Don B. Huntley College of Agriculture

College Announces 2016 Award Winners

Published Date: Apr 13, 2016 12:00:00 PM

College of Agriculture Logo

The College of Agriculture has chosen recipients for its year-end awards.

Agricultural science student Bret Timmons was named the 2016 John E. Andrews Undergraduate Student Leader of the Year. A Marine veteran, Timmons was one of two students who converted two cargo containers at AGRIscapes into hydroponic growing areas. He also serves as secretary of the Ag Council.

“Mr. Timmons is a role model to many students. He is willing to take on tasks without hesitation or selfish thinking,” a faculty member said in nominating Timmons. “Bret is always willing to share his knowledge with others, and I continually see him inviting other students to be a part of College of Agriculture activities. He has regularly offered his time in the summer for orientation which is not a part of any of his responsibilities as an Ag Council officer.”

The John E. Andrews Graduate Student Leader of the Year Award goes to Bec McDorman, who is earning her master’s degree this year in agriculture with a subplan in nutrition and food science. A fellow graduate student lauded McDorman for achieving high grades the past two years while balancing a schedule that includes work at a social media and marketing job, an internship, earning certification as a yoga instructor, serving as a leader in student clubs, and becoming a teaching assistant in the Nutrition Education Laboratory.

“All this is particularly impressive when taken into consideration the fact that she travels over an hour each way to school from South Orange County,” McDorman’s peer wrote. “I have personally overheard her students say that they appreciate her as an instructor and enjoy her class sessions. This experience has allowed her to consider a new-found career goal of becoming a professor. I believe that she is well suited for this career goal and that she will do well in a doctorate program as she hopes to do in the future.”

Tony Espinas, an equipment technician with the Department of Apparel Management & Merchandising, will receive the Staff of the Year Award. He is responsible for maintaining, repairing and operating an increasingly diverse array of sophisticated technical equipment that requires new and specialized skills. “He has always taken on these new challenges with great enthusiasm,” a group of faculty wrote.

Espinas also has provided assistance as safety officer, department photographer, and as a general troubleshooter, they wrote.

Assistant Professor Joanne Sohn was named Teacher of the Year for her tireless efforts in the Department of Animal and Veterinary Sciences to ensure that animal health science students succeed in becoming registered veterinary technologists.

“She happily takes the time to sit with individual students to discuss not only program requirements, course curriculum, and reaching graduation, but also future licensing requirements and career goals,” one student described. “Many of her weekends are spent hosting the Animal Health club AHSTA at skill-related events such as vaccine clinics and community outreach through the Amanda Foundation, a shelter animal welfare group with which she is involved.”

Professor Valerie Mellano, chair of the Department of Plant Science and the acting chair of the Department Agribusiness and Food Industry Management/Agricultural Science, is the Mack H. Kennington Advisor of the Year.

“Each meeting with Dr. Mellano is inspiring. Her past work experience has added detail to my career path that I had not considered,” a former student wrote. “An outstanding advisor shows interest in their students’ paths and helps make the connections between education and the ‘real world.’ Dr. Mellano has repeatedly shown her desire to guide students to a bright future.”

University President Soraya Coley and Provost Sylvia Alva will honor Mellano and other colleges’ advisors of the year at a reception on Thursday, May 12, at University Plaza.

The College of Agriculture will recognize all of its award recipients at Commencement on Sunday, June 12.