Rich Pirog, associate director of the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture at Iowa State University, is leaving. He has accepted a new job at Michigan State University, where he will become senior associate director of the Center for Sustainable Food Systems at MSU. He will lead the new center's efforts in the socioeconomic aspects of food systems, including production, marketing and economic development. He begins his new position on May 23.
"For two decades Rich has exemplified the highest standards of service and dedication in many programs of the Leopold Center," says Lois Wright Morton, interim director of the center. "In local foods, he has been central to the team-building and cultivation of relationships that have developed new opportunities for growing this area to benefit farmers and communities."
Last year Pirog led the center's development of the Iowa Local Food and Farm Plan, which was mandated by the Iowa Legislature. The plan, which included input from more than a thousand people, outlined ways the state could increase production, markets and availability of Iowa-raised foods. The plan was submitted to state lawmakers in January.
Craig Chase will replace Pirog by assuming many of his programs
Craig Chase, an ISU Extension farm management specialist will assume many of Pirog's responsibilities with the center's Marketing and Food Systems Initiative. Chase has 27 years of experience in Extension programs, including food crops, niche markets and alternative agricultural enterprises. Chase has worked with Leopold Center programs throughout the center's history, including development of regional food systems. Last fall he began working more closely on regional food systems as part of an expanded effort by ISU that includes plans to fill two positions with responsibilities in fruit and vegetable production.
Pirog joined the Leopold Center staff in 1990, initially as its education coordinator, then its Marketing and Food Systems Initiative leader and, since 2007 he has served as associate director. He has directed the center's Value Chain Partnerships project, a network of food and agriculture working groups. Pirog authored reports on food system pathways, examining the distance fresh produce travels to reach the Upper Midwest, that gained international recognition and became required reading in some college courses.
Pirog has been recognized by ISU's College of Agriculture and Life Sciences for outstanding achievement and service and by Practical Farmers of Iowa for achievements in sustainable agriculture.
EDITOR'S NOTE: Rich Pirog reflects on his years with the Leopold Center in a Q&A: http://www.leopold.iastate.edu/news/newsreleases/2011/pirog_qa.html . Also, read a feature story on Pirog from STORIES of Agriculture and Life Sciences, http://www.ag.iastate.edu/stories/archives/2009fall/richPirog.php .