AUBURN, Ala.—Joseph Eakes, the Jimmy and Chris Pursell Professor of Horticulture, has been named the 2013 Professional Landcare Network, or PLANET, Academic Excellence Foundation Outstanding Educator of the Year. The award, which goes to a professor who dedicates his or her life to preparing students to enter the green industry with both academic knowledge and professional skills, was presented during PLANET Student Career Days 2013 held at Auburn in March.
Eakes, an Auburn horticulture alum who returned to the faculty at Auburn in 1989, was nominated and supported with numerous letters of recommendation provided by students, colleagues and industry along with an influential video, at , highlighting recent years of Eakes’ interaction with students.
“Dr. Eakes plays an important role in the lives of his students,” horticulture department head Jeff Sibley said. “Pushing them to their capacity, he expects their best and reciprocates with support that extends beyond the classroom into the careers of horticulture graduates. He is an outstanding faculty member, consistently receiving among the very highest student evaluation ratings in the entire College of Agriculture.”
Eakes has served as faculty adviser to the Auburn student chapter of PLANET and the chapter’s Student Career Days team since 1991 and is recognized as a mentor to many, students and colleagues alike, through his character and talents. He designed and teaches horticulture’s landscape construction course, which gives students hands-on experience to better prepare them for the green industry, and has been the key faculty member in the development of a new master’s program in public horticulture within the department. As part of that program, he is creating a teaching garden to support courses and service learning.
PLANET’s Outstanding Educator of the Year Award recognizes educators who have been passionate supporters and tireless ambassadors of the landscape industry. Recipients of the award are individuals who have gone above and beyond the call of duty; contributed time, energy and enthusiasm to their programs; and shown dedication to the education of future industry leaders. PLANET is a national trade association representing more than 100,000 landscape industry professionals.