2024 Awards Night

At our Annual Awards Night 2024 we celebrated this year's honorees. Click the arrows to view the slideshow above. 

Congratulations to the 2024 Award Winners

We salute their impactful contributions and are proud to call them Wildcats! 




Dr. Margaret Ann Wilson (Sims), affectionately known as Peggy, boasts deep roots in Arizona, tracing back to her grandfather, Herman Schahrer, who homesteaded in 1906. Her father, John A. Wilson, M.D., was a founding faculty member in the radiology department at the University of Arizona Medical School. From elementary to medical school, Peggy's educational journey unfolded within walking distance of her Tucson home, near the UA Campus Agricultural Center.

Peggy’s passion for anesthesiology led her to Dallas, Texas, for a residency at Parkland Memorial Hospital. Her impressive curriculum vitae underscores her expertise, encompassing publications, medical practice, and graduate-level teaching across Australia and the United States. Notably, she dedicated many years to South Texas Physician's Outreach, delivering crucial surgical care to underserved communities in Honduras.

Peggy was able to apply her education daily in her career, which is a testament to the exceptional educational offerings at the University of Arizona. Recognizing the transformative impact of her upbringing, Peggy is committed to giving back, funding scholarship opportunities for CALES nutritional sciences students. Her story epitomizes the symbiotic relationship between education and service, embodying the ethos of gratitude and reciprocity.

In recognition of her commitment to education and service along with her heart for supporting students, the College of Agriculture, Life and Environmental Sciences is proud to present Dr. Margaret Ann Wilson (Sims) with the Alumni Achievement Award. 





Curtis Jones became interested in plants and horticulture as a student in Tucson's Sabino High School Biology class taught by John Brooks. After graduating, Curtis attended the University of Arizona, graduating in 1980 with a bachelor's degree in Plant Protection. He earned his master's degree in Plant Science from the University of Nevada/Reno in 1983. One of his first jobs in Horticulture was selling seed packets to retail garden centers - in time, he took a job as sales manager of a seed packet company in Colorado. 

Eventually, Curtis, along with his business partner, started Botanical Interests, Inc., a garden seed packet company producing unique, artist-painted and information-laden seed packets. After 28 years and two years of high demand created by the pandemic, they sold the business in 2022. Botanical Interests employed 60 full-time employees and delivered 14 million seed packets to over 4,000 retail customers and gardeners. 

Curtis has supported the College by donating a greenhouse to the Pima County Extension Service for the Master Gardener Program, an orchard to Tucson Village Farm dedicated to his mentor, John Brooks, cash resources to the farm for additional employees and operations, and is on the board of directors of Tucson Village Farm. 

In recognition of his successful career, dedication to educating people through horticulture, and the impact he makes in people’s lives, the College of Agriculture, Life and Environmental Sciences is pleased to present Curtis Jones with the Alumni Achievement Award.




 R. Dean Fish has achieved a remarkable career in the livestock industry. He started as an Extension Livestock Specialist at the University of Arizona and is currently the ranch manager for the Santa Fe Ranch and owner of Anchor F. Cattle Company, where he is a leader in sustainable agriculture. 

Dean has a passion for livestock and a tireless dedication to education that he uses to produce quality cattle and to educate producers across the nation. He also teaches local youth and other individuals and groups from the Santa Fe Ranch.  

He has served on the Arizona Beef Council, the Arizona Cattle Growers’ Association, and was a founding member of the Champions for Youth Foundation. Dean is a past president of the Southern Arizona Cattlemen’s Protective Association and a member of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association Stockmanship and Stewardship Team. He manages the Santa Fe Ranch Foundation and is a member of the Los Charros Foundation Board, which has awarded over $700,000 to students in Southern Arizona. As an auctioneer, Dean has helped raise millions of dollars for worthwhile charities in Arizona. 

For his contributions to Arizona agriculture through his exceptional career and outstanding accomplishments, the College of Agriculture, Life and Environmental Sciences is proud to present R. Dean Fish with the Outstanding Achiever Award.



Chelsea McGuire is an Arizona native from a multigenerational farming family who has helped promote and protect the agriculture industry for years. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Agribusiness Economics from the University of Arizona and a Law Degree from Regent University School of Law. While in college, Chelsea served as the Arizona Association FFA State President. 

Chelsea has extensive experience in state and federal natural resources policy, especially relating to water rights and water use. She is currently the Assistant Director for External Affairs at the Water Infrastructure Finance Authority of Arizona (WIFA), where she oversees legislative relations, media, and all other external communication, highlighting the agency’s financial investments in effective water augmentation, conservation, reuse, and quality actions.

In her previous role, Chelsea served as the Director of Government Relations for the Arizona Farm Bureau, leading the organization’s lobbying efforts on issues including water rights, environmental regulations, and tax policy. Chelsea has also clerked for the Arizona Court of Appeals and the Federal District Court for the District of Arizona. 

In recognition of her outstanding achievements and her commitment to the agricultural industry, natural resources and water conservation, the College of Agriculture, Life, and Environmental Sciences is proud to present Chelsea McGuire with the Early Achiever Award.


Patrick Bray is a native Arizonan who spent much of his youth tending to livestock and working in the fields. He was on the Livestock Judging Team and Executive Director of Spring Fling before receiving a bachelor’s degree in Agricultural Business and Resource Economics. 

Patrick’s 17-year career in public policy began when he interned on campaigns involving State Land Reform and the Humane Treatment of Farm Animals Act. Currently, he serves as the Executive Vice President of the Arizona Farm and Ranch Group. Patrick has been active with the National Cattlemen’s Association and the Public Lands Council. He has been recognized with Farm Journal’s 40 under 40 Award, by the Arizona Cotton Growers Association and the Arizona Nursery Association. 

Patrick is involved with his local community, serving on the Goodyear City Council and the Planning and Zoning Committee. He supports the men and women who serve our country and was selected to participate in the Luke Air Force Base Honorary Commander program. For the past decade he has worked with the Arizona National Livestock Show and currently serves as Chairman of the Board. 

For his professional accomplishments and his demonstrated support of Arizona agriculture, the College of Agriculture, Life and Environmental Sciences is proud to present Patrick Bray with the Early Achiever Award



Kathy Alexander and Paul Lindsey are pillars of the Southern Arizona community whose involvement spans over four decades and touches several areas at the University of Arizona. Paul holds an honorary degree from the U of A and Kathy’s degrees are from the U of A and the University of Phoenix. 

Paul and Kathy serve on the Tucson Village Farm Advisory Board where they have been exceedingly generous and selfless role models, mentors, and friends. Their strategic approach has helped strengthen initiatives like the Healthy Living Ambassadors Program. They are also involved in the U of A as benefactors of the Paul Lindsey and Kathy Alexander Dean’s Chair at the College of Education, the AZPM Board with Paul as incoming chair, the Lindsey Scholars Program, and many other social, educational, and non-profit boards.

Over the years, Paul and Kathy have repeatedly brought their business acumen to support the farm. Their advocacy has been an essential catalyst for the construction of new facilities like the Angel Charity for the Children Culinary Education Center. They serve as an example across CALES for how advisory board members can have a positive impact as alumni, donors, and advocates.

 In recognition of their remarkable contributions to the Tucson Village Farm and their extraordinary dedication to the Tucson community, the College of Agriculture, Life and Environmental Sciences is proud to present Kathy Alexander and Paul Lindsey with the Friend of CALES Award. 

Meyer Family

The Meyer Family’s Arizona heritage started when F. A. Meyer founded Flying UW Ranch in the 1800s. Walt Meyer, a third-generation rancher, and his wife Francie, who is also from an Arizona pioneer family also own and operate the Haydon-Combe Ranch. Their legacy continues through their daughters: Lilah, Jenny, Katie, Nickie, and grandchildren. 

The family’s connection to the University of Arizona began in the 1920s when they purchased Hereford bulls from the Campbell Avenue Farm affirming their life-long commitment to the Hereford breed. Walt earned his bachelor’s and doctorate degrees in Range Management from the University of Arizona and served as an adjunct professor and research specialist in the School of Renewable Natural Resources. Francie and three of their daughters also attended the University. 

The Meyer Family is passionate about wildlife and ecological conservation and have worked with the Arizona Association of Conservation Districts, the Winkelman Natural Resource Conservation District, the Arizona Cattle Growers’ Association, and Cooperative Extension to use science-based, ecological techniques to provide sustainable range livestock management. They have received awards from the Arizona Game and Fish Department, the Arizona Cattle Growers’ Association, and the University for their land and stewardship ethic. 

In recognition of their multi-generational dedication to Arizona ranching and their commitment to instilling heritage and traditions into the next generation, the College of Agriculture, Life and Environmental Sciences is proud to present the Meyer Family with the Heritage Family Award




Bill Buckmaster is one of the most respected voices in Tucson and Arizona media. He is an award-winning journalist who is in the Broadcasting Hall of Fame in two states, Arizona and Nevada. After 22 years hosting “Arizona Illustrated” for Arizona Public Media, Buckmaster formed Bill Buckmaster Communications, LLC., which produces the Buckmaster Show, a daily talk show hosted mid-day on 1030 KVOI Tucson's Voice. The broadcast is considered Tucson's "Town Square" and discusses the issues that matter most to Southern Arizonans. Bill frequently interviews CALES and Cooperative Extension faculty on his program to explore important science issues that affect Tucson, Arizona and the Southwest. 

A one-time broadcast editor for the Associated Press, Buckmaster has held news director positions in Sierra Vista, Arizona, Visalia, California and Las Vegas, Nevada. He also held television anchor roles at KICU-TV, San Jose-San Francisco and PBS 6-Tucson. 

In recognition of his commitment to positioning University of Arizona experts to broadcast their research and insights in a clear and informative manner to the public, the Division of Agriculture, Life and Veterinary Sciences, and Cooperative Extension is pleased to present Bill Buckmaster with the ALVSCE Science Communicator of the Year Award.


Jason Zibart is an integral leader in the Cochise County community, known for his adeptness in developing and implementing community health programs and fostering strong relationships with stakeholders to help people live their healthiest lives. 

Having worked in healthcare for over 17 years, Jason is currently the Community Connected Health Manager at Benson Hospital. A visionary for improving the overall wellbeing of residents, he has established programs that deliver fresh produce to low-income areas and provided take-home food backpacks for at-risk children. He has helped boost the local economy through the development of a hospital farmer’s market. He has also partnered with the Cooperative Extension to provide rescue inhalers for local schools and provided personal protective equipment during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Jason is a valued Cooperative Extension partner and a great connector who works to consistently fill gaps in programs and services. He has served on the Cochise County Extension Advisory Board for the past three years and is a graduate of the Cochise County Leadership Academy. He continues to support the Cochise County Cooperative Extension leadership as a mentor and expert in community relations.

In recognition of his commitment to community and for years of collaboration with the Cooperative Extension, the Division of Agriculture, Life and Veterinary Sciences, and Cooperative Extension is proud to honor Jason Zibart with the Extensionist of the Year Award. 


Jessica Holton has a passion for promoting, developing, and protecting the practice of clinical social work and social justice. She graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Family Studies and Human Development from the University of Arizona and holds a master’s degree in Social Work from East Carolina University. 

As a licensed clinical social worker, Jessica has a private practice that specializes in the treatment of mental health conditions related to stress and trauma, anxiety, substance use, behavioral addictions, and grief and loss. She has served as an adjunct instructor at East Carolina University and is a renowned public speaker who has authored many professional abstracts, articles, and a continuing education curriculum. Currently, she is the Associate Clinical Director of the Eastern Carolina Critical Incident Stress Management Association. 

Jessica’s impact includes serving as a volunteer leader for the National and State Associations of Social Workers, Addiction Professionals of North Carolina, the North Carolina Addiction Specialist Professional Practice Board, and the Norton Council of Alumni & Friends. Jessica's dedication extends outward through her financial support of students and upcoming professionals, and by providing low bono work to hundreds of uninsured or underinsured clients. 

Jessica Holton is an exceptional leader, mentor and advocate in her field, and the College of Agriculture, Life and Environmental Sciences is proud to present her with the Arizona Alumni Professional Achievement Award.   


Tiffany Selchow is a proud Wildcat with a commitment to the livestock industry and agricultural education. She graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Animal Sciences and has since exhibited unparalleled dedication and excellence in her professional endeavors. Currently, she is the Director of Social Media, Consumer Outreach, Consumer Education, and Producer Communications at the Arizona Beef Council. 

Her gift for understanding a challenge from multiple angles makes her a talented consensus builder. She has risen in leadership in organizations like the CALES Alumni Council, Project CENTRL’s Alumni Council and currently serves as the President of the Board for the Arizona National Livestock Show. 

Tiffany is respected throughout the Arizona agriculture community for her invaluable knowledge of Arizona’s beef community, social media marketing, storytelling, and for her passionate dedication to promoting agricultural education. She is currently committed to fostering knowledge and understanding for nutritional sciences students by coordinating tours that highlight various facets of Arizona agriculture. 

Tiffany Selchow has proven herself as an outstanding professional, community leader, and alumni ambassador, and the College of Agriculture, Life and Environmental Sciences is proud to present her with the Arizona Alumni Young Professional Achievement Award.



Arthur Phillip Bond was a renowned horticulturalist, community stalwart, and lifetime educator. He paid his way through the University of Arizona Vocational Agriculture program by working at the UA farm and the U.S. Forest Service in the Chiricahua Mountains. With a degree in Agricultural Education, he ran award winning Vocational Ag and FFA programs at Coolidge High School. There he met Julie, his wife of 45 years. 

Phil and Julie established their nursery, The Avocado, on a bare parcel of old farmland and turned it into a desert oasis. Besides providing plants for sale, the nursery became a teaching laboratory for the public. Phil knew that low water use landscapes were the way of the future, and he made it his goal to help people fully understand the benefits of a sustainable desert landscape. 

In 1982, Phil was one of the first nursery owners in Pinal County to register for the Master Gardener program. He was one of the longest serving and most beloved Master Gardeners in the area, teaching classes at Central Arizona College and leading seminars around the state. He also volunteered many hours teaching about plants to youth in school programs, Cub Scouts, and other organizations. Phil’s knowledge, dedication and service to agricultural education was an example to all. 

Phil Bond was a leader and visionary in the world of sustainable desert landscaping and Ag Education. The College of Agriculture, Life and Environmental Sciences is honored to present the Eugene G. Sander Lifetime Achievement Award in his memory.


In his decades as a leader in Arizona agriculture, Ed Curry has transformed his farm operation into a global hub in plant breeding and product development. Curry Seed and Chile Company is home to the world's largest collection of chile germplasm and is a mecca for researchers from all over the world working on the cutting edge of multiple scientific disciplines like plant science, agribusiness, consumer science, wellness and nutrition. 

Over 30 years, Ed has bred innovative and uniform varieties for quality, flavor, heat, and concentrations of highly valued bioactive compounds such as lutein. His ongoing work in chile genetics ensures a lasting legacy in the farming community across the American Southwest and Mexico.

Researchers from institutions all over the world flock to Curry Seed and Chile Co. to participate in his research field days. Similarly, he hosts field day educational experiences and competitions for Arizona FFA every year, helping to grow tomorrow’s agricultural leaders. His lifetime of dedication to the advancement of knowledge, tireless advocacy for Arizona agriculture, and insatiable curiosity will impact the world for generations to come.

For his expertise, foresight, and leadership making him an invaluable resource and a pioneer in modern food systems, the College of Agriculture, Life, and Environmental Sciences is honored to present Edward N. Curry with the Eugene G. Sander Lifetime Achievement Award.




Peggy Puntenney Withers graduated with a bachelor's degree in Food and Nutrition (Dietetics). Upon her graduation, she completed a one-year internship with Eastman Kodak Company. On behalf of her family, she received the Wildcat Heritage Family Award and with her mother provided funding for the Student Development Center in the Norton School.

As a student, Peggy was active in Greek life, honor societies, and student government. She later became a community activist and philanthropist, serving the community on committees and boards across the state for decades. At the U of A, she is a founding member of the Norton Advisory Board and has participated in alumni activities including the Phoenix Alumni Board. 

Peggy generously offers her spirit, involvement, and support to the University. Whenever she is presented with a challenge, she helps find solutions that create opportunities for students to succeed and serve as leaders. 

Peggy and her husband Bob established an endowment to support the Norton School faculty. Upon learning about food insecurity struggles for students on campus, Peggy funded a van for the Campus Pantry, which increased food deliveries to campus for students in need. She also helped support the newly established Fashion Industry’s Science and Technology program, allowing it to become one of the fastest growing programs in CALES. 

In recognition of her inspiring service to the University of Arizona, the College of Agriculture, Life and Environmental Sciences is honored to present Peggy Puntenney Withers with the Eugene G. Sander Lifetime Achievement Award.