WASHINGTON, Mar. 6Agricultural Research Service (ARS) supervisory range scientist Kris M. Havstad and secretary Kathleen Parker have won the 2006 ARS Administrator's Equal Employment Opportunity and Civil Rights Award.
Havstad, research leader of the agency's Rangeland Management Research Unit near Las Cruces, New Mex., and Parker, with the ARS Root Disease and Biological Control Research Unit in Pullman, Wash., are being recognized for outstanding leadership and contributions to the agency's EEO and civil rights programs. ARS is the U.S. Department of Agriculture's chief scientific research agency.
"Dr. Havstad showed outstanding leadership in working with the Chihuahuan Desert Nature Park in advancing science education for students in the Las Cruces and El Paso, Texas, area," said ARS Administrator Edward B. Knipling, who presented the award to Havstad during a ceremony today at USDA headquarters here. Knipling noted that Havstad's contributions have increased the science proficiency scores of students, mostly Hispanic, by 10 percentage points.
As research leader, Havstad helped establish and run the Nature Park, a flagship program of the National Science Foundation's Long-Term Ecological Research Program. Each Long-Term site encompasses unique ecosystems around the world, with 26 in the United States.
Havstad established an easement on USDA land for the Nature Park and public use. Last year, the Nature Park served more than 14,000 students and 600 teachers. The program is built around more than 30 annual field trips to the Jornada Experimental Range where Nature Park and ARS staff provide hands-on science educational programs.
Havstad and several of his colleagues collectively donate over 500 hours each year to teach students and develop trails and educational materials and exhibits. The program's long-term goal is to provide educational outreach for ARS in science education programs throughout the southwestern United States.
Havstad earned a B.S. degree in range science in 1975 from Oregon State University at Corvallis, an M.S. in range science in 1977 from New Mexico State University, and a Ph.D. in range science in 1981 from Utah State University at Logan. The Society for Range Management recognized him as "Rangeman of the Year" in Montana in 1988 and in New Mexico in 1996, and in 1995 gave him a national award for outstanding achievement. In addition to receiving numerous ARS awards for outstanding performance, Havstad has been inducted into the Sam Steel Honor Society by New Mexico State University's College of Agriculture and Home Economics.
"Kathleen Parker also showed outstanding leadership," Knipling said, "in establishing a partnership between ARS and Native Americans in the Northwest. "This partnership is improving science education for students on the Colville Reservation in eastern Washington State as well as offering the reservation the possibility of energy independence. ARS now has a canola biodiesel trial on the 1.4 million acre reservation. The Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation could grow their own canola and make biodiesel to fuel their fleet of more than 140 logging trucks."
Knipling praised Parker as a "gifted mentor to students in the Unit. Her years as an assistant basketball coachamong her many other experienceshelped her develop the rare skills essential to leading and inspiring adults as well as students from diverse backgrounds. She is helped in this by many other skills, not least of which are her organizational abilities and ability to communicate."
Parker works to recruit undergraduate Native American science majors to work in her Unit. Ralph Young, a chemistry major in his junior year at Washington State University and a member of the Cowlitz tribe in Yakima, Washington, is now in his third year with ARS under a Student Temporary Employment Program, thanks to Parker's efforts. She also recruited a Colville student for a summer intern position in 2006. And she will have three students from a Washington State University Upward Bound program working at three ARS labs in Pullman this summer.
Parker has a lineage that traces back directly to Chief Quanah Parker, who led the last free Comanche tribe. The Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation have 8,700 descendants from 12 Bands, including Chief Joseph's Band, the Nez Perce.
Parker earned a B.S. degree in kinesiology, with a minor in psychology, in 1992 from the University of North Texas at Denton and an M.S. in sports administration from Indiana University at Bloomington in 1994. She is a former college assistant basketball coach.
Earlier this year, Parker received an ARS Pacific West Area EEO/Civil Rights Award.