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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Short Biography

Wes Jackson
Updated September 2011

Wes Jackson, President of The Land Institute, was born in 1936 on a farm near Topeka, Kansas. After attending Kansas Wesleyan (B.A Biology, 1958), he studied botany (M.A. University of Kansas, 1960) and genetics (Ph.D. North Carolina State University, 1967). He was a professor of biology at Kansas Wesleyan and later established the Environmental Studies department at California State University, Sacramento, where he became a tenured full professor. He resigned that position in 1976 to found The Land Institute.

Dr. Jackson's writings include both papers and books. His most recent works are Nature as Measure (2011) and Consulting the Genius of the Place: An Ecological Approach to a New Agriculture (2010). Becoming Native to This Place, 1994, sketches his vision for the resettlement of America's rural communities. New Roots for Agriculture, 1980, outlines the basis for the agricultural research at The Land Institute.

The work of The Land Institute has been featured extensively in the popular media including The Atlantic Monthly, Audubon, National Geographic, Time Magazine, The MacNeil-Lehrer News Hour, and National Public Radio's "All Things Considered." In the November 2005 issue, Smithsonian named him one of "35 Who Made a Difference" and in March, 2009 Wes was included in Rolling Stone's "100 Agents of Change."

Wes Jackson is a recipient of the Pew Conservation Scholars award (1990), a MacArthur Fellowship (1992), Right Livelihood Award (Stockholm), known as "Alternative Nobel Prize" (2000), and the Louis Bromfield Award (2010). He has received four honorary doctorates and in 2007 received the University of Kansas Distinguished Service Award.


Last Modified: 9/30/2011