Making CAHNRS better: Awards go to outstanding faculty and staff

Great teachers and advisors, forward-thinking researchers, inspiring Extension specialists, and an impactful team in the College of Agricultural, Human, and Natural Resource Sciences were honored by colleagues during the annual Faculty and Staff Awards, April 11 at Ensminger Pavilion.

Supervisors as well as current and past co-workers joined members of the CAHNRS administration to reflect on the achievements of 11 awardees and groups.

Award winners include:

Darla Ewald award with Kruger
TFREC Director Chad Kruger, left, joins Darla Ewald, 2024 Administrative Professional Staff Excellence Award winner, at Ensminger Pavilion.

Administrative Professional Staff Excellence Award

Darla Ewald, Office/Administrative Manager, WSU Tree Fruit Research and Extension Center, Wenatchee

Each of the CAHNRS staff awards recognize contributions to a productive workplace through leadership and collegial activities, as well as professional and ethical behavior.

Ewald has worked for WSU’s TFREC since 2007, beginning as administrative assistant. She supervises and manages day-to-day activities at the center office while handling personnel actions and issues for the center. Ewald brings an exceptional level of skill to supervising, and is committed to quality control, productivity, and timeliness, said TFREC Director Chad Kruger.

She earned her bachelor’s degree in business administration, with a focus on human resources, from Eastern Washington University, in 1994. Before coming to WSU, she worked in family law offices and administrative positions. Ewald has lived in the Wenatchee Valley for most of her life, and enjoys camping, trips to Leavenworth, Wash., and spending time with her large family.

McLean with Heitstuman
Linda McLean, 2024 Technical Staff Excellence Award winner, poses with Mark Heitstuman, Interim Director, Washington State 4-H Program.

Administrative Professional Technical Staff Excellence Award

Linda McLean, Director, 4-H Educator, FRTEP Agent, WSU Colville Reservation Extension

An enrolled member of the Colville Confederated Tribes, McLean leads education and outreach programs for WSU’s Colville Reservation Extension office in Nespelem, Wash. She has been employed by WSU Extension for 16 years and is an advocate for youth, agriculture, and food sovereignty. McLean also brings years of experience in Indigenous knowledge, 4-H Positive Youth Development, food production, and cattle raising. A 4-H alumna, she is passionate about 4-H and the positive impacts the program has on youth. 

McLean is a staunch believer in developing partnerships and creating collaboration, and advocates for Native American inclusion and participation in Extension’s mission. She organizes and hosts a wide range of educational workshops for youth and adults and blends Indigenous knowledge with science-based approaches for program delivery.

Jennifer Buckles, Classified Fiscal Staff Excellence Award Winner.

Classified Clerical/Fiscal Staff Excellence Award

Jennifer Buckles, Fiscal Specialist 2, Mount Vernon Northwestern Washington Research and Extension Center

Buckles provides complex and varied financial support services to WSU’s Center for Sustaining Agriculture and Natural Resources (CSANR) as well as the WSU Mount Vernon and Puyallup Research and Extension Centers. Approaching her daily work with enthusiasm and dedication, she has a knack for making everyone feel heard, respected, and supported.

Buckles grew up in Oak Harbor and attended Central Washington University, earning her bachelor’s degree in law and justice. She worked for a duty-free company for 29 years as their senior manager before transitioning in 2021 to NWREC. Buckles resides in Anacortes with her family and enjoys gardening and landscaping.

Colleages Everett Martin, left, and Blake Foraker, as well as Student Success and Academic Programs Associate Dean Nancy Deringer join Dan Snyder, Technical Staff Excellence winner, pictured second from left.

Classified Technical Staff Excellence Award

Dan Snyder, WSU Meat Laboratory Manager, Department of Animal Sciences

Snyder facilitates teaching, research, and Extension activities for harvest and processing at the WSU Meats Lab. Snyder has trained many students that now hold prominent roles as industry leaders, including executives at some of the nation’s largest meat processing companies and multiple agricultural education teachers. He maintains active involvement in local 4-H livestock shows and processes meat for much of the local community. Dan has been involved in the meat business for more than 40 years and has committed 38 years of service to WSU.

Hiscock award
Shanna Hiscock, left, winner of the Excellence in Advising Award, with Nancy Deringer

Faculty Excellence in Advising Award

Shanna Hiscock, Academic Coordinator, School of Economic Sciences

The Excellence in Advising Award recognizes academic advisors that support student achievement. 

Hiscock has been with WSU since 2010, previously serving as academic coordinator in Apparel, Merchandising, Design and Textiles, as well as Mechanical and Material Science Engineering. She focuses on student recruitment, retention, advising, career planning and classroom curriculum development for Economic Sciences 105. Hiscock puts students first; helping with study plans, resumes and career development. She enjoys one-on-one meetings with students to identify the unique needs that each student requires to succeed at college and beyond. She looks forward to seeing her students graduate, move forward in industry, and come to mentor current Economic Science students.

Early Career award winner Lav Khot, center, poses with Manuel Garcia-Perez and Leslie Edgar

Early Career Excellence Award

Lav Khot, Director, WSU AgWeatherNet and Professor, Department of Biological Systems Engineering

The early career award acknowledges outstanding contributions in research, teaching and/or extension in any CAHNRS discipline during the early phases of a faculty member’s academic career.

Lav Khot, Director, WSU AgWeatherNet and Professor, Department of Biological Systems Engineering

Khot grew up in a small village in central India, surrounded by sugar cane fields. Growing up in a farming family, he worked on farms and aspired to be an agricultural engineer to help mechanize laborious farm operations.

He is currently an associate professor of precision agriculture and serves as director of one of the largest agricultural weather sensing networks in the U.S. His program is focused on developing site-specific crop monitoring and management technologies through crop, environmental sensing, and automation. He balances a presence at Prosser and Pullman to fulfill programmatic and young family needs.

He holds degrees from MPKV-India; the Asian Institute of Technology, Thailand; Iowa State University; and North Dakota State University.

Sara Waters
Sara Waters, Land Grant Mission Award Winner.

Land Grant Mission Award

Sara Waters, Assistant Professor, Department of Human Development

A Human Development faculty member and part of the Prevention Science Ph.D. program at WSU Vancouver, Waters studies how our earliest relationships shape long-term well-being and how family relationships can be supported to foster children’s healthy development. She is particularly committed to community-based approaches to preventive interventions.

Waters’ current projects include the development of a culturally grounded, trauma-informed program for caregivers of young children within a tribal community and uplifting perspectives on health and well-being among multigenerational Asian and Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander families.

She earned degrees at the University of California, Berkeley; UC-Davis, and UC-San Francisco.

Georgine Yorgey
Georgine Yorgey, Faculty Excellence in Extension Award winner.

Faculty Excellence in Extension Award

Georgine Yorgey, Associate Director, WSU Center for Sustaining Agriculture and Natural Resources

This award recognizes faculty with Extension appointments in CAHNRS for program innovation, scope, the impact of their programs, and leadership. Recipients demonstrate the integration of teaching, research, and extension.

Yorgey leads the CSANR Resource Recovery program and co-leads efforts relating to climate change and agriculture. She publishes in academic and extension publications, with recent efforts that include the Farmer-to-Farmer Case Studies: Enhancing Resilience of Farming in the Pacific Northwest, as well as co-editing and co-authoring chapters in Advances in Dryland Farming in the Inland Pacific Northwest.

Yorgey grew up in Oregon, where early exposure to vegetable and fruit breeding and food processing convinced her that she wanted to work on issues related to agriculture and sustainability. She earned degrees from Swarthmore College and the University of Washington.

Manuel, Shyam, Leslie
Shyam Sablani, Faculty Excellence in Research Award winner, with BSE chair Manuel Garcia-Perez and CAHNRS Associate Dean for Research Leslie Edgar.

Faculty Excellence in Research Award

Shyam Sablani, Professor, Department of Biological Systems Engineering

This award honors faculty members for high-quality research or creative scholarship over the past three years, or in recognition of a continuous record of scholarly accomplishments.

Sablani’s research program is built around applications of materials science to develop innovative packaging solutions and improve the safety and quality of foods. He has received the prestigious Marcel Loncin Research Prize from the Institute of Food Technologists, Outstanding Researcher Awards from Sultan Qaboos University, and the Certificate of Merit and George F. Stewart International Research paper award from the Institute of Food Technologists.

Sablani holds a doctorate from McGill University, Montreal. He has published more than 250 scientific journal articles, 33 book chapters, four book reviews, and edited a handbook on food and bioprocess modeling techniques. He is currently the Scientific Editor of the Journal of Engineering.

Excellence Award- Bealle King
Allyson Beall King, Director of the School of the Environment, holds her Faculty Administrator Award flanked by fellow CAHNRS chairs and directors: Manuel Garcia-Perez, Chad Kruger, Gordon Murdoch, Deborah Handy.

Faculty Administrator Award

Allyson Beall King, Director, School of the Environment

The CAHNRS Faculty Administrator Award recognizes and honors outstanding leadership and contributions by faculty administrators in the college.

In fall of 2022, Beall King became director of the School after serving for six years as associate director for undergraduate programs. As SOE is a bi-college unit, she is responsible to both CAHNRS and the WSU College of Arts and Sciences. She has taught extensively and graduated five master’s and four doctoral students during her leadership tenure, while also being active in research projects on sustainable aviation fuel.

As director, she has completed multiple faculty searches, secured additional staff, and facilitated the school’s external review. She served as chair of the CAHNRS Chairs and Directors in 2023 and is co-lead of the WSU Sustainability Task Force subcommittee on Research, Innovation, and Creative Activity. She supports her field as 2024 President of the International System Dynamics Society, and in spare time continues to build system dynamic models of environmental systems. Beall King is a triple WSU alumna.

Alejandro Prera award
SES Chair Jill McCluskey with R.M. Wade Award winner Alejandro Prera, center, and Associate Dean for Research Leslie Edgar.

R.M. Wade Award for Excellence in Teaching

Alejandro Prera, Assistant Clinical Professor, School of Economic Sciences

Established in 1964 with the support of the R.M. Wade Foundation, this award gives special recognition to outstanding teachers in CAHNRS. The final selection is made by a committee of students and faculty.

Born in Guatemala, Prera earned degrees at the University of Nebraska at Lincoln and the University of New Mexico. Prior to his PhD, he worked in World Bank and Inter-American Development Bank funded projects in Guatemala. He began teaching at WSU in 2014 and has mentored graduate students who teach sections of microeconomics and macroeconomics classes, as well as supporting other graduate instructors in the department. He has taught courses in Natural Resource Economics, Environmental Management, Economics of (video) Gaming, and Managerial Economics for the online MBA program. He serves as co- faculty advisor for the Economics Club, is a member of the Academic Affairs Committee, and Faculty Senate. Prera has conducted research on forest management, water allocation, and the use of online student evaluations.

Lav Khot, Michelle Moyer, Gwen Hoheisel
Lav Khot, Michelle Moyer, Gwen Hoheisel

Team Interdisciplinary Award

Perennial Crops Spray Application Technology Team

This award is presented to a group of faculty, staff, or students who have made significant contributions through an application of interdisciplinary scholarship in research, teaching, and potentially, extension.

The Perennial Crops Spray Application Technology Team has collaborated for more than 10 years to address important challenges faced by perennial specialty crop growers. Traditionally, pest management education and extension has focused on the what and when to spray; the how to spray is overlooked. Combining expertise in horticulture, plant pathology, entomology, and agricultural engineering, this team provides research and translational extension education on “how, what, and when” aspects of spray application technology. Their efforts also help improve agricultural workers’ health, safety, and associated socioeconomics in rural communities.

Members include Biological Systems Engineering Professor Lav Khot (mentioned above for the Early Career Excellence Award); Michelle Moyer, Professor, Department of Viticulture and Enology; and Gwen-Alyn Hoheisel, Professor and Regional Extension Specialist.

Moyer is based at WSU Prosser IAREC and has research and Extension responsibilities in wine and juice grapes, with an emphasis on integrated pest management. She is originally from a small town in southern Wisconsin, growing up working in her family’s wholesale and retail ornamental plant nursery and landscaping company. Moyer holds degrees from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Cornell University.

Hoheisel holds Extension responsibilities in grapes, tree fruit, and small fruit, conducting applied research and education to meet planned goals, and focuses on sustainable pest management, blueberry horticulture, and application technologies. Doubling as Benton County Extension Director, she divides her time between two county offices and IAREC.  Hoheisel earned degrees at the University of Maryland and Pennsylvania State University.

• View more photos from the 2024 Faculty and Staff Awards at a CAHNRS Flickr slideshow.