⋅ BY RYAN McGEENEY ⋅
University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture
A national body of rice researchers has awarded the Distinguished Service Award to Bob Scott, senior associate vice president – extension for the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture.
In his nominating letter, Jeff Edwards, Division of Agriculture department chair for Crop, Soil and Environmental Sciences, said Scott “has been a strong supporter of the rice industry throughout his career and is highly deserving of this honor.”
Scott has been with the Division of Agriculture for more than two decades. After completing his Ph.D. in weed science at Mississippi State University in 1997 and working in the private sector for five years, Scott worked as an extension weed specialist for the Division of Agriculture from 2002-2018, the final five years of which he also served as director of both the Lonoke Extension Center and the Newport Extension Center. From 2018-2020, Scott served as director of the Rice Research and Extension Center in Stuttgart. In 2020, he was named senior associate vice president for agriculture – extension.
Scott received the award during the opening hours of the Rice Technical Working Group’s first meeting in three years — and its first meeting in Arkansas, the nation’s No. 1 rice-producing state — in more than a decade. The meeting brought together more than 300 researchers and rice industry professionals from several states and countries. According to its website, the group meets every other year to share research, plan, exchange information and more.
Scott said the award was unexpected, but welcome.
“I was surprised and honored by this award,” Scott said. “I have been away from RTWG for a couple of years and it was good to see everyone again and receive this honor. When it comes down to it, rice is really a specialty crop, due to its limited acres compared to other crops in the United States, so rice research and extension is a small world. It’s always nice to be honored by your peers.”
The 2023 meeting marks the group’s 39th biennial meeting. Although the group has historically met on even-numbered years, the decision was made in 2020 to postpone the next meeting by three years, due in part to the COVID-19 pandemic. Going forward, the group will now meet on odd-numbered years. The 2025 meeting is scheduled to be held in New Orleans.
Jarrod Hardke, extension rice agronomist for the Division of Agriculture, presented Scott with the award Tuesday morning. Hardke, who serves as secretary for the Rice Technical Working Group, said he and Scott have worked together since 2012, when Hardke first began work at the Division of Agriculture.
Scott later led the search committee which ultimately hired Hardke for the position of extension rice agronomist.
According to the Rice Technical Working Group’s website, the Distinguished Service Award may be presented to “individuals who have given distinguished long-term service to the rice industry in areas of research, education, international agriculture, administration, and industry rice technology.”
“Bob has worked in the field, in research, and worked in industry with BASF,” Hardke said. “He checks all the boxes.”