The Innovator Award honors individuals who have made significant, tangible contributions to the industry within the past five years. This might include the development of irrigation products and practices; the implementation of irrigation or water management policies and/or principles; or a significant, completed research project on behalf of their employer or in a volunteer role through the IA. Nominees should be members of the Irrigation Association. Multiple awards may be given, based on nominations. Recipients may be awarded this honor more than once in their lifetime, based on accomplishments throughout their career.
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Stephen W. Smith, PhD, FASIC, CAIS, CLIA
Wade Water LLC
Stephen Smith is being recognized for his work toward the creation and development of the Irrigation Innovation Consortium located in Fort Collins, Colorado. The IIC represents years of work and dedication by Smith to secure the monetary support and public and private participation to see this project from the initial concept to what it is today. Smith’s work paved the way for this collaborative project focused on accelerating the development and adoption of water-efficient irrigation technologies and practices.
Monty Teeter for Dragon-Line
Monty Teeter started Teeter Irrigation in 1977. Teeter’s dedication to efficient irrigation led him to experiment with solutions to solve some of the barriers to the adoption of mobile drip irrigation over the years. These innovations culminated in the development of Dragon-Line, a mobile drip irrigation system that combines the benefits of center pivot and drip irrigation into one system. Even after the development of Dragon-Line, Teeter continues to innovate and improve upon this technology.
Robert Starr and Mike Baron for their creation of The Water Zone radio program
The Toro Company
The Water Zone is a radio program that focuses on key topics surrounding water and providing solutions to improve water efficiency. The idea for the program came about during the time that California was in a severe drought. Hosts Rob Starr and Mike Baron of the Toro Company contacted a local radio station and brainstormed the idea of doing a talk radio show discussing the water shortage and how to resolve concerns to keep plants alive.
With more than 50 years of experience in the irrigation industry, Starr and Baron were very effective in helping educate homeowners and consumers. The Water Zone explained that with proper use of water, a property owner could keep his landscape healthy, despite the drought restrictions.
Since the show’s introduction, a stream of key guests has appeared including state legislators, water agency general managers, meteorologists, horticulturists, authors, agricultural specialists, landscape contractors, residential builders, and real estate industry professionals.