The industry has had enough changes for a while

Vicky Boyd
Vicky Boyd,

Change is inevitable, they say, and with the start of 2021 comes a number of shifts.

Dr. Mo Way, who for 38 years has been at the Texas A&M AgriLife Research Center at Beaumont, will retire and ride into the sunset with wife Jeanie in February. The university already has posted a job notice for an assistant professor of rice pest management at Beaumont.

Dr. Don Groth, a Louisiana State University AgCenter plant pathologist, will retire in January after 37 years. The university in December posted a notice for assistant or associate plant pathology professor to be based at the H. Rouse Caffey Rice Research Station in Crowley.

For the past three years, Groth also served as resident coordinator at Crowley. Dr. Dustin Harrell, AgCenter Extension rice specialist who served as station research coordinator, will assume the role of resident coordinator Feb. 1. Although he will continue to conduct his agronomy research, Harrell will step down as Extension rice specialist.

But don’t worry — Louisiana’s rice industry will be in good hands with the return of Dr. Ronnie Levy, who retired as state Extension soybean specialist in 2017 and was working part time as Louisiana Master Farmer Program coordinator.

Before he moved over to soybeans in 2008, Levy spent more than 20 years working with rice, soybeans, wheat, turfgrass, grain sorghum and corn as an AgCenter county agent in Acadia Parish.

Dr. Kent McKenzie, who has been at the California Rice Experiment Station since 1988, with the past 20 years as director, retired at the end of 2020. Dr. Russell Rasmussen, who had been serving as associate director for the past year, assumed the director’s position.

The University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture also made quick work of filling the void created with Dr. Karen Moldenhauer’s retirement as rice breeder at the Rice Research and Extension Center in Stuttgart. Dr. Christian De Guzman, who spent four years as a breeder at Southeast Missouri State University’s Rice Research Farm in Malden, was hired as a breeder at Stuttgart. He hit the ground running, having begun his new job before Thanksgiving.

Moldenhauer also has been serving as interim director of the Rice Research Station since Dr. Bob Scott, who had been station director, was promoted to director of Arkansas’ Cooperative Extension Service in June 2020. The university plans to interview two candidates in mid-January and hopes to announce a new station director before the end of February, said Nathan Slaton, assistant director of the Arkansas Agricultural Experiment Station.

Mississippi State University currently is reviewing the vacancy created when Dr. Bobby Golden, Extension rice agronomist at the Delta Research and Extension Center, left for private industry in November.

“I suspect we will fill the position vacated by Dr. Golden but cannot say for sure or when,” said Dr. Darrin Dodds, head of the MSU Department of Plant and Soil Sciences.

And with that, I think we’ve all had enough changes for a while.

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