenneth Buck, Blake Hawkins, Mallory Martin, Ryan Smith - 2nd Place Fruit and Vegetable Commodity Judging (Mentor: Curt Rom, Garry McDonald)
  • Ryan Smith - Southern Region ASHS Meeting - 2nd Place Individual Award, Fruit and Nut Crops Judging Competition (Mentor: Curt Rom, Garry McDonald)

Gamma Sigma Delta( Honor Society of Agriculture) Arkansas Chapter held their 62nd Annual Student Competition this spring. A few of our students came away with bragging rights and some with more experience under their belts. 

  • Jack McCoy -3rd Place Undergraduate Oral Presentation competition
  • Olivia Caillouet competed in the Undergraduate Oral Presentation competition
  • Loren Anthony competed in the Undergraduate Oral Presentation competition
  • Dan Sandor competed in the Ph.D. Oral Presentation competition

Arkansas Academy of Sciences held their 100th Annual Meeting here on campus which included oral and poster presentations. Some familiar names come up again. 

  • Loren Anthony - 3rd Place - Undergraduate Oral Biology Competition
  • Olivia Caillouet - 2nd Place - Undergraduate Oral Biology Competition
  • Jack McCoy also competed

The Golf Course Superintendents Association of America and the National Golf Course Owners Association presented the Golf Industry Show in San Diego from February 6-11th. Members of our Turf Bowl Team competed there.   

  • Tyler Carr, Joe Danton, Kent Fisher and Thomas Walton competed in the team competition finishing 15th out of 67 teams. 

Faculty Promotions

  • Dr. John Clark was promoted to Distinguished Professor
  • Dr. Doug Karcher was promoted to Professor

Other Faculty Awards

  • Dr. Robbins won best computer programs entry for Hort Plants v2 IOS app at the SR-ASHS meeting in San Antonio, Texas. 


KUAF Community Spotlight Series

Dr. John Clark and Dr. Elena Garcia recorded segments with extension agent and horticulture alumnus, Neal Mays for this series which featured Ozarks Agriculture. You can listen to Dr. Clark talk fruit breeding here and to Dr. Garcia talk high tunnels here

Horticultural Entrepreneurs Lecture Series

In the fall we continued our Horticultural Entrepreneurs Lecture series with a visit from Dr. Bob Lyons. Dr. Lyons served on faculties at Virginia Tech, North Carolina State University and at The University of Delaware. He co-founded and became the first director of the Virginia Tech Horticulture Gardens. He became the Director of the Longwood Graduate Program in Public Horticulture in 2004 and served until 2014. Dr. Lyons has been a photographer for over 30 years and has published widely in countless publications. He has exhibited his work nationally and has received several awards for his photographs. Dr. Lyons' lecture was titled "Picture This: Discovering and Capitalizing on a Growing and Diversifying Market for Horticultural Photography". Our students enjoyed hearing Dr. Lyons' story of how he went from professor to photographer.





Our spring lecturer for the Horticultural Entrepreneurs lecture series was Terri Cantwell of Bates Sons and Daughters Caladiums. Bates Sons and Daughters is a third generation family farming and shipping business located in Lake Placid, Florida. Terri is the horticulturalist and oversees the caladium field operations. Ms. Cantwell told the story of how her family business has managed to stay in business through several hurricanes and economic recessions. Terri kept our students on the edge of their seats laughing listening to stories of her family's business practices.

 We Want You!  2015-2016 Graduates

Our website is getting a makeover and we are looking for Horticulture Alumni. We want to feature you and your job on our website. If you’d like to participate, contact Shannon Mason at We can’t wait to hear from you.





Matthew Gal

Samuel Kincannon

Emily Krol

Jack McCoy

Megan McMahen

Alexis Shafer

Lesley Smith


Arkansas Horticulture is a newsletter for alumni, faculty, staff, students and friends of the Department of Horticulture at the Dale Bumpers College of Agricultural, Food and Life Sciences and the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture.

Our mailing address is:
Department of Horticulture, University of Arkansas, Plant Sciences 316, Fayetteville, AR 72701-1201
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