2023 Distinguished Service Award Recipient Announced!

LAGRANGE, GA – Don Wirth,  an innovative Oregon farmer and promoter of cover crops and forage in the United States and internationally, has been named the Agricultural Communicators Network (ACN) Distinguished Service Award recipient for 2023.

The Distinguished Service Award is presented to individuals who give back to the agricultural community and have demonstrated outstanding leadership efforts in education, science, or public affairs relevant to agriculture. The ACN has named Distinguished Service Award recipients since 1947. Past recipients have included Dr. Norman Borlaug, the only person to receive a Nobel Peace Prize for work in agriculture, and Dr. Temple Grandin, a noted animal welfare scientist, as well as farmers, economists, and agri-business people.

Wirth’s agricultural contributions include his 55 years of innovation in cropping systems, testing and evaluating forage and cover crops in Oregon and the CornBelt, and founding and co-founding five agricultural companies. He frequently and enthusiastically partners with land-grant universities and USDA scientists nationwide.

“He lives his life with passion and enjoys helping others,” said Skip Gray, Gray Farms, Albany, Oregon, one of many Oregonians who supported Wirth’s nomination.  “Don particularly enjoys seeing young and beginning farmers that exhibit industriousness and common sense get the help they need to become the best agriculturalist possible.”

Katy Coba, who served as Director of the Oregon Department of Agriculture from 2003 to 2016, says Wirth “stands tall” among the hundreds of people she worked with during 37 years of service in Oregon state government.

“Since graduating from Oregon State University in 1968, Don has been tireless in collaborating with state and federal scientists, in finding practical and profitable solutions to agronomic problems, and in his wide-ranging thirst for knowledge,” says Coba, a Port of Portland Commissioner.

Wirth has been part of many agricultural organizations. In 23 years, he served 15 years on the Oregon Tall Fescue Growers Seed Commission. Then he spent six years on the Oregon Ryegrass Growers Seed Commission (ORC). His work at these organizations led him and his wife, Maryanne, to launch Oregon’s first cover crop seed business. Today the family company, Saddle Butte Ag, continues to educate, support, and promote cover crops and forage nationally and internationally.

Wirth embodies life-long learning as he’s traveled nationally and internationally to listen, learn, and lead. His work has been recognized with awards, including the 2022 Oregon State University College of Agricultural Sciences’ Diamond Pioneer Agricultural Achievement Registry; the 2010 Northwest Farm Credit Services award for Distinguished Service as a Director;  the 2007 Voice of the Grass Seed Industry, the 2000 Oregon Seed Council Seedsman of the Year and the Linn County Farm Bureau Family Farmers of the Year.

Outside of agriculture, Wirth has served as Chairman of the Central Linn School Board, volunteer firefighter, and an elder at Oakville Evangelical Presbyterian Church.

AgWest Farm Credit is sponsoring the ACN DSA this year. Wirth will be honored during the 2023 Ag Media Summit in Palm Springs, California, July 30-August 2.

Each year, ACN honors an individual with the Distinguished Service Award (DSA).

The ACN Distinguished Service Award is presented to non-members who are leaders, give back to the agricultural community, and have demonstrated outstanding efforts in education, science, or public affairs relevant to agriculture.

The nominee should be currently active in their field.

Thank You to Our 2023 DSA Sponsor AgWest!

Beaver Builder_LINE- Green

Past Award Recipients

2022 Dr. David Kohl

2021 Dr. Kevin Folta and Dr. Jerry Hatfield

2020 Dr. Mary-Del Chilton

2018 Orion Samuelson

2015 Rolland “Pig” Paul–

2014 Dr. Joe Martin

2013 Dr. Michael Duffy

2012 James Evans

2011 Dr. Paul Sun

2010 Danny Klinefelter

2009 Max Rothschild

2008 Dwayne Beck

2007 Dr. Keith Collins

2006 Jim Gerrish

2005 Howard Doster

2004 James Moseley

2003 Barry Flinchbaugh

2002 Marilyn Adams

2001 Carlos Crovetto

2000 James Kinsella

1999 Dr. Temple Grandin

1998 Dr. Harold Breimyer

1997 John C. Harris

1996 Howard Wuertz

1995 Edward L. McMillan

1994 John Bradley

1993 Sister Thomas More Bertels

1992 Dr. Perry Adkisson

1991 Dr. William E. Field

1990 Robert P. Havener

1989 JoAnn R. Smith

1988 Clayton K. Yeutter

1987 Dr. Don L. Good

1986 Herman Warsaw

1985 Dr. Kenneth L. Bader

1984 Dr. Neil E. Harl

1983 Dr. Roy M. Kottman

1982 Dr. Chester C. McWhorter


1981 Doris Royal

1980 Francis Mulhem

1979 Charles A. Black

1978 Thomas H. Jukes

1977 Earl L. Butz

1976 Russell Jeckel

1975 Oliver E. Nelson and Edwin T. Mertz

1974 David Hume

1973 Theodore Schultz

1972 Orville A. Vogel

1971 Donald Spencer

1970 Carroll Plager

1969 Joseph Ackerman

1968 Robert B. Tootell

1967 Norman E. Borlaug

1966 Glenn Burton

1965 Earl W. Heady

1964 E.F. Knipling

1963 D. Howard Doane

1962 Albert K. Mitchell

1961 William I. Myers

1960 Henry Agard Wallace

1959 W.T. Spanton

1958 Perry Holden

1957 A.B. Graham

1956 A.D. Weber

1955 H.H. Kildee

1954 Ezra Taft Benson

1953 Thomas F. Wilson

1952 Sam Higginbottom

1951 Hugh Hammond Bennett

1950 Donald F. Jones

1949 H.E. Babcock

1948 E.S. Macfadden

1947 Liberty Hyde Bailey