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President Bush honors Knutson for volunteer service

Dr. Allen Knutson, professor and entomologist with Texas AgriLife Extension Service, has won a Volunteer Service Award from the President’s Council on Service and Civic Participation.

Knutson earned the council’s Bronze Award for volunteer work he did overseas, according to the council.

President Bush praised Knutson for being among those who answered his 2002 call to Americans to serve people in the U.S. and abroad.

“Through service to others, you demonstrate the outstanding character of America and help strengthen our country,” Bush said in a congratulatory letter.

“I urge you to continue serving your neighbors and earn a Silver or Gold Award,” Bush’s letter said. “I also hope that you will ask your friends, family and colleagues to join you in serving your community and our nation.”

The award was bestowed recently for work Knutson did in Turkmenistan in 1998 and Kyrgyzstan in 2007, the council cited. He spent two weeks in each country, both located in central Asia.

“I am pleased to receive this recognition and am grateful for the opportunity to work with the people in these interesting regions,” said Knutson, who is based in Dallas with the AgriLife Research and Extension Center, a part of the Texas A&M System.

Knutson and other volunteers worked through the United States Agency for International Development, commonly known as US-AID, and Winrock International, a non-profit organization with similar goals based in Arkansas.

Work in both countries involved helping farmers, agronomists and government officials re-establish sound agricultural practices that declined after the 1991 fall of the Soviet Union, he said.

As a consultant in Turkmenistan, Knutson evaluated production and use of natural enemies for the biological control of insect pests, he said. The assignment focused on assessing the value of re-investing in industrial-sized factories that reared and released beneficial insects for pest control in cotton.

In Kyrgyzstan, Knutson helped train small-acreage farmers on pest identification, integrated pest management techniques and on the safe use of pesticides.

“We met with farmer groups in villages and discussed and demonstrated the safe and effective use of pesticides and alternative control methods, focusing on cultural and biological practices,” he said.

The regions in both countries were desert climates similar to West Texas, an area familiar to Knutson, he said.

“On both assignments we were warmly welcomed by all we met,” he said. “The people were very friendly and helpful.”

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