ISU Agriculture and Life Sciences Alums Honored

October 31st, 2008

AMES, Iowa - Iowa State University's College of Agriculture and Life Sciences presented awards to alums and an emeritus professor on Oct. 24 at the annual Iowa State University Alumni Association awards ceremony.

Roger Underwood, retired CEO of Becker Underwood, received the Floyd Andre Award, which recognizes alums who have made outstanding contributions to production agriculture, agricultural business or who have significantly influenced Iowa agriculture.

Underwood received his bachelor's degree in agricultural business from Iowa State in 1980. He then co-founded Becker Underwood in 1982. Today, Becker Underwood is a $130 million international specialty chemical company. He and his wife, Connie, also provided a $1.5 million gift to establish an entrepreneurship program for students in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences in 2005.

Rich and Nancy Degner received the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences George Washington Carver Distinguished Service Award. The award was established to honor Iowa State University alumni and friends for outstanding achievements in the agricultural, food, environmental, social and life sciences.

Rich graduated from Iowa State with a bachelor's and master's degree in agricultural education in 1972 and 1977. He joined the Iowa Pork Producers Association staff in 1980, serving in several roles before becoming executive director in 1998. Nancy graduated from Iowa State in 1972 with a bachelor's degree in food nutrition and food science. She has worked with consumer education programs for the beef industry since 1975 and became executive director of the Iowa Beef Industry Council in 2003.

Also receiving the George Washington Carver Distinguished Service Award was John Pesek, emeritus professor of agronomy and Charles F. Curtiss Distinguished Professor in Agriculture and Life Sciences. He joined Iowa State as an assistant professor in 1950. He was named department head of agronomy in 1964 and served for 23 years. He also served as interim dean of the college from>
Owen Newlin, who earned bachelor's and master's degree in agronomy in 1951 and 1953, received the Henry A. Wallace Award. The award honors alums that have made outstanding contributions to national or international agriculture through leadership, research, teaching or writing. Newlin is a retired Pioneer Hi-Bred International Inc. executive and former president of the Board of Regents, State of Iowa.


Barbara McBreen, Communications Service, (515) 294-0707,