A group of cotton industry experts have named C. Dale Monks, professor and Extension cotton specialist with Auburn University, as the 2008 Extension Cotton Specialist of the Year.

Monks received the award at the Extension Cotton Specialist’s awards banquet during the 2009 Beltwide Cotton Conferences in San Antonio.

Sponsored by Bayer CropScience, the annual award and banquet has been a featured event at the Beltwide Cotton Conferences since 1984. Extension cotton specialists representing every cotton-producing state select a recipient annually based on leadership and industry service.

Charles Burmester, Auburn University Extension Agronomist and fellow Extension Cotton Specialist of the Year (2000), began working with Monks at the North Alabama Belle Mina Station in the mid-1980s.

“Dale has always had the ability to relate well to people,” Burmester said. “He has the best interest of farmers at heart, and it shows in everything he does. He is someone you can count on professionally and personally.”

Monks and Burmester share more than a common university. They both grew up on small, diversified farming operations, Monks in Tennessee where his family grew watermelons and sweet potatoes and Burmester in north Alabama. The two even share the same February birthday.

“One thing you notice quickly about Dale is his commitment to his family,” Burmester said. “He has an amazing ability to work collectively with other area Extension agents and still balance work and family responsibilities. Those core values come across in everything he does.”

The foundation of Monks’ research program is focused on the practical problems experienced by cotton and soybean producers in Alabama and the Southeastern United States. This provides him with many opportunities to visit producers in the field and observe problems associated with production. It is through these visits and numerous meetings that he is able to design his research programs to fill specific scientific voids.

His trials are conducted via small plot research trials on Alabama Experiment Station locations and on producers’ farms. Monks believes on-farm research often has a much higher degree of acceptance since the producer can participate and gain a better understanding of the work.

Another area where he is involved is in the “Alabama Cotton Program,” an interdisciplinary effort of agronomists, agricultural engineers, entomologists, plant pathologists and research faculty aimed at providing research and Extension programs. The program targets county agents, crop consultants, producers, industry representatives, and state and national cotton interests.

As an Extension crop physiologist, Monks has worked primarily with cotton and soybean variety evaluations, plant growth regulators for cotton, plant growth and development, and environmental impact on cotton.

Burmester said Monks is “very deserving of this award, and I think it shows his dedication to Alabama agriculture and cotton in particular. I am proud to call him my colleague and friend.”

Steve Nichols, Bayer CropScience U.S. agronomic manager, said the company is proud to sponsor this longstanding award.

“Extension has always been one of the cornerstones of this industry, and we are pleased to congratulate Dale Monks on this notable achievement in his career,” Nichols said. “Dale delivers a high level of professionalism and has a strong commitment to his customers, colleagues and family. It is a pleasure to see Dale recognized by his peers for his dedication and service to the industry.”

Monks has been honored for his work in agriculture and has served many roles, including: Alabama Extension Specialists Association president (in 2000) and American Society of Agronomy (1999). He received the Early Career Award for Technology Transfer, Southern Branch of American Society of Agronomy in1997.

Monks is involved in several committees at Auburn University and holds several positions with the Alabama Cooperative Extension System (ACES), including Environmental Issues Group, leader for biotechnology (2002 — present); chairman, State Cotton Expo (1993 — present); member, Alabama Experiment Station Soil Testing Services, Agronomy and Soils (2000 — present); and member, Central Alabama Cotton Workshop Committee (1999 — present). He served as director, Alabama Extension Specialists Association, Agriculture and Natural Resources, ACES (2002 — 2004). Monks is also a member of the Southern Conservation-Tillage Conference for Sustainable Agriculture Planning, Agronomy and Soils.

Monks received his bachelor’s degree from Middle Tennessee State University, his master’s degree from the University of Arkansas and his doctorate degree from the University of Georgia. He and his wife Terri have been married for 25 years and have three children.