IA announces 2021 award recipients

The Irrigation Association kicked off Smart Irrigation Month by announcing the recipients of its annual awards. These awards honor those who have made significant contributions to the irrigation industry, and each recipient recognized this year is a true changemaker who has made unique and meaningful accomplishments toward furthering the industry and promoting efficient irrigation. 

The video announcement of these awards will be posted on the IA’s YouTube channel, as well as on its social media. The recipients will also be featured guests in a webinar hosted by the IA this fall.

Angelo Mazzei is a recipient of the 2021 Industry Achievement Award. He is the chairman/CEO of Mazzei Injector Co. LLC. During his over 40-year career, Mazzei has not only built a successful company but also worked to create multiple innovative solutions to solve irrigation issues. Mazzei has received 20 patents throughout his career, including the Mazzei Injector in 1978, an innovation he crafted in his garage workshop. He has been deeply involved with projects at Fresno State’s Center for Irrigation Technology and helped establish its International Center for Water Technology.

Jackie Robbins, Ph.D., PE, CID, TSP, is a recipient of the 2021 Industry Achievement Award. Before retiring in 2020, he was the president and CEO of Irrigation-Mart Inc./Robbins Association. His career has included extensive teaching, research and consulting nationally and internationally, as well as starting a successful full-service microirrigation design and distribution company. He has dedicated significant time and energy to the IA, serving on the Certification Board, the Board of Directors and, most recently, the Standards and Codes Committee. He was heavily involved in the development of the certification program, helping create its initial structure and the supporting education programs.

Reece Andrews is 2021’s Innovator Award recipient. He is a product manager for Lindsay Corporation and has led the development of numerous industry-advancing technologies during his career. His work in developing remote pivot technologies has helped growers save water and reduce their fuel costs, labor, and wear and tear, while also reducing the carbon footprint. Andrews holds numerous patents for irrigation products, and two of the irrigation control systems he was directly responsible for were winners of the 2007 and 2014 IA New Product Contests. Most recently, he led the development of the FieldNET Pivot Watch universal pivot monitoring solution.

The 2021 Excellence in Education Award recipient is Florence Cassel Sharma, Ph.D., associate professor at California State University-Fresno and the assistant director of research at the Center for Irrigation Technology. Over the past 20 years, in addition to being a role model for female students, she has excelled in teaching, research, student advising and leadership skills that allow her to be a beacon for her students interested in pursuing a successful career in irrigation and water conservation. Cassel Sharma has also been highly involved in the IA’s workforce development programs, including presenting at the Faculty Academy events and participation in the E3 program.

The Citrus Under Protective Screen project has been named the recipient of the 2021 Vanguard Award. The CUPS project involved growing citrus under a protective screen structure in Dundee, Florida, in conjunction with precision irrigation and inputs to yield high-quality disease-free citrus while minimizing the use of water, fertilizer and pesticides. Using this relatively new, cutting-edge method to grow citrus required researching, designing and installing a highly technical, automated irrigation and control system to monitor weather and soil conditions and to deliver precise amounts of water and nutrients to every tree. The partners involved in this project include Agri Services International, Dundee Citrus Growers Association and Precision Citrus LLC.

The 2021 IA awards program is sponsored by Hunter | Senninger.