2020 Distinguished Alumni Award Recipients

Jeffrey Dickinson

2020 Distinguished Alumni Award recipient

BS 1981, MS 1982, PhD 1995 Horticulture, Horticulture, Entomology

Jeffrey is known as an advocate for children’s agricultural and environmental education, and he is dedicated to educational programs that are hands-on and experimental. Having served since 1991 as the executive director/farm manager at Stratford Ecological Center in Delaware, Ohio, Jeffrey helps educate over 8,000 children annually.

As one of Stratford’s founding members, Jeffrey has been integral to the establishment of the organization within the community. He has been at Stratford from the start, and for nearly 30 years, he has continuously elevated Stratford’s educational programs.

Prior to his time at Stratford, Jeffrey devoted his skills at Innovative Farmers of Ohio, where he led the Ohio Working Group for Whole-Farm Planning, working in farm-tour development and fundraising. He has also worked with the CFAES Department of Entomology’s Sustainable Agriculture/Soil Ecology Program to conduct on-farm research, and he has served as horticultural director at Meadowcreek, Inc., in Fox, Arkansas.

These experiences have led to what Jeffrey calls his most significant contribution to the community: his nearly 30-year commitment to the collaborative development of Stratford.

Elizabeth Guertal

2020 Distinguished Alumni Award

BS 1984, MS 1988 Agronomy

Beth has had an accomplished career in crop and soil science, and she is a great example of the contribution of women in agriculture.

She began her career at Auburn University, where she has conducted research and taught on the subject of soil fertility with a particular focus on turfgrass management. Today, Beth is one of very few women who work in turfgrass science, and she is regarded as an expert in speaking to golf course superintendents and sports field managers around the world.

Beth has held many impressive positions in her career. Specifically, she is the first woman to have the role of editor-in-chief for the American Society of Agronomy. She was also elected chair of the Crop Science Society of America’s Turfgrass Division, and currently, she is the president of the Crop Science Society of America. Beth is a tri-fellow of her research societies, a multiple-fellow honor obtained by only 140 scientists in the United States.

Her biggest contribution to the agronomy community, she believes, is the education and career readiness that she teaches her undergraduate students. Her colleagues at Auburn University agree; she received the university’s highest teaching award, the Leischuck Award, in 2010.

Robert Joseph

2020 Distinguished Alumni Award recipient

BS 1968, MS 1970, PhD 1975 Horticulture

A strong supporter of 4-H programming, Bob has served as major gifts chair and president on The Ohio 4-H Foundation Board. He is currently an ex-officio board member and supports 4-H in every way that he can.

Bob has been active in multiple Ohio State alumni groups, including the CFAES Alumni Society Board and the Ohio State Board of Trustees’ Army ROTC Alumni Association. He has also worked diligently with the Alpha Zeta fraternity, now known as Alpha Zeta Partners. He can be found at area nursing homes, the Ohio State Fair, and CFAES events as a member of the Scioto Ridge Boys Gospel Quartet.

Professionally, Bob worked for 28 years in Abbott Laboratories’ nutrition division. He developed adult nutritional products including milk-protein-based beverages, powders, and bars. He holds 10 patents for food-based products, and he is to thank for the technology that helps scan entire pallets of packaged products such as Similac for spoilage before shipment.

Bob is a U.S. Army veteran, having retired after 26 years of service from 1970 to 1996. He served as a U.S. Army Reserve officer in Columbus, Ohio, and as a U.S. Army officer/ instructor and food adviser in Fort Lee, Virginia.

Bruce Kettler

2020 Distinguished Alumni Award recipient

BS 1987 Agronomy

Bruce’s passion for agriculture started from an early age in western Ohio, where he was a member of Ohio 4-H and served as the Ohio FFA president as well as the National FFA vice president.

Bruce has a 30-year career in agricultural leadership, serving in positions ranging from production to community and industry relations. His work at Beck’s Hybrid has been integral to the relationship between Beck’s and CFAES. His work created a $1 million commitment from Beck’s to support the college’s water quality efforts and Farm Science Review. A fervent supporter of CFAES, Bruce’s dedication to Ohio State stretches beyond the college. Specifically, he has served since 2015 as the CFAES representative on Ohio State’s Alumni Advisory Council.

His agricultural service also reaches to Indiana, where he graduated in 2012 from the Indiana Agricultural Leadership Program. Bruce is a current board member of AgriNovus Indiana, and since January 2018, he has served as the director of the Indiana State Department of Agriculture.

According to Bruce, his most significant contribution to the greater agricultural community has been “an improved understanding and advancement of agriculture’s promise, economic potential, and societal benefits to new and traditional audiences throughout the Midwest, the United States, and the world.”

Lou Kozma Jr.

2020 Distinguished Alumni Award recipient

BS 1992 Horticulture

Hard work and tradition go hand in hand for Lou. He is a fourth-generation family member of Hirzel Canning Company & Farms in Luckey, Ohio.

As the current president of Hirzel Farms, Lou supervises 30 tomato farms in Northwest Ohio and Southeast Michigan, and he works with 300 acres of trial varieties of tomatoes every year, looking at new planting methods and plant nutrition.

Because of his horticulture education, Lou has been able to implement sustainable farming practices at the farms he manages. Specifically, the growers who Lou manages are giving back more to the soil than they are taking from it, and they are focusing on maintaining healthy soil, managing water, developing biodiversity, and composting.

Lou collaborates on critical components in food safety with CFAES’ Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center, Ohio State University Extension, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service. This collaborative energy is at the heart of Lou’s career, and it is how he continues to advance a company that has been part of his family for nearly 100 years. In his words, his work is about “establishing strong connections—between and within—the organic and vegetable crop production, growers, processors, researchers, and Extension.”

David Richards

2020 Distinguished Alumni Award recipient

ASC 1981 Nursery Management Technology

Dave is a strong supporter of Ohio State ATI and has been an instructor in horticulture at Auburn Career Center in Painesville, Ohio, for over 20 years. Experiential learning is a focus of his teaching strategy, and he incorporates many different forms of hands-on education into his student lessons.

To help prepare students for what will be expected of them in the industry, Dave has worked to change Ohio FFA’s testing to be similar to the professional certifications in Ohio’s nursery and landscape industry. He continues to work with Ohio FFA and National FFA to offer apprenticeship programs in which students can participate.

One of the highlights of his experiential teaching strategies is a display at Cleveland’s Great Big Home + Garden Show where, with Dave’s leadership, students create a competition-level garden that is 1,600 square feet.

In his words, Dave’s greatest contribution to the landscape industry is “a passion for excellence in all endeavors both personally and for my students. I am particularly proud of the partnerships developed with business and industry which led to aligning classroom/ lab curriculum with industry certification credentials.” It is through his students that Dave’s legacy will live on.