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Congrats to ARS award winners Matt Akins, Becky Eddy and Jamie Reichert

CALS Agricultural Research Stations recently honored three individuals who have made outstanding contributions to the ARS program at its annual Recognition Awards Reception and Dinner on Wednesday, Jan. 18.

ARS award recipients (left to right) Akins, Eddy and Reichert at the recognition ceremony.

This year’s award recipients include:

  • Matt Akins (Animal and Dairy Sciences) – Recognition Award for Research
  • Becky Eddy (Rhinelander ARS) – ARS Staff Award
  • Jamie Reichert (Animal and Dairy Sciences) – Recognition Award for Service

Matt Akins – Research award

Matt Akins, an honorary associate in the Department of Animal and Dairy Sciences, conducts agronomy-based research that focuses on nutrient value and yield of annual forages and cover crops. He is an avid user of the Agricultural Research Station network, running studies at Marshfield, Hancock, Arlington, and Peninsular ARS stations. Akins actively disseminates his findings through popular conferences such as Professional Dairy Producers of Wisconsin events, World Dairy Expo, and Farm Technology Days, as well as Extension’s Badger Dairy Insight webinars. As a scientist, Akins stands out for his level of input and involvement. He works evenings and weekends collecting data, helping students, planting or harvesting plots, and working in pastures. He will not shy away from undesirable tasks as he is often seen in coveralls splattered with manure, or with green-stained hands from harvesting forage plots.

Akins’ unmatched work ethic is paired with a great attitude. Conducting agronomic work at MARS, for example, has proven to be challenging at times due to environmental conditions, but Akins always seems to make the most out of it due to his no-quit mentality. He has been a professional every step of the way. He communicates articulately with farmers and station visitors, and has played a large role in the development of the academic career of many students. Since joining UW in 2015, he has advised graduate students, supervised undergraduate students, and mentored seven international visiting scholars/post-doctorate researchers. 

Becky Eddy – Staff award

Becky Eddy, superintendent of Rhinelander Agricultural Research Station, is always searching for ways to improve the RARS facility and streamline operations. She has seen RARS through a number of significant challenges during her tenure at the station, including navigating labor shortages, staff retirements, and the detection – and eradication – of a rare plant pathogen discovered in some the station’s germplasm resources. Eddy’s accomplishments over the past seven years have been transformative for RARS and for the potato breeding program, which has achieved a number of scientific milestones over the past several years – and continues to have the confidence and respect of Wisconsin’s seed potato growers. In 2020, the Badger Common’Tater magazine honored Eddy by naming her among five “Outstanding Women of Wisconsin Agriculture.”

Eddy is known for her dedication, professionalism, and enthusiasm. Her commitment to the research and outreach mission of CALS extends beyond the physical boundaries of RARS. She is a fixture at potato industry conferences, both in Wisconsin and nationally, and she promotes professional development opportunities for RARS staff. In the community she goes out of her way to help people in need by organizing food drives. She personifies the mission of the CALS Agricultural Research Stations.

Jamie Reichert – Service award

As Manager of the Swine Research and Teaching Center (SRTC) at the Arlington Agricultural Research Station for more than 16 years, Jamie Reichert has been a great leader and UW employee. He has served on the ARS Committee, and also given his (and his employees’) time to participate in search and screen committees.  Reichert has also worked extensively with the Arlington’s feed mill crew on improving efficiencies in both feed and labor. He has made the SRTC available for tours and as a meeting place for visitors to the station.  

Most recently, Reichert has taken on the role of Arlington ARS internet services liaison due to his experience with wiring the SRTC and other animal science facilities. He spent a lot of time and effort to install a net of high-speed internet hotspots to connect Arlington’s shop, feed mill, agronomy and public events building to the main headquarters hub. Thanks to his help, station personnel are spending less time waiting for content to load and more time accomplishing the work at hand.