Ted Haas and Buzz Klopp present Jack Gelb (right) with the 2012 George M. Worrilow Award.

Ag honors

Carper, Kee salute University's Gelb as winner of Worrilow Award

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1:45 p.m., Jan. 23, 2012--U.S. Sen. Tom Carper spoke to a large gathering at University of Delaware Cooperative Extension's Friends of Ag Breakfast in Harrington on Friday, Jan. 20, concluding a successful Delaware Ag Week. The breakfast also served as the occasion to present the 2012 George M. Worrilow Award to UD's Jack Gelb, Jr.

Gelb is chair of UD's Department of Animal and Food Sciences and director of the Avian Bioscience Center in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources (CANR). 

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The award is presented annually by the UD Agricultural Alumni Association to an individual, in recognition of exemplary service to agriculture. The honor is named for Dr. George M. Worrilow, who served as dean of the college from 1954 to 1965.

Past Worrilow Award honorees Ted Haas (2001) and Spangler (Buzz) Klopp (2000) saluted Gelb's five decades of excellence and his significant contributions to CANR, Delaware agriculture and, in particular, to the Delmarva poultry Industry.

"Jack is known to Delaware, nationally and internationally for his research and emphasis in avian respiratory diseases, avian influenza, and for his major role in the discovery of Gumboro Disease," Klopp said.

The economic benefits of his research have been significant, saving the Delaware poultry economy $250,000 a week, Klopp told the large audience.

"This is an incredible honor for me," Gelb said. "I did not have the opportunity to meet this fine gentleman (George Worrilow) but I have heard so many stories how he set things up and got things done. He inspired people about agriculture. That’s what it is all about, isn't it?"

At UD, Gelb earned a bachelor's degree in entomology in 1974 and a master's degree in animal virology in 1976. He received his doctorate in microbiology and avian medicine from the University of Georgia.

"I came to the college in the 1970s, riding that first ecology wave and then, as now, students were welcomed, nurtured and developed there," Gelb said.

He recalled, "As students, we got to work with leading veterinarians and researchers and work with farmers directly."

Gelb marveled at the value of being able to put what was learned in the classroom and lab to practical use in the field.

Remarks on behalf of Gov. Markell

Delaware Secretary of Agriculture Ed Kee, former UD Extension specialist and Worrilow Award recipient in 1995, brought remarks from Gov. Jack Markell and kudos for Gelb.

Kee said previous recipients review the resumes and make recommendations for the award. "You set a high bar," Kee said.

Kee shared remarks of behalf of the governor and the administration’s efforts to promote Delaware agriculture and its continued competitiveness in a global market.

“Gov. Markell appreciates the economic importance of agriculture, as a way of life and for the cultural traditions that are a part of Delaware," Kee said.

Kee cited the success of the Young Farmer's Program, which offers zero percent interest to enable the purchase of land and assists the next generation of farmers in the settlement process.

"The governor understands the need to sustain our profitability and keep on the competitive edge in ag," Kee said.

Through a strategic fund, the Markell administration supports infrastructure and businesses that are agricultural fixtures in Delaware, including Perdue, Mountaire, Vlasic and Hanover. "We want to keep them here and allow them to compete in a global economy," Kee said.

At the breakfast Kee shared that Markell acknowledged the Delaware Rural Irrigation Program (DRIP) in his recent State of the State address. Through the investment of strategic funds, Delaware farmers are able to invest in new irrigation systems. In the past, Delaware has gone from 25,000 acres to 130,000 acres of irrigated cropland. "Farmers made that investment. That is why agriculture works in Delaware," he said.

Nutrient management

Also at the event, Carper saluted Delaware agriculture and its willingness to face inland bay pollution head on by taking the lead in the formation of the Nutrient Management Commission in the 1990s.

Dave Baker, chair of the commission, and William Vanderwende, vice-chair, were recognized for their efforts and were presented with framed copies of Congressional Record statements issued on Dec. 14, 2011.

"In our state the ag community stood up really tall," Carper said. He recognized the leadership of Baker and other farmers who created an enviable model for the nation to follow. 

"It is incredible what you put into it," Carper said. "It is amazing what we accomplish when we work together."

Article by Michele Walfred

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