Each year, at ASTA’s annual convention, leaders in the seed industry who have contributed significantly to advances in their areas of expertise, to their business sectors and/or states or regions, and to the efforts of ASTA to serve their industry are recognized by their peers with the highest honors bestowed by the seed industry.
The ASTA Distinguished Service award was presented to Donn Cummings, National Association of Plant Breeders. The award recognizes those whose efforts have made a significant contribution to the association and the U.S. seed industry.
During a 30-year career with Pfizer Genetics, DeKalb and Monsanto, Dr. Donn Cummings was a highly successful corn breeder, Station Manager and Area Research Director. Donn became Monsanto’s Global Breeder Sourcing Lead in 2007, where he provided overall leadership and global strategic planning to build and maintain a Ph.D. and M.S. level plant breeder talent pipeline for Monsanto until his retirement in 2015. One of Donn’s early contributions to plant breeding was the first report of successful technology for routinely regenerating whole plants from tissue culture in oats. Subsequently, as a corn breeder and research manager he obtained 22 inbred and hybrid patents, with 11 having significant commercial impact. Dr. Cummings has been exceptionally active in a wide range of professional organizations, including the Crop Science Society of America, the National Council of Commercial Plant Breeders (Past President), the American Seed Trade Association (ASTA) and the Plant Breeding Coordinating Committee. In 2003, Donn was named a Monsanto Scientific Fellow, that organization’s highest honor. Donn is a founding member of the National Association of Plant Breeders (NAPB), has served as NAPB Membership Committee Chair, initiated and serves as a mentor in NAPB’s Borlaug Scholars Program. He received his B.S. in Biology Education from Purdue University in 1971, an M.S. in Plant Breeding and Genetics from Purdue in 1973 and a Ph.D. in Plant Breeding and Genetics from the University of Minnesota in 1977. Throughout his career, Donn has been a tireless and articulate advocate for the plant breeding profession. He not only initiated the NAPB Borlaug Scholar’s Program, but continues to serve as a mentor for dozens of students and aspiring plant breeders globally, currently serving as a Liaison between NAPB and ASTA
To see past recipients, click here.
The ASTA Honorary Lifetime Member award was presented to Craig Newman, AgReliant Genetic/Finding Black Ink, LLC. Honorary Members distinguish themselves through leadership, vision and service.
Craig Newman is the former President & CEO of AgReliant Genetics. Craig’s career began with seven years spent at Proctor & Gamble in Ohio. He then entered the seed industry at Akin Seed Company in 1979 in St. Francisville, Illinois, and has since spent over 40 years in our industry with various positions at Akin Seed and AgriGold Hybrids, including General Manager.
He served as Vice President of Sales and Marketing for twelve years at AgReliant Genetics before ascending to his role as President and CEO in 2012. He has also served as President of the Illinois Seed Dealers and as Central Regional Vice President and Chairman of the Board of Directors for the American Seed Trade Association.
Craig is a graduate of Purdue University where he received a Bachelor of Science degree in Agribusiness Management. He also serves as the President of the Mount Carmel Area Economic Alliance. He and his wife, Sue, live in Mt. Carmel, Illinois and enjoys spending time with his children and ten grandchildren.
To see past recipients, click here.