Winrock International honors Arkansas scientist with President’s Service Award
Award is a prestigious national honor for volunteer serviceMay 6, 2014
Jennifer Snow, 202-360-2109
Fred Miller, 479-575-5647
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Jim Correll was in Liberia last year to help farmers solve disease problems in their rice and tomato crops. He was part of a team of scientists sent by Winrock International to work on agricultural production problems in that country.
Liberia has a humid, wet climate that promotes fungal diseases. Correll, a professor of plant pathology for the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture, is a leading authority on diseases of rice and vegetables. “We were coming up with ways to manage disease problems on those two crops,” he said.
After he returned from Liberia, Correll was presented the President’s Volunteer Service Award, a national honor issued by the President’s Council on Service and Civic Participation. The group was created by President George W. Bush to recognize the valuable contributions volunteers make to the country.
Correll also received the award in 2005 and 2008.
The council comprises leaders in government, media, entertainment, business, education, nonprofits and volunteer service organizations, and community volunteering. As one of thousands of certifying organizations participating in the program, Winrock International confers the award to recognize the outstanding achievements of its volunteers.
“America’s volunteers work to make our communities stronger and safer,” said Demetria Arvanitis, director of volunteer technical assistance. “Winrock International is proud to be aligned with this prestigious volunteer award, and we are especially proud of our volunteers, like Dr. Correll, who have made volunteer service a central part of their lives.”
Correll said he began volunteering for international service more than 15 years ago. Most of his work has been with Winrock International and funded largely through USAID’s Farmer-to-Farmer Program. He has been to countries in Central America, South America, Africa, Asia and Europe. This has included projects in Guatemala, Bolivia, Philippines, Egypt, the Netherlands, India, Nepal, Bangladesh, China, Israel, Lebanon, Burkina Faso, South Africa and many others.
Correll said he benefits from international volunteer service as much as those he goes to help.
“The international experiences actually have been very valuable,” Correll said. “I’ve been able to attract international students to Dale Bumpers College. I’ve made contacts that have been helpful in getting international research grants. And dealing with diseases in other countries has given me insights for understanding disease problems we deal with in Arkansas.”
Correll also said the experiences and contacts he’s made have led to research opportunities that have proven useful in the U.S. “We adapted a technique for grafting heirloom tomatoes onto resistant rootstock,” he said.
“People enjoy the superior flavor of heirloom tomatoes,” Correll said. “But those tomatoes tend to be susceptible to plant diseases common in Arkansas. Grafting them onto modern, resistant rootstock gives you the superior flavor of the heirloom tomato on a plant that survives diseases.”
“This technology was largely advanced in developing nations,” he said. “Research experience abroad made it possible to bring that technology home where we can reap the benefits.”
Correll has found personal benefits as well. “I enjoy interacting with people in other cultures. There’s an educational aspect to it,” he said.
“Getting to know people in other countries helps me understand the challenges they’re facing,” Correll said. “And understanding the challenges faced by people in other parts of the world helps me understand the challenges we face here in the U.S.”
Winrock International has a long history of international volunteer service, and more than 200 volunteers have been known to perform volunteer service each year on behalf of the organization.
For more information about volunteering for Winrock International, please visit their website www.winrock.org/volunteer.
For more information about how to qualify for the President’s Volunteer Service Award and to find out how to identify additional volunteer opportunities, visit http://www.presidentialserviceawards.gov.