Five graduates of the University of Delaware College of Agriculture and Natural Resources (CANR) were presented with honors — the George M. Worrilow Award as well as three Distinguished Alumni Awards and a Distinguished Young Alumni Award — during a ceremony held Friday, Oct. 17, as part of Homecoming festivities.
The awards are given based on a clear record of outstanding career accomplishments, service and leadership to the profession, and community service, including service to UD.
George M. Worrilow Award
Erica Spackman was presented with CANR’s George M. Worrilow Award, named for the dean of the college from 1954-65 whose career was dedicated to better agriculture and better agricultural education.
It is given annually by the Ag Alumni Association to a graduate of the college who has exhibited outstanding service to agriculture.
Spackman attended Haverford College and graduated in 1995 with a major in sociology then entered the CANR master’s program in animal science. Jack Rosenberger, chair of the Department of Animal and Food Sciences from 1981 to 2004, was her adviser and she continued work in his laboratory to complete a doctorate in 2001.
Spackman then went to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Agricultural Research Service (ARS) Southeast Poultry Research Laboratory for a post-doctoral research program, became a staff research microbiologist in 2002 and continues to work at the facility.
Her career has focused on improving the prevention, detection and control of viral poultry diseases to maintain healthy and productive animals. Throughout her career she has worked closely with the poultry industry, government agencies and veterinary diagnostic labs to achieve these goals.
Although much of her career has focused on avian influenza virus, she has worked with numerous important diseases affecting chickens and turkeys in the areas of vaccine development, pathobiology and disease ecology.
Diagnostic tests and sample collection strategies have been among the most widely adopted elements of Spackman’s work nationally and internationally, and continue to be a major focus of her current research.
Distinguished Alumni Awards
Craig Clifford is a graduate of the Mississippi State University College of Veterinary Medicine and received his master’s degree in animal sciences/virology from UD. After completing an internship and a medical oncology residency at the University of Pennsylvania, he became a diplomat of the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine (Oncology) in 2003.
Clifford is Hope Veterinary Specialists’ first medical oncologist and director of clinical studies. Prior to this role, Clifford was a medical oncologist and director of clinical research at Red Bank Veterinary Hospital in Tinton Falls, New Jersey. There, he was responsible for the creation of a comprehensive clinical studies program.
Clifford has authored or co-authored more than 50 papers and book chapters and created the Veterinary Cancer Society’s resident review session and the Northeast Veterinary Co-operative Oncology Group.
Thomas A. Fretz received an undergraduate degree from the University of Maryland in 1964, and his master’s and doctorate degrees in horticulture and plant science from UD in 1966 and 1970, respectively.
Fretz retired from the University of Maryland and the position of executive director of the Northeastern Regional Association of State Agricultural Experiment Station Directors (NERA) in March 2007, after having served from 1994 to 2003 as dean of the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources and director of both the Maryland Agricultural Experiment Station and Maryland Cooperative Extension at the University of Maryland.
He previously served as associate dean and director of the Iowa Agriculture and Home Economics Experiment Station at Iowa State University from 1989-94.
Among his many awards and recognitions, Fretz was co-recipient of the Kenneth Post Award from the American Society for Horticultural Science (ASHS) in 1979 and was elected a fellow of the ASHS in 1986. He received UD’s George M. Worrilow Award in 1999, the B.Y. Morrison Award from the USDA-ARS in 2001, and the “Irving” for distinguished service to the American Distance Education Consortium (ADEC) in 2002.
Mary Ellen Setting
Mary Ellen Setting is the deputy secretary of the Maryland Department of Agriculture (MDA). She has served Maryland agriculture for 37 years while working in various capacities at MDA. She graduated cum laude from the University of Delaware in 1975 with a bachelor of science degree in agriculture, majoring in entomology and applied ecology.
As deputy secretary, Setting is responsible for managing the day-to-day operations of the agency, providing leadership to MDA staff, establishing policy and procedures for regulatory, service and educational programs, and implementing MDA’s mission.
Setting was first employed by MDA in 1977 as an entomologist for the Pesticide Regulation Section. She developed and managed Maryland’s private and commercial applicator recertification and training program. She became chief of the Pesticide Regulation Section in 1988 and was responsible for oversight of all pesticide management, educational and regulatory programs in Maryland, including enforcement of state and federal laws, and applicator certification and training.
Setting was named assistant secretary of the Office of Plant Industries and Pest Management in March 2004. As assistant secretary, she was responsible for oversight of enforcement of state and federal laws, regulations and quarantines related to management of pests that affect the health of crops, nursery stock and forests.
Distinguished Young Alumni
James H. Baxter IV
James H. Baxter IV graduated from UD with a bachelor of science degree in agriculture in 2002 before returning to Baxter Farms Inc., the family farm where he is a fourth generation farmer.
As president and manager of Baxter Farms, he oversees and farms the 2,800-acre tract in Sussex County with the knowledge and support of his grandparents, Jim and Ruth Baxter, who have been dedicated to growing the farm since 1948. Today, a majority of the acreage on the farm is corn and soybeans. The farming operation also includes overseeing the production of 200,000 broilers that are raised for Mountaire Farms Inc.
Baxter has been active in the community as director of the Delaware Farm Bureau, chairman of the Delaware Soybean Board, founding member of Delmarva Tractor Pullers Association, founding member of Southern Delaware’s Local on the Menu, as well as a number of other affiliations. He is also an active member of Young Farmers and Ranchers and the Delmarva Poultry Industry.
Also during Homecoming Weekend, Baxter was presented with a Presidential Citation for Outstanding Achievement.
Photos by Lindsay Yeager