Former Purdue University Soybean Specialist Receives High Honor

Award bestowed by leading seed organization in Indiana.

Published on: Mar 1, 2012

Anyone who grows soybeans has probably either heard or read something written by Ellsworth Christmas, the long-time Purdue University Extension specialist who spent the last 20 years of his career as Purdue’s soybean specialist. He did research on soybeans, and traveled the state, presenting meetings on various topics from planting date selection to how to make drilled soybeans work. He was the soybean specialist during the unprecedented move to narrow-row soybeans and the advent of Roundup Ready soybeans.

Christmas, now retired, was recently honored with the distinguished service award bestowed by the Indiana Crop Improvement Association. He served on ICIA’s soybean committee for 14 years. Besides his work with soybeans, he represented Purdue Extension on the Indiana State Soil Conservation Board for 25 years, and also served on the USDA State Technical Committee.

For a time, Christmas served in Purdue Administration as an assistant director in Extension. Later moving back to the field, he did research and extension work with canola as well as soybeans. He was on hand when the first wave of canola euphoria spread across the state some two decades ago. It proved to be ill-conceived and ahead of its time, but Christmas helped get the straight information about the crop out to farmers before they decided to invest in this new enterprise.

Also honored by ICIA were Mike McKillip of AgVenture/McxKillip Seeds, Wabash, and Mark Wenning of NextGene Seed, McKillip was awarded the group’s highest honor, the Crop and Soils award. Wenning received the same honor.

Mike McKillip and his company are strong supporters of the Indiana Crop Improvement Association, notes Alan Galbraith, CEO of ICIA. McKillip served previously on the Board of Directors for IUCIA and has served in various other capacities.

Wenning also served on the Board of Directors, including a term as president of the board. He has also served on various committees that help the group function smoothly.

Congratulations to all three men who have made a contribution to the seed industry and Indiana farmers.