MSU CANR awards Jim Nugent Distinguished Service Award

The College of Agriculture and Natural Resources (CANR) at Michigan State University is honoring four leaders in agriculture and natural resources for their community, state and national leadership with the Distinguished Service Award.

March 7, 2018

James Nugent

East Lansing, Mich. – The College of Agriculture and Natural Resources (CANR) at Michigan State University is honoring four leaders in agriculture and natural resources for their community, state and national leadership with the Distinguished Service Award. The awards will be presented on March 9 during the annual ANR Week luncheon at the Huntington Club at Spartan Stadium.

James Nugent has spent his five-decade career in service to Michigan’s fruit growers, from his early years as the MSU Extension director Leelanau County to his current role as chairman of the board of the Michigan Tree Fruit Commission.

Nugent retired from MSU in 2006, but his dedication to Michigan’s fruit industry never abated. His leadership, first at the Michigan Cherry Committee and now at the Michigan Tree Fruit Commission, has seen new investment in research to support fruit growers from state, federal and industry sources.

"I wrote the playbook as he successfully brought apple, cherry, peach and plum growers together to provide a mechanism for funding key positions, stations and outreach programming efforts for Michigan fruit industries," Nikki Rothwell, coordinator of the MSU Northwest Michigan Research and Extension Center, said. "Under Jim's leadership, these funds have supported MSU in their endeavors to help Michigan growers remain competitive, and we cannot thank him enough for all he has done."

Named one of the most influential fruit extension agents of the twentieth century by American Fruit Grower magazine and honored with Distinguished Service Awards from seven agricultural groups and by a joint resolution of the State of Michigan House of Representatives and Senate, Nugent’s efforts have helped Michigan fruit growers remain national leaders.

"Jim has been an outstanding leader in Michigan's fruit industry," Brian Altonen, chairman of the Michigan Cherry Committee, said in support of Nugent's nomination for the award. "He has been a good farmer, researcher, Extension agent, industry leader, partner and, most of all, a good friend to many. He is a wonderful man who has done so much to help Michigan farmers compete in a global market."

For 37 years, Mr. Nugent has grown tart and sweet cherries on his farm, Sunblossom Orchards, where he lives with his wife Rosaline.

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