Colorado State Honors Soil and Crop Sciences Alumni

Three graduates of Colorado State University’s Department of Soil and Crop Sciences recently were honored for their leadership and contributions to agriculture.

Alan Foutz of Akron, Omer Kelley of Colorado Springs and Richard McConnell of Johnston, Iowa, received the recognition from the department for their career achievements.

"Colorado State alumni from this department make many valuable contributions to science and to the crop industry," said Jim Quick, soil and crop sciences department head. "These three gentlemen have made impressive headway in agriculture as spokesmen, researchers and government and business leaders."

Foutz, who received bachelor’s and master’s degrees in agronomy from Colorado State in 1968 and 1970, owns Foutz Farms in Akron. He is an advocate for relationships between Colorado State and rural communities, for student scholarships at Colorado State and for faculty awards. His influence in the agricultural industry has spanned several groups, including serving as president of Colorado Farm Bureau and Colorado Farm Bureau Mutual Insurance, and on the board of directors for Western Farm Bureau Insurance, American Farm Bureau Federation Wheat Advisory Committee and National Sunflower board. He also serves on the Colorado State College of Agricultural Sciences advisory board and has been a university commencement speaker.

Kelley, who also was raised near Akron, graduated with a bachelor’s degree in agronomy and chemistry in 1939, followed by a master’s degree in 1940, from Colorado State, then known as Colorado A&M. Kelley researched soil chemistry and irrigation efficiency for more than 20 years while at U.S.

Department of Agriculture in numerous states including California, Utah, Maryland and Colorado. His work is known nationally and internationally for its impacts on agriculture and water use. In 1958, he traveled to India with the Ford Foundation to develop a national plan to increase food production. That group’s report became one of the most influential components of the country’s turn toward modern agricultural practices. Kelley has received several awards including the Rockefeller Public Service Award, the Ohio State University Distinguished Alumni Award and Fellow of the American Society of Agronomy.

McConnell is president of Pioneer Hi-Bred International Inc., the largest seed company in the world. McConnell was raised near Haxtun. He earned a bachelor’s degree in 1972 in agronomy and crop sciences from Colorado State, followed by a master’s degree in agronomy and genetics and plant breeding in 1974. He is a member of the Farm Foundation board of trustees, the Keck Graduate Institute, Claremont College board of trustees, the Iowa Business Council, Genetic Resources Communication Council board of directors, and the National Council of Commercial Plant Breeders. He is also president of the National Council of Commercial Plant Breeders.

For more information about this story and other agricultural related news at Colorado State University, visit

Additional information about award recipients:

Alan Foutz

  • Born and raised on a dry land farm near Akron.
  • Graduated from Akron High School in 1964.
  • Active as a Colorado State student in the university’s Agronomy Club, the national American Society of Agronomy Speech Contest Committee and the Agronomy Club Achievement contest committee.
  • Received a Ph.D. in agronomy from the University of Arizona in 1973.

Omer Kelley

  • Raised on a farm near Akron.
  • Graduated from Akron High School in 1935.
  • Received a Ph.D. in soil physics from Ohio State University in 1942.
  • Was a Soils and Water Research administrator for the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U. S. Agency for International Development.

Richard McConnell

  • Pioneer Hi-Bred International is a DuPont Company that specializes in advanced plant genetics, crop protection solutions and crop systems. The company serves about 70 countries.
  • Raised on a corn, wheat and livestock farm near Haxtun.
  • Graduated from Haxtun High School in 1968.
  • Received a Ph.D. in agronomy, genetics and plant engineering for the University of Nebraska in 1978.