OSU college honors nine from Benton County as 2007 Diamond Pioneers

October 19, 2007

CORVALLIS, Ore. - Oregon State University scientists, teachers and Extension staff members are among the 38 men and women honored as 2007 Diamond Pioneers October 17 by the OSU College of Agricultural Sciences.

Those added to the college’s Diamond Pioneer Agricultural Achievement Registry for 2007 are Thomas Allen, Jr., Larry Boersma, Kenton L. Chambers, Robert L. Stebbins, Benno Warkentin, J. Lowell Young and Tom Zinn, all of Corvallis, and Thomas Bedell and Gene Newcomb, both of Philomath.

The registry, now in its 24th year, was started to honor accomplishments in agriculture and related fields and their communities by those 74 and older. The 2007 Diamond Pioneers will be guests of honor Wednesday at a luncheon hosted by Dean of Agriculture Thayne Dutson.

Thomas Allen was a member of the botany and plant pathology department from 1962 to 1991. He was cited particularly for his research on lilies that resulted in the development of the world’s first virus-free colored lilies in 1974. Also a professional artist, Allen was named the college’s first artist-in-residence in 1986. He coordinated the first Art About Agriculture art exhibit in 1983.

Larry Boersma is renown for his work with water and soils in the OSU soil science department. He specialized in managing soil water, the physical properties of Oregon soils and biochemistry of water uptake by plants. He worked on problems of agricultural production on upper Willamette Valley soils as part of his research program.

Kenton Chambers joined the OSU botany and plant pathology department in 1960, retiring in 1990. He joined the department as an associate professor and curator of the OSU Herbarium. Cited as an outstanding teacher and taxonomist, Chambers has continued to publish after retirement. In 2006, he was one of 100 members of the Botanical Society of America to receive the society’s Centennial award for outstanding service to the plant sciences and the society.

Robert L. Stebbins, a retired Extension tree fruit specialist, was in the Department of Horticulture from 1978 until his retirement in 1992. He worked with tree fruit and nut growers on production problems and new growing methods. He also coordinated programs in Washington and Idaho. Active in numerous horticultural societies, his work has been honored by the Oregon Horticultural Society and the American Society for Horticulture. After retirement, he served as president of Brooklane Specialty Apples in Corvallis until 2005.

Benno Warkentin came to OSU in 1978 as head of the soil science department, a position he held until 1989, when he became head of the OSU Water Resources Institute. Retiring in 1993, Warkentin was an active member and officer of numerous scientific organizations. He is editor of the book, Footprints in Soil - People and Ideas in Soil History, published in 2006.

J. Lowell Young followed a career in soil chemistry. He came to Corvallis and the OSU campus as a scientist with the Agricultural Research Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Some 30 years ago, Young led in the early recognition of nutrient and soil losses from erosion in Willamette Valley cropland. These efforts started studies in non-point or diffuse pollution of water in agricultural watersheds.

Tom Zinn was one of Oregon’s delegates in the International Farm Youth Exchange (IFYE) program when he went to Iran in 1956. In 1962 he first joined the OSU Extension Service as an Extension agent in Columbia County. Later he joined the OSU Wheat Research Team in Turkey from 1970 to 1975. He then served as an Extension agent in Gilliam and Wasco counties before his appointment as an Extension area supervisor in 1980. He held the title of Extension associate director when he retired in 1993.

Thomas Bedell served as a teacher, researcher, Extension agent and specialist during his tenure at OSU from 1969 until his retirement in 1992. He began his Extension work in California and Wyoming. In Oregon, he was an Extension agent in Polk County before becoming Extension rangeland management specialist on campus. He served on numerous regional, national and international range management task forces and also served as an international consultant in north Africa, Italy, New Zealand and France. He continues conservation work to this day.

Gene Newcomb came to OSU in botany and plant pathology in 1976, retiring in 1996. A research associate, he concentrated on assaying plants and soils for nematodes in the Extension nematology program and as part of the OSU Plant Clinic. He has continued to work as a volunteer in the clinic for the past 11 years. He also supports the Oregon Flora Project, which seeks to map all native and exotic Oregon plants and volunteers at the First Alternative Coop.

Others honored as 2007 Diamond Pioneers are Don Bennett and Doug Bennett, Echo; Henry Turk, Grants Pass; John Leffel, Hillsboro; W. L. Andersen, Independence; Doug and Janie Tippett, Joseph; Cleve and Ellie Dumdi, Junction City; Frank King and Eddie Meeker, Klamath Falls; Arleigh Isley, LaGrande; Louise Grothe and Neil (C.J.) Taylor, Lakeview; Don Denman, Medford; Everett Seagoe, Merlin; James D. Wilson, Monmouth.

Tom Uriu, Ontario; William and Donna McCormack, Prineville; Robert Huckfeldt, Redmond; Betty Jo Smith, Shedd; Lawrence Fisher, Sublimity; Art and Marjorie Van Gilder, Wasco; Bill Bennett, Connell, Washington; Fred Hagelstein, Vancouver, Washington; Ellington Peek, Cottonwood, California; and William Kittredge, Missoula, Montana.

Author: Len Calvert
Source: Loretta Austin