INDIANAPOLIS — An agricultural chemicals and transportation
specialist who developed an improved recertification program for pesticide
applicators and has helped thousands of farmers comply with regulations and
operate more profitably is the 2012 recipient of the Frederick L. Hovde Award of
Excellence in Educational Service to the Rural People of Indiana.
Fred Whitford, coordinator of Purdue Pesticide Programs,
received the award at the Indiana Farm Bureau convention in Indianapolis. The
award honors Purdue staff with a record of outstanding achievement and service
to rural communities.
“Fred’s work is a great example of putting science into
practice to help improve the lives and livelihoods of our stakeholders,” said
Jay Akridge, Purdue’s Glenn W. Sample Dean of Agriculture. “He is a nationally
recognized authority on agricultural transportation and pesticide regulatory
issues and a dynamic communicator who knows how to reach an audience.”
The award is sponsored by Indiana Farm Bureau and carries
with it a monetary prize. It is named for Purdue’s seventh president, who served
from 1946 to 1971.
In Whitford’s 21-year Purdue career, he has broadened the
scope and reach of Purdue Pesticide Programs. Working with the Office of the
Indiana State Chemist, Whitford expanded the state’s certification program for
pesticide applicators to include continued education along with licensing
The result was the Private Applicator Recertification
Program, which now also provides educational opportunities for those farmers who
apply manure and fertilizer.
Whitford has written or coauthored more than 200 Extension
and regulatory publications and research papers on a range of topics, including
transporting agricultural products, petroleum and chemical storage tanks, flood
planning and mitigation and farm retail customer service. He also has penned two
volumes on the history of Purdue Agriculture and Extension.
In addition to his writings, Whitford is a sought-after
speaker. He has addressed more than 4,000 audiences at agricultural conferences,
workshops, field days and other events. Whitford’s talks often are punctuated
with humor and visual aids.
“Fred is a prolific writer and one of the most engaging
speakers you’ll ever hear,” said Peter Goldsbrough, head of Purdue’s Department
of Botany and Plant Pathology, where Purdue Pesticide Programs is housed.
“He’s very adept at identifying the needs of the farming
community. He identifies those needs by talking to all the people he meets on a
regular basis. He then seeks out experts on those issues to help him write, edit
and review the materials he puts together.”
Whitford has collaborated on publications with government
and law enforcement agencies, pesticide manufacturers, agribusiness leaders, law
firms and fellow university specialists.
“Two of his most recent publications, Keep the Trailer
Connected to the Truck: Understanding the ‘Hitch’ System and The Tractor Hitch
Pin: A Critical Component in Keeping Control of Implements, were both eye
openers,” said Harry Pearson, former president of Indiana Farm Bureau.
“I always thought a ball hitch and a hitch pin were just
that, without realizing the liability that accompanied both if improperly sized
or used. His presentations on both were excellent.”
Michael Platt, executive director of the Indiana Pork
Producers Association, agreed.
“The quality of the training programs which Fred develops,
either for his own presentations or for use by others in Extension, is
unparalleled in the industry and explains why his trainings are so
Whitford serves on the board of the National Agronomic
Environmental Health and Safety School and the American Association of Pesticide
Safety Educators Association. He also is on the editorial board of the Journal
of Pesticide Safety Education.
Among his many awards, Whitford has been named the Mid
America CropLife Association Educator of the Year and received the Midwest
Regional Turf Foundation Award of Achievement and Indiana Arborist Association
Distinguished Service Award