Coordinated by the NCR-SARE Alumni Organization, the term "NCR-SARE Hero" recognizes the leadership, vision, contributions, and impact that individuals have made in the field of sustainable agriculture in the region.
Tom Coudron's career in advancing sustainability spans more than 40 years. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Saint John's University and a Ph.D. from North Dakota State University. With a background in biochemistry, Coudron held a position as a Research Chemist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture Agricultural Research Service at the Biological Control of Insects Research Laboratory (BCIRL) in Columbia, Missouri, from 1980 until he retired in 2018. He has developed a national and international reputation as a leading expert and pioneer in insect nutrition and biological control. Dr. Coudron has authored or co-authored over 100 refereed scientific journal articles and co-edited books and book chapters. Additionally, he wrote well over 100 proceedings and abstracts of national and international presentations. His work has been cited in scientific articles, references and textbooks, and press releases. Even after retirement, Coudron collaborates with researchers and contributes to ongoing national and international projects and scientific publications. He served on the editorial board for the Annals of the Entomological Society of America. He was a convener for the International Organization for Biological Control Global Working Group on Mass Rearing and Quality Assurance. He also serves as an Adjunct Associate Professor at the University of Missouri and a Scientific Advisor for the Association of Natural Biocontrol Producers. Additionally, Coudron is a beekeeper and serves on the advisory board of the Boone Regional Beekeepers. In 2018 he was elected president of Missouri Farmers Union and subsequently appointed to the Board of Directors of the National Farmers Union. He continues in those roles today.
Coudron's engagement with the SARE program is extensive. He chaired the NCR-SARE Technical Committee from 2001to 2010 and served on the Administrative Council from 2001 to 2011, serving as chair from 2010 to 2011. As a leader of NCR-SARE's Circle of Sustainability subcommittee, Coudron took part in Listening Sessions which reflected his respect and desire to bring together people with differing viewpoints as a way for them to share their perspectives on sustainability and agriculture. He continues to support NCR-SARE as a reviewer for grant proposals and has participated in the NCR-SARE Alumni Group since 2009.
Leaders in sustainable agriculture offered tributes as Coudron was nominated and selected to receive this recognition, including:
- "Tom's guidance and input helped shape and improve regional and national SARE programs in both process and structure, to ensure it supported a more wholistic SARE mission. Tom excelled in bringing divergent views and positions into focus, leading to successful outcomes in the AC, and continues to do so in this work with Farmer's Union. He provided visionary leadership to the NCR-SARE as Chair of the Administrative Council. He was adamant that the NCR-SARE Administrative Council model the same attributes of sustainability, quality of life, and diversity in its governance required of SARE grant participants." – Linda Kleinschmit, producer, Board Member at the Nebraska Sustainable Agriculture Society.
- "It is so appropriate for Tom Coudron to receive the distinguished NCR-SARE Heroes award. I have had the honor of working with Tom within the North Central Region SARE and within the Farmers Union Family via his involvement with Missouri Farmers Union. He is extremely professional and dedicated to his tasks with the betterment of those involved in whatever task he is championing as his goal. It has been an honor to serve with Tom, and I look forward to more inter-state scheming with him in the future, promoting family farms and sustainable agriculture. I am honored to call Tom a friend." - Donn Teske, former NCR-SARE Administrative Council member, Kansas Farmers Union President
- "When I started in the regional office in 2010, Tom was serving in his tenth year as the chair of NCR-SARE's Technical Committee, the twenty-member team that reviews the Research and Education grant proposals. That's a long tenure for any of our review team chairs, and he built the review format and process and took on the responsibility for running this major grant program. He set a high standard for NCR-SARE's Research and Education program which is both highly regarded and highly competitive. NCR-SARE is indebted to Tom for not just his vision, but for his time and effort to run the program during a period of major transition for SARE." - Beth Nelson, Regional Coordinator (Chapter 1) and Director of Research and Education Programs for NCR-SARE