Gordon Wenk receives Distinguished Service Award
Gordon Wenk receives the Distinguished Service Award at ANR Week 2019.
The College of Agriculture and Natural Resources presents Distinguished Service Awards to those individuals or partners who have made outstanding contributions to Michigan’s agriculture and natural resources industries and who possess high standards of integrity and character to positively reflect and enhance the prestige of the college.
Gordon Wenk recently retired as director of the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD). He was pivotal in helping MSU Extension address mental health issues in agriculture. When he saw an uptick in the number of farmers who died by suicide in Michigan, he immediately asked MSU Extension to help find out why. His quick response led to MSU Extension’s creation of two curricula that are used to teach farmers, farm families and those who work with them to recognize signs of depression and learn how to access services.
He has been active in the Plant Coalition, creating a vital link between state government, industry leaders and MSU. He has been instrumental in the partnership between MSU and MDARD through Project GREEEN (Generating Research and Extension to meet Economic and Environmental Needs).
Mr. Wenk began his career with MDARD in 1978, working with Michigan’s Soil and Water Conservation Districts. He spent many years in the Environmental Stewardship Division, traveling all over the state. He became the driving force behind the Michigan Energy Conservation Program, which promoted implementation of farming best management practices that resulted in improved production and environmental protection, as well as energy efficiencies.