Public Release: 

National Geographic editor emeritus will deliver 2017 Seaman A. Knapp Lecture

Event honors founder of cooperative extension service

National Institute of Food and Agriculture

WASHINGTON, Nov. 6, 2017 -National Geographic Executive Editor Emeritus Dennis Dimick will present the 2017 Seaman A. Knapp Lecture at the Nov. 12 annual meeting of the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU), Dr. Sonny Ramaswamy, director of USDA's National Institute of Food and Agriculture, announced today. Dimick is also co-founder of Eyes on Earth and was the 2013 National Press Photographers Association's (NPPA) Sprague Award recipient.

The lecture is one of three presented by NIFA and APLU. Each honors a historic land-grant university figure: Justin Smith Morrill, William Henry Hatch, and Seaman A. Knapp. Nominations for this prestigious award are submitted by the Land-Grant University System, stakeholders, foundations, public interest groups, and international organizations.

This year's Knapp Lecture is titled "Extension's Inspiring Foundation and Challenge."

The lecture commemorates Seaman A. Knapp, the father of the Cooperative Extension concept. In 1906, Knapp initiated the county-agent plan. In order to promote the plan, he organized boys' cotton and corn growing clubs and, in 1910, a girls' corn and poultry club. These organizations were the forerunners of the modern 4-H Clubs. In today's rapidly changing world, Cooperative Extension has evolved to meet the shifting local, national, and global needs of the people it serves.

"Cooperative Extension has played a major role to help farmers, ranchers, consumers, families, and communities find science-based solutions to the challenges they face," said Ramaswamy. "The Knapp principle of demonstration education represents a deep insight into the motivation and commitment of the people."

Dimick's lecture will recount how Extension Service and land-grant university education provided him with a vital knowledge foundation, which propelled his 40-year career communicating agricultural and natural resource issues. He will discuss the challenge ahead in helping an urban public value the ample and fragile food supply.

Dimick's career focused on the collision between human aspiration and the planet. At the end of 2015, he retired from National Geographic as its Executive Environment Editor after 35 years of service. In 2013, Dimick received the National Press Photographers Association (NPPA) Sprague Award for service to photojournalism. He is also co-founder of Eyes on Earth, an educational project to inspire a new generation of environmental photographers. From 2008-2012, in partnership with the Aspen Institute, Dimick co-organized the Aspen Environment Forum. He currently serves as a faculty member of the Missouri Photo Workshop. Dimick holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Agriculture from Oregon State University, as well as an Agricultural Journalism degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

The lecture series began in 1980 with the Knapp lecture featuring Lester Brown and his speech, The Role of Land-grant Universities in Creating a Sustainable Society. Since then, there have been many lectures by contributors to agricultural research, education and extension.


NIFA's mission is to invest in and advance agricultural research, education, and extension to solve societal challenges. NIFA's investments in transformative science directly support the long-term prosperity and global preeminence of U.S. agriculture. To learn more about NIFA's impact on agricultural sciences, visit, sign up for updates, and follow us on Twitter @USDA_NIFA, #NIFAImpacts.

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