ASTA Honors Past, Present Industry Groundbreakers

  • On June 28, 2022

ASTA Honors Past, Present Industry Groundbreakers

Alexandria, VA—June 28, 2022—The American Seed Trade Association (ASTA) honored past and present seed industry groundbreakers during its inaugural Leadership Summit in Indianapolis. In addition to the time-honored Lifetime Honorary Member and Distinguished Service Awards, this year’s slate of honors included the all-new Heritage Award and the Seed Science Foundation’s Excellence in Science Award.

“In the nearly 140 years that ASTA has been in existence, the seed industry has seen tremendous change and growth; so much of the present and future can be understood by looking at our past,” said ASTA Chair Brad May, BASF. “ASTA has been fortunate to serve members who have contributed to the evolution of the seed trade industry, one that affects every living being on the planet, and one that is essential to the health, happiness and economic security of every community. It is important to acknowledge and respect those that have demonstrated their passion and values to grow better seed to produce better crops for a better quality of life.”

The Heritage Award was created to do just that — to preserve and build seed industry history by honoring and recognizing individuals who have significantly impacted the seed industry and ASTA. The winners of the new inaugural Heritage Awards are: W. Atlee Burpee, W. Atlee Burpee & Co.; Dr. Harry Collins, Delta and Pine Land Company (D&PL); Dr. Owen Newlin, Pioneer Hi-Bred International; Dr. Norman Borlaug, CIMMYT; and Jerry Peterson, Peterson Seed Co.

ASTA’s Lifetime Honorary Member Award is one of the highest awards bestowed by the association and is in recognition of untiring service to ASTA, as well as the seed industry. This year’s award was given to two worthy individuals: Rick Turner, BASF; and Richard Denhart, Illinois Seed Trade Association. In his 45-year career in agriculture, Turner served posts in domestic and international markets focusing on diverse seed portfolios, seed treatments and crop protection products. Denhart served in various leadership positions, including with Illinois Crop Improvement, Illinois Foundation Seeds, Illinois Seed Trade Association; as the first Chair of the ASTA State Government Affairs Working Group and the first State Association Representative to the ASTA Board of Directors.

The ASTA Distinguished Service Award recognizes those who have made significant contributions to the association and the seed industry. Dr. Edward Podleckis, Ph.D., USDA-APHIS was this year’s honoree. For over 20 years, he worked as a risk analyst and risk manager developing APHIS plant pest risk analysis programs and policies, providing analytical support to inform agency import and policy decisions and plants for planting import policy.

The first-ever Seed Science Foundation Excellence in Science Award was bestowed upon Dr. Ron Walcott, University of Georgia. Dr. Walcott has been a friend and resource for the vegetable seed industry for over 20 years through his research that focuses on diseases, especially those that can be seed borne, and of commercially important vegetables. He has been a major source of technical knowledge on vegetable pathogens to ASTA and the seed industry.

For more information, including full bios of the award winners, view the ASTA Awards Commemorative Program. For photos of award winners, contact


Founded in 1883, the American Seed Trade Association (ASTA) represents over 700 companies involved in seed production, plant breeding and related industries in North America. ASTA is the leading voice of action in all matters concerning the development, marketing and movement of seed, associated products and services throughout the world. The association’s broad membership offers varieties from alfalfa to zucchini and all production types including conventional, organic and biotech. ASTA promotes the development of better seed to produce better crops for a better quality of life.