Clockwise from top left: Dari Brown, Ron Morrow, Vicky Watkins and Wendie (Wallis) Phelps.
The Department of Animal Science in U of A’s Dale Bumpers College of Agricultural, Food and Life Sciences is recognizing four individuals for distinction, including three graduates and one friend of the department.
Wendie (Wallis) Phelps is the animal science bachelor’s degree Graduate of Distinction, Ron Morrow is the master’s degree Advanced Graduate of Distinction, Dari Brown is the Ph.D. degree Advanced Graduate of Distinction and Vicky Watkins is the Friend of the Department.
Phelps is a research, development and innovation manager at Cargill; Morrow is a retired animal science professor in the College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources at the University of Missouri and has also served with the National Center for Appropriate Technology; Brown is a vice president and general manager with PatAg; and Watkins is director of curriculum management and distance education in the Dean’s Office for Bumpers College.
Wendie (Wallis) Phelps
Phelps grew up in Smithville in northeast Arkansas on her family’s cow-calf farm and participated in 4-H and FFA, which established her love for agriculture. She earned a bachelor’s degree in animal science from the U of A and master’s degree in meat science from Colorado State with research on the impact of vitamin E supplementation on the shelf life and quality of beef liver, hearts and kidneys. Her work helped expand trade of these items with Middle Eastern countries. She began her career with Swift and Company as an international trade salesperson. Phelps later moved to Cargill as a food scientist in value-added meats and transitioned to a commercial role as business manager in retail value added meats, overseeing expansion of the business and increased profits. She returned to R&D to lead the topping and ingredients, and human quality pet food teams, and is now a global partner innovation leader, supporting strategic customers in collaborating with internal and external partners. Phelps also supports the development of others through mentorship, was a Kansas BBBS Big Sister for eight years, supports Kansas and Arkansas FFA and is active in her local church. She is also active in the America Meat Science Association and Women In the Meat Industry as a committee member. She and her husband, Porter, and their children (Mason, Caroline and Maggie) reside in Kansas.
Morrow served on the animal science faculty at Missouri and retired in 1995, then moved back to Arkansas. He was the state grazing lands specialist for the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service in Little Rock until 2014. He now farms and raises grass-finished beef with Ozark Pasture Beef, a partnership of farms. Morrow graduated from Siloam Springs High School and attended Arkansas Tech University for two years, where he was president of the Ag Club, before transferring to the U of A and earning his bachelor’s degree in animal science in 1968. He worked at the beef cattle farm in Savoy, served in the U.S. Army in Vietnam and returned to the U of A to earn his master’s degree. He earned his Ph.D. in animal science from the University of Tennessee.
Brown has years of executive leadership in agribusiness, animal health and pet industries, serving in leadership roles in general management, research and development (feed, feed additive and pet supplements), business development, marketing, technical service and sales within the U.S. and international markets. Her expertise includes innovation pipeline development and strategy, product commercialization, competitor and market assessment, marketing strategies, open innovation, research review to identify gaps for commercialization, research design, animal nutrition, business strategy, team management and development, and regulatory and risk management for small and large businesses. Most of her career has been in different divisions with Land O’Lakes, leading new product development and commercialization in U.S. and international markets for poultry, swine and dairy in feed and feed additives segments. She now owns Dari Brown Consulting, where she helps companies understand the needs for product commercialization, agricultural industry market trends, competitor intel, and pricing analysis and business development for animal health technologies and feed/food ingredients. Brown earned a bachelor’s degree in biology from the University of Central Arkansas and her master’s and Ph.D. in animal science from the U of A. Brown has had numerous articles published in journals and delivered keynote presentations at conferences worldwide.
Watkins began her employment with the U of A in 2002 as a secretary in the Department of Agricultural Education and Extension. Over the last 20 years, she has earned a B.S. in human resource and workforce development, M.Ed. in higher education and an M.S. in operations management, all at the U of A. She received several promotions in 13 years working in that department until she moved to the Dean’s Office, where she began as retention and curriculum coordinator and has since been promoted to her current position. She has been a co-principal investigator designated as key personnel on a research grant funded by NIFA and has served as provost instructor teaching University Perspectives, a college readiness class for freshmen. She has also taught an introductory apparel production course for the School of Human Environmental Sciences. Watkins serves on many committees within the college and at the university level. She believes in lifelong learning and continues to devote her energy toward student success.
They will be honored at the annual departmental awards banquet at 5:30 p.m. on Thursday at the Don Tyson Center for Agricultural Sciences.
About the Dale Bumpers College of Agricultural, Food and Life Sciences: Bumpers College provides life-changing opportunities to position and prepare graduates who will be leaders in the businesses associated with foods, family, the environment, agriculture, sustainability and human quality of life; and who will be first-choice candidates of employers looking for leaders, innovators, policy makers and entrepreneurs. The college is named for Dale Bumpers, former Arkansas governor and longtime U.S. senator who made the state prominent in national and international agriculture. For more information about Bumpers College, visit our website, and follow us on Twitter at @BumpersCollege and Instagram at BumpersCollege.
About the University of Arkansas: As Arkansas’ flagship institution, the U of A provides an internationally competitive education in more than 200 academic programs. Founded in 1871, the U of A contributes more than $2.2 billion to Arkansas’ economy through the teaching of new knowledge and skills, entrepreneurship and job development, discovery through research and creative activity while also providing training for professional disciplines. The Carnegie Foundation classifies the U of A among the top 3% of U.S. colleges and universities with the highest level of research activity. U.S. News & World Report ranks the U of A among the top public universities in the nation. See how the U of A works to build a better world at Arkansas Research News.