2019 AgResearch Director’s Awards

UT AgResearch recently presented the Directors’ Awards to five employees who exhibit outstanding support service at our AgResearch and Education Centers.

Ryan Braddock, Research Associate, Ames Plantation
Braddock supervises the planting, maintenance, and harvest of more than 2,300 acres of row crops for production, as well as fifty additional acres for agronomic research.

“Ryan is very thorough in his job and in his decision-making process,” says Rick Carlisle, Center director at Ames Plantation. “He possesses an excellent work ethic, putting in long hours both weekdays and weekends to make sure the job gets done.”

Ames Plantation is probably best known as the home of the National Championship for Field Trialing Bird Dogs. Braddock is a big part of this event, starting with planting more than 250 feed plots and strips on the field trial course. He also helps maintain the horse herd. Leading up to the event, he marks the course and then rides as the head marshal, giving the dog handlers guidance on the course direction.

Brent England, Research Coordinator, Plateau AgResearch and Education Center
England is a research coordinator and is responsible for technical work involved in research areas at the Plateau AgResearch Center. He has held the position for five years, and Center director Walt Hitch says hiring England was a fantastic decision.

“Brent is extremely dependable and willing to take on most any task,” says Hitch. “He is a constant learner, reading and studying all he can about every project. His record-keeping is meticulous, and faculty members are always glad to have him work on their projects.”

Additionally, England often leads tours of the Center and speaks to visiting groups. He has become a regular speaker at the annual Fall Gardeners’ Festival held in August.

“I believe his work ethic, dedication, and desire to learn make him a model employee for UT AgResearch,” says Hitch.

Linda Long, Administrative Specialist, West Tennessee AgResearch and Education Center
In her role, Long is the go-to person for a variety of questions from human resource issues, to work schedules, to Center policies. She is also often the first point of contact for visitors and students. Center director Bob Hayes says Long excels at maintaining a positive attitude and treating others with respect.

“Linda goes out of her way to be cooperative with everyone and assist them in accomplishing their goals,” says Hayes. “Her pleasant attitude and exuberant personality are contagious. She provides outstanding support to the mission of [the Center], and is an extremely reliable and organized employee.”

Joe David Plunk, Research Associate, Middle Tennessee AgResearch and Education Center
As a research associate, Plunk facilitates the conduction of field and forage crop research. His duties include planting, fertilization, sampling, harvesting, and data collection. Coworkers describe him as a very dedicated employee with unquestionable integrity.

“Joe David is respected by everyone who knows him, but particularly by his work colleagues,” says Renata Nave Oakes, a faculty member who leads the forage research program at the Middle Tennessee AgResearch Center. “He is always prompt to collaborate, he is very competent with reporting on multiple simultaneous research projects, and he has a great personality, which makes him a great team player.”

Jason Reeves, Curator, UT Gardens, Jackson, West Tennessee AgResearch and Education Center
Center director Bob Hayes calls Reeves the “heart and soul” of the ornamental horticulture program at the West Tennessee AgResearch Center. Since Reeves began in 2002, the UT Gardens, Jackson, have grown to include a Certified Tennessee Arboretum, a Southeastern Regional Conifer Display Garden, and the distinction (along with sites in Knoxville and Crossville) of being the state’s official botanical garden.

Reeves also works closely with other UT Gardens sites to evaluate hundreds of ornamental plants. His evaluations are a great benefit to greenhouse and nursery producers, retailers, landscapers, and home gardeners.

“Jason is truly an outstanding employee with a work ethic and commitment unlike anyone I have known,” says Hayes. “His leadership has put our Gardens on the map, and we get visitors from all over the country. Jason is a tremendous ambassador for our university.”