West Lafayette, IN
Ellsworth Christmas, Professor of Agronomy and Extension Soybean Specialist, retired in December 2004 after more than 40 years of service to Purdue University’s College of Agriculture. A native of Warrick County, Indiana, Christmas received his B. S. in Agricultural Education from Purdue University in 1958. After two years as a high school vocational agriculture teacher, he returned to Purdue for graduate studies and received his M.S. in 1961 and Ph.D. in 1964, both in Agricultural Education, with a minor in Agronomy.
Christmas joined the Purdue faculty in 1964, and his first position was as a teacher and extension specialist located at Vincennes University. From 1969 to 1974 he served with the Purdue-Brazil Project in Vicosa, serving first as forage management specialist, and completing his assignment as Chief of Party. Following his return from Brazil, Christmas served for 15 years at the Assistant Director and Agricultural and Natural Resources Program Leader for the Purdue Cooperative Extension Service. In 1989 he returned to the Agronomy Department as an Extension Specialist, devoting most of his time to activities related to the production of soybeans, canola and small grains.
His career service activities include representing the Purdue Cooperative Extension Service for more than 25 years on both the State Soil Conservation Board and the USDA State Technical Committee. He has served on the board of directors of the Purdue Ag Alumni Association since 1983, and has served as secretary to the board and as chair of the Certificate of Distinction committee since 1986. Christmas is also a long-time volunteer for the Ag Alumni Association’s Pioneer Farm and Home Show at the Indiana State Fair, where he uses old wood working tools to make hand split shingles and fence rails, as well as in the restoration of the Association’s many antique artifacts. He also operates the Pioneer Village smokehouse, where he has a waiting list for his delicious hams and bacon. He also volunteers each year at the Battle Ground Steam and Gas Power Show. Christmas has served as a member of the board of directors of the Purdue FarmHouse Association for more than 30 years, serving as the treasurer for approximately 28 of those years. He is also active in Lafayette’s Immanuel Church of Christ where he serves as Trustee.
Christmas has received numerous awards and honors, including the Indiana Vocational Association’s Citation Award (1986); Purdue University Cooperative Extension Association’s Career Award (1987); Indiana Forage Council’s Maurice Heath Award (1988); Meritorious Service Award of Epsilon Sigma Phi (1989); USDA Superior Service Award (1989); and the Indiana Vocational Teachers Association’s Meritorious Service Award (1990). In 1990 he received the Frederick L. Hovde Award of Excellence In Educational Service To Rural People of Indiana, and in 1998 FarmHouse National Fraternity named him a Master Builder of Men. In 2002 he received the Epsilon Sigma Phi North Central Region’s International Service Award, and in 2003 he received the Distinguished Education Alumni Career Achievement Award from the Purdue College of Education for dedication to the best educational practices, exemplary research and assistance to colleagues throughout the world. In 1988 Indiana Governor Robert Orr named him a Sagamore of the Wabash.