IA announces its 2022 award recipients

The Irrigation Association (IA) announced 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 change-maker who has made unique and meaningful accomplishments toward furthering the industry and promoting efficient irrigation. The 2022 IA awards program is sponsored by Hunter Industries. The recipients will be honored during the 2022 Irrigation Show and Education Week in Las Vegas December 5-9, 2022.

Industry Achievement Award

The Industry Achievement Award was established in 1966 and honors an individual whose career demonstrates outstanding contributions to the advancement of the irrigation industry.

Jack Buzzard is the recipient of the 2022 Industry Achievement Award. He retired from Rain Bird in 2006 after a 40-year career with the company. As vice president and director of the Rain Bird International Strategic Business Unit, Buzzard lived and worked in France, introducing Europe, and later parts of South America, to the concept of total, complete automatic irrigation systems as we know them today. Buzzard’s visionary, global approach and his steadfast support of training set the standard for other businesses to follow. His future-forward focus introduced irrigation into areas of the world that truly needed a faster, more efficient way to keep crops and landscapes healthy with less water. He has been a long-time supporter of the IA and served as the president in 1995.

Excellence in Education Award

The Excellence in Education Award recognizes an outstanding educator who is actively teaching or has formerly taught irrigation, water management and/or water conservation. This year, the IA is presenting two individuals with the Excellence in Education Award.

Charlie Abee, CAIS, is a recipient of the 2022 Excellence in Education Award. He is an agriculture technology and irrigation professor at the College of the Sequoias in Tulare, California. Abee developed an irrigation training program at the College of the Sequoias from the ground up. Starting in 2017 with a basic water management course, he worked with local industry and California State University partners to create a program that meets the need for an entry-level technician, while also preparing and encouraging students to continue on to higher levels of education. Abee also serves on the IA Certification Board and regularly encourages his students to experience the industry through the IA’s E3 program.

Bradley Jakubowski is a recipient of the 2022 Excellence in Education Award. He is an instructor of plant and turfgrass science at Penn State University. When he joined Penn State in 2017, he began to transform theory-based turf science and landscape irrigation courses by redeveloping them, nearly from scratch, to incorporate both instructional theory and hands-on troubleshooting and design. Jakubowski has developed entire courses around irrigation, water management and water conservation. During the pandemic, he transformed his garage into an irrigation instruction studio, complete with multiple camera angles and staged irrigation equipment. He has attended and presented at the IA landscape Faculty Academy events and currently serves on the Faculty Academy Planning Committee.

Vanguard Award

The Vanguard Award honors an innovative irrigation project executed by a team of individuals, companies, organizations or other group entities.

The SDI-E: Subsurface Drip Irrigation for Dairy Effluent Water Application project has been named the recipient of the 2022 Vanguard Award. This project is an innovative subsurface drip irrigation system, which uses patented blending control technology to mix dairy effluent with freshwater to create a natural fertilizer blend for farmers. The SDI-E makes it economically possible for dairies to manage their manure in ways that boost water quality, conserve water supplies, keep their farms in line with regulatory mandates and protect their bottom line. The companies involved with this project include Netafim USA, De Jager Farms, Sustainable Conservation, Western United Dairies and McRee Farms.