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Whitman County Extension Agent Honored

PULLMAN, Wash. — John Burns, Washington State University Whitman County Cooperative Extension agent, has been named the 12th recipient of the Kenneth J. Morrision Extension Award in Agronomy and Soils.

The award recognizes WSU extension faculty for significant contributions to agronomic crop production and soil management.

“John Burns is an exemplary faculty member, serving Washington State University and the agricultural community with distinction,” said Dora Rumsey, extension regional coordinator.  “His ability to identify wheat growers needs, make specific changes and take leadership in evaluating results to satisfy those needs is the basis of his outstanding program.”

He started the Whitman County Agricultural Technology Association in 1984 as a means to help wheat producers incorporate new technologies as soon as possible.

In 1984 he used the association to mobilize resources to help growers cope with Cephalosporium stripe fungus wheat disease, which had infected more than 400,000 acres.  To date, the disease has not caused wide-scale economic damage in Whitman county.

Sub-zero temperatures during the winters of 1989 and 1990 killed between 50 percent and 75 percent of the winter wheat crop in Whitman County.  Burns initiated educational programs that helped producers make timely replant decisions.  That program, coupled with favorable spring growing conditions, helped growers avert major economic disaster.

In 1992, Burns served on a team that investigated market potential for Crimson red lentils in Egypt and Hungary.

Burns’ work has earned recognition from the National Association of Wheat Growers, He received the organization’s Excellence in Education Award in 1991 for outstanding extension programs of benefit to the U.S. wheat industry.

Burns has been a member of the WSU faculty for 23 years.  He was an area extension agent for Grant and Adams counties from 1975 to 1982 before moving to Colfax in 1982. The award was presented Thursday (July 9) at the joint annual field day of the WSU Spillman Agronomy Farm and Palouse Conservation Field Station. Burns was given a plaque and a check for $500.

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