A professor of horticulture and state extension commercial fruit specialist has been honored with the 2014 Outstanding Faculty Award by College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls. Brian Smith was recognized during the group’s recent annual awards banquet. It’s the highest award bestowed upon a faculty member in the college.
The awardee is also honored nationally with the Teaching Award of Merit from the North American Colleges and Teachers of Agriculture in recognition of meritorious efforts in college teaching.
Since arriving at UW-RF in 1988, Smith has held a split appointment: 67 percent teaching in the horticulture program and 33 percent Cooperative Extension to support commercial fruit growers in the state. Over the years, he has taught eight different horticulture courses, including a general education course he co-developed, ‘Plants and Society.’ He has an active fruit research program and engages students in his work, teaching them the methodology of research.
Smith’s fruit research program focuses on the development and evaluation of new fruit cultivars hardy enough for the upper Midwest. Smith is a co-developer on seven patented raspberry cultivars, the sole breeder of the BlackIce plum, and has several strawberry, plum, and apricot selections in the plant patent pipeline. He has also initiated an Aronia melanocarpa (chokeberry) breeding program. Aronia is native to Wisconsin and is a new fruit crop for the state. His research work has attracted nearly $900,000 in extramural funding over the years.
As an extension specialist, Smith develops and delivers educational and research presentations to a diverse client base including growers, master gardeners and extension colleagues.