Don Scott traversed the back roads of Indiana for 30 years bringing news from the "department of smut and rot" I as Purdue's primary crop disease extension specialist. When he retired in 1998 he left a legacy of service that has touched many Hoosier farmers.
Scott began his education at Purdue, receiving his B.S. in 1956. He then earned his M.S. in 1964 and his Ph.D in 1968, both from the University of Illinois. He joined the Purdue plant pathology faculty and quickly advanced through the academic ranks. From 1989-1996 he served as extension coordinator for the Department of Botany and Plant Pathology.
"Don has served Indiana farmers well," said Sonny Beck, president of Beck's Hybrids, Inc. "About 10 years ago when we had a phytophthora-type disease affecting our Resnik k-gene soybeans, he showed up in our fields the day after I called and followed through swiftly to get us an answer."
Scott managed a tremendous workload throughout his career. "Dr. Scott had the enormous responsibility for all the diseases occurring on Indiana's three most important agricultural crops: soybeans, corn and wheat, as well as turf grasses," according to Ray Martyn, head of the Department of Botany and Plant Pathology. "In many states, these responsibilities would be distributed among several people."
While Scott was, first and foremost, an extension specialist, he also contributed important research to Indiana's crop and turf grass industries. He conducted applied research on disease problems including soybean sudden death syndrome, gray leaf spot in com and corn mycotoxin accumulation. In every case, his research addressed a current and important plant disease problem affecting Indiana producers.
He also taught Purdue courses on plant diseases, and developed new courses in three subject areas. He developed special activities to make the hands-on courses more meaningful. He maintained and further developed a collection of 7,000 color slides of plant diseases, and he developed a collection of preserved plant materials. .
Scott worked on many interdisciplinary plant disease programs during his career, most notably the development of the Purdue Crop Diagnostic Training and Research Center. Begun in 1986, the Center is one of the best and most prestigious of its kind in the United States.
For his work, Scott has received many accolades, including the 1990 Crop and Soils Merit Award from the Indiana Crop Improvement Association. In 1995 Indiana Farm Bureau honored him with the Frederick L. Hovde Award of Excellence in educational service to the rural people of Indiana. The Midwest Regional Turf Foundation awarded him their 1996 Distinguished Service Award.
"Don Scott has had a major, positive impact on agriculture in Indiana and across the Corn Belt," says Larry Svajgr, executive director of .the Indiana Crop Improvement Association, Inc. "His name is nearly a household word across the state, and for all the right reasons."
In 1997 Scott gathered many years of photographs into Barns of Indiana, a book that celebrates the vanishing farm structures of the Hoosier landscape. He donated a portion of the profits to scholarships for Purdue agriculture students.
"Don Scott is thoroughly in love with agriculture and all the people who operate it," says Mauri
Williamson, executive secretary emeritus of the Purdue Agricultural Alumni Association. "This is the appropriate time to honor him for a lifetime of dedicated labors on behalf of Indiana farmers and all who benefit from a healthy and productive agriculture."