USDA administrator receives Outstanding Alumnus Award from College of Natural Resources

BLACKSBURG, Va., April 13, 2005 – Ed Knipling, of Clarksville, Md., administrator of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service, has received the Outstanding Alumnus Award from the College of Natural Resources at Virginia Tech.

In presenting the award, J. Michael Kelly, dean of the College of Natural Resources, said, “this award recognizes his service to his alma mater as well as his career accomplishments.”

In receiving the award, Knipling expressed appreciation for his forestry education at Virginia Tech that provided the basis for his lifelong career in research. As a student at Virginia Tech, he was a member of the Corps of Cadets, Omicron Delta Kappa, and the Order of the Gavel Club.

Knipling served as acting Agricultural Research Service administrator from 2001 until this year when he was appointed by Agriculture Secretary Ann M. Veneman to the position permanently “because he had provided such valuable leadership.” In his current role, Knipling manages the U.S.D.A.’s scientific research agency, which has more than 2,100 scientists and 8,000 total employees in approximately 100 locations throughout the United States.

A Texas native who grew up in the Washington, D.C., area, Knipling earned his bachelor’s degree in forestry from Virginia Tech in 1961. He also received his master’s degree in 1963 and Ph.D. in 1966 in plant physiology from Duke University

As a member of the U.S. Army from 1966 to 1968, Knipling conducted research on remote sensing of environment. He began his career with the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) in 1968 as a research plant physiologist in Gainesville, Fla. He later served as area director for ARS in Stoneville, Miss. from 1975 to 1978, and in Fresno, Calif. from 1978 to 1982.

Knipling went on to serve as associate deputy administrator of the National Program Staff in Beltsville, Md. from 1982 to 1988. From 1988 to 1989, Knipling served as director of the Beltsville (Md.) Agricultural Research Center and then served as deputy administrator of the National Program Staff until 1996. He was named acting administrator for ARS in 1996 and was appointed associate administrator of ARS in 1997.

The College of Natural Resources at Virginia Tech consistently ranks among the top five programs of its kind in the nation. Faculty members stress both the technical and human elements of natural resources and instill in students a sense of stewardship and land-use ethics. Areas of studies include environmental resource management, fisheries and wildlife sciences, forestry, geospatial and environmental analysis, natural resource recreation, urban forestry, wood science and forest products, geography, and international development.