Don B. Huntley College of Agriculture

College Awards

The Don B. Huntley College of Agriculture presents a number of awards annually.

The Jim Hicks Agricultural Award is given to an individual in recognition of their achievements in agriculture and their contributions to agricultural education. It is named after businessman Jim Hicks, who was the inaugural recipient of the award in 2015, in honor of his achievements in the agricultural industry and his long-time support of agriculture education. The award is presented at the college's Spring Harvest dinner. To nominate a candidate, please submit the information by Sept. 1 to the dean's office at agdean@cpp.edu or c/o The Don B. Huntley College of Agriculture, 3801 West Temple Ave., Pomona, CA 91768.

Every year, the Cal Poly Pomona Alumni Association presents the Distinguished Alumni Awards. One alumnus from each college and athletics are chosen for the honor. The criteria include:

  • outstanding achievement in a profession or a vocation
  • service to a local, national or global community
  • service to Cal Poly Pomona
  • nominees must have graduated from Cal Poly Pomona or the Voorhis campus
  • recipients can only receive the award once
  • current faculty and staff and members of the alumni association's board of directors are ineligible.
To nominate an alumnus from the Don B. Huntley College of Agriculture, please submit the information by Oct. 1 to the dean's office at agdean@cpp.edu or c/o The Don B. Huntley College of Agriculture, 3801 West Temple Ave., Pomona, CA 91768.

In addition, the college solicits nominations and selects honorees for the following awards:

  • The Mack H. Kennington Advisor of the Year Award: is given to the advisor who does the best quality work in advising students on academics and their career plans. Honorees will receive a $500 cash award and certificate during the College of Agriculture's commencement ceremony in June. The university president also hosts an event where outstanding advisors are honored during the spring quarter. The honoree's name will be in inscribed on a permanent plaque displayed in the College of Agriculture.
  • The Teacher of the Year Award: given to the teacher who demonstrates, caring, the ability to managing the learning process, subject matter competence, zeal for teaching, and scholarly writings, development of new curriculum or other teaching materials or other contributions. The honorees will receive a plaque and a $500 cash award at commencement. 
  • The Julian A. McPhee Outstanding Student Scholar Award: this award is traditionally presented to the college valedictorian at commencement.
  • The John E. Andrews Student Leader of the Year Award: is given to an undergraduate and graduate student for scholarship, service, and contributions to others, including fellow students, their departments, the food and agricultural industry and community. Faculty, staff and fellow students can make nominations.
  • The Staff of the Year Award: given to a staff member who demonstrates caring, good communication skills, initiative, the ability to assist with the learning process and contributions to a department, the college or university. Recipients will be honored at commencement and given a $500 cash award.

2017-18 Awardees

Jim Hicks Agricultural Achievement Award

Rose Epperson
Rose Epperson

Orange County arborist and businesswoman Rose Epperson was the 2018 recipient of the Jim Hicks Agricultural Achievement Award.

Epperson is a certified arborist with more than 35 years’ experience in tree care and is a principal in Anaheim-based West Coast Arborists. She is also a prominent figure in arborist industry organizations.

Epperson created Epicenter Management in an effort to bring tree care industry associations together. The company manages the Western Chapter International Society of Arboriculture (ISA), the Society of Commercial Arboriculture, and a handful of other green industry associations. 

She also is the current executive director and a past president of the Western Chapter ISA. Epperson established the chapter’s John Britton Memorial Fund as a separate nonprofit organization known as The Britton Fund Inc. to promote research and educational opportunities that advance arboriculture in California, Arizona, Nevada, and Hawaii.

Epperson is a member of the California Urban Forest Council’s policy council and a past president and current board member of California ReLeaf, a nonprofit organization that aims to preserve and protect urban and community forests. She is also a member of the TREE Fund’s Heritage Oak Society.

Distinguished Alumni Award for the Don B. Huntley College of Agriculture

Brett Chandler
Brett Chandler

Brett Chandler is president and general manager of Associates Insectary, a grower-owned cooperative based in Santa Paula, focused on providing grower-members with premium quality integrated pest management services. In operation since 1928, Associates Insectary is the oldest commercial insectary in the United States.

Chandler arrived at the profession through a circuitous route that started in biology and eventually led to pest control. Chandler earned a bachelor’s degree in agricultural biology from Cal Poly Pomona in 1986. A highlight of his career was being named to lead Associates Insectary in 2001; he is only the fifth person to hold the post in 90 years.

Chandler and his wife, Coleen, whom he met when both were students at Cal Poly Pomona, have been married for 30 years. They have two sons: Sean, 24, an Air Force Special Operations pilot stationed in Florida and graduate of UC San Diego, and James, 17, a junior at Fillmore High School, who is interested in majoring in engineering at Cal Poly Pomona. 

Mack H. Kennington Advisor of the Year Award

Cord Brundage
Cord Brundage

Cord Brundage, an assistant professor in the Department of Animal & Veterinary Sciences, is the Mack H. Kennington Advisor of the Year honoree, given to the advisor who does the best quality work in advising students on academics and their career plans.

Colleagues and students cited Brundage’s role as a mentor and advisor on participating in research projects and conferences, applying to veterinary schools, and pursuing potential careers. 

“There is frequently a line outside his door with students eager for his advice,” one wrote about Brundage. “He has been most patient with the semester conversion issues, and I have heard him work with students in order for them to maximize their class schedules.”

Teacher of the Year Award

Olive Li
Olive Li

Olive Li, an associate professor in the Department of Human Nutrition & Food Sciences, was selected for the Teacher of the Year Award, which is given to the instructor who demonstrates caring, the ability to manage the learning process, subject matter competence, zeal for teaching, scholarly writings, development of new curriculum or teaching materials or other contributions.

Students lauded Li for her passion for teaching, seeking student feedback during the course, and giving specific examples of how course material is applied in real-world settings.

“Dr. Li is a very passionate and capable professor, always trying to engage her students to see how she can change the curriculum and the teaching-learning style to benefit her students,” one student wrote in nominating Li. “She is very caring, providing not only innumerable opportunities to her students, but also life and academic advice.”

Julian A. McPhee Award

Rose Gabrielle Mendez
Rose Gabrielle Mendez

Rose Gabrielle Mendez was chosen as the winner of the 2017 Julian A. McPhee Award given to the valedictorian of the graduating class.

John E. Andrews Undergraduate Student Leader of the Year

Joseph Wolf
Joseph Wolf

Plant science major Joseph Wolf was the undergraduate student leader of the year. He served as president of the Agricultural Biology Club, where he expanded the club’s mission to a broader ecological focus and recruited 13 executive board officers and more than 40 members from across campus. He also led the students in raising nearly $13,000 from events such as the Insect Fair.

In 2016-17, Wolf was selected as one of 12 Regenerative Communities Program Fellows through the John T. Lyle Center for Regenerative Studies. The program addresses the achievement gap between low-income and higher-income groups by encouraging pathways to higher education for underrepresented students, addressing environmental challenges in communities, and developing university-primary school partnerships.

“Joseph volunteers to speak to entering freshmen in AG 101 classes about the importance of campus involvement, presentations that several students have called inspirational,” a professor wrote in a nominating form.

John E. Andrews Graduate Student Leader of the Year

Oscar Del Real
Oscar Del Real

Oscar Del Real was chosen as the graduate student leader of the year. He is a second-year graduate student in plant science who also works with the grounds crew at Dodgers Stadium. He was instrumental in founding the Cal Poly Pomona chapter of Minorities in Agriculture, Natural Resources, and the Related Sciences (MANRRS). He worked with other students to raise money to attend MANRRS conferences by growing sunflowers at Spadra Farm to sell. They raised more than $6,000 – enough to send 11 students to the national conference in Pittsburgh and 14 to the regional conference at UC Davis.

Del Real also works as a teaching assistant for the plant science department’s plant pathology course.

“Students describe Oscar’s teaching style as confident, determined, and knowledgeable,” one professor wrote. “They view Oscar as a role model largely because he maintains so many roles (teacher, volunteer, employee) but never appears to be anything but upbeat, positive, and calm.”

Outstanding Staff of the Year

Eva Jäger
Eva Jäger

Animal Health Technologist Eva Jäger received the Staff of the Year Award. A registered veterinary technologist, Jäger works with students in the Department of Animal & Veterinary Sciences, assisting in labs and classes, scheduling surgeries, ordering inventory, and teaching the students.

Her colleagues praised her for her organization, dependability, expertise, and helpful attitude. Those traits were on display during the animal health science program’s preparation for an accreditation visit.

“Eva took the reins on a project to ensure that our clinic in Building 29, laboratory classroom in Building 67, and storage areas were tidy and organized, with all materials clearly labeled,” one wrote on a nominating form. “This was a huge undertaking that took many months. Her leadership ensured that even the smallest detail was not missed by the team of faculty and students.”

Previous Award Recipients

2016-17 Awardees (read 2017 AGRIcolumn)

Jim Hicks Agricultural Achievement Award: A.G. Kawamura and George Soares
Distinguished Alumni Lifetime Achievement Award: W.B. "Butch" Lindley ('67, agronomy)
Distinguished Alumnus: Richard Frencer ('67 agronomy)
Julian A. McPhee Award: Ellen Tang, Foods & Nutrition
John E. Andrews Undergraduate Student Leader of the Year: Branden Garner, Agribusiness & Food Industry Management
John E. Andrews Graduate Student Leader of the Year: Andy Reynaga, Human Nutrition & Food Science
Teacher of the Year: Assistant Professor Gabriel Davidov-Pardo, Human Nutrition & Food Science
Mack H. Kennington Advisor of the Year: Professor Bonny Burns Whitmore, (Human Nutrition & Food Science
Staff of the Year: Frances Loya, Human Nutrition & Food Science 

2015-16 Awardees (read 2016 AGRIcolumn)

Jim Hicks Agricultural Achievement Award: Karen Caplan
Alumna of the Year: Tony & Sue Godfrey
Julian A. McPhee Award: Scott Rosas, Foods & Nutrition
John E. Andrews Undergraduate Student Leader of the Year: Brett Timmons, Agricultural Science
John E. Andrews Graduate Student Leader of the Year; Bec McDorman, Agricultural Science, nutrition and food science subplan
Teacher of the Year: Joanne Sohn, Animal & Veterinary Sciences
Mack H. Kennington Advisor of the Year: Valerie Mellano, Agribusiness & Food Industry Management/Agricultural Science, Plant Science
Staff of the Year: Tony Espinas, Apparel Merchandising & Management

2014-15 Awardees (read 2015 AGRIcolumn)

Agricultural Achievement Award: Jim Hicks
Alumna of the Year: Teresa Becker, AMM
Julian A. McPhee Award: Michaiah J. Leal, Animal & Veterinary Sciences
Julian A. McPhee Award: Madeleine E. Gross, Foods & Nutrition
John E. Andrews Undergraduate Student Leader of the Year: Aasta Yim, Agribusiness & Food Industry Management
Teacher of the Year: Melissa Hulgreen, Animal & Veterinary Sciences
Mack H. Kennington Advisor of the Year: Broc Sandelin, Animal & Veterinary Sciences
Staff of the Year: Sarah DeLaParra, Animal & Veterinary Sciences

2013-14 Awardees (read 2014 AGRInotes)

Provost's Awards for Excellence, Excellence in Service: Dan Hostetler, Plant Sciences
Student Scholar: DawnKylee Klarich, Foods & Nutrition
John E. Andrews Undergraduate Student Leader of the Year: John Bennett, Plant Science
John E. Andrews Graduate Student Leader of the Year: Nanette Ros, Agriculture
Teacher of the Year: Terrance Fujimoto, Plant Science
Mack H. Kennington Advisor of the Year: Michele Rash, Animal & Veterinary Sciences 
Staff of the Year:
Duncan McKee, Plant Science

2012-13 Awardees (read 2013 AGRIcolumn)

Student Scholar: Rachel Broguiere, Apparel Merchandising & Management
John E. Andrews Student Leader of the Year: Rana Saldano, Foods and Nutrition
Teacher of the Year: Kimberly Miller, Agriculture Science
Mack H. Kennington Advisor of the Year: Lisa Kessler, Foods & Nutrition
Staff of the Year: Donna Ha, Human Nutrition & Food Science

2011-12 Awardees (read 2012 AGRIcolumn)

Student Scholar: Samantha Hammergren, Animal Health Science and Jessica Moody, Foods and Nutrition 
John E. Andrews Student Leader of the Year: Andy Tuy, Food Science 
Teacher of the Year: Oscar Chavez, Animal Health Science 
Mack H. Kennington Advisor of the Year: Nancy Merlino, Ag Business Management 
Staff of the Year: Kate Smith, Arabian Horse Center