Auburn College of Agriculture honors exceptional alumni

AUBURN, Ala. —Nine successful and influential professionals who hold degrees from Auburn University’s College of Agriculture have been selected as winners in the college’s newly established alumni awards program.

The honors, formally presented Friday, April 18, include seven departmental Outstanding Alumni Awards and two college-wide awards for exceptional service to and support of the College of Agriculture at Auburn.

Winners of the departmental honors are:

  • Valentin Abe of Port-au-Prince, Haiti—M.S., fisheries and allied aquacultures, ’91, and Ph.D., ’95. Named one of Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People of 2010, Abe is director of Caribbean Harvest, a tilapia breeding and aquaculture project in Haiti that empowers impoverished residents by increasing their incomes through tilapia culture.
  • Randall Ennis of Huntsville—B.S., poultry science, ’83. Ennis is director of global business development for Germany-based EW Group, an international company that concentrates on animal breeding, animal nutrition and animal health. Most recently, Ennis was CEO of Aviagen, the world leader in poultry genetics and breeding and a company that EW Group purchased in 2005.
  • James Harwell of Auburn—B.S., horticulture, ’72. Harwell is executive director of the Alabama Nursery and Landscape Association and executive secretary of the Gulf States Horticultural Expo, the nation’s largest green industry trade show and education conference. He also was instrumental in establishing the Alabama Green Industry Training Center in Birmingham.
  • Jeff Helms of Montgomery—B.S., agricultural journalism, ’92. Helms joined the staff of the Alabama Farmers Federation, the state’s largest farm organization, in 1998 and today is director of communications for the federation and general manager of Creative Consultants Inc., the federation’s in-house advertising and marketing agency.
  • R. Dewey Lee of Tifton, Ga.—B.S., agricultural sciences, ’76, and M.S., agronomy, ’79. Lee is a retired professor and Extension grain and bioenergy crops agronomist in the University of Georgia’s Department of Crop and Soil Sciences who, since his retirement, has returned to the faculty on a part-time basis. He also serves as state executive director of the Georgia Corn Growers Association.
  • Jimmy Parnell of Stanton—B.S., agricultural business and economics, ’85. A Chilton County cattle and timber producer, Parnell is currently president of the Alabama Farmers Federation and president and CEO of Alfa Insurance Companies. The federation has 400,000 members; Alfa has more than 1 million policies in force in 11 states.
  • Billy Powell of Montgomery—B.S., animal sciences, ’66, and Ph.D., ’70. Powell is the long-time executive vice president of the Alabama Cattlemen’s Association and editor of Alabama Cattleman magazine. He also is executive director of the Southeastern Livestock Exposition.

Recipients of the college’s first Alumni Service Awards are:

  • Ray Hilburn of Luverne—B.S., poultry science, ’78. Hilburn spent 30 years with the Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries as director of poultry programs before joining the Alabama Poultry and Egg Association as membership director in 2011. On Jan. 1, 2014, he was named associate director of the association.
  • Paul Pinyan of Auburn—B.S. animal and dairy sciences, ’88. Pinyan, who also holds a law degree from Faulkner University’s Jones School of Law, is executive director of the Alabama Farmers Federation and general manager of Alfa Services Inc., which offers federation members marketing assistance, health insurance, farm supplies and other products and services.

Nominations for the awards were submitted by departments and units within the College of Agriculture. The final selection was made by a committee that included the dean, associate deans, department heads and unit directors.  


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<p><a href="" target="_self">William Cahalin</a></p>

William Cahalin

William "Bill" Cahalin is the application systems analyst / webmaster for Auburn's College of Ag Comm-Marketing & Alabama Agricultural Experiment Station. An alumnus of Belmont University in Nashville, his work spans the music industry, publishing, aerospace, and enjoys lavish cocktail garnishes.

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