Irrigation Association announces Excellence in Education award winner

Aavudai Anandhi, PhD, PE, of Florida A&M University, is the recipient of the association’s 2023 Excellence in Education Award.

The Irrigation Association, Fairfax, Virginia, named the winner of its 2023 Excellence in Education Award.   

Aavudai Anandhi, PhD, PE, of Florida A&M University, is the recipient of the 2023 Excellence in Education Award. According to the association, this award recognizes an outstanding educator who teaches irrigation, water management or water conservation and has a commitment to not only elevating the level of education but also promoting the field of irrigation as a viable and sustainable career to students. 

Anandhi is an associate professor specializing in irrigation and water management and has made numerous contributions to the development of irrigation-related coursework and certificate programs. When she joined Florida A&M, a historically Black university, she began transforming the educational experience of undergraduate and graduate students from underrepresented groups, developing an irrigation and water management training program from the ground up with limited resources. Among the 101 historically Black colleges and universities in the United States, this program is one of only two biological and agricultural engineering programs accredited by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. 

“Dr. Aavudai Anandhi is truly a pioneer, forging new paths for success and changing the lives of those in underrepresented groups in her area, while also advancing efficient irrigation practices and water management,” says IA CEO Natasha Rankin, MBA, CAE. “Her dedication and tenacity to provide her students with opportunities to achieve success are evident in how she tackles challenges with creative solutions and works to continually inspire the next generation of irrigation professionals and water managers.” 

Anandhi is currently the only certified professional engineer in Florida A&M University’s Biological Systems Engineering program, and she has encouraged her students to pursue similar professional paths to create additional career opportunities in water resources and environmental engineering. She contributes to a train-the-trainer program for minority farmers in Florida, Alabama and Georgia, where she and her colleagues are adapting nontraditional materials and conducting workshops on topics relating to irrigation and water management. 

“I am honored and humbled to be recognized by the Irrigation Association with the Excellence in Education Award. I am grateful and appreciate the overwhelming support from my students, colleagues, administrators and the IA for encouraging me to use nontraditional teaching techniques to express my passion for natural resource conservation,” says Anandhi. “I am very happy and pleased by the Irrigation Association and my industry colleagues for setting the bar high, which is encouraging and motivating me to do more for our most treasured resource — water. I wish to use this opportunity to thank my parents, teachers, mentors and aunts for instilling the joy of learning, as well as my family (Sankar, Sri, Emily), siblings, friends (especially Shreya, Deepa, Sasi, Visala), neighbors and all who are working towards making our environment a better place to live in.” 

In addition to Anandhi, this year’s Excellence in Education Award was also presented to Robert Dobson, CIC, CID, CLIA. Anandhi and the other 2023 IA award recipients will be recognized during the Irrigation Show and Education Week in San Antonio Nov. 27-Dec. 1. The 2023 IA awards are sponsored by Hunter Industries. 

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