Collins, Talley honored as 2014 CALS Distinguished Alumni

NC State University graduates William K. Collins and Windell L. Talley were named the 2014 College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Distinguished Alumni at the CALS Alumni Awards Reception and Ceremony, Sept. 5. Held at the University Club, the event kicked off the weekend of the 2014 CALS Tailgate at PNC Arena, prior to the NC State-Old Dominion football game and in conjunction with NC State’s Ag Day celebration. Also announced during the reception were CALS Outstanding Alumni Award winners, recipients of the Young Alumni Award and a Gamma Sigma Delta, Honor Society of Agriculture, alumni initiate.

Josh Starling, executive director of the N.C. FFA Foundation, served as emcee for the awards ceremony. Also participating were CALS Dean Rich Linton and Joy Hicks, president of the CALS Alumni and Friends Society.

Hicks told the group that there are more than 28,000 CALS alumni across the globe, “and tonight we honor a very prestigious few of these thousands of alumni. Tonight’s honorees showcase the impact that CALS alumni have on society.”

The 2014 Distinguished Alumni, Collins and Talley, received awards given for implementing progressive state, national or international programs; development of technology or a science; or other outstanding achievements in the field of agriculture.

Collins, who was raised on a farm in Vance County, earned his 1954 undergraduate degree in agronomy and his 1961 master’s degree in plant breeding from the College. After receiving his 1963 Ph.D. in crop breeding from Iowa State University,
Collins worked for R.J. Reynolds Tobacco as an agronomist. In 1966, he joined the faculty at NC State as an Extension specialist. In 1978, he was awarded the Philip Morris professorship. Between 1986 and 1994, Collins acted as associate head and then acting head of the CALS Department of Crop Science. During his academic career, he taught more than 1,000 students, authored a book about tobacco production that was published in five languages and named an “Honorary Tobacco Great.” After retiring in 1994, Collins became coordinator of the Tobacco Program at NC State. In 2005, he joined the CALS Advancement Office as senior director of development, raising funds for and managing the Agricultural Leadership Development Program, while continuing to steward the College’s relationship with the tobacco industry. Collins and his wife, Ann, are members of the W.C. Riddick Lifetime Giving Society and Pullen Giving Society. In 2014, Collins was instrumental in the creation of and fund raising for a $10+ million chair in his name supporting tobacco programs.

Talley of Stanfield earned his CALS bachelor’s degree in poultry science in 1963. Shortly thereafter, Talley and his wife, Judy, purchased 90 acres of farmland and began their operation, Talley Farms. They raised turkeys initially, later expanding the farm and adding a small feed mill. By 1969, the Talleys had been selected by the National Farm Bureau as one of three Outstanding Young Farm Couples. Over the years, the feed mill was modernized and expanded to produce more than 100,000 tons of feed. Later, the Talleys’ sons joined in the farm’s operation after receiving their own NC State degrees, and the farm grew again to include turkey, egg and meat production, as well as beef cattle and feed. Talley served two six-year terms on the N.C. Board of Agriculture, the Governor’s Task Force on Farm Economy and the Governor’s Farm Workers Council. He is a past president of the N.C. Turkey Federation, the Stanly County Farm Bureau and the Stanly Cattlemen’s Association. He served on the boards of the National Turkey Federation, the N.C. Agricultural Foundation, Wingate University, Stanly County Community College and the Stanly Memorial Hospital. In 2006, Talley was inducted into the N.C. Poultry Hall of Fame.

 The 2014 CALS Alumni Awards winners gather after the University Club reception and ceremony.
The 2014 CALS Alumni Awards winners gather after the University Club reception and ceremony.

CALS crop science graduate Dr. William H. Culpepper was honored as a 2014 Gamma Sigma Delta alumni initiate for his outstanding service to agriculture. A Nash County native, Culpepper is president and CEO of SePRO Corp., an Indiana-based aquatics and ornamental horticulture company he founded in 1993.

Following these presentations were the announcements of the Outstanding Alumni and Young Alumni awards to CALS graduates in recognition of excellence and achievement in their fields of expertise and in service to their communities:

Outstanding Alumni Award

  • Dr. Luis Felipe Arauz, Plant Pathology
  • Dr. Travis B. Burke, Agricultural and Extension Education
  • John Connors, Applied Ecology
  • Dr. Jonathan C. “Chad” Gore, Entomology
  • Dr. David Hardy, Soil Science
  • Dr. R. Daniel Lineberger, Horticultural Science
  • Dr. Jose Montejano-Gaitan, Food, Bioprocessing and Nutrition Sciences
  • Dr. Daniel Pomp, Animal Science
  • Bryant M. Spivey, Crop Science
  • Michael T. “Bo” Stone, Agricultural and Resource Economics
  • Dr. Kenneth R. Swartzel, Biological and Agricultural Engineering
  • Charlotte Vick, Agricultural Institute
  • Linwood “Lyn” Vick, Agricultural Institute
  • Lynn Worley-Davis, Prestage Department of Poultry Science

Young Alumni Award

  • Dr. Adrienne E. Crosier, Animal Science
  • Dr. Jack P. Davis, Food, Bioprocessing and Nutrition Science
  • Sonja T. Mitchell, Youth, Family and Community Sciences
  • James A. Simpson Jr., Crop Science
  • Wesley A. Wooten, Agricultural Institute

– Terri Leith


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