NDSU horticulturalist to retire

Ron Smith, horticulturist, has announced his retirement from the North Dakota State University Extension Service and the faculty of the Department of Plant Sciences. His retirement is effective Dec. 31.

Ron Smith

Ron Smith, horticulturist, has announced his retirement from the North Dakota State University Extension Service and the faculty of the Department of Plant Sciences. His retirement is effective Dec. 31.

At that time, Smith will have completed 27 years as the NDSU Extension horticulturist.

"Ron's wisdom, passion for horticulture, vast array of expertise and profound effect on so many people cannot be summed up easily," says Rich Horsley, Department of Plant Sciences head and professor in the department.

Smith has taught classes in turfgrass management, landscape estimating and contracting, evolution and history of wine in America, 16 Master Gardener classes through the interactive video network (IVN), answered 40,000 to 50,000 questions in his Hortiscope column and answered some 22,000-plus phone calls.

Smith has visited 76 communities in North Dakota to deliver various programs and, in many cases, made repeat annual visitations. He has written numerous extension publications and been an invited to speak on various subjects in Kansas, Nebraska, Iowa, Minnesota, South Dakota and Montana.


"Ron has done field studies on vegetable selection for home gardens, herb growing and use, turfgrass variety trials, integrated pest management study in landscape management, assisted in the establishment and maintenance of the RedHawks baseball field, renovated NDSU's football practice fields and maintained them for 12 years," Horsley says. "He also played a major role in developing and maintaining the NDSU horticulture gardens, served on many committees and attended countless meetings."

A distinguished career

Smith joined the NDSU Department of Plant Sciences in 1985 as an associate professor, with responsibilities primarily in extension, along with teaching and research.

He has won numerous awards and recognitions during his tenure at NDSU, including the Mortar Board Preferred Professor Award in 2000, Blue Key Honor Society Distinguished Educator Award in 2003, Apple Polisher Award in 2006, Agriculture Communication Communicator of the Year Award in 1991 and Award for Excellence in Programs in 1989 and 2001.

Smith's weekly Hortiscope column appears in newspapers around the region. He has answered questions in the column that were local and international in scope. He answered questions monthly on North Dakota Public Radio's "Hear It Now" program, which is broadcast across the state. During the growing season, Smith was a weekly guest on KQLX radio and appeared on three TV "Little Garden on the Prairie" programs.

Since 1996, Smith has taught the Master Gardener course every fall semester. The eight-week course was delivered through the IVN system. The 2012 enrollment was 52 students in 11 counties.

Smith has been published in various magazines, such as Prairie Home, Prairie Business, Golf Course Management, Fine Gardening Magazine and American Nurseryman.

"He has written specifications for grass varieties and cultivars for the King's Walk Golf Course in Grand Forks (N.D.); done field research with turfgrass varieties and cultivars in Fargo (N.D.) and Dickinson (N.D.); flower variety evaluations in Fargo, Dickinson and Williston (N.D); and medicinal herb research, primarily with echinacea, in Fargo, Dickinson and Williston," Horsley says.


Smith is active in several professional organizations, including the American Society of Agronomy, Garden Writers Association, North Dakota Horticulture Society, Minnesota Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association, Minnesota Wine Grape Growers Association, North Dakota Grape Growers Association, North Dakota Nursery and Greenhouse Association, Sports Turf Managers Association and NDSU Gamma Sigma Delta Chapter

Smith is a certified professional horticulturist and International Society of Arboriculture certified arborist.

"After a very rewarding, challenging, demanding and fulfilling career, we wish Ron a long and enjoyable retirement," Horsley says.

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