Jun 11, 2021Steven E. Smith scholarship honors Purdue alumnus, processing tomato backer
In memory of Steven Smith, a distinguished alumnus and former senior director of agriculture for Red Gold, Red Gold and Purdue University College of Agriculture recently announced the creation of the Steven E. Smith Memorial Scholarship.
“Steve was a tremendous partner to Purdue Agriculture as well as with everyone with whom he worked,” said Karen Plaut, the Glenn W. Sample Dean of Purdue Agriculture. “He was an innovative thinker and contributor who always looked out for and worked on behalf of growers.”
Smith, a 2009 Purdue Distinguished Agriculture Alumni award winner, was a founding member of FieldWatch and its first registry, DriftWatch, developed in collaboration with Purdue’s department of agricultural and biological engineering.
Smith spent over 32 years with Red Gold, the world’s largest privately-held tomato canner. He directed the company’s agricultural activities from variety development through harvesting. Smith was co-chair for Red Gold’s sustainability initiative and served on the Sysco Corporation National Sustainability Advisory Board.
“I am so proud of Steve’s accomplishments and I’m so grateful for the opportunity for an annual scholarship to grow future agricultural leaders like him,” said Brian Reichart, President and CEO of Red Gold. “Steve was so proud of the growers, the industry, and suppliers and was genuinely admired by all who had the pleasure to meet or work with him including my own parents Fran and Ernie Reichart.”
Smith was an advocate for the processing tomato industry in areas of research, federal crop insurance and product labeling. He served in several capacities with the Mid-America Food Processor Association who named him the H.D. Brown Person of the Year in 2015. Smith was also the founder and chairman of the Save Our Crops Coalition.
Red Gold has contributed $50,000 to fund the annual scholarship. Industry friends, growers, employees of Red Gold and suppliers have given an additional $42,000. Donations can be made at this link.
The scholarship recipient will be announced annually at the Purdue Ag Alumni Fish Fry. Ideal candidates will have major and career interests aligned with specialty crops and a strong desire to be involved in state and federal agriculture policy.
In addition to a $5,000 scholarship, the awardees will take part in the Red Gold “Washington D.C. Fly-in” and other events to learn about agricultural policy and meet Midwestern tomato crop growers.