Ag-departments association honors top state employees


At the virtual annual meeting of the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture, top employees of three state departments of agriculture were recognized for their service, communication, and administration.

The three awards given to these employees on Monday, the first day of the annual meeting, were:

James A. Graham Award

The purpose of the James A. Graham Award is to recognize an individual for outstanding work in providing service to agricultural producers.

The 2020 NASDA James A. Graham Award is awarded to Dr. Annette Jones, California State Veterinarian at the California Department of Food and Agriculture.

Jones and the department’s Animal Health Branch have exhibited outstanding leadership and contributions to the eradication efforts in the 2018-2020 virulent Newcastle Disease (VND) Incident in Southern California, and management of additional animal diseases.

Post-VND, CDFA and USDA, in partnership with bird enthusiasts in Southern California, have established the California Avian Health Education Network, committed to monitoring of disease, support for biosecurity training, and promotion of poultry health to ensure, among other things, the viability of California’s $2.5 billion poultry industry which provides 25,000 jobs.

Communications Award

The purpose of the NASDA Communications Award is to recognize an individual for outstanding work in media and public communications within a state agency resulting in improved understanding of agriculture and agricultural programs.

The 2020 NASDA Honor Award for Communications is awarded to Paige Manning, Director of the Market Development Division at the Mississippi Department of Agriculture & Commerce. Since joining the agency in 2005, Manning and her team launched Genuine MS, Mississippi’s new and quickly growing branding program. Manning is receiving this award because of her innovative and progressive use of technology, including an interactive website, podcasts and other digital platforms.

Manning accomplished all of this while maintaining a positive atmosphere and spirit of teamwork in the Department.

Douglass-Irvin Administration Award

The purpose of the Douglass-Irvin Administration Award is to recognize an individual for outstanding contributions within a state agency resulting in improved efficiency and impact.

The recipient of the 2020 NASDA Douglass-Irvin Administration Award is Christina “Chrissy” Waggett, Federal Liaison for the North Carolina Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services.

During her tenure as a state public servant, a career that has stretched over a decade, Chrissy has served agriculture and excelled in a variety of roles, ranging from administrative duties to heading the development and implementation of a disaster assistance program, to organizing and hosting a national roundtable on agricultural issues. She is easily recognizable as one of the state’s most dependable and hardworking public servants, serving as the department’s main point of contact for NASDA and working tirelessly with its members to address issues in the agricultural industry and find smart, efficient, long-term solutions.

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