Crop and Soil Sciences Alumni Honored at 2021 CALS Awards Ceremony

CALS Alumni award winners

NC State’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS) alumni and friends recently convened during the 2021 Alumni Weekend to honor several notable individuals for their contributions to the agricultural and life science communities. CALS Dean Richard Linton hosted the event emceed by NC State athletic broadcaster Andrew Sanders. Alumni recipients were celebrated at a lunchtime gathering that was also live-streamed and recorded for the first time.

Crop and Soil Sciences Honors Two of Its Own

The Department of Crop and Soil Sciences was proud to recognize two alumni from our department.

  • Dr. Harold Coble, CALS Outstanding Alumni
  • Dr. Colby Moorberg, CALS Outstanding Young Alumni

CALS bestows these awards each year to recognize the exceptional achievements of the college’s outstanding graduates and their dedicated work and service for NC State University and the benefit of North Carolina citizens.  

Award selection criteria include excellence in implementing progressive state, national or international programs; development of improved technology or science; or other outstanding achievements in agriculture and life sciences. 

CALS Alumni awards group
2021 NC State CALS Alumni Award recipients

Dr. Harold Coble – CALS 2021 Outstanding Alumni

Harold Coble grew up on a 150-acre diversified family farm in Alamance County. He began his NC State studies in applied mathematics but was drawn back to his agricultural roots to study crop science. He completed bachelor’s and master’s degrees in crop science at NC State then a doctorate in agronomy from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. Coble returned to the Wolfpack in 1970, where he served as a crop science professor for 30 years, teaching weed biology, overseeing 54 graduate students and researching weed population dynamics. 

His message to younger faculty was perseverance. “Keep at it,” Coble said. “You never know when your work will rise as the primary topic of industry conversation. What you are doing is important. Just keep going.”

Coble also worked as an agronomist for the USDA-Agricultural Research Service in the Office of Pest Management Policy for 14 years. He is a professor emeritus in the Department of Crop and Soil Sciences and is now the president and CEO of Coble Agronomics.

“I deeply appreciated this award because it represents all the good people I’ve worked with throughout my career,” Coble said. “No one earns an award like this on their own. It takes a collection of people working together on important issues.”

CALS alumni awards
Dr. and Mrs. Harold Coble pose with CALS Dean Dr. Richard Linton.

Dr. Colby Moorberg – CALS 2021 Outstanding Young Alumni

Colby Moorberg became interested in wetlands and soil science throughout his youth on a family farm in northern Iowa. He received a bachelor’s degree in environmental science from Iowa State University then gravitated to NC State, where he earned a master’s and a doctorate in soil science. His research focused on phosphorus dynamics in restored wetland soils in Carolina Bay wetlands. After completing his degrees, Moorberg received a postdoctoral appointment with the University of Washington’s Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering.

Three men evaluate a soil profile
Colby Moorberg coaching Kansas State University soil judgers in a practice pit near Crookston, Minnesota.

Now an associate professor of soil science at Kansas State University, Moorberg teaches, coaches the soil judging team, and operates the university’s hydropedology lab. He is a tenured faculty member at Kansas State and has received the Soil Science Society of America’s Early Career Award (2021), among others. 

“It was an honor to receive the NCSU College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Outstanding Young Alumni Award,” Moorberg reflected. “I greatly enjoyed my time at NC State during graduate school. I made lots of great friends and really enjoyed all of the faculty, staff, and fellow graduate students. The mentorship and continued collaboration I’ve received from Dr. Vepraskas and many other faculty in the Department of Crop and Soil Sciences have set me up for a successful career and made awards such as this one possible.”

He confessed that the awards event brought back welcomed nostalgia. 

“It was nice to be back in Raleigh again to see what’s changed and what’s stayed the same,” Moorberg said. “The last time I was there was when I graduated in 2014. My family and I arrived a few days early before the awards ceremony to do some sightseeing. It was nice to walk the Hallways of Williams Hall again and see some familiar faces. It was also nice to catch an NC State football game and cheer on the Pack. I hope to visit again sooner rather than later.”

Examples of Think and Do

Dr. Jeff Mullahey, Department Head of NC State Crop & Soil Sciences, heralded the significance of the department’s strong alumni network and pipeline. 

“Excellence in our research and academic programs draws, and frequently retains, high performing thought leaders like Drs. Coble and Moorberg. These researchers have a heart for teaching and committed themselves to our most impactful form of work – training our next generation of agricultural and environmental scientists. We admire their high caliber of work and are grateful for their contributions to our students and those across the country.” 

Want More Access To Distinction?

Crop and Soil Sciences’ alumni network impacts students, businesses, and citizens across North Carolina and the world. Follow how our innovations affect agriculture and environmental science by joining our weekly newsfeed.

If you are a student interested in crop or soil sciences, investigate our undergraduate and graduate degree programs, including deep dives into our two soil degrees and turfgrass program. Then join us for a guided email tour of our department and university.  

Expanding our outstanding alumni network through teaching is just part of how we are growing the future. 

tractor mowing a field