Each year, Rutgers Cooperative Extension (RCE), a unit of the New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station (NJAES), honors faculty and staff for their outstanding work and outreach through their programs and support. The winners for 2014 received their awards at the Rutgers Cooperative Extension Annual Conference at the Cook Campus Center in New Brunswick on October 20.
This year, Dave Lee, Salem County agricultural agent and county extension department head was the recipient of two awards: the County Faculty Person of the Year and Award of Excellence for Faculty. The County Faculty Person of the Year is awarded to a county faculty employee who has provided accomplishments, activities, programs, publications and services in the advancement of outreach in their county. RCE Excellence Awards is to recognize faculty, staff and volunteers who demonstrate outstanding performance and creativity, and their contribution to RCE, how it has resulted in a positive change or has made a significant impact and enhanced RCE at a local county, state and/or national level.
Lee was hired over three decades ago as a dairy/livestock agent in Salem County. Since that time he has expanded his program to include various aspects of agriculture economic development throughout the county, the state and beyond. In his area of expertise, he has developed many educational programs on a broad array of topics related to overall livestock and feed crop production. He is probably most recognized for his expertise on mastitis/somatic cell control for which he has gained regional, national and international recognition. Lee has been an agriculture leader, innovator and a prolific “get it done” type of agent who has reached well beyond his county borders to extend educational programs of value and impact to a vast and diverse audience.
He has conducted many local and statewide programs on marketing and financial management and is considered an expert in using the FINPACK financial tool program. This has resulted in enhancing activities at the Port of Salem and obtaining a USDA-Rural Development grant to support agricultural development in South Jersey. He also competitively obtained a grant from USDA-Risk Management Agency averaging over ¼ million dollars each of the last 10 years.
Through his training and mentoring he has employed a number of students and assistants who have gone on to Extension agricultural agency jobs.