Skip to main content

CALS Honors Extraordinary Alumni

Written by Colin Haley

Alumni, friends, faculty and staff of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences gathered on Sept. 8 to celebrate those being honored at the annual CALS Alumni Awards ceremony.

Cal Lewis and Johnny Wynne were honored as the 2017 Distinguished Alumni, joining a select group of prestigious recipients of years’ past. Also receiving awards at the event were 12 Outstanding Alumni and 12 Outstanding Young Alumni.

“The alumni we recognize tonight represent the fulfillment of the promise of our land-grant mission in academics, research and extension,” CALS Dean Richard Linton said in his opening remarks. “Their professional achievements and service to NC State and their communities exemplify the extraordinary possibility of achievement to our current students, who are our future alumni and leaders.”

The Distinguished Alumni Awards are given each year to recognize the stellar achievements of the college’s outstanding graduates and their ongoing commitment to giving back to NC State University.

Cal Lewis’s roots are set in North Carolina agriculture. “Whether it be a successful farming operation or crop diversification program, Lewis has rekindled the energy in North Carolina agriculture,” said Sara Lane, CALS career services coordinator, who introduced Lewis at the event.

Following in his father’s footsteps, Lewis graduated from NC State in 1977 with a bachelor’s degree in horticultural science and began working in the soil fumigation business. While cultivating a successful business he became the executive vice president of TriEst Ag, where he serves today.

Lewis also began a program that cultivated numerous crops at the same time and eventually led to the development of a winter crop production that allowed for multi-season growth. He is no stranger to working with NC State, as the Lewis family introduced plasticulture to initiate a rebirth of commercial strawberry production with the support of the NC State horticultural science department.

“This award honors Cal’s achievements in the agriculture industry and his passion for innovation,” Lane said.

Former CALS Dean Johnny C. Wynne was honored as a Distinguished Alumnus for his lifetime achievements and role in shaping the college.

A North Carolina native, Wynne earned all three of his crop science degrees from CALS: bachelor’s in 1965, master’s in 1968 and doctoral in 1974. He became a world-renowned and prolific peanut breeder, and in 1989 was named head of the crop science department. Wynne then was promoted to associate dean and director of the North Carolina Agricultural Research Service. In that position, he guided research efforts covering multiple agricultural and environmental topics and began to make significant steps in the emerging biological sciences studies.

Starting his tenure as dean of the college in 2004, Wynne made huge strides in funding that led to the planning and development of the Lake Wheeler Field Lab facilities and advocated for youth leadership programs such as 4-H and FFA, as well as using the Cooperative Extension platform to raise awareness of national obesity issues.

“Under Johnny’s leadership, college programs began to diversify and see faculty with expertise in new studies to advance NC State’s agriculture profile,” Lane said at the event.

Wynne retired in 2012. “His lifetime achievements and advancements for CALS and NC State will always be remembered and honored,” Lane said.

In addition to Lewis and Wynne, the following alumni were honored at the event:

2017 CALS Outstanding Alumni

  • Bryan Blinson, Department of Animal Science
    Executive Director, North Carolina Cattlemen’s Association
  • Larry Coats, Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering
    Partner, Coats & Bennett, PLLC
  • Curt Emenhiser, Department of Food, Bioprocessing and Nutrition Sciences
    Vice President – Site Operations, Nestle
  • Gabriele Gusmini, Department of Horticultural Science
    R&D Director – Crop Improvement, PepsiCo
  • Joe Hampton, Prestage Department of Poultry Science
    Co-Owner, Back Creek Angus
  • Joy Hicks, Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics
    Director of Legislative and Governmental Affairs, N.C. Department of Transportation
  • Brian Jennings, Agricultural Institute
    Co-Owner, B&S Enterprises, Inc.
  • James Noah, Department of Structural and Molecular Biochemistry
    Senior Research Analyst, Peraton
  • Gary Payne, Department of Crop and Soil Sciences
    William Neal Reynolds Distinguished Professor, NC State University
  • John Richardson, Department of Agricultural and Human Sciences
    Retired NC State Faculty
  • Amy Scheck, Department of Entomology and Plant Pathology
    Dean of Science, N.C. School of Science & Mathematics
  • Clyde Sorenson, Department of Entomology and Plant Pathology
    Alumni Association Distinguished Undergraduate Professor, NC State University

2017 CALS Outstanding Young Alumni

  • Ashley Collins, Department of Agricultural and Human Sciences
    Director of Collegiate Relations, Agriculture Future of America
  • Jeremy Crisp, Department of Agricultural and Human Sciences
    Program Manager, Kids Included Together
  • Nicholas Dupree, Agricultural Institute
    Owner/Operator, Dupree Farms
  • Carl Hollifield, Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics
    Assistant Director, NC State
  • Matthew Jones, Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering
    Senior Associate, Hazen and Sawyer
  • Helen Joyner, Department of Food, Bioprocessing and Nutrition Science
    Assistant Professor, University of Idaho
  • James Kerns, Department of Entomology and Plant Pathology
    Associate Professor and Extension Specialist, NC State
  • Jeremy Pittman, Department of Animal Science
    Veterinarian, Smithfield Hog Production
  • Dana Sackett, Department of Applied Ecology
    Post Doctoral Researcher, Auburn University
  • Casey Theriot, Department of Plant and Microbial Biology
    Associate Professor, NC State
  • Tyler Whaley, Department of Crop and Soil Sciences
    Extension Agent, N.C. Cooperative Extension Service
  • Wesley Wilson, Prestage Department of Poultry Science
    President, Ag ProVision

This post was originally published in College of Agriculture and Life Sciences News.